This post is sponsored by The Pink Orange, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
What Matters Most?
Yesterday Matt, Benji and I were driving home from Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house and upon approaching the freeway entrance, we were immediately stopped by traffic. With no alternate routes home, we had no choice but to wait.
“Why can’t we just SEE what’s going on?” we cried. Knowing wouldn’t have changed our circumstances, but it would have eased our impatience as Benji’s bedtime quickly approached.
Fifteen minutes and not much mileage later, we discovered a news alert about a car crash that closed the freeway we were entering just an hour before we arrived at the onramp. A man driving a minivan had lost control of his vehicle, causing it to roll several times. He was ejected and died on the scene. A five-year-old child was also in the car and suffered minor injuries.
My heart sank.
All I could think about was that child. Was that his dad he was with? Does he have any other family? Is he all alone now? We didn’t know. But this news was an instant reminder for me to do one thing:
I gazed at my perfectly content two-year-old in the back seat and prayed that he’ll never experience his young life without us, nor us without him.
Staying Organized as a Busy, Working Mom.
Amidst the busy life I lead — juggling a full-time job, motherhood, a part-time blog, and everything in between — I don’t have to try very hard to be overwhelmed and wish my life were different. It comes easily if I let it. But practicing gratitude, intentionally, every day, has been one of the best things I’ve ever done to cope with the overwhelm.
I only wish I’d made it a habit sooner.
I feel clear and organized in my thoughts and mind when I consistently practice gratitude. Obviously gratitude alone doesn’t get my work done for me, so here are some other practical tips I use to stay organized each day as I tackle my various to-do lists…
1. Prioritize big things vs little things.
An Adobe coworker, whom I greatly admire, once told me that he starts each day with two lists: A list with one big-picture task he wants to accomplish; and a list with five smaller tasks he needs to complete.
I quickly adopted this approach for work and have since used it for my blog and motherhood as well. Instead of lumping everything into one scattered list, I use these Big and Small Lined List Pads from The Pink Orange (c/o) to identify a little list of 3-4 big tasks for the week (such as: Share positive ideas with the world; or Learn more about Adobe Analytics) and a big list of little tasks for the week (such as: Meditate daily; or Meet with John Doe on Wednesday for background on Adobe products).
I may not get to every task on each list, but I feel more efficient knowing I spent the majority of my time on the things that had the highest priority.
2. Put it on the calendar.
In my home office I have a physical dry-erase calendar on the wall where I write down important commitments that affect my personal/home life, such as birthdays, travel days, or time off. Unfortunately, Benji sometimes erases these, so we have a back-up calendar in our kitchen pantry. Lol.
For work at Adobe, I keep a master calendar on my phone via Outlook (connected to my Adobe email) that helps me stay on task with meetings, phone calls and emails.
I guess you could say my wall calendar is my little list of big things and my phone calendar is my big list of little things.
For most of my daily “little” tasks, I have to block time on my calendar to get to them, otherwise, I never will. Adobe is a very collaborative company so we have a lot of meetings each day and I’ve learned that in order to make time for my own work, I need to block time on my calendar (or someone else will).
If I have personal appointments (like the dentist, doctor, etc.) that interfere with work life, then it goes on my work calendar. It only goes on my home calendar if Matt is involved (i.e., I’ll be home late).
I also utilize my Outlook calendar for errands that I know I’ll forget if they’re not the next “appointment” on my schedule, such as ordering groceries (more to come on this with my fall Clean Simple Eats meal challenge), picking up a prescription, etc.
I do have a separate calendar for scheduling blog content as well, but will share that in a later post (if you’re interested!).
3. Have a thought? Jot it down.
When I returned to work after maternity leave a couple years ago I felt so focused at the office. I could easily keep my home stuff at home and my work stuff at work. It didn’t take long for both roles to start burying me with daily tasks and demanding more of my time. That’s when I discovered Mom Brain (the struggle is so real).
I couldn’t understand why a simple task, such as grabbing my phone or keys on the way out the door, was so hard to remember. But it was also these tiny things that would send me down a shame spiral with self-deprecating thoughts like, “Why am I such a wreck? I can’t do anything right. This shouldn’t be so hard.”
I don’t need to write myself a note to remember my keys on the way out the door, but I’ve learned that when I write down the other important thoughts in my head, there’s more room to remember my keys. We earn the right to forget when we write things down.
I love using sticky notes, like the set in this Memo Folio from The Pink Orange (c/o), when I need to remember something that isn’t urgent. And I use the Notes app on my phone for thoughts and ideas that don’t need to be organized, but that I want to revisit later.
4. Keep a creativity folder.
I’m often asked at work how I make time for my blog. And sometimes it’s just me asking myself. ?
My life changed drastically when I became a mom and I always thought I’d have to quit something to make it all work. Instead, I’ve found that a little give-and-take goes a long way. I don’t expect perfection from my blog anymore, and I don’t expect perfection at work or in motherhood either.
My blog has become more of a creative outlet than it ever was before. That makes it more fun, so I like to find time for it. But it’s often at random. I’ll see something that inspires me and save it for later when I have time to build something from it.
For example, I no longer have hours and hours to create outfits for my blog (it really used to take that long), but I still enjoy the creative process of finding practical, stylish outfits that fit my new capsule wardrobe lifestyle. So now when I come across outfit inspiration in a catalog or magazine, I rip the page out and save it in one of my “creativity” folders (check my Instagram stories for a closer look at how I use these Floral File Folders from The Pink Orange c/o).
In all of the “busy work” we do every day, we need to find time for creativity, too! Taking an organized approach will make it more manageable. And when it’s manageable, you’ll have more fun with it.
5. Practice mindfulness.
I often have to pause and remind myself what mindfulness is, so let’s do that really quick together…
Mindfulness is recognizing that we are separate from our thoughts. We have good thoughts and bad thoughts every day. Being mindful of them and seeing them for what they are — just thoughts — is what allows us to keep our emotions from getting tangled up with them. Like being in the eye of the storm: you’re in the middle where it’s calm and steady; your thoughts are the noise and debris swirling all around you.
I couldn’t write this post about staying organized without sharing how powerful mindfulness and gratitude have been for me.
Before I made more of an effort to practice these every day, I was constantly caught up in my emotions, triggered by a negative thought about how hard my busy life was. I’ve never experienced the levels of stress that I have since becoming a working mom. But I’ve also learned that I don’t have to feel stressed. And I’m so proud of how far I’ve come.
I love using this cute Memo Cube from The Pink Orange (c/o) to remind myself of quotes that inspire me to stay centered on what’s true for me and to choose positive beliefs. I pin them to my twinkly lights where I also have photos of what matters most to me — my family. A quick glance at these positive affirmations during a busy work day can instantly bring me peace.
Perspective is everything and I truly believe that what we focus on is what we will manifest.
So here’s to getting organized and focusing our time and energy on what matters most!
SHOP ALL PRODUCTS C/O THE PINK ORANGE
Was this post helpful? Tell me about how you stay organized in your busy life!
Photos by The High Pines.