Well, I don’t have it MASTERED… but today I definitely did the dance of combining motherhood and my grand to-do list! I’ll share some of the fun I had, some of the progress I made on my tasks and some tips on “Mastering Multitasking in Motherhood”!
I spent 13 hours watching ballroom today at the Thanksgiving Point DanceSport Ballroom Competition.
My boys LOVE ballroom. Though I love my boys and I love watching ballroom too, I couldn’t stand the thought of 13 hours of sitting in stadium seating with blasting music and nothing to do with my hands or mind. Soooo, with a little pre-planning, I got there early and set up shop in an area conducive to getting a few things accomplished (plug-in for my technology included)!
We had a beautiful day of dance, medals, music, friends, walks, hugs, dancing with little sons on my lap, videotaping swing, foxtrot, cha-cha, samba and rhumba, and little Joshie napping in my lap. Amidst all of this, I squeezed in an application for Momni to Y-Combinator Accelerator, an application to the HelloAlice.com accelerator for female founders, cleaned out lots of e-mails and replied to a request for Momni to pitch for the SLC Angels (that’s not baseball… that’s presenting to investors). AND I read half of a book that was given to me by a fellow presenter when we both presented to 1 Million Cups in SLC last Wednesday. I loaded up my Trello Board (a tool I highly recommend) with the author’s ideas on content marketing (our main traction channel for growing Momni). Great book…
The Story Engine: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Content Strategy and Brand Storytelling Without Spending All Day Writing by Kyle Gray
So here are some mama multitasking tips that I implemented today to keep my sanity, fuel my mind, clear my inbox, enjoy my children and make some fulfilling progress—simultaneously—in a chaotic environment (because I usually find myself in environments saturated in chaotic, glorious, energetic life)!
- Plan ahead
- Think through the details ahead of time and have the tools you need. Next time, I’m going to bring a power strip because I lost some time today not anticipating that there would be competition for outlets.
- Fortunately, I had a good book with me to fill the gap… which brings me to point #2.
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS—Have a GREAT book with you
- My husband does Audible and my sons love library books, but I get the most out of books that I can write in. I destroy them with notes, folded pages and recording my thoughts right there on the page as inspiration, ideas and excitement fill my brain as I read.
- Make sure it’s a great book. When I hear of a must-read, I order it right then on Amazon and keep it handy on my home desk. I’m about 10 books behind my ordering, but having them already waiting for me helps there never to be a gap in my reading, study and brain building.
- Always having a “ready-to-go-book-in-my-bag” is a must.
- Put family first
- I tried not to “put off” my boys when they needed my attention today.
- Big excitement from me with each son’s return to our special corner. Lots of talk, photos, videos, and sharing their successes and reviewing in detail their losses.
- Abundance mentality is HUGE in this category. There is plenty of mom to go around for BOTH my family AND my to-do list!
- That book in my bag came in handy when Joshie wanted to sleep in my lap and computer work had to pause. Reading with a warm cuddle buddy was both a welcome break and delightfully fulfilling—yet still productive.
- Don’t waste the minutes
- Get started right from the beginning (know your plan and plan to get right on it)!
- Go right till the end.
- Use wasted minutes to plan—walks to the bathroom can be mental planning sessions to re-adjust/recalibrate the daily priority list.
- Give social media a disciplined spanking if it needs to be booted—careful-careful here… this one is the minutes-eating dragon!
- Catch your mind as soon as possible when wandering and “see next point” (refocusing).
- Refocus the “flow” by referencing the daily priorities
- My favorite way to start my day is with a great morning routine, and part of that is a bit of time devoted to planning the day, bright and early. (Meditation is also something I love on good days when I have the discipline to rise early—HERE’s my secret Power Meditation System—How to Maximize Your Mindset Through Meditation.)
- I LOVE the power of “FLOW” but when I’m in a chaotic environment with constant “positive” interruptions, the critical choice is to get “back on track” as fast as possible.
- I use the priority list that I created in the morning to reference if I feel I’m drifting into random e-mails or social media swimming. I keep my daily prioritized tasks—my most pressing items of the day—in a note on my phone for easy reference and adjustment.
- As the day progresses, I often have to add to or re-prioritize the list, but having a list as a focal point keeps my progress focused and my flow from straying too far.
- Two days ago I had great meditation reminders and training from a mama at our Mothers of Influence—Mom Club night… you can review those notes HERE.
- Meditation can be done with eyes wide open in the midst of chaos.
- It can be 30 seconds or 30 minutes.
- Take time in the middle of chaos to breathe, refocus, seek divine aid, ask questions, get answers, breathe, breathe, breathe…
- It’s so helpful. Well, it’s more helpful if you’ve done it before and have a regular meditation practice to draw upon. I wouldn’t recommend starting a meditation habit in a loud chaotic environment. 🙂
- Positive food fuel
- This goes with planning ahead as well.
- I knew the only food at DanceSport would be concessions…. so….
- We bought our food AHEAD and it was MOSTLY healthy to power fuel my own mind and body and my dancer boys to be happy mighty dancers.
- Avoid that junk (you know what that junk is… no health lessons needed here).
- This might be the most important bullet point because if you are filling your trunk with junk… your brain is going to be in a big foggy cloud of overwhelm, depression and “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
- So grab the apple ahead of time and skip the concession bar if you want to be a “Mighty Mama Multitasker.” (I should say “you might want to consider grabbing an apple,” rather than being so bossy… but really, this one is HUGE for me and I’m hoping that you want to power up your brain to be at your best for multitasking. If you do, then tend to your body so it will obey your mind and spirit!)
- Add a little dancing… it goes a long way!!!!
- Make time for your happy dance!
- When my favorite songs would come onto the stage today at DanceSport, I’d pause and dance a bit with my boys. It’s amazing how music and dance fills the spirit within us.
With lots of kids and lots of responsibilities… M.O.M., for me, means “Master Of Multitasking” is required for survival! So do it well and prioritize well in doing so.
MULTITASKING AT HOME
Here are some ideas that I love for multitasking at home. (I would be crazy excited to hear more ideas from you [comment-comment] about how you multitask at home.)
- Audio books while doing ANYTHING that requires your hands but not your brain. (May I suggest The Power of Habit if you haven’t yet read that one.)
- Exercise WITH your children—this is a powerful one! One on one time plus body blessing simultaneously. Thayne just started doing early morning yoga with me and we are hooked on yoga and being with each other!
- Memorizations while doing anything that doesn’t require your brain, e.g. driving, cooking, exercising, teeth brushing, showering, you get the idea. Abby and I had a stretch for a while where we would go running and memorize together while running. Now that is multitasking—three for one deal (exercise, one on one child time, memorizing)—DO THAT (saying this to myself).
- Meaningful mealtimes: add some purpose to every meal. Attach a discussion topic, training, education, some intentional insert into every meal routine. We just recently attached our family scripture study to dinner and have been having more success with that than ever before. S-U-C-C-E-S-S (at least more success than before).
- Brush kids’ hair while they eat breakfast (I like to keep a water spray bottle under the kitchen sink for hair touchups). I understand that this is bad manners for some families… so skip this if I just offended you by suggesting that hair is combed in a kitchen.
- Have bigger kids read to younger kids—it benefits them both and frees you up a bit (but don’t give this one up completely… reminder to self—I need to get more kid reading in).
REMEMBER TO GET TO THE PAUSES—ENJOY!
AND… here’s my permission (not that you need my permission) to sometimes NOT multitask. In fact, sometimes it is quite productive to do nothing at all. Although, truth be told, I usually plan my rest and doing nothing time and fill it with spiritual routines, productive thinking exercises or meditation. Nonetheless… here’s a beautiful quote and musical analogy that I really love about the “power of pausing.”
“The notes I handle no better than many pianists.
But the pauses between the notes—
ah, that is where the art resides.”
So maybe we should master the multitasking to have more opportunities for powerful pausing! It is that perfect blend of mastering the busy to get to the beautiful pauses that makes the music of our lives so spectacularly magnificent. Mmmmm… Life is so beautiful.
I’m no expert at this… but I enjoyed writing these multitasking tips and reflecting about the specifics of what is helpful as a reminder to myself.
DISCLAIMER—MULTITASKING IS NOT IDEAL
I recognize that a quick google search on multitasking will yield an abundant amount of quotes, studies and statistics on the wretchedness of multitasking. I do agree with them that focusing on one thing at a time is the ultimate and the best way to achieve “flow”—which is a REAL and POWERFUL thing in my life. However, what those authors don’t acknowledge is that for us mothers in the trenches, we don’t live in that reality of having the luxury of one thing at a time being an option for us. So when you are thrown into situations of massive CHAOS and things coming at you all at once—well, it’s time to get your multitasking game on and make the best of it.
So now it’s your turn…. share your thoughts with me about how you attempt to “Master Multitasking in Motherhood.” And here are some more images and video from our day of DanceSport and my day dancing through my task list simultaneously!