Friends, family and blog readers often ask me how I fit it all in. “It all” being: single parenting an almost 13 year old boy and a 14-going-on-17 year old girl; being a civil trial lawyer; starting my own law firm; blogging and training for marathons (working on marathon #9 and counting). They build me up as Super Woman.
But, really, it’s not as hard as it sounds. I just follow the Ten Commandments. Not the ones in the Good Book. My own version of the Ten Commandments. Following them may not get me through the pearly gates of Heaven, but they do keep me fit, sane and smiling.
1. Thou Shall Prioritize. Even though these are the Ten Commandments to Fitting It All In, you need to accept that you can’t fit it all in. You need to pick and choose what’s important to you. And that will change daily, depending on the demands of your job, the schedules of your kids, the needs of your husband and maybe even your dog. Each day you need to decide what is _necessary_ to get done and work around that.
2. Thou Shall Not Forgo Exercise. (Except on your rest day!) Without fail, you need to make taking care of you (i.e. fitness) one of the top items in your priority list. If you aren’t taking care of you, then you won’t be in top condition to get the 101 things that are on your priority list done. We are all busy. We can all come up with a million things that we SHOULD be doing other than exercising. But I have found that when I exercise I have 10 times more physical and mental energy to tackle the 101 things on my to-do list than when I skip exercise.
3. Thou Shall Organize. Know what you need to accomplish each day and take 15 minutes at the start of the day (or before bed the previous night) to organize. Make a to-do list, sorted by priority. Make coffee and set it on auto-timer, so that the smell of fresh brewed coffee rouses you out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to get your run in before the kids wake up for school. Set out your work outfit and pack your gym bag the night before, when your head is clear and you have extra time, so that you aren’t running around like a crazy woman in the morning trying to do it while a kid is crying and your husband is asking you where his blue shirt is. Get the kids lunches ready the night before. Organize!
4. Thou Shall Not Forget to Laugh. In your role as Super Woman, you need to remember to not be so serious. The world won’t come to an end if you don’t fit it all in today.Do the best that you can. And be sure to take time to ENJOY what you are doing. Take time to laugh.
5. Thou Shall Not Take The Name Exercise in Vain. Translated: find some fitness activity that you LOVE to do. If you silently (or not-so-silently) curse every time you head to yoga class, you will find yourself making excuses for why you can’t go. Experiment with classes, activities and sports until you find one that you love. When you find a fitness activity that you love, it will be very easy to make it a top priority, which will give you the energy to get your other 101 things done.
6. Thou Shall Be Flexible. You need to recognize that even if you organize, prioritize and have the best of intentions, stuff is gonna happen that will mess with your plans. There will be days when you will get a call from the school nurse and you’ll have to pick up your sick child from school, which will foil your plans for an afternoon spin class. There will be times when a client meeting runs an hour late. Be flexible. Try an on-demand exercise class. Do some core work. Make today your rest day.
7. Thou Shall Not Over Commit. You need to learn to say “no”. You can’t be on every committee. You can’t volunteer for every fundraiser. You can’t enroll your child in every sport, all year round. You can’t take on so many clients that you are putting in 60 hours a week at the office. Learn to say “no” to a few things so that you can focus your energy on the things that you truly value and love.
8. Thou Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s Flat Abs, Fast Pace, Or Perfect Hair. Your neighbor probably isn’t Super Woman like you are. She probably spends all day just working on that one perfect thing and the rest of her life is a disaster. Learn to cherish your imperfect body. Know that even though it may be imperfect, it is the body that God gave you and that with it can accomplish all that you set your mind to. Perfection is overrated.
9. Thou Shall Pamper Thyself Daily. A morning run by yourself . A hot bubble bath at night. A glass of red wine. A piece of dark chocolate. Extra cuddle time with your baby. Whatever makes you smile, be sure to do it daily because doing so will put a smile on your face, brighten your outlook and make you WANT to fit it all in.
10. Honor Thy Rest Day. Taking a break from the demands of life, work and even from exercise is vital to your physical health and mental sanity.Your rest day doesn’t have to be on Sunday. It doesn’t even need to be the same day each week. But you DO need to remember to give yourself a break from being Super Woman at least once a week in order to remain fresh and avoid burn out.
So there you have it. The Ten Commandments to Fitting It All In. However, above all else, remember that these are just guidelines. They work for me, but they may not work for you. So tweak them a bit so that they do work for you and keep on with your quest to fit it all in!
Cindi Matt is a mom, a lawyer, and a marathoner; and in her spare seconds she blogs at Runnin’ From the Law. Cindi qualified for the Boston Marathon this year but she just missed the registration rotation, she is determined to rock it in 2013.