By Heather Barrow
Whether you are in intensive care with your premature baby, staying at home with busy and accident-prone toddlers or juggling your work and home responsibilities, there is an invisible line that you see the minute you’ve crossed it. It is the line that tells you that you’ve gone too far and something needs to give. Everyone has a limit and I’ve hit mine again. Here is how I plan to push the reset button to get back on track with my daily obligations without jeopardizing my sanity.
1. Delegate – There are tasks we all are doing on a daily basis that can be delegated. Whether it is having your six-year-old load the dishwasher (he can do it) or pushing a project to a capable employee or co-worker, you must take advantage of these ‘free’ opportunities. Not only are you helping the helper out by allowing them to learn new skills, you are saving yourself from tasks that can easily be completed by someone other than you. I may be taking this overboard at home as Hill told me in his sassiest voice to “put your stinky slippers back yourself” this morning. Ouch!
2. Outsource – Do not confuse outsourcing with delegating. Outsourcing means you have to pay someone for something you can do for ‘free’. The concept of free is misused often when referring to your time. Most people believe money is your most valuable resource but I disagree. Your time is your most valuable resource and should always be treated that way. If someone else can do something for you for less than it would ‘cost’ you to do yourself, you can’t afford not to hire him or her. An example for me is designing photo books I have been putting off for years. It is important to me to have photo books and scrapbooks for my children. I have never allocated the time to do this until this summer when I hired a wonderful college student to help me out. Two work days in, and she has completed two books and is working in my home office as I type this. This is the best money I have spent in a while.
3. Get three things done per day – In the past, I have made an endless daily to-do list that I feel bad about at night because I never complete it. I have read enough entrepreneurial articles to finally admit I am approaching daily tasks at home and work all wrong. From today on I will make my daily top five list, with the tasks I want to do least at the top, and strive to get three of them done by dinner. Not only will I now feel daily accomplishment (instead of disappointment) the perfectionist in me will probably strive to do all five. Anyone can do three important tasks a day; what will you get done today?
4. Check emails once per day – My husband Bennett has been annoying me for months with this text at the bottom of his emails. I have finally seen the light as constantly checking and replying to emails is an interruption that is eating away at my day by the minute. The first step in this plan is to turn off all email notifications on every device (both sound and the little red circle with a number). Checking emails once per day is more than adequate, and anyone with an ‘urgent’ matter will call. What will be tough is practicing what I preach and not demanding an immediate email response back by others.
5. Ignore the negative chatter – There is a constant chatter in my head that I could be doing almost everything better. Whether it relates to raising my children or running High Risk Hope, I am my worst critic. Sometimes it is spurred by misplaced criticism from someone in my inner circle or a negative comment from strangers on the Internet looking to stir up trouble. The bottom line is I am doing my best with the time and resources I have and that is enough. I want to be the first person to tell you that whatever you are doing is enough too, ignore the haters including yourself.
Whatever your limit, chances are you will hit it too this summer if you haven’t already. I challenge you to learn from my mistakes and implement these easy changes before you cross the line.