Mama, Realtor, assistant, student, business owner, wife, board member, homeschool mom. These are all roles that I’ve held, most of them simultaneously. So how do I manage to keep everything straight? How do I ever get anything done?
- I (almost) never sleep 💤
- time blocking ⏰
- the four minute rule ⏲️
First, I wake up just after the witching hour, otherwise known as 4:30am, every day. Even when I don’t want to, which is most days. I start my day by feeding the cats (I have too many and they swarm me as soon as my feet hit the floor), starting my coffee, and throwing a load of laundry in the washer.
Having a few hours in the morning to keep up with the laundry, empty the dishwasher, answer emails, prepare for the kids school day and do my own homework is essential. Once my family wakes up it’s very difficult to stay on track.
Next, I plan out my week every Sunday afternoon. I block off specific times to get tasks done. If it’s not on my schedule, it doesn’t happen. I block off time to work, spend with the kids, family time, grocery shop, have coffee dates with friends, even balance the checkbook, you get the idea. I have two planners, one for real estate, and one for everything else. It’s the only way.
Finally, I follow the four minute rule. I have to start this by saying that when I first starting doing this, I thought I was a genius. That is until I read about some guy and his tomato who figured it out way before I did. If you haven’t heard of Francesco Cirillo or the Pomodoro technique, forget the last sentence and trust me, I’m a genius 😉.
The basic idea is that every task should take no more than four minutes. I literally set a timer for 4 minutes and only focus on a task that amount of time (Pomodoro gives you 25 followed by a 5 minute break). This scheduling method stems from the idea that tasks will expand to the time you allow for them. Have all day to write that report? It will take you all day. Have four minutes? You will focus and get it done in four minutes. I carry this through just about everything I do. Of course some things take more than that. Those I usually break into smaller tasks or focus on beginning, middle, and end. For instance washing, rinsing, and drying dishes are three separate activities that get 4 minutes each. Wondering why 4 minutes? That’s how long it takes to brew French-press coffee ☕.
Things that take 4 minutes or less: emptying the dishwasher, making your bed, answering two emails, calling a client, balancing the checkbook (if done every day), paying bills, showering, folding a load of laundry, watering the plants, making scrambled eggs and toast.
It turns out I’m in good company, Elon Musk also uses this technique, he gives himself 5 minutes per task.
How do you manage your time? Is it effective? What tips do you have to be more productive?
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.
I hesitated to add my voice to this movement. I was afraid that it would viewed as political, which it is not. It is simply the right thing, the ethical thing, and that is enough. I grew up mostly in the south. I went to elementary school in Louisiana when David Duke was the governor. I have been aware of the discrimination against people of color my entire life. It wasn’t until I had lunch with a dear friend that it really connected for me that the people suffering were my friends. My neighbors. My church family. My town. My country.
My friend is one of the best people I know in this world. She is patient, kind, loving, a good mother, well educated, faithful, prayerful, from a wonderful, happy family. Her children are well behaved, polite, gentle, smart, happy kids. Her husband is strong, faithful, loving, handsome, and kind. This beautiful friend met me for lunch and was describing how her neighbor treated her and her children differently. She described how this neighbor also treated another woman of color in the neighborhood differently. While I was outraged that anyone would treat this amazing family with anything less than love and dignity, it was her reaction to that broke my heart. As I sat there in shock, horrified that in this modern time, she was dealing with this, she said to me, “It’s okay, it’s just how it is.” It is not okay. It has never been okay. Ignoring this is no longer an option. It should never have been an option.
To my friends, family, neighbors, humans of color, I don’t pretend that I could ever know what it’s like to walk in your shoes but I can promise to walk beside you. You matter. You are beautiful. You don’t deserve the things that have been happening to you.
If you are in a place of privilege whether because of the color of your skin, your affluence, your influence, or your position in society, you have an obligation to stand up, speak up, help however you can. We cannot be complacent. If you think that it’s not your problem, you are the problem.
If you are unsure how you can help visit: Wit & Delight, How White People Can Be Better Allies to the Black Community or Guidelines For Being Strong White Allies or 8 Lessons From the Future of Solidarity: How White People Can Support the Movement for Black Lives, or any of the other numerous resources out there. Another great read is “Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women that a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall.
During our “Coronacation”, the kids and I look for a way to help a friend, another family, a small business, or just each other at least once a week. It helps keep the focus on what we can do instead of feeling sorry for ourselves. My 16 year old loves to take fresh baked bread and coffee to her friends’ families. My 9 year old mostly likes to support local businesses (especially when it comes to Vivify Burger’s milkshakes 😉). He also enjoys writing letters to family & friends. That’s not to say that everything is always rosy or that our days aren’t sometimes difficult.
This past weekend my son was having a rough day. So we sat together in my favorite comfy chair to read a short devotional. The devotion was about a struggling family and how in the midst of lost jobs and financial strain the community came together to support them. At the end of the passage the author says “Sometimes God’s sweetest blessings are in a bag of groceries. The next time you’re at the store, grab an extra bag and fill it for a family.” When I read that part out loud I turned and told Gus that I thought that was a brilliant way we could help someone this week. And he said, “Mama, that’s what we should’ve been doing anyway.” Out of the mouths of babes, right? It is absolutely what we should be doing.
So today when I order my groceries from InstaCart I’ll let the kids choose groceries they think a family would like. We’ll fill up an extra bag with the hope that bag will be a blessing to whoever gets it. If you know someone who could use a little extra this week please let me know. We will deliver to the front porch, no questions asked. You can reach me by email at email@example.com.
Quarantine time (or coronacation as we call it at our house) has made it easy to lose track of the days. If you or someone you love has fallen victim to this wild time warp, here is your public service announcement: TOMORROW IS MOTHER’S DAY. Yes, tomorrow. If you’re about to be in hot water let me help you out with a few super last minute gift ideas.
Gift cards to any shop downtown or a Fredericksburg gift card good for most places downtown. Some suggestions are: Monkees, Willow, Skin Touch Therapy, Joshua Lawrence, Phosphene Studio, Agora Coffee, Hyperion Espresso, or if you can’t decide, Fredericksburg Downtown has your back.
If you’re looking for something more low-key try this recipe from King Arthur Flour to serve Mom breakfast in bed. It’s my favorite, hard to mess up, puff pancake, made in the oven, and tastes like Heaven. Trust me on this one. Pair with a cup of coffee and Mom will be impressed. Just don’t forget to do the dishes when you’re done.
To really win mom’s heart this Mother’s Day, do the Face the Foliage art project with your kids. It works with all ages (you should try one too!). You don’t even need to go to the store, just use stuff you find in your backyard or kitchen, and grab some paper and glue (or tape). If you need more inspiration check out this Instagram page. Don’t forget to follow @househomeloveva while you’re there!
These are the projects my 9 & 16 year old did on the fly today.