Productivity. We are obsessed with it. We can’t get enough apps, articles, tips, and tools. Yet, we struggle with being productive. As mothers, we are task masters. Or at least we think we are. Are we fooling ourselves into thinking we are getting more done?
As a mom, I feel the pressure to cram as much as I can in a day. You could call it “mom hustling.” Today, we view “mom hustling” as positive action because we associate it with getting stuff done therefore accomplishing more. Is that true though?
There’s a good chance you start the day with a busy work mentality with a to-do list in hand. You’re beat and still didn’t finish everything on your list. So, you defer to the next day. But that’s the way it’s always been, right? Welcome to the busy mom’s world. A wash, rinse, repeat routine that’s typical of an “always productive” mom.
Beware of The Busy Work Delusion
What is busy work? It’s the work that spins you in circles like a hamster in a wheel. It’s the work that has no means to an end. A good example of this are to-do lists.
Even in 2019, moms are tethered to the list. They used to be simple but today moms take it to a whole new level. Thanks to the internet and social media, we have millions of other moms to copy and compare ourselves to.
So, instead of trusting our own judgement and taking account of our own priorities, we can’t help but login to our computers and lurk to see who’s better, happier, fitter, and more accomplished.
I used to fall for this trap. After my son was born, I would pile on task upon task because I felt that is what a mom does. My list was always never ending, and it felt normal because other moms were doing it too.
I wasn’t accomplishing anything but didn’t realize it. This kind of “productivity” is counterproductive. The “hustling” mentality is one that is common with moms but it’s a mindset that has you repeating the same old habits.
Why Hustling Is Not A Badge of Honor
No one warns us of the pitfalls of being a hustling mom. Hustling is so seductive, it reels you in making you believe that if you cram one more thing on your list, you are on a path to success.
We all want to feel successful. The hustle trend preys on those needs and we continue to do it for validation.
You catch a profile on Instagram, a mom who looks perfect posing in a ‘Hustlin’ Mom sweatshirt after working out at an elite gym and now on her way to get a mani pedi. Not one hair on her head gone awry, and you wonder if she’s full of it.
Meanwhile, you’re sporting the “messy bun” and wearing the yoga pants you’ve had for the last 10 years. There are still dirty dishes on the kitchen counter and the damn list is there, staring at you with still a million unchecked tasks left on it.
The problem with living by the to-do list is that we perceive it as a path to accomplishment. It’s a confusion between “production” and “productivity.” So, all those “things” you are doing, are just a bunch of things. To-do’s are “production”, a creation of tasks.
Completing necessary tasks are good, creating a bunch of tasks for the sake of creating them without any real purpose is just insane. The “hustling” habit is destructive in the long term.
When you “hustle” expect to always set an unrealistic and vague path, expect to be caught up in the comparison game, expect it to affect your mental health, and expect to be in denial about it.
Give Yourself A Break Already
It’s unfair to you to set too high a standard of yourself. As mothers, we already have the substantial job of raising children and maintaining a household. Being able to go beyond that is quite amazing, really.
Do you want to continue living your days crossing off lists? Or do you want to want to live your life authentically?
Living authentically will help break bad habits like negative self-talk, constant comparison, and mindless busy work. It will give you focus and allow you to do what matters most in your life.
An authentic mom is fulfilled, happy, and doesn’t need validation through lengthy lists or self-imposed burdens.
Accept who you are, what you’re capable of and work with it. Forget what other moms are doing because most are just spinning their wheels too. I know I did.
No Shame in The Small Wins
It’s important that you ditch the hustle mindset and get clear on your goals, goals that are mindful and with a purpose. To-do’s are a short-term solution. Prioritization and concrete goals are the sustainable long-term solution.
Thinking long-term may seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think. Long-term doesn’t mean the goals need to be extensive or complicated. Too many goals mean you haven’t nailed down your priorities. Too many goals will also be hard to manage and achieve when you’re a busy parent.
Take time to narrow down your priorities by writing them down on paper first. This may take some time but it’s a very important step. From the list choose your top three and make them your long-term goals until you feel you have achieved them.
Never forget your priorities are your own. Don’t compare them to other moms.
Your goals might be in the short-term, to make more time for yourself, and read more books. In the long-term, get fit, or start a business. Whatever it is, all that matters is that meets your needs, and it is something meaningful to you. If it’s meaningful, you are more likely to accomplish your goals.
I had a breaking point. The to-do list controlled my life and I didn’t take a stance on what was most important to me. I wanted to be healthier, happier, and enjoy my time as a new parent.
But the load I carried was constantly overwhelming me and it negatively impacted my views about myself. I realized that my current situation would never allow for me to try to work or do tasks in a day that would realistically take a week.
Now, instead of creating a massive list of things I would like to do, I pick only 1–3 things that are top priority. Because when you’re a mom, so many unexpected things can happen, and you just can’t do it all. I don’t set too high a bar right now and that’s ok. There will come a day where I can do more without taxing myself.
Small wins are better than no wins and that is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s good to be reasonable. I get more done in a week now than I did spinning my wheels on busy work.
How to Focus on What’s Important
“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Forget cramming a bunch of stuff in your day. Start small, prioritize and don’t forget to give yourself a break because successes (big or small) take time and effort.
You will see that when you focus on your priorities, your life will become more efficient as you continue to consistently set realistic goals.
You are more than a task maker. A long list of to-dos won’t make you happy. Aim for balance and authenticity, and you will no longer need to “hustle.”
Break this habit and wake up every day knowing exactly what you need to do and do it without wasting time on the things that don’t matter.
And at the end of the day, you still have energy instead of feeling drained from stretching yourself thin like you used to do.
And you feel in control of your time instead of feeling like you never have time.
And most importantly, you trust yourself and are confident in your own judgement.
You’re the director of your life. Take the reins!