My usual response is something like, “I don’t.”
A few months ago I was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of projects I had taken on and I was feeling like I couldn’t easily sum up who I was anymore. I have a lot of interests and it’s good to have a variety of hobbies and talents, but you know those people who stand up to give their 20-second elevator pitch and it goes something like: “My name is Rachel and I’m a real estate agent for Executive Real Estate, I’m also a freelance writer and an independent Avon consultant and if you want to book your Scentsy party, give me a call.”
By the time Rachel is done, I’m lost and asking the person next to me “What does she do again?” And they shrug because they tuned out between real estate agent and Avon.
Six months ago I was feeling like that was me. My title at the end of my emails was something like: Newspaper publisher, Mrs. Utah Director, freelance writer, reporter/journalist, columnist, blogger, social media and marketing expert, public speaker, mom, cook, house cleaner and the woman who walks around sleep deprived. People would ask me what I do and I would debate, do I tell them about St. George News, Mrs. Utah, Social Media, oh and don’t forget that part time job at Town and Country.
I was having a discussion with a friend of mine around that time and telling her how I felt overwhelmed just by thinking of all the projects I was involved in. And boy do I love having my hand in every little project, but it was really interfering with my family life.
In the last few weeks I’ve done a really great job of pulling in the reigns. I took a position with Canyon Media as the morning show co-host on Fox News in the morning. I write newspaper stories in the afternoon and manage my writers. And that is what I “do.” When someone asks what my job is, I work for the radio station.
I still do some things on the side: I have a blog, I do some freelance writing, I do some social media work and marketing, as well. But the key to finding more time with my children and a happier, and well-rested Jen, was learning to say “No.”
Oh how I admire you super moms, I’ve been doing it myself for years – working multiple jobs to take care of my children and juggling a clean house and still trying to fit in homework with the kids, homework myself when I was also going to school full time and,even dating. But when we take on so much, we have to learn that we are giving in other areas of our lives. Good eating habits and exercise went out the window for years. More quality time with children struggled as I worked multiple jobs. I have a hard time finding time to make sure my friends know that I truly care about them.
So how do we prioritize when there is just so much to do and we are trying to do it all?
Learn to say “no.”
I sat down and made a list of ALL the things I was trying to do in a day. I quickly realized that I didn’t have nearly the amount of time needed to do them all effectively and be good at what I do. So I took an honest look at my schedule and prioritized them by two things: the items I loved and was passionate about and the items that made me money (I have two kids to take care of after all). And then there were the items left over. The ones I didn’t look forward to, procrastinated and felt guilty saying no to but didn’t really want to do.
Now there are things we have to do to make money or further our career: I wrote for free for years while I was establishing myself as a freelancer and columnist. But at some point, you have to choose which publications give you the largest return, either financially or credibility. And then you might have to cut out the rest.
Then I looked to see if there were things I was doing because I could, but not necessarily because I needed to. I asked myself, is there someone who does this better than me? If yes, then why am I even competing in this area? Why am I not just helping out a fellow colleague or friend and referring business their way?
When you get to the point where you pick and choose the items you are involved in, you will end up perfecting the ones you kept. And you will become well known for them because you focused on something you are good at. But if you are trying to do everything, especially when there is already someone out there who does it better, you are going to feel exhausted and like you are constantly competing and trying to prove yourself. Many of the items and hobbies, especially the social media and marketing, I don’t even tell people I’m involved in. I just do my job quietly and do it well.
Take a moment and really decide who you want to be and what you want to be known for. You may have to do some extra things along the way until you get there, but focus on trying to make yourself an expert in that area, not an expert on being overwhelmed and sleep deprived. You and your children will appreciate a less stressed you.