Purposeful planning is the key to success - Rolene Strauss (4 minute read)
Do you also feel there is never enough time to do what you have to do, let alone what you would like to do? Do you ever feel guilty for not paying enough attention to the most important people in your life? You are not alone; I share your frustration. We know time is the most valuable asset we have. It's a non-renewable resource you can never get back. Yet we often feel the hours in a day is not enough, and it is a constant struggle to decide what is urgent and what is important.
When I was younger, the term ‘multitasking’ conjured up a vision of a professional woman in a pin-striped suit, sitting at a big desk. Her nails are perfect, she is working on a computer whilst answering a phone, drinking coffee, signing documents and all of this is done calmly and efficiently. She does not even break a sweat.
Most of us probably have similar thoughts when thinking of multitasking. As a wife, mother, coach, author, and businesswoman, I find myself having to play multiple roles and so this image in my mind has changed tremendously. There have been times when the unpredictability of real life is in stark contrast with the focused, efficient multi-tasker in my mind! There are times I feel completely overwhelmed and anxious about all I have to do in a day… These past few weeks, I have received so many queries about how I balance all these roles and so I thought I would write down some of the ideas that help me navigate on this journey.
During the past few years, I learnt that multitasking does not equal successful planning!
Here are five tips have helped me tremendously and they were also my focus when creating my new Undated Planner now available in stores and online.
- Have a plan and then prioritize.
We are in a frenetic world constantly having our attention divided in a million different ways with phone calls, interruptions, and social media. This can often lead us to live from a place of reaction which can cause anxiety. Constantly reacting can be overwhelming if we don’t have a plan. Having a schedule or planner with important dates helps a lot and then you can easily prioritize what needs to be achieved by when. Bible study, time with my two boys and a dinner date with my husband take priority so I will schedule that in first. My health is also high on my priority list, time for preparing healthy meals and being active fills my diary further. From there I prioritize my time according to my coaching business, online presence, master studies etc.
- Preparation is key.
Now that I have my schedule, I can prepare as efficiently as possible. Easy ways to do this are to plan a weekly menu and doing grocery shopping in advance. To pack your gym or baby bag for the week ahead instead of for one session or outing. Try and cook enough food for 3 meals in one go rather than in 3 different timeslots. Prepare your workspace with everything you need, instead of losing precious time setting up your workspace in different locations. I try and make these prep sessions fun - I play music, listen to sermons and podcasts, and make it as positive an experience as possible. I also make use of daily to-do lists in my daily planner and reminders that go off on my phone.
- Multitasking doesn’t equal successful planning
I still get multiple tasks done in a day, but my approach has changed. Society makes us think that we must be able to do it all at the same time, but research shows that we are in fact more efficient when we approach each day, one task at a time. The term is called ‘chunking’ and it helps you to focus on tasks for a specific amount of time and then you can switch over to the next task. This helps me stay calm and focused and at the end of the day I am amazed at how much I can get done. A valuable learning for me was that we often overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can do in a year, a month and a week.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says it so well: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
- Build your support structure.
My support structure is strong, and this helps me balance my life. This certainly releases a great deal of pressure and it’s important that you create your own. Your network can take multiple forms: your faith, your connections (friends and family for support), technological support (applications, schedules or diaries, reminders) and education (books, articles). When I get stuck, I have to ask for help and this happens often.
- Self-care and letting go of perfection.
I have realized that I need to take care of myself in order to be there for the important people in my life. When you are too tired, too hungry or too busy, you don’t have perspective, and everything seems harder. So, you have to let go of getting it all 100% right all the time and be content with doing as much as you can. Going to sleep a little earlier, getting fresh air in the morning and enjoying nature - all these good things fill you up and cost you nothing. Cut down the amount of time you spend on social media or the news. This will give you time to reflect on gratitude and even document the good things you experience daily!
Ultimately, life is precious, and we are all here for a limited time. Planning is important but surrendering to God’s plan for us is vital. Slow down and bask in those meaningful moments with your loved ones - let them nurture and replenish you. Carefully consider the ‘why’ in everything you do. Do not try to please everybody. Let the Lord establish your steps. Remember the words of the Psalmist: “Teach us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom.”