“I want the nuggets combo and an extra chicken sandwich!” a 10-year-old yells from the back seat. “Are you sure you can eat all that?” his mom asks. “Yes! I’m starving!” Mom orders it and he begins devouring the combo. Later a question rings out in his sing-song voice: “Hey Mooomm, I’m full…do youuuu want the sandwich?”
Guess what? This scenario doesn’t only apply to eating food! It relates perfectly to how much we have (or want) to do in our lives each day and believing we can and will get it all done. In honor of all the moms out there with hungry kids in fast food lines, we’ll call this the “Fast Food Effect.”
The August Hustle & Bustle
These summertime months bring with them a slower pace that children and adults both welcome and appreciate. With planned vacations, lazy days at the pool and less scheduled activities for kids, family time seems plentiful this time of year. Oh, how we wish it could last!
But, as August approaches, millions of women look ahead and gear up for the start of a new school year, and a pace that often has us trying to do more than we can or should even try to do.
Busyness has gone from taking over a few minutes of each day to swallowing the day whole. It is a subculture in our society. In Yvonne Tally’s book, Breaking Up with Busy, she describes busyness as a trap that keeps us dancing at double tempo with no end to the performance.
Productivity vs. Busyness
One year I had one child in college, one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary. I worked part-time and my job required me to travel out of state a couple of times a month. Some days I crowned myself the princess of productivity, but much of the time I was actually busy rushing around. I was trying like crazy to complete everything on my daily to-do list just so I could check things off my list and feel good about getting it all done. I’d plan out my schedule in my head but never seemed to have enough time to accomplish everything I thought I could.
I was not truly present nor able to enjoy the moments in my life. I was living the “Fast Food Effect” every day: ordering up more than I could really eat, and then trying to stuff it all in because after all, I’m the one that ordered it!
In my quest to calm the race pace into a place of productivity and presentness, I have discovered several strategies we can all use to avoid the “Fast Food Effect.” If you are a busy mom, a college student working through a semester syllabus, a teacher, a salesperson, or even a CEO, having a system in a place to organize, see, and refer back to what you want to accomplish is key.
Strategy 1: Create a Vision Setting and achieving goals in the theatres of life is a mental, visual, and physical process. It calls you to answer questions, is visual so your brain captures the image later recall, and physical because you write everything down. Decide WHAT you want, WHY you want it, and HOW you will get it. Choose one or two goals to focus on, create a simple action plan for each goal you want to achieve. Write down each step—the what, why, and how— then start!
Strategy 2: Create a Daily System for Organization and Ownership
Daily planning offers a sense of order and organization where otherwise you may feel adrift. Use a planner with an hourly format for each day. At the start of the week, fill out as much of your weekly schedule as you can ahead of time, and share it with anyone involved. Say no to anything that does not align with the goals you are working on.
Strategy 3: Spend Time With Those Most Important To You
Apart from physical care, the average parent spends less than 45 minutes a day playing with, reading to, or doing educational activities with their children. Many studies have shown that time spent with parents, (especially mothers) matters in child development. The age group that benefits most from one-on-one time is adolescents. Spending time daily with your children or others that are important to you will strengthen relationships and help you feel grounded in what matters most.
It’s not just our kids who order up more than they can eat. The world’s menu has a lot of amazing things to offer! As the slower summer pace subsides, look ahead with vision and organization, intentionally avoiding the “Fast Food Effect” of ordering up more than you can handle!