Memory For Mommies

... Cutting through the Fog of Motherhood

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Make Family Time More Memorable: Prioritize

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mommy and child
The number of tasks a mother must accomplish on any given day is mind-boggling. With a monumental number of things to do, often every task seems just as important as the next. Not only do moms get stressed out and overwhelmed, but as days and years go by, the moments become a blur. An interview of empty-nest moms revealed many regretted that in their haste of getting things done, they missed some of the richness of key moments with their children. 

So, what do we do to get things done and also free us up to be present for those moments with our children? The key is time and task prioritization.

If you Google time and task prioritization, you will get many different ideas on the topic. One of the simplest and most practical is the Time Prioritization Matrix, designed by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and made popular by famed author, Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People). The matrix is divided into four areas:  I) Important/Urgent; II) Important/Not Urgent; III) Not Important/Urgent; and IV) Not Important/Not Urgent.

time management grid - version 2

First let’s define the terms Important and Urgent. According to Eisenhower: 
  • Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal. 
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else's goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate. As mommies, we spend significant amounts of time in this area.
Now that we understand the definitions, here’s how Eisenhower defines the four quadrants. 

I)Important/Urgent – These are items that need to be dealt with immediately. These tasks tend to be typically reactive in nature. Things like crises, pressing problems, hard deadlines, family emergencies. From a mom’s perspective, they might be things like:
  • Sick or hurt child
  • Last minute school project
  • An escalating squabble between the kids
  • Family emergency
  • Real/hard deadlines on projects 
  • Child has a problem at school (such as bully or detention)
  • Baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying inconsolably
II)Important/Not Urgent – These are items that we know we need to do for the future and personal / family well being. They’re important for the quality of our life today and in the future. Things like goal-setting, career-planning, and other tasks that drive us toward our future success. From a mom’s perspective, it can be things like:
  • Travel plans
  • Weekly planning
  • Grocery planning for coming week
  • Developing your social calendar (family and personal)
  • Fitness planning  (such as a workout schedule)
  • Allocating “me” time
  • Seeking out social groups
III)Not Important/Urgent – These are items that at the moment might feel urgent, however, in the grand scheme of things have little meaning. These are the tasks that at the end of the day we wonder where all the time went. They usually occur because of poor planning and prioritizing. Items like: Phone calls that are off-topic, emails with some deadline but don’t mean anything. From a mom’s perspective:
  • Kids wanting you to drive them to their hangout spot
  • Solicitor at the door
  • Running into people who want to tell you their life story
  • Each email/text interruption
  • Maintaining a fast-paced schedule of after-school activities when it keeps you from helping your kids with their daily homework
IV)Not Important/Not Urgent – These are items that don’t have to be done soon and make very little difference in the grand scheme of things. These items should be minimized. They really add no value. Items like mindless web browsing, video games, too much television, and other time wasters. From a mom’s perspective, they could be things like:
  • Spending too much time on social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  • Binge watching television
  • Organizing your preschooler’s sock drawer one more time
  • Focusing more on snapping pictures than on enjoying the moment with the kids
  • Standing in line to be the first to buy the newest electronic gadget
Remember, each of us has our own set of priorities and we must define what we put into our own quadrants. What might be Not Important/Not Urgent to one person might be Important/Urgent to another. The Not-Urgent/Not Important category is such a sensitive category since it's such a personal matter for every mom, and so emotionally-charged. You might say a manicure or pedicure falls into that category, or reading a mindless celebrity gossip magazine; however, another mom might find that those are the very things that keep her sane, or that she needs them for professional reasons. The key is to come to grips with where your own priorities fall. 

Once you get your own matrix defined and start using it, you’ll find that you’ll make better decisions. Better decisions will ensure that you’re present in those memorable family moments that really count.  For more information on time prioritization and other components, contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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