These days, the life of a working mom is accompanied by the ongoing cycle of too much to do and not enough time.

Being caught in the “too busy” cycle leads to overwhelm, stress and low energy which ultimately has a direct impact on your health and wellbeing.

Answering the following questions will help you understand how much you are caught up in the “too busy” cycle.

  1. Do you find yourself moving from one “urgent” thing to the next
  2. Do you find yourself rushing through your day and continually trying to catch up?
  3. Do you feel tired and rarely feel like you accomplished enough?
  4. Do you often do things because you “should”?
  5. Do you keep listing things in your head or make daily “to-do” lists that are impossible to complete in a day?
  6. Do you take on obligations without considering the amount of time and energy it will require?
  7. Do you allow interruptions such as phone calls, emails or requests from others that take you off track of what you are doing?
  8. Do you let your work and your home get cluttered with “I’ll look at this later” stacks and “to-do” piles?
  9. Do you find yourself constantly wishing you had more time or keep making excuses such as “as soon as…” or “next week…”?
  10. Do you seldom have time to do the things you really love?

Though it may not always seem so, how you fill your time and how you spend it is your choice. The first step is to figure out what is important to you so you can plan and organize your week and your day to meet your priorities.

Put first things first” is a powerful technique for prioritizing and task management. This technique helps you separate the important from the urgent. You can define what is important to you by identifying your values such as health, family, fun and community. Putting first things first helps you stay focused so that your time and energy is aligned with your values and what is important to you.

Put First Things First

Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent:

Tasks that are urgent and important are things that need to be taken care of immediately requiring you to act quickly. Dealing with urgent and important activities is appropriate when dealing with emergencies like caring for a sick child, dealing with an accident or picking up broken glass.

If this is your normal mode of response this will lead to burn out. Planning in advance will help you avoid urgent situations.

Quadrant 2: Important yet Not Urgent:

Tasks that are important yet not urgent are usually activities with potential important future consequences. These tasks often contribute the most to your life, and can have the greatest negative consequences if you don’t complete them on time. This includes activities such as your health, appointments, family time and planning.

This is where you want to be spending most of your time. Deciding what is important and not urgent is an ongoing process. Take time every few months to assess where you are, what conditions in your life have changed, where you want to go, and what plan of action will get you there.

Quadrant 3: Urgent yet Not Important:

Tasks that are urgent yet not important are tasks that are immediate such as interruptions in person, by phone and e-mail, which could be put off for later. Keep in mind activity does not equal productivity. One uninterrupted hour of time can be equivalent to 2 to 4 hours of interrupted time.

Interruptions, multitasking and overload keep you from doing anything well. All of those urgent demands prevent you from getting the important things in your life. Create blocks of uninterrupted time for your important tasks, that way you will be more focused and less likely to let less important items interfere with getting things done.

Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important:

The last category of tasks is not urgent and not important. These types of activities are also known as time wasters. Some examples here are: too much TV, internet, endless phone calls, gossiping, complaining and procrastinating.

Much stress that you experience in your life comes from working on unimportant tasks. Start now to eliminate the tasks that are not urgent and not important to today and focus on what is important.

Take time every so often to step back and think about what is important, assess how you are spending your time and make small changes as necessary. You cannot save time you can only spend it differently!