Single-Tasking in 2016 – My 5 Step Plan

I don’t know if I really do New Year’s resolutions. I think I make a series of small promises to myself for living a healthier life, but I don’t really ever make a true PLAN. I realize that making a plan is really the first step in committing to something, so I guess I’ve never really taken any resolutions all that seriously. Until now.

I need a change. I need a big change. Yes, I need to eat heathier, work out more, take care of myself better, yadda yadda yadda. But what I really need more than anything is focus.

If there’s anything I can do for myself in 2016 is to reclaim my calm and focus.

As a mom who works full time, like millions of other moms, I feel like my life is always in chaos. When someone asks how I am, my response is usually “crazy” or “chaotic”. Why? Why is everything so chaotic?

Our day to day existence is very much “survival mode”. We handle crises only as they come up, juggle my 11+ hour day (that’s before Board of Ed, volunteer board work and other external obligations) with my wife’s retail schedule (that includes both weekend days), Cub Scouts, baseball, skiing/snowboarding, childcare, snow days, kids’ schoolwork, friends, family, work obligations, schedule changes, kids’ friend obligations, illnesses, car issues, appliances breaking down, etc. Then, throw in there for good measure, God forbid, some quality time together – as a couple.

My day consists of rolling out of bed, directly into the shower, dressed, in the car to work, work, drive home from work, directly to the dinner table, directly to giving the kids a bath, directly to bed – where I watch TV, read my kindle or play on the iPad.

When I’m sitting at dinner with the kids, I’m thinking about work and other stresses.

When I’m sitting at work, I’m thinking about a broken Nintendo, bill paying, insurance company calls, plotting birthday parties, calendar issues, housing issues, errand planning, etc.

When I’m sitting in a board meeting, I’m thinking about kids’ schedules and work matters.

What has happened in all of this is that I’m not 100% anywhere. I’m not listening, I’m not focused, I’m not fully there. We are doing so much “on the fly” that I feel totally groundless – I am not even sure where the ground beneath my feet went. I have a harder time finding that deep, purposeful, effective focus that I need in my activities – whether it’s the time with the kids or my work. I occasionally miss the “deep work” of which my fellow blogger, Melanie speaks of here.

I actually have a plan now. As I sit and read through my plan, I am cognizant of the fact that the biggest theme here is MINDFULNESS. That word, that theory, that I try to come back to from time to time and always seem to wander away from when I need it the most.

  1. Change the morning routine (this is #1 and in bold for a reason – I need this more than anything)

Yes, I do need to get on the workout train again. In my schedule, my workout time will need to be 5:30 am. I’ve made this time totally unreachable lately because I’m up until after 11 pm every night and cannot even fathom getting myself out of bed in the morning. But I want to reclaim my mornings and my plan is this:

I will get up at 5:00 am and I will utilize my morning. I will have my coffee, tea or heck even hot water with tea and lemon. I will meditate and I will then work out. But the most important part of my morning will be my positive thought, my mantra or gatha (references below):

“Today, I will accept what is instead of resenting what isn’t”


“May I be Happy. May I be Healthy. May I be Creative. May I be at ease.”


“A new day begins, and with it another opportunity to create kindness, joy and success.”


“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion”

– – – – – – – – – – –

Okay, If you think this is lame, you don’t have to do it. This is for me. But, I read this quote recently and truly believe it:

“Be pleasant until ten o’clock in the morning and the rest of the day will take care of itself” – Elbert Hubbard.

I’m tired of waking up each morning with the hurumph following the alarm clock sound, the weary creaking of my bones as I doggedly shuffle into the shower, the feeling of doom about having to go to work, etc. It’s exhausting.

  1. Pause

As I’ve said 1,000 before, you just need 5 minutes. 5 minutes of pause. Whether it’s meditating, mindful breating, coloring (yes, silly to many), just stepping outside in the cold air to watch the snow fall, closing your eyes at your desk and daydreaming, knitting, etc. I will find the pause button again.

  1. Budgeting

We took a budgeting class last year and loved it. We’ve just gotten away from it and have fallen into the mindless spending of $5 here, there and everywhere. We have the tools to get back and track and we know how to do it. We have big potential expenses coming up in the next year and we need to refocus. Getting back to the spreadsheet-style of budgeting is not that hard and time consuming – we can do this.

  1. Scheduling

I am going back to old school on this one. I am fully aware that I can link my work calendar, town baseball calendar, Google calendar, Cub Scouts calendar and everything else I want on my phone. I understand the amazing convenience of this. But I have moved back to a day planner, a hard-copy, real paper day planner that I will write EVERYTHING down where and when I’m supposed to be. I need to see it in writing and plan ahead, instead of just getting reminders on my phone 15 minutes ahead. We also have gone back to a “week-at-a-glance” style whiteboard in our kitchen for family scheduling.

  1. I say no

I am slowing moving away from the obligations and responsibilities that I don’t really need on my plate. I am accepting the fact that I’m not as “needed” in all of these obligations as I’ve convinced myself that I am. This is ridiculously hard for me. But I’m working on weighing the stress something truly places on my life versus how much I can really help someone/something.


References for morning mantras:

2 thoughts on “Single-Tasking in 2016 – My 5 Step Plan

  1. This is great. I said no today to someone who I really would like to say yes to and to something that I know I would have really enjoyed, but would have pushed me over the edge on my obligations. But I guess I didn’t say no, I just said – not right now.

  2. I love my hard copy planner. The act of writing something down has always helped my recall. Typing just isn’t the same.

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