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How to Overcome Your To Do List: Focus Small, Think Big

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Overcome Your To Do List | Focus Small, Think Big | Chaos & Kiddos

I should preface this with letting you know that I have the most wonderful cleaning lady on God’s green Earth. It’s an incredible luxury that I work really hard to make sure there are available funds to budget for. I didn’t always have her though, so this is how I survived B.C. “Before Cleaning” And I still apply it to those daily tasks (all six million of them) that go beyond what she accomplishes for our family on a biweekly basis.

For the longest time, I felt like I was drowning in the big picture.  When I’d walk into my home after a long day of work and scan the big picture and see the laundry and the dishes and the laundry and the dirty floorboards and the laundry…well, you get the picture. In that 30 seconds, I was walloped with an overwhelming gut punch that there simply was not enough time to do it all. For someone like me, that gut punch equates to a quasi-panic attack, stomach pains and a literal incapacity to focus on anything other than feeling utterly useless because I don’t know where to start.

I needed a change in perspective. I needed to focus small, think big.

For me, alleviating the anxiety that I can’t possibly make any progress on the mountain of items screaming my name can be accomplished with something as simple as a to do list. Tidbit of truth, I always put something on my to do list that is already done. There’s just something about this:

1. Wake up. 
2. Pee. 
3. One load of laundry – wash, dry, fold, put away.
4. Grocery store.
5. Pack up summer clothes.

That feels amazingly awesome. Upon crossing off at least one item, maybe even two, three or ten on a really rough morning, I immediately change my tune. “Look at you, you are so ambitious. You’re already half way through your to do list.” Then I rock out my power song of the moment (don’t judge!) and dig in. I focused small, and then thought big. Translation – Set yourself a tiny goal that is easily reached and then affirm yourself. And then affirm yourself again. It makes the bigger goals feel possible.

Another great way to focus small, think big. Assign certain tasks to certain days. For example, over the course of a week, my house needs to be cleaned (B.C.). I’d walk in the door and surveying the disaster zone with the inevitable “I don’t know where to start!” I’d give up. Or I’d clean and then expect my family to sit perpetually frozen so they didn’t mess it up again. Now, I pick a room and focus on just that room. Get it done, then move on. It breaks down something like this:

Monday – Clean all bathrooms
Tuesday – Sanitize kitchen
Wednesday – Laundry
Thursday – Change sheets
Friday – Break Day – Have fun! No work!
Saturday – Vacuum downstairs
Sunday – Vacuum upstairs

This can even be applied to overwhelming events, like the in-laws are coming to stay for a week. How in the world do I get everything done!? Focus small, think big.

Monday – Clean guest room – Change sheets
Tuesday – Write out meal plan – Grocery store
Wednesday – Clean bathroom
Thursday – Clean common areas
Friday – Clean kitchen and prep food
Saturday – Pick up in-laws at airport

I break up the available time I have and assign individual tasks to the time allotments. I am managing my time, while also realizing that what seems overwhelming really isn’t once I break it down and get my ducks in a row and tell myself where to start. That way, when I come into the house and go “That laundry is a mountain! Look at those nasty, slimey baseboards!” I immediately table certain items. “Ok, laundry gets done tomorrow. Baseboards on Wednesday. Today is bathroom day.” And head in the right direction.

It’s hard work to train your brain to focus on the task at hand and block out the rest of the tasks that threaten to overwhelm you and throw you off course. But with a little practice, I’ve come to find that if I keep focusing small, I still end up at the finish line. And a lot less frazzled. The big picture gets accomplished, one tiny task at a time.

How to Overcome Your To Do List: Focus Small, Think Big

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Brittany

    August 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I get easily overwhelmed…especially by housework. I love your idea of assigning a specific task to each day! I also find that putting something on my to-do list that has already been done definitely makes me feel better about myself. No one else needs to know that anyway 😉

  2. Elizabeth

    August 28, 2014 at 12:01 am

    I do this exact same thing. I put things on my list that I know I am going to do, and then when I cross it off, I feel accomplished. I have even added things to my list…after I did them! LOL. It seriously works and makes me feel so much better! Thanks, Katy, for another relateable post!

    • Katy Blevins

      September 1, 2014 at 7:57 am

      YES! So glad to know I’m not the only one who “cheats the system.” Ha!!!

  3. Joanne T Ferguson

    September 17, 2014 at 4:36 am

    G’day think this is a perfect reminder for all today Katy!
    Cheers! Joanne
    #ibabloggers

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Organizational Tips

Top 10 Family Safety Tips from @GetReadyNowPack

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Family Safety Tips

Life as a busy working mom is more than hectic! The best way to combat the crazy and chaos is to do our best to prepare in advance whenever possible. Emergency preparedness is one area we often skimp in, leaving us stressed and scrambling when disaster strikes (sometimes even by our own doing!). Our friends at Get Ready Now have a few simple routines, habits and family safety tips that will keep us in control when life strikes back.

Family Safety Tips

Regular Car Check Ups

We’ll admit, guilty as charged! We often overlook the basic maintenance that keeps our car running and in tip top shape. Then, when our car decides to bite back with a little reminder about how much we’ve been neglecting it, we’re stuck in all the wrong places at all the wrong times. If you have trouble remembering to give your car some much needed love, be sure to download our Google calendar reminder list!

Keep Your Phone Fully Charged

Oops…guilty as charged again! We hate hunting down our phone chargers and have a really bad habit of tossing our phones under our pillows instead of plugging it in at night, which usually means it’s teetering near death right when we want to make an important call the next day. Invest the few dollars to keep phone chargers handy. One in the kitchen, one in the office, one in the bedroom, one in the car. Do your best to stay charged up so you have some mileage on your phone’s battery when you need it!

Stay Tuned to Weather and Disaster Warnings

We all have our phones within reach around the clock, so be sure to sign up for phone alerts or download your favorite weather app to stay in the know and be ready to move and take action when regional warnings are issued!

Have an Evacuation Plan in Place

This is a big one. Whether it’s talking about your family plan to exit the house in the event of a fire or learning your local evacuation routes and shelter locations, take time to sit down with your family and make sure everyone, young and old, understands exactly what you’ll do, where, when and how should you need to evacuate your home for any reason. This can feel like a scary conversation, especially for little ones, so we often avoid it and then reality is much, much scarier when emergency strikes and we are not prepared. Bite the bullet, map out your routes and practice it as a family!

family safety tips

Know How You’ll Reconnect With People Who Matter

If your phone died right now, would you know how to reach the most important people in your life? Yup, us too. Busted. Memorization not your thing? Make sure you store contact information safely in a few different places so you can reach out to friends and family in the event of an emergency from wherever you are. When it comes to evacuation and fire escapes, set up family meeting points where you will all head should you get physically separated. Plan for the worst case scenario!

Learn What to Do if You’re Caught Away From Home

This is more about having a plan A…through double ZZ. Emergencies breed fear and fear breeds panic, so our best defense is a good offense. Spend some time thinking through the different scenarios that might result in your being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be, unable to get somewhere you do what to be. What will you do? Where will you go? Confronting your fears, establishing plans and considering your options will empower you to act with clarity and purpose when life goes awry.

Have an Emergency Kit (or Ten) and Know How to Use Them

An emergency preparedness kit is only helpful if you know where it is, can easily get to it, know what’s in it and how to use it. Thankfully, our friends at Get Ready Now can help us there. They have vehicle packs, grab and go packs and have thought about everything you’ll need in an emergency from start to finish. Their bags are waterproof (win), clear (double win) and the supplies inside are good for 5 years (triple win!). Their website has complete lists and even videos detailing exactly what is in your pack and why it’s important. Use the code FREESHIP for free shipping! Woot! Woot!

Don’t Forget to Plan for Your Pets

Many of us overlook preparing in advance for what will happen with our pets in an emergency. We adore these beloved family members and can hit a wall of panic when disaster strikes and we realize we have not accounted for their needs along with our own. Make sure your emergency kits have extra pet food and include your pet care in evacuation planning and practice.

Stay in the Know and Sharpen Up on Your Emergency Skills

Are you CPR certified? Do you know how to safely perform the Heimlich Maneuver? Do you know how to start a fire outdoors? Consider signing up for a local safety or survival skills course. When disaster strikes, our knowledge base fuels our ability to stay calm and act effectively, which can save crucial time in an emergency or even save somebody’s life!

No Cheating! Check Those Smoke Detector Batteries Regularly

Admit it. We’ve all done it. It starts beeping, out of love to let us know that something’s up and it’s not in prime shape to save our lives. And we beat it to death with a stick, rip out the batteries, and cuddle back up in bed. And then leave it. And then leave it. And then leave it some more. NO MORE. Get those batteries in, set calendar reminders to test all smoke detectors regularly and keep your family safe, starting in your home, today.

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Use the code FREESHIP for Free Shipping on Your Order!

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Organizational Tips

24 Super Awesome Articles for Busy Working Moms

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24 Super Awesome Articles

You may have noticed a bit of feast or famine over here at Chaos & Kiddos. Why? Because we’ve been sharing the love all over! Yup, that’s right. When we’re not here actively posting, it’s usually because we have the great honor to share our voice on other platforms. We thought you might like to keep up with where we’ve been! So…check out these 24 super awesome articles for busy working moms. Enjoy!

Parenting

Need a little parenting pick me up? Look no further! Grab a cup of coffee and kick back for a good read. Pick up a few tips and tricks, and give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re doing an AWESOME job.

Am I Chipping Away at the Foundation of My Children’s Success?

Why You Need a Family Mission Statement

Want to Teach Children? Get a Family Pet

10 Tips to Get Better Photos of Your Children

Potty Training: How to Graduate from Rewards to Real Life

It Takes a Village: Today’s Isolated Mom

Working Moms

Tell the truth…We bet you’re working too hard! It’s ok. We all do. Let’s band together and give ourselves permission for a little TLC, a whole lot more community and the opportunity to thrive professionally and personally, being our best selves for those we love most.

Working Moms Get a “Free to Grow” Permission Slip from Sprout

The One Question You Should Be Asking Yourself Every Day

How I Finally Realized Being a Workaholic Wasn’t a Good Thing

Redefining Success as a Suddenly Single Working Mom

How to Combat the Working Mom Woes

Professional Opportunities for The Stay-at-Home Mom

Tips for the Working Mom: How to Excel in Both Worlds

Small Business

Our very favorite!! Sharing the tips and tricks to help your business grow, the creative ideas that are making big waves in the entrepreneurial and those little reminders that get you back on track as a motivated, focused small business owner.

Meet the U.S. Company that Beat France to the Email Ban Idea

How to Maintain a Healthy Business Partnership

The Evolution of the Social Media Management Model

With This Tweet, I Thee Wed: How to “Put a Ring on It” and Transform Your Followers Into Brand Advocates

Why I Left Corporate America

Get More Instagram Followers and Grow Your Business

The Fountain of Youth: A Childhood Lesson in Healthy Competition

The Enlightened Entrepreneur: The Best Ways to Achieve Real Success

Health and Wellness

Last, but certainly not least, the most important part. Staying healthy and being well. The journey towards balance is just that…a journey. Join us as we walk together towards a more meaningful, enriched life.

Why You Need to Renegotiate the Contracts in Your Life

Baby Steps to Balance: The Journey Towards a Better Life Begins With Your Very First Step

The Top 10 Cheerleaders You Need to Survive Your Divorce

How to Set Boundaries That Balance Your Life


Do you have any super awesome articles for busy working moms? Share them below in the comments! Let’s face it, time is a hot commodity around here, and most of us don’t have time to blog hop! So…if you’ve done us the great honor by taking time out of your busy day to stop here, then THANK YOU! From the bottom of our hearts. And if you have a resource to share, please do so! Any opportunity we have to connect a resource with a need, whether it’s our information or not, is a big win for us, and for YOU!

And that’s why we’re here. For you. XOXO

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Organizational Tips

5 Tips for Time Management

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Time Management

Let’s face it. Being a working mom can be pretty crazy sometimes. How are you supposed to fit all of your activities into one 24 hour period, and manage to get 8 hours of sleep every night?

<Sidebar: 8 hours of sleep. Every night. Wouldn’t that be nice?>

How can we keep our time properly managed in this crazy, beautiful life we live?

The internet is filled with posts about time management and how you can achieve better time management skills. Those posts are great! I’m sure they have helped loads of working women achieve balance among chaos. Instead of compiling a list of 50+ time management tips, I figured it would be beneficial to condense my most successful time management practices into 5 easy to implement tips that every mom can benefit from!

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Start Organized, Stay Organized

Keeping track of your time is more than keeping an eye on the clock. Time management starts with an organized mind. A great way to keep an organized mind is to keep track of your schedule, to-dos and other objectives with a daily schedule. You can choose to use an electronic calendar, or use a traditional pen and paper method, or even a combination of the two.

Personally, I like to use Google Calendar. Google Calendar allows me to keep order amongst chaos in so many different ways. Check out this post on 10 different ways you can use Google Calendar.

Be sure to keep your workspace organized as well. An organized work space allows the mind to stay organized by focusing on achieving your daily goals without dwelling on the clutter around you.

Say No, & Mean It

As loving and caring women, we want to provide assistance to everyone and anyone. And every once in awhile that is okay! But filling your schedule with too many appointments, too many distractions, and too many favors can be a real bummer for managing your time. Especially for things that come up at the last minute.

Recognize that it is okay to say No to something that will not benefit you or your family. It is also important to embrace the fact that saying No doesn’t mean that you do not care about others, or that you feel that your objectives are more important. It simply means that you have taken the time to evaluate the cost to benefit ratio, and have found that it might not be in your family’s best interest to add one more thing to your plate. If you have trouble saying No, be sure to check out Embracing When and How To Say No.

Create A Distraction Free Zone

Distractions are the main cause of poor time management. Distractions can be spontaneous (phone calls from a client, your toddler pouring the dog water all over the floor [again], etc), or self-induced (procrastination). A distraction free zone can help you to focus on the task at hand, and benefit from the increased productivity that will result.

In order to create a distraction free zone, start by identifying your most productive space in your home; the space where you feel like you get the most done. This could be your office, your kitchen, your porch, anywhere that you feel productive. Make this space more productive by taking steps to eliminate physical and electronic distractions.

Be sure to let your family know where your distraction free zone is, and let them know it is important to you that you remain distraction free when you are in this space (unless it is an emergency). Turn off electronic distractions by keep your phone turned off when you are in your distraction free zone. Also, be sure to turn off desktop notifications that are potentially distracting (emails, calendar reminders, and social media notifications).

If you need a little extra help staying off of social media while you are working, check out the variety of apps that will curb your social media enthusiasm, including SelfControl for Apple products, and KeepMeOut.com for all platforms.

Overworked

Identify Time-Vacuums In Your Life

Time-vacuums are things in your life that suck time like a Dyson sucks spilled cheerios. Time-vacuums can including meetings, social media, work tasks, and people. Yes, certain people can be a HUGE time suck for you, and can wreak havoc on your time management abilities.

By identifying these time-vacuums, you will be better equipped to keep your time-vacuums at bay, or even eliminate them completely from your life. By managing your time-vacuums, you’ll be able to keep your distraction free zone free and clear of any impending black holes that will devour your time.

Schedule Family Time & You Time

Probably the most important aspect of time management is being able to schedule time for yourself and time for your family. Be sure to schedule a little bit of detox time for yourself every day, even if it’s only 15-30 minutes of exercise, a cat nap, catching up on the latest episode of your favorite show, or stepping out to your favorite salon to get your nails touched up. You are an amazing woman, and you deserve a little bit of time to unwind!

Family running on beach holding hands smiling
Scheduling time with your family is so important to better time management. View your family time as a reward for working hard and kicking butt! Your family loves you, and they are proud of you! Keeping up with family traditions and making time to show your love and appreciation for your kids, your spouse, and other important people in your life allows you to practice an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude for your family. Gratitude for your friends. Gratitude for your beautiful life.

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