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A Cluttered Life


hopeless - heI have really been struggling with my motivation lately especially in regards to my money making jobs.  I recognize what one of the main problems is, at least I think, but I am really hoping for some nuggets of wisdom from the BAD community.

I recognize that I have been so blessed with the work I get to do.  In addition, I am blessed that work seems to show up when I need it most through little or no effort on my part (as far as marketing goes that is.)  I do not take this for granted at all, but lately I’ve found myself shooting myself in the foot with these opportunities rather than grabbing them and running with them.  Ugh, that sounds horrible and I hate to say it, but I’ve got to turn around and I need to be honest.

I think the issue is that my To Do list is just so long that I feel overwhelmed and instead of picking things up and getting them done so I can mark them off the list, I just roll over and do something else completely that has no value at all (read watch TV episodes on my iPad rather than work.)  This is not normal for me. I thrive on being busy, but lately it’s just overwhelming to me.

It’s gotten so bad lately that even my To Do lists aren’t getting made.

So this last week I recognized just how over-scheduled I was.  In a seven day period, I had exactly one solid work day and even then I was supposed to spend half of it at my part time job. This is definitely not normal but I think it was a wake up call to myself that something has to give.  So here are the questions I’m running through my head as I try to tackle this:

  1. How do I get myself motivated to tackle my To Do list of work items without feeling overwhelmed especially when I combine my home and work lists together?
  2. How do I deal with the guilt I feel when my kids ask “what are going to do or can we watch a family movie?” and my respond almost 90% of the time is “I have to work?”
  3. How do I balance everything?  For some reason, this summer for the first time, I just am so overwhelmed with everything going on.  And again, I thrive on busyness so this is a really new feeling.

I am hoping that by putting this out there I can clear this blockage that has really been negatively affecting my money making jobs, my home life and my attitude in general.  I’m sorry if this is rambling, but I hope you get my point.




  • Reply TPol |

    I think what you are describing is something we all experience from time to time. I am the queen of procrastination. Here is how I tackle it: I make my list and put it in order of importance and look at the 5 top priorities. If some of them are small enough to take care of in a short time, I tackle one of those to feel the satisfaction of accomplishment. If they are overwhelming, I insert a low priority but easy to do task to create the same feeling. Once you get going, you get going.

    Some days this is hard so we just have to do what we have to do.

  • Reply Mysti |

    We all get overwhelmed at times, so don’t beat yourself up about that piece. You are suffering from the paralysis that happens when you are overwhelmed, and therefore you don’t do anything.

    As for the rest…you may not like this….but you ALL need a schedule. I know that many people who work for themselves, homeschool, etc, don’t typically stick to a formal schedule and prefer to let things flow. If the flow isn’t working, you need a schedule.

    You need to get up at a certain time, just as if you were going to a brick and mortar job. You need to think about your list, how long it will take to do each task, and come up with a daily schedule to get it done.

    Just try it for a week and see how it goes. See what things HAVE to be done sooner than later, and make sure those get done first thing….even if they aren’t the favorite task. You may find once you are able to cross a few things off your list, the rest will seem more managable.

    • Reply Kerry |

      Similarly, your kids need their own lists of projects they are working on independently (even as mundane as “This summer I am reading all of X series, writing 3 weekly letters, exploring that woods and looking for frogs”) and learn to not need direct supervision/direction between the hours of 9-3pm in the summer.

      But what do I know? I’m all GenX when you could do these things.

  • Reply Maureen |

    I know that you home school your children for particular reasons (I am not questioning your motivation or beliefs in doing so), but if it is possible, have you ever considered putting your children in public school (or at least the two youngest)? This won’t help with the summer, but might free up some time during the school year.

  • Reply Mary |

    I think everyone feels like that at some point. I think it gets harder as everyone piles more on their plate. I also think you have it a little harder than others because you are a single Mom and never get a break from the kids (I know you just posted about one, but still, not long enough, lol.) We all need that.

    A few things I’ve learned over time when I feel that way are: 1) I usually need some sleep! I care for my son 24/7 and get a full night’s sleep 3-4 days a month when my ex-husband takes my son. 2) Be kind to yourself. No one needs to work themselves into the ground. It’s o.k. to take your foot off the gas pedal and coast on occasion. 3) Do something you love. Sometimes, I just need an hour or afternoon to visit with friends or go into a store and look around to be inspired (I love decorating and interior design.). I find that when I do something I love or spend time with friends or have a meal with a friend, it does wonders for my motivation. 4) Ditto the thoughts on regular school only because it would give you some time to do your work and to give you a break. That’s a pretty tough schedule to be up all day and all night (working). I know because I frequently do that to take care of my son (totally disabled). I remind myself that I don’t have to do chores at midnight or 2 a.m., lol. 5) I also find that it’s important to make sure that my action items line up with my goals. For example, it’s really important for me to take care of my son-he’s medically fragile and the bar is set pretty high for me on a daily basis in order for me to keep him healthy (make all meals from scratch, blend them up, give him a cup every half hour through a tube, turn and move him with a hoyer lift, give meds every six hours, dress and clean him up, do medical treatments and work outside the home) but I also know that if I take on too many other tasks, I’ll be too tired to take care of him or do what he needs so I have to say “no” sometimes to other tasks, even if I want to do them, because he’s my priority. You have to make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin. I’ve said many times that you have a lot on your plate. Cut yourself a little slack and be kind to yourself. This too shall pass:)

    Take care Hope.

  • Reply AT |

    Sounds like post-vacation slump, a regular phenomena that will pass.

    When this procrastination bug happens to me, first I remember that perfect is the enemy of good. Then I make a list of jobs I think I can do in 10 minutes or less. Make a game to bang those out. Then I’m back on a roll.

    And set a date/time for movie night with the kiddos that you all can look forward to. Until then, part of the wisdom gained in childhood is learning to entertain oneself. If they complain they are bored, put them to work shredding papers or cleaning grout. They’ll soon figure out a better alternative.

  • Reply Den |

    I couple strategies I have found that work when I’m overwhelmed:

    1. Take a day off from the to-do list. Read, go for a walk, be aimless…..refresh!
    2. Make a reasonable to-do list. 2 or 3 items a day for a week. Once those items are done each day – stop and go do something fun.
    3. Cross unimportant things off the list! Do I truly need to reorganize my linen closet – nope!
    4. Share the list! Assign anything you can to others – I needed to let go of feeling like I was the only one that could vacuum correctly, load the dishwasher correctly, weed the front garden, etc…once I let go of my perfectionism the rest of the family could help accomplish items on the list. With older kids I gave them a few items and a time frame and then stepped back and gave them the freedom to do them in whatever order they wanted, and whenever they wanted during the time frame – they appreciated that and learned a great deal from that (better to get your chores done early instead of them hanging over your head all day).
    5. Let the family know that I have 2 or 3 items to complete and then we can do something fun like a movie or bike ride…..that way everyone understands the schedule and will give you the time to complete your work.
    6. Enjoy and celebrate every item checked off the list – that motivates me to tackle the next item!

    Mostly it sounds like you are burned out and just need a short break to recharge – good luck!

  • Reply Ashley |

    This is so hard and I feel this way a lot too, so I can definitely relate! One thing that has helped me with the family-work balance is to try to have defined work periods and family periods. For me the division is easy (MWF = work; TTH = family). Instead of having a big long list of To Dos that need to be accomplished on Tues/Thurs, I plan to do only essentials (e.g., checking email to make sure nothing urgent has come up that needs response) but, otherwise, those days are dedicated to the family. It doesn’t have to be full days though, you could set certain hours that are “work only” and certain hours that are “family.” Having that clear division helps keep things from bleeding over. Otherwise, I find that I feel like I’m working all the time, even if very little is getting accomplished (like, lots of emails, but no work of real substance – if that makes sense). I’m excited to read others’ responses because this is SOOO something I struggle with, too!

  • Reply Shirley |

    The above suggestions are spot on and I’ll add a few more as I manage teams working on complex projects for work. We just read a book by “Brian Tracy” called Eat that Frog that suggests that you identify all the current tasks and list them as A, B, C, D, or E urgency. You will be surprised at how many things you are thinking that need to be accomplished that really don’t matter. The intent of the book is to take your biggest, ugliest task (ie frog) and get it over with first and move on. Scheduling out your day for work, personal, and family time is a good idea as it also sets expectations for everyone to know when they get 100% of your attention.

    Hang in there, you know you are doing a great job.

  • Reply Louise |

    It’s essential to get down-time. I am self employed and I know what it’s like to have so much to do and to just feel incapable/hide in front of the TV. I have found two things invaluable. 1) if I can’t work, give myself permission to do a genuinely relaxing activity with no self-recrimination, and return to work afterwards. Eg I might watch a movie or do some gardening. It’s actually really helpful to plan this into my day instead of waiting until I’m feeling ‘blocked’ and frantic. 2) I use a timer, set it for 15 minutes, and tell myself ‘you can do anything for 15 minutes’. I sit down at my desk and for 15 minutes make a genuine attempt to get work done. At the end of the 15 minutes I give myself permission to stop working and set the time for 15 minutes of ‘play’. I usually find at the end of the first 15 minutes either I have accomplished something good and am ready to play on the internet for 15 minutes before starting with again OR I am now feeling motivated to keep working.

  • Reply emmi |

    Yeah, this happens to me sometimes. I find it helps to give into it a bit and take care of myself instead of the todo list. I get more exercise, I make better meals, I make sure I get to bed early, do a little other pampering things (that are free) like a long bath. This makes me feel like I don’t really have any valid complaints.

    Barring that, I think about water. I think of the women in undeveloped countries who have to carry big barrels of water for miles every single day to their home. Then I note that I have hot and cold running DRINKABLE water in my tap and really, if I can’t get stuff done even though I don’t have to carry water for miles every day, I need a kick in the tush.

  • Reply teresa |

    My suggestion is to get as much done as humanly possible before 9am. No TV, fb, phone, anything until 9:00. It’s amazing how much a person can do in just a few hours if you set your mind to it. I also make “rules” for myself that I refuse to break, just learned habits that make my life better. I have done some upfront work that has simplified my life forever and cut out things that make things more difficult. I also think about these issues as “first world problems”, because at the end of the day we have it so easy compared to a whole bunch of other moms.

So, what do you think ?