Are you wondering how to find your priorities as a mom? After some research and reading I finally stumbled upon a method that was clear and straightforward. I was able to adapt it for my life as a homeschool mom of a large family. Now, no matter what season of life I’m in, I can easily determine where my focus should be and create a task list that keeps me on track with my goals and prioriites. I am excited to share this simple 3 step method with you today!
As a busy mom, everyday there are a myriad of things to be done, and everything can feel like it’s urgent. Especially when you have a little one pulling on your pant leg, the food is burning, and you haven’t showered! You feel like your attention is demanded by someone or something 24/7. It can be overwhelming to even begin to think about what to do next. One crazy moment leads into the next and before you know it, you are falling into bed at the end of the night exhausted yet unsure of what you even did all day.
I’ve experienced this feeling in different seasons of life. Sometimes it’s inevitable, like after a baby is born, or during a move or job change. However, I realized when my life began to feel like chaos is the new normal, something had to change.
My utmost desire is to be intentional with my time in the roles God has called me to. I would make a list of what I wanted to accomplish each day and then start chipping away at it as best I could. However, the inevitable needs or moment to moment crises would arise and my list would be derailed. Trying to decide what to do next felt futile and I would just give up and waste more time on the frivolous and unnecessary. I realized that I needed to determine my real priorities. But what I discovered was that I didn’t know how to do that. Isn’t everyone and everything I care about a priority??
Why it is important to determine your priorities as a mom
I truly believe every little thing we do in our home, in joy and service to the Lord, is worthy of our time. I believe the gospel works in an upside down measurement. It is in serving, not striving, that we find satisfaction and joy. Each diaper change, and meal made with love is of great value. However, my desire is to be intentional and focused on what God has called me to. It is easy to become distracted by other things and easily fritter my time away with unneccesary busy work.
We have limited resources as moms, and if we don’t have a clear vision, our everyday to-do list can feel insurmountable. It is crucial that we limit our task list to those things that will have the most impact on what we believe we are called to.
Without a clear definition of our priorities it also becomes more difficult to focus or accomplish our goals. I found it was easy for me to forget my priorities and get frazzled over undone tasks when I felt I had been diligent all day. When the baby is fussy and the toddler is needy everything can feel impossible. Most of us have heard that we need to keep our priorities in order. But it is determining them where we get hung up.
The method for how to find your priorities as a mom
After reading many different time management strategies and systems, I found one that was simple, but geared more to the corporate workspaces. An adapted version of Brian Tracy’s ABCD method is what helped me more clearly determine my priorities. Now I can easily see which tasks are the most important to focus on in any given day. Since discovering this method I am less distracted by unnecessary “busy” work. I can conquer my to-do list with confidence even when it only has 1 thing on it that day! This has been very freeing.
At the end of this post I have a printable you can get to work through your own priority list and how to make a quick decision on what are your top priorities.
The Brian Tracy method is a method to determine which tasks fit into which priority list. Some of you might have heard of the phrase “Eat the frog.” This comes from his strategy. Although it sounds daunting, it’s actually a simple reminder to take care of the most important things first. Simply put, do the hardest most important thing first and it’s over for the rest of the day! I didn’t personally care for this metaphor. I don’t want to start my day with the worst thing. Also, with lots of little kids I can’t always just do the most important thing right away.
However, his method for determining priorities has been very helpful for me. It simplified what I know I need to do next in any given moment. As a mom of 9, this list helps me not just do less important busy tasks to feel productive. Instead, when I have a free moment I am able to focus to become more effective and efficient.
The method works like this. First, there are A, B,C,D lists. This is just a lettered ranking system. A-D Top to bottom. Tasks get ranked on their urgency and importance. Sorry, we can’t always put time with kids and hubby in the A list and dishes and laundry in the D list! 🙂
How I’ve adapted this list is by using a series of questions. Instead of an A to D list equalling urgent to less urgent, important to less important, I ask a few questions to determine which list the tasks should be included in.
First steps for how to find your priorities as a mom
1. Define your roles
What has God called me to in particular?
I believe he has called me, personally, to serve Him and His kingdom with my particular skills and abilities. These fit within the roles He has called me to as a wife and mother (teacher). Alongside those, I am to love and serve my extended family, church, community, and world with my gifts.
2. Determine your goals
What are my goals in each of these roles?
The previous list helps me realize which things take precedence. For me in particular, it helped me clarify that I value relationships over productivity. But this also will include things like caring for and running our home as a means to love my family and anyone who enters it. For me personally, it also means I homeschool our children and run a blog and youtube channel. For our family with seven boys, we have goals of establishing connection with our kids through creative production, service, ministry and physical activities together. Your goals will look different than mine, as well as your roles. But spending some time thinking through these things will pay off towards clarity, purpose and mission in how you spend your days.
Personal habits & care
It’s also important to determine the best way you can take care of yourself in your current season. What are the daily habits that help you steward well the body and time you have currently? This is an important step because if you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be well equipped to take care of anyone else. What do you need to do to maintain your spiritual and physical capabilities in your current life season and situation? What do you need to eat? How much to sleep and exercise? Newly forming habits and priorities fit within the A list automatically, but obviously not to the detriment or neglect of anyone else.
The final step for how to find your priorities
Now that you’ve defined your roles and goals, we can get into the nitty gritty of how to categorize those tasks.
To be clear, these tasks are new to come up on your to do list each day. Don’t include the menial tasks that are part of a good established routine and habits. However, if you don’t have those in place, then you could inlude the first step toward creating those systems in your A task list.
3. Questions to ask each task
Does this task move me toward my long term goals?
Does this task have negative consequences if I do not do it?
Can I delegate this?
Flowchart for how to find your priorities
A list: Yes to all three
B list: No to #1. Yes to # 2, No to #3
C list: Yes to #1, No to #2, No to #3
D list: No to #1, No to #2, No to #3
Note: Any task that you can delegate should not go on your list.
- Does this task move me toward my long term goals?
It is important to sit down and make a list of the categories of general tasks you do everyday first, so that you do not have to make these decisions for every task in every moment. A little brainstorming ahead of time eliminates a lot of the decision fatigue in the moment. Spending time connecting with your hubby might not seem urgent, but is it important for your relationship goals? Daily habits that keep you healthy are also important even though they can be very small things, like taking your vitamins.
- Does this task have negative consequences if I do not do it?
Some things do not feel important in the moment, but will have negative consequences if left undone now, or for a long period of time. Sweeping your kitchen is not urgent, but if you don’t do it for a long time you’ll have varmits and bugs! The same goes for laundry or placing a grocery order, meal planning etc. Some things will vary on the day by how important it is and how bad the consequences are if not done. Although, this question helps keep us from always putting laundry or meal planning as the least important tasks, just because they might be our least favorite ones.
- Can this be delegated?
Delegate any task to your husband or kids when you can. I am not suggesting that every menial task be. However, there are many things that only you are able to do. Think through tasks your husband or children can do. Establish those taks and then remove them from your lists. What does go on my list is household management tasks so I remember to check in on them, but not to STEP in for them. I am all for helping each other out, and everyone pitching in, but I don’t put my kid’s or hubby’s tasks on my list. If I sense a busy day for them and see a way I can help, I’ll gladly do so, but I keep to my lane as best I can.
Keep in mind that the tasks that are on this list should not part of your regular routine and rhythm that are working. Unless you need to establish some, then you can use this list to write “create a healthy morning routine” for example.
Some helpful tips for moms
Ask yourself what can I do NOW? Move through your list from A- D as you are ABLE.
Determine what timing is better for which tasks. Naptime for quiet tasks? Awake time for active tasks?
Keep relationships as a priority. Interruptions to the active tasks are not real interruptions- they are the important thing!
When the dishes and laundry pile up as you play with your needy littles, revisit your list at nap time. See what else you can do from your A or B task list, try to do one and then rest.
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- Define your roles
- Determine your goals (including personal care)
- Give each task it’s assigned category
Begin taking action!
I hope this blog post has helped you see a way to assign each task it’s place and be able to limit the overwhelm of indecision.
Let me know if you have any questions or if you try this and LOVE it, or even if you are confused!
As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the interwebs!