Woman running...just like busy moms run all the time. Let's prioritize!

3 Mom-Approved Ways to Prioritize

“Prioritize!” It’s one of those hot button phrases out there, whether you’re a busy mom or a busy business person. Speaking as a mom, I also know that it can be tough to prioritize a to-do list when all of it is necessary for one reason or another. In the end, though, prioritizing is a form of self care. It keeps you calm and confident. That’s why today I offer you 3 mom-approved ways to prioritize, used by myself and other mothers.

Method 1: The Urgent vs. Important Grid

This is my favorite tool that I’ve come across that helps prioritize. I use it at work and home. I don’t even know if it has an official title, but it looks like the below picture. As you can see, the most urgent, most important to-dos go in the upper left box. Next are the top right and bottom left (not urgent but important) and (less important but urgent). These get done after your most urgent/most important stuff is done. The bottom right is for everything else…stuff that would be nice to get to. I often find myself chipping away at that one when I only have a minute or two and can’t get into a bigger project.

The beauty of this is that it 1) forces you to define what is urgent and what is important, and 2) it captures everything in your brain so that you’re not doing a mental juggling act all the time. It really makes it easy to decide what to do next. Pro tip: use a post-it note inside each quadrant so that you can fill it up and replace it instead of re-drawing the grid each time it fills up.

Remember to throw self care activities in the mix!

Method 2: Ask 3 Key Questions

In this short video, Dr. Kate Northrup discusses the three questions that help her prioritize. She shares examples from her own life. Importantly, the stuff she keeps on her “to do list” become part of a weekly to-do list. Such a great concept because the reality is that life throws curve balls all the time, so take the pressure off of a daily list and make a weekly one! 

The questions that Dr. Northrup uses to prioritize are:

-Does this need to be done?

-Does this need to be done by me?

-Does this need to be done right now? 

I’ve already taken a page from her book this week and started asking myself, “does this need to be done by me?” Without even thinking about it, I tend to add stuff to my own to-do list without taking into account that my husband is probably up for helping if I just ask. Those birthday party invitations for our soon-to-be 2 year old are about to become a joint project!

Method 3: Order Your Life Priorities

The last of the 3 mom-approved ways to prioritize involves writing down your life priorities in order of importance. Then, as possible activities present themselves, say yes or no based on how well they accomplish your priorities. The Confident Mom has a post that gives an example of how one mom used this approach in her busy life so that she says yes to only what’s most important. Surprisingly, this mom ranked her kids #4, but if you look at her higher priorities (God, Husband, Home) you see that all of it combines to create a loving home for her kids.

The lesson here? You can prioritize areas of your life and you have every right to order them how you please. You’re the best mom your kids could have and everyone who loves you knows it. <3

Wolah! There you have it: 3 mom-approved ways to prioritize, offered by mothers who want the very best for your happy home and life. Sending all life’s brightest blessings to you this week. May you find yourself reveling in small moments that are only yours to cherish. Life is good. 

***If you found any of these ideas useful, be sure to share the blog link on Facebook and other social media. Sharing is caring!

Woman hiking on mountain. Live with no regrets.

The No. 1 Question to Make Sure You Live with No Regrets

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m all about helping you to shrink the time it takes to do housework and general life routines. My goal is to help you enjoy your beautiful life to its fullest. But I also think it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Do you prioritize the things that will fill your heart? The things you’ll remember? I know it can be easy to forget this in the business of mom life. So today I offer you a key question that will help you live with no regrets. 

The No. 1 Question Is….

“Will I regret missing this?”

That’s it. Simple question. Pivotal answer. 

This message keeps crossing my path, and I’m grateful for it.

Flashback: I’m 18 years old and listening to a speech during Freshman orientation. Obviously I’m very cool because I now have a dorm room and a roommate and my parents are in another state. The speaker says: “You’ll never remember the time you spent studying. You’ll never wish you studied more.” He was speaking to a room full of high achievers. Many were about to disappear into books for four years. We would occasionally spot them at the late-night coffee shop in the library basement or on a quick run for the Walla Walla-famous taco truck. Because of that speech, I spent my college years asking, “Will I regret missing this?” If the answer was yes, I opted for the adventure over studying. Those were good times. 🙂

Flash forward 14 years: I’m now a mom and there is no orientation for a thing like this. The dorm is now a house, the roommate a husband. Obviously I’m less cool but also more real and solid in myself. Half my brain is devoted to a tiny human at all times, and some days the to-do list goes on and on. But there is a world full of voices that sing the same song as that speaker. The ones that say, “live with no regrets. Remember your beautiful life.” These are good times.

One of these voices appeared in a great article on NBC News about the mental load of motherhood. One woman shared: “I always thought forward and asked myself the question, “Will I feel bad if I miss this [family event]?” If the answer was yes, I didn’t go. No one will remember the business meetings I missed, but my family will remember the precious moments I was there for! That no-regret policy became my North Star.” 

You can have fun AND keep your clean-house standards

Now, let me be clear that prioritizing memory-making over a spotless house isn’t about lowering your standards. “Lowering your standards” is darn hard to do and it doesn’t make anyone feel good! I believe there are ways to keep your standards while having as much fun as possible.

You can check out these 33 Ways to Spark More Free Time for some easy-to-implement ideas. Another recommended post is 3 Magical Time Saving Techniques, which will help you nail down the exact things that waste time in your unique home and life (the stuff that no one can figure out for you). All told, if you can shrink the time it takes to get the less-fun stuff done, you amplify play time. 

There’s always the nose scrunch…

I do sometimes wish that I could do that famous nose wiggle from I Dream of Jeannie. Cute little nose scrunch and BAM! The house is clean. If I ever figure it out, I promise I’ll share! In the meantime, give yourself a big “Hell yeah” for all that you do accomplish. You are strong and brave and creative. A force to be reckoned with! And because you deserve the very best life has to offer, I hope you look toward these next days and weeks with an eye toward what will be most fun. May you live with no regrets. The dishes will be there when you’re good and ready.  

***Brag time! Tell me about a time when you chose fun and family over the work calling at you. What memory did you make? I’d love to hear, so be sure to share a comment. Go mama!

Use the sanity clause to make space for things you love, like this family sitting outside!

The life changing “sanity clause” for busy families

Have you had periods of time where the sheer number of things you’re juggling leaves you completely zapped? From the depths of a pile of blankets and potato chips on the couch and about to binge watch your favorite TV show, you announce you are never having a schedule this crazy again. From now on, things will be different! …months later you’re buried in potato chips again. If this is you, then you might like to know about the sanity clause. It can be life changing for busy families.

“The sanity clause” is a phrase my husband and I use to remind ourselves to look at the big picture before we say yes to things. We often find ourselves in a cycle of taking on too much and running thin. But when we remember to use the sanity clause, we end up a much happier family. 

The Sanity Clause

It’s a simple concept, so I’ll get right to it. The sanity clause is basically a question: will my family and I feel calm and stable if I say yes to this new thing? If the answer is no, then we adjust:

  • Perhaps we modify, slow down, or push off the activity for another time
  • Perhaps we say yes, but change or let go of stuff we’re already doing
  • Perhaps we say no, and that’s the end of it 

The sanity clause works really well in our house because we are the sort of people that go nonstop. When we don’t use it, we regret it. For instance, we did not use the sanity clause when we decided to move across the country with a baby, go on a trip to Europe days later, and then return to a fix-er-upper house with the idea that we could be living in it within a month. It’s hard to admit even to ourselves, but we struggled along for the better part of a year because of that too-intense summer. But the times when we look at all the things we could do and then ask: will we feel sane if we do all this? We get some perspective and make choices that are better for our family.

This is Key: Prioritize Your Well Being

So let’s say you know you need to use the sanity clause, but all the options in front of you look exciting for one reason or another. How do you choose what to say yes or no to? There is a huge body of articles that give guidance on the topic, but my favorite ones get at the topic from a holistic approach. In other words, they help you decide based on what’s most important to your physical, mental, and emotional well being. Your self care needs can change from week to week, which means that how you use the sanity clause might look different from week to week. 

In a blog post on prioritizing, Dr. Kate Northrup writes, “A life filled with what matters is a life well lived. And the only way to make sure you have a life like this is to do it on purpose.” She recommends that we intentionally figure out what matters most to us, schedule those activities first, and then fill in everything else that needs to happen. By doing this, you end up prioritizing your heart first. You get clear on what needs to fall off the plate and approach life on offense toward your goals.

Another nice article from Plenty Consulting talks about a healthy approach to prioritizing well being – it’s an intentional act made without guilt or apologies. I love that idea. I love that women are learning to speak and act in without apologizing or feeling guilty about it. It takes practice and it’s hard at first. I know, because I’m right there with you moving towards this space of unapologetic living. Fortunately, we’re surrounded by the voices of others who are doing the same and are encouraging us on this path.

2020: Best Year Ever <3

My wish for you in 2020 is that it becomes easy to hear the quiet stirrings in your heart. The whisper that says “this way” toward a life you love and experiences that keep you in awe of this beautiful world. May tools like the sanity clause and new ways of prioritizing help guide you on this path. You are an inspiring, powerful human being and I’m glad we’re in this together. 

***Tell me in the comments – because I’d love to hear! – what are you planning to do this year that you’re excited about? How can the sanity clause help you let go of things that don’t feel right anymore? Make sure to write it in the comments. You never know who you’ll inspire. Go mama!