What Fills Your Time?

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What do you allow to fill your time?

Someone said this phrase recently & it has stuck with me ever since. “Work will expand to fit whatever space you allow it to.” 

We all have those days, right, when it feels like we’re spinning our wheels constantly but have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Or you had a work schedule in mind but then you get an email or a meeting request & you find yourself working outside of your schedule. But the work needs to be done so you allow your boundaries to fade & just do what needs to be done.

If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll remember this post, where I talk about the overwhelm I was feeling & how I sent out a request for help from my Mom & how she graciously decided to come up for 6 weeks to help us out! I’ve learned some things from those 6 weeks & the quote above falls nicely into place with what I was learning.

One of the things I enjoyed while Mom was here was we had lunch just the 2 of us almost every Friday during her visit. 

I technically block of my Fridays so the kids & I can spend a fun day together. That’s when I’ve planned for getting together with friends, going on adventures in our area, having nothing to do besides being with each other. 

But, then over the last few months I’ve let work creep in on our Fridays & have scheduled meetings or have started using it as my catch-up day. It was great since we don’t do school on Friday so I could focus on work rather than splitting my time up.

But with Mom here for only 6 weeks, I felt like I needed to guard that time with her. And then I realized that I wasn’t guarding my time with the kids. I’d allowed work to creep in & steal my time that I’d blocked off for them. And then I heard the quote above. “Work will expand”, how very true is that. I mentally picture those little capsules that we used to put in water as kids, and the outer layer would dissolve & then the foam that was inside it would expand to look like an animal. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Work tasks are like home tasks, they are never ending! There will always be something to do in the house, there will always be something I need to do for work.

But why did I open my own business? So that I could be in charge of the schedule; so that I could determine how much I was working & still be there for my family. 

The second part of the quote, “the space you allow it to”, was kind of a sucker punch as I realized yes, work is never ending, but I’m the one allowing it to creep into my family time. 

I’m allowing the calls to be scheduled on my calendar when I have it blocked off for my kids; I’m the one who’s staying up later which then means I’m not waking up early enough to get my work time in before the kids wake up & need me. 

Yes, there are seasons where there’s more work, there are times when there is extra stuff that needs to be done, but I have control over when it happens!

If you’ve read my post on the jars/sand/rock analogy, you’ll see how I can schedule our day. I’ve realized I’ve slipped on this point & have become less productive because I’m focusing on the sand rather than the rocks!   
If I could do that for 6 weeks with my mom, then I gosh darn should be able to do it for my kids!

So here are 5 tips I’ve found helpful as I’m refocusing on how to protect my boundaries, how to keep my family the focus, how to keep my priorities where I want them to be.

1) Write out what’s important to you, what your ideal boundaries are going to be.
– For me that was making sure I’m off my computer by a certain time each evening, making sure my Fridays are clear for my kids, making time each day to be outside with them, & not allowing work to creep into time I’ve set aside for them.

2) Write out when you’re going to do those important things.
– I’m big on having things written down. I have on my calendar a big block scheduled out on Fridays that says, “kid time”. I also have some goals written out, like I mentioned above, of what I want to do with the kids. I would like to do a walk before dinner, the kids can scooter or roller blade, but my goal is to just get us outside to enjoy the evening after all of us have been working hard all day. Make a plan so you keep your focus.

3) Stick to those boundaries you’ve set!
– I had to realize exactly how badly I wasn’t sticking to them & also realize that I was always going to have someone who needed something from me. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a client, there’s always something that needs to be done. I’ve started triaging my to-do list, getting the emergency or time sensitive items completed, & then schedule when I’ll do the rest. If your child comes to you bleeding, you’re not going to tell them to wait while you make your other child a sandwich, right? You’ll deal with the task that’s a higher priority & then come back to the one that’s less urgent. I’m implementing the same thing for my boundaries!

4) Be intentional with your time.
– I realized that I wasn’t being a good steward or manager of my time. Sometimes work is easier than dealing with kid drama. I hate saying it, but it’s true! I found myself wasting time at my desk rather than making every minute count towards productivity, which was taking time away from my time with my kids. It’s like when you set the timer so you can do 30 minutes of focused cleaning rather than wondering from thing to thing & taking over an hour to get a room halfway finished. I’ve started being more focused & intentional with my time when I’m at my desk & I’m being more productive in shorter amounts of time!

5) Give yourself grace!
– I think this is a hugely important step. We as Mompreneurs are pulled in so many directions. It’s not an easy role & most of the Mompreneurs I know are just doing the best they can. Like I said above, there are seasons where you’re going to be busier than others. We actually sat our kids down about 2 months ago to communicate with them that my work was ramping up for the next few months & that they needed to give me grace, help out more than they usually do, & that I’d be doing the best I could. Communication, working as a team, & being intentional are all huge steps towards making this Mompreneur life smoother.

Have you gone through a season where you realized that your boundaries have slipped & you need to tighten them back up?

Come on over to the free Facebook group, Team Managing Mompreneurs, to find a community of other Mompreneurs who are dealing with the same things you are dealing with! 

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