Define Your Time: More Than Just A Time Management Course

Define Your Time is more than just a time management course.  It's a new way to look at your life.

Last November when I went to Pinners Conference, I attended a class about how to make the most of your time.  The speaker, Nicole Carpenter, founder of MOMentity, gave us 10 tips for getting more done and most of them were easy enough that you could implement them the next day if you wanted to.  If I had to guess one of the top 3 things most people say the don’t have enough of, it’s time.  It’s elusive.  It goes by too quickly.  It’s viewed as either your enemy or your friend.  It’s something we don’t have control over.  Or do we?

After the class finished, I approached Nicole and asked her if she would be interested in a collaboration.  I loved her upbeat, positive attitude and her enthusiasm was contagious.  A week later, she emailed me and asked if I’d like to participate in her upcoming Define Your Time course: a four week workshop where you work through four different modules, attend training calls and complete homework assignments.  While I feel like I’m pretty good at managing my time and staying organized, I also recognized the opportunity to learn some new skills to help me manage my life even better.

I received the Define Your Time course for free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Define Your Time is more than just a time management course.  It's a new way to look at your life.

Nicole is a mom as well as a business owner, so she totally gets both aspects and how life can get crazy and out of control.  From her website:

“I know you are overwhelmed and, on some days, losing your mind! I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to love your kids to pieces but be unhappy with yourself (and even your life). I know what it’s like to FAKE HAPPINESS and be TOTALLY DISCONNECTED from your kids.  I even know what it’s like to WISH FOR DIFFERENT even when others would say what you have is pretty great.  Do you feel this way? It’s OK, there is a way out! Out of disconnect and out of overwhelm. MOMentity is here to help moms lost in motherhood realize they can both love themselves and their family and teach them a process that can make it happen.”

Doesn’t she sound like someone who “gets it”?

The class started and it was a fairly small group of women.  Some had taken the course before and others, like me, were new.  Nicole does a great job leading the calls and making sure everyone is able to share their thoughts, questions or concerns.  Nicole is so sweet and completely genuine.  She is passionate about helping women and is motivating to listen to.  She really knows and believes and applies everything she teaches.  She is also super real and not afraid to share the times when she has trouble, even with her own program.  I really appreciated this because it made me feel like even if I were to get off track, that I could jump back on board and keep moving forward.

For me, the most helpful part of the course was the first section where she lays the foundation for the following modules.  Define Your Time isn’t just about giving you a bunch of tools for time management, although that is part of it.  It is about figuring out your own values, where you currently spend your time and where you want to spend your time.  Once you’ve laid all that out, then you build on that newer, stronger foundation as you move forward with the other modules.  The reason I liked this portion of the course so much was because I realized that where I was spending my time and where I wanted to spend my time weren’t in alignment.  As a result, I was conflicted with how to best manage my time.  It was actually a very eye-opening experience and it’s something I’m still reflecting on a month after I finished the course.

Overall, I thought the course was very well put together.  Nicole does everything she can to help you be successful and apply her methods and tools to your own life.  She makes everything very personal and applicable and helps you think about time in a different way.  After taking her course, I feel more in control of the time that I have available because I have the tools I need to make time work for me instead of the other way around.  Define Your Time is a great option for anyone looking to get control of their life and make some positive changes using proven tools.

If you’d like more information about the Define Your Time course, click HERE to go to Nicole’s website.

Do you feel like you’re good at managing your time?  What areas are hardest to manage?

Mid-Year New Years Resolutions Check-Up

Mid-Year New Years Resolutions Check-Up

6 months into 2016.  The time has been absolutely flying for me, especially now that we are into summer and have so many activities going on.  When I was looking at my plans for my posts this week, I couldn’t believe that it was already time to review my new years resolutions and evaluate my progress.

And I have to say that sharing my goals and progress with you every three months has been interesting.  Part of me really likes the accountability, but the other part of me feels like I’m letting you down when I don’t accomplish my goals or work on them like I know I should (even though they are all personal goals).

So without further adieu, here’s my progress:
Goal: Be more charitable
Progress: Being charitable is such a hard thing to measure, especially without sounding like I’m tooting my own horn.  However, I can say that there have been some wonderful opportunities to serve others and give of myself over the last few months that I am grateful for.  When I have an attitude of charity and a willingness to give of my time or talents, I feel better about life.
Room for Improvement: There is always room for improvement in this area.  I hope that I can work towards keeping other people’s needs in my mind and look for ways to serve them.

Goal: Exercise regularly
Progress: As mentioned in my last review, I started attending a weekly dance class last fall and have been going each week.  Recently the class ended and won’t resume until the fall.  I have felt very proud of myself for going, even on nights when I didn’t want to or had a million other things to do.  When I dance, I feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.
Room for Improvement: Since the class ended, I haven’t been attending any other fitness classes or established a routine for myself at home.  However, I’ve been out on walk with my kids, gone hiking, played in the yard, etc.  So I feel that while I could do more, I’m not doing too bad.

Challenge yourself, change yourself.

Goal: Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family
Progress: My one-on-one time with my daughter has increased a little since she finished preschool, but my one-on-one time with my son has decreased a little because we used to do things together while big sister was at preschool.
Room for Improvement: This summer, I’m trying to plan activities better with my kids and husband so we can each have time together to build our relationships.

Goal: Keep up on my personal journal writing
Progress: Sadly, I don’t think I’ve made any progress on this since last time I wrote.  I was getting into a routine with my days and nights, but got a little thrown off and just haven’t picked it back up.
Room for Improvement: Lots of room to improve here!  I know I need to do this, but sometimes other things take over and this gets pushed to the back burner.  I know myself and if I can establish a routine and incorporate this, I will be better at it.

Goal: Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often
Progress: I’ve been working on this one more.  Mostly it’s been by stopping and taking time to give my kids a hug and say “I love you” or “thank you for {fill in the blank}”.  I’ve noticed that my daughter absolutely flourishes under compliments and her overall behavior and attitude improves when she is receiving them regularly.
Room for Improvement: I think there is always room to grow in this area.  The key is just being aware of others and telling them how I feel in the moment.  Thinking a kind thought and saying it right away.

Goal: Choose happiness
Progress: With the coming of spring and summer, this has been easier for me.  I am not someone who does well with cloudy, rainy/snowy, cold weather.  I love the sunshine and warmth.  Even my husband says I’m a happier person in the warm months.  I’ve had some bad days of course, but I feel so much lighter when I have a positive, happy attitude about life, even when it’s not going exactly how I’d like.
Room for Improvement: Definitely.  On days when I’m feeling sad or frustrated, I seem to have a harder time shaking it off than I used to as a kid/teenager/young adult.  Sometimes I want to feel frustrated or mad, but all this does is make me impatient and unhappy.  I want to snap out of my funks easier and I know I can do it because I’ve done it before.

How are you doing on your goals?  Do you feel good about the progress you’ve made, no matter how small?  Have you made new goals partway through this year?  I’d love to hear about how you’re doing!

New Years Resolutions Check Up

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Can you believe we are already three months into the new year?  Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter have all come and gone.  Spring is here.  Time seems to go by more quickly every year and sometimes I just want to yell for it to STOP !  Do you feel the same?

At the end of last year, I shared some of the goals I had set for myself for this coming year.  Then, at the beginning of the year, I gave some tips for improving success in reaching those goals.  Now that we are 3 months into the new year, I wanted to do a little check up on how those goals are going for me.  Maybe it will help you reflect on your own goals as well.

Goal: Be more charitable
Progress: This goal isn’t as easy to show progress on.  I feel like I’ve had situations or even days where I’m able to view people with more love and charity.  But I also know there are times when charity hasn’t been a part of my reaction to someone or something.
Room for Improvement: In my original post, I shared a quote that inspired me to make this a more consistent part of my life.  The very end says, “Charity is expecting the best of each other.”  To improve on this goal, I need to remember this overarching statement and not get too caught up in specifics.  If you are expecting the best of someone, your perspective will change too.

Goal: Exercise regularly
Progress: Starting in the fall of last year, I started going to a weekly dance class.  I’ve continued going to this class on a weekly basis, but haven’t increased my exercise.
Room for Improvement: So technically, I am exercising regularly, but I feel like I could increase my exercise to at least a couple of times a week.  This should be a little easier to do now that the weather is improving and I can go on more walks with my kids around the neighborhood.

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Goal: Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family
Progress: I don’t feel much progress has been made on this goal.  I do get one-on-one time with each member of my family, but it’s usually doing things that have to be done, such as reading lessons with my daughter, running errands with my son or folding laundry with my husband.  They aren’t things that necessarily build our relationship.
Room for Improvement: When I originally made this goal, it was with the intent to set up specific activities with each person that would help us grow closer.  I think in order to make this work better, I need to plan out a time each week to do something with each person, even if it’s just painting fingernails and toenails with my daughter.

Goal: Keep up on my personal journal writing
Progress: I didn’t start working on this goal until recently.  I’ve been trying to be realistic about how often I can actually write in my journal.  I found a cute, new journal and set it next to my bed so that I can write a summary of how the day went.
Room for Improvement: I started out strong, but have slowly tapered off.  I think to make this work better, I will need to create an evening routine that allows enough time to reflect on the day and write about it.

Goal: Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often
Progress: This is another hard one to qualify, but I think it’s safe to say that there is always room for improvement in this area.
Room for Improvement: In order to incorporate this more into my life and way of being, I need to be specific about what I love and appreciate about a person.  I can tell my daughter thank you for putting away her clothes without being asked.  I can tell my son that I love when he shares his toys.  I can tell my husband thank you for doing the dishes every night.

Goal: Choose happiness
Progress: Due to some difficult things I’ve been dealing with over the last few months, this particular goal has been a real challenge for me.  I’ve had some very sad days.  The kind of days that finding the desire to be happy can only be reached with real effort.
Room for Improvement: Because of some of the things I’ve been facing, I almost feel afraid to be too happy sometimes.  However, I am going to renew my goal to choose happiness because there is always something good to be seen.

How are you doing on your new years resolutions?

"Mom, will you be my friend?"

“Mom, will you be my friend?”

I looked away from what I was doing and down at my daughter, nearly four years old.  She was holding her Belle tea set in her hands and looking up at me hopefully.

“I am your friend, sweetie.”  I told her.

“But Mom, you aren’t playing with me.  Will you be my friend?

How many times are we in the middle of something and when our children try to get our attention, we wave them off?  Tell them to go play.  Suggest they find a sibling.  Go read a book.  Watch a show.  None of these are bad suggestions in and of themselves.  But how often do we stop and give them our full attention?  For myself, I know I could improve.  Sometimes I get so concerned with multi-tasking and checking things off my list, that I don’t notice what my kids are doing until they are getting into something they aren’t supposed to.  And then what’s my knee-jerk reaction?  To tell them to stop.  Stop arguing, fighting, annoying each other, etc.

“Mom, will you be my friend?”

And what about the times when I do go and play with them?  Is my attention still divided between what needs doing, or checking Facebook, rather than getting involved with my kids?  I hate to admit it, but probably at least 50 percent of the time I’m playing with my kids I have my cell phone in hand or nearby.  Is there any phone call, text or post that is more important than taking a little time out of my day to be their friend?  See life through their eyes?

“Mom, will you be my friend?”

What am I teaching my daughter and my son when I ignore their requests–to play with them, draw a picture, have a tea party, make Play-Doh food, run around in the yard, jump on the trampoline–in favor of something else that doesn’t have to be done right that minute?  I don’t mean that I feel the need to stop what I’m doing every time my kids want me to play because, let’s face it, I really wouldn’t get anything done and there’s value in having them learn to play with each other or entertain themselves for a while.  But when they do ask, I need to ask myself: “How long has it been since I connected with my child?  A couple hours?  Five minutes ago?”

“Mom, will you be my friend?” 

My daughter was asking me for a little bit of my undivided attention in the best way she knew how.  And I could either keep doing whatever I was doing at the moment, or stop and play with her for a little while.  Thinking back, I have no clue what I was doing anyway.  I might have been on the computer or doing dishes or laundry.  It doesn’t really matter.  What mattered in that moment was how I decided to respond to my daughter’s request: I decided to be her friend.

Splitting Time Between Family During the Holidays

Splitting Time Between Family During the Holidays--great tips on how to balance holiday time with family

The first Christmas my husband and I celebrated after getting married was probably my least favorite.  And it had nothing to do with him!  It had to do with the fact that we tried to split our day between five different places.  By the time we made it to our last stop of the day, we were tired and cranky.  We did our best to muster up the last bit of energy we had, but I’m sure everyone (including us) could tell that our hearts just weren’t in it.  On our way home that night, we vowed that we were never going to allow ourselves to do another Christmas like the one we’d just had.

My husband and I are in a somewhat unique situation in that our families and most of our siblings are all in the same state.  In addition to this, my parents are divorced which means we have three sets of parents.  While we love having so much family nearby, we don’t like it as much during the holidays because it always seems like someone doesn’t get visited or an event can’t be attended.  We’ve experienced a lot of frustration and guilt over the years as we have tried to make everyone happy, to the exclusion of ourselves.

Since that first Christmas almost seven years ago, we’ve gone through a lot of trial and error when it comes to planning how to spend our time during the holidays.  We don’t have it all figured out, but maybe you can learn from our experience and go on to enjoy the holidays a little more fully.

Splitting Time Between Family During the Holidays--great tips on how to balance holiday time with family

You can’t please everyone  This is a hard one for many people, including myself.  I love the holidays and I love spending time with family.  But there is no way to do everything everyone wants you to do every year.  That’s what my husband and I did our first Christmas and it wasn’t enjoyable for anyone.  We hated having to leave family after being with them for such a short time.  We hated having to reject their pleas to stay for “just 10 more minutes”.  And we hated knowing that we were going to have to go through the same thing at the next place we were headed.  We finally learned that no matter how well we tried to schedule our time to fit as much in as possible, someone was always going to be unhappy.  SO now we have to take a look at each major holiday and ask ourselves: “What is best for our family?”  It changes a little from year to year depending on who’s in town, the kids’ nap time, etc.  But we found that if we took care of our family first, everything else was easier to schedule because we already had our basic schedule in place.  This change didn’t happen quickly and it’s taken some time to implement, but compared to our first Christmas, everything runs much more smoothly and I think that everyone is happier because they know what to expect.

Establish fluid traditions  You’ve heard the saying that goes something along the lines of  “celebrating Christmas all year long and not just at Christmastime”.  The idea of course being that we can have the feeling that surrounds Christmas all the time.  I think that this applies to holiday traditions (and other traditions) as well.  We can do different activities throughout the holidays that doing have to happen right on or around Christmas Day (or Thanksgiving or whatever holiday you are celebrating).  By spreading them out, I think it just adds to the excitement and joy of the season.  Holidays are so busy and if the only time you do certain things are during the holidays, it’s possible that doing those activities might lend to more anxiety or frustration rather than the happiness of the event because it’s squished in between everything else you have going on.  (Which leads me to my next point…)

Splitting Time Between Family During the Holidays--great tips on how to balance holiday time with family

Be flexible and willing to compromise  Since having kids, I’ve learned to be more flexible with my time.  I still like planning and schedules and routines, but they aren’t as set in stone as I used to insist on.  Since being married, I’ve learned that true compromise, where both of us are happy with the final decision, is equally important.  Back to my husband and I on our first Christmas: we both wanted to see our families on Christmas, so the “compromise” we made was that we’d spend time with my family during the first half of the day and his family during the second half of the day.  This sounded great in theory, but in practice, we didn’t even make it over to his parent’s house until 8pm that night.  The next year, we spent a little less time with my family and more time with his.  Gradually, we’ve been able to work out a system that my husband and I agree on.  It changes a little from year to year, of course, but the holidays are actually enjoyed instead of dreaded or something to get through.

Splitting Time Between Family During the Holidays--great tips on how to balance holiday time with family

Reaffirm your love to those you can’t see or spend time with  I remember the first year I wasn’t able to make it to my grandma’s annual Christmas Eve party.  I don’t remember why I couldn’t make it, but I felt horrible.  It didn’t seem like Christmas.  When I saw her the next day, I made sure to tell her again that I was sorry I couldn’t come and that I loved her.  I never realized how much holidays and the traditions surrounding them meant to me until the routine I’d grown up with was changed.  Inevitably, there will be someone you can’t see or an event you can’t attend during the holidays.  But I definitely think it softens the blow when you sincerely tell that person(s) that you love them and they are still special and important to you, even though you weren’t able to see them.

The holidays can be challenging when it comes to splitting time between family, but hopefully at least one of these suggestions will help you.

What has helped you when deciding how to split time between family during the holidays?

Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity

Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity--great tips on how to find balance at home in these areas.

Today, like most days, I was straightening up the house—putting away toys, starting the laundry, cleaning off the counter—with my kids trailing behind me.  From the 3 (almost 4) year old: “Mom, what are we going to do today?  Where are we going to go?   Can I watch a show?  Can we do a project?”  The questions keep coming, like they do from curious preschool-aged kids.  And then there’s me, trying to answer the questions as they’re asked, still while trying to clean up: “I don’t know what we’re doing today.  We’re not going anywhere until the house is clean.   No, you can’t watch a show right now, I need you to help me clean up.  We’ll do a project when your brother’s asleep.”  Meanwhile, the 19 month old is pulling out all the toys I just put away and dumping blocks all over the floor.   Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

While browsing Pinterest one day, I found a little diagram that looks like this:

Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity--great tips on how to find balance at home in these areas.

And I laughed at the truth of it!

Do you want a clean house and your sanity?  Then forget having happy kids.

Happy kids and a clean house?  There goes your sanity.

Your sanity and happy kids?  No clean house for you.

Of course, we need to have all of these things at some point or another, but achieving them all at the same time can seem like an impossible task.

Here are some of the things I’ve found that help me:

Write it down  
I am definitely a task oriented person.  I like lists and I like checking things off my list.  I feel much more likely to do something if I’ve written it down, almost as though it makes me more accountable.  The times when I feel like I’m not getting anything done are generally the times when I’m not making my lists.   I think the reason this helps is because it gives you something you can actually see.  And then when you accomplish the things on your list, whether it is one thing or five, you feel good, which is positive reinforcement and you are more likely to keep doing it.  I talk all about how I use a paper planner to help me stay organized in this post.

Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity--great tips on how to find balance at home in these areas.
Take advantage of naptime  
Many days, when my kids lay down to take their naps, my initial reaction is to sit down for a minute and just breathe.  There isn’t anything wrong with this. In fact, breathing is good for you and kind of essential to your well-being! *wink*  But sometimes I sit down in front of my computer and start browsing my newsfeed or watching videos on YouTube, and the next thing I know, my kids are waking up and I’m feeling stressed out again.  Any kind of release I had is gone.  However, if I set a limit for myself, such as a certain amount of time browsing Pinterest or watching a couple of videos on Facebook, and then get up and do some of the things I’d rather not do, I feel like I get them done a little faster because I have regained a little piece of my sanity.

Accept offers for help  
This one is really hard for me.  I don’t like admitting that I can’t do it all myself.   But let’s stop and think for a minute.  How many times has someone offered to help you, and you could really use it, but you brush it off and tell them you’ll be fine?  I would guess that everyone has done this at some point and regretted not letting someone, who is truly willing, help out.  So the next time someone offers to help you, whether it’s by watching your kids for an hour while you run to the store or coming over to help with a project, take them up on it!

Ask for help  
Sometimes we can’t wait for someone to offer their help, so instead, we need to ask for it.   Just like accepting offers for help, it might be a little uncomfortable to ask someone for the help you need.  A couple of options to consider:

  1. You can pay for a sitter to come, maybe even on a regular basis, so you can get out of the house and run errands without your little people tagging along.
  2. You can work out a system with friends/family.   You watch my kids for an hour, I’ll watch yours for an hour on another day.  Win, win!


Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity--great tips on how to find balance at home in these areas.

    Make it a game  
    Growing up, I remember having a regular list of chores that needed to be done before I could go out and play.  The faster I got them done, the sooner I could do the things I wanted.   Sometimes, if I was dragging my feet, my mom would turn on the stereo so the music filled the house and then me, my sisters and my mom, would dance around as we got our chores done.  It made it so much more enjoyable and created some fun memories too.   I still do this, both with my own kids and by myself.  (Grab your dish scrubber and sing your heart out, friend!)  Another thing we’d do is put a timer on and see how many of our chores we could get done before it went off.  It sounds a little Mary Poppins-ish, but it’s true!   If you can make something fun, it doesn’t seem like work and it will likely get done faster too.

    Find what motivates you  
    There have been days where it isn’t even lunch time yet and I’m counting down the hours until my kids go to bed.  On these days I find that I have to try extra hard to find the balance I need to make it through the day.  So I ask myself: What will motivate you?  What will help you move forward through the day?  It’s different from day to day.  One day I remember getting into my secret stash of chocolate–the really good stuff–and telling myself that I could have one piece at the end of each hour until my husband got home.  And guess what?  It worked!  Other days, it is knowing that I have my weekly dance class in the evening that gets me through the day.  Think about what motivates you and use it to your advantage.

    While I am far from perfect at doing these things all the time, I’ve found that when I do, the odds of my sanity staying in tact, a clean house and happy kids all happening at the same time is much more likely (at least for a little while!).

    What do you do to help keep balance in your life?