Article by: MaryEllen | Monday, December 17, 2012

By MaryEllen Tribby

I believe you get out of life what you put into it.

When you build support systems, prioritize tasks and make smart decisions, you will have the time and energy to lead the life you crave.

A couple of weeks ago I shared my minute-by-minute schedule and asked that you do the same.

I also promised anyone who wrote in with their schedule that I would study it and share how you can have a more balanced/blended life.

I received loads of emails. But some of them asked that I not share their schedules, that I just email only them the solution.

Sorry – this is not how this works. We are a community of working moms, who need to support each other. So if you want my help, I am happy to provide it. However, others must be able to benefit from my advice as well.

And, that is exactly what we are going to do with the letter below from Maria.

I believe so many people will benefit after reading Maria’s story and hearing my feedback. So, please listen up.

Hi MaryEllen,

Love, love, love your weekly emails!

You’re a great role model for working moms and I admire the balance you’ve mastered.

I recently had a life changing experience that moves me to write you on the topic of schedules/productivity. Short story is my 5-year-old son nearly died. He was in PICU several days (his heart stopped beating for 25 minutes) but Thank God was revived and has been given a clean bill of health.

This event has given me a lot of time to think about the direction my life has taken . . . where I am isn’t where I want to be personally nor professionally. But I’m at a loss how to move forward in the direction I so strongly desire. I’ve spent the last two years trying to build my own copywriting/marketing business.

However, working a FT job for 50+ hours, take care of 3 small boys (8 & 5 yr old twins) and a household nearly broke me down physically and mentally. So I quit a few months ago, but wonder if I gave up too soon and should have tried a different approach.

Excluding the 20+ hrs I spent last week to build my business, here is my typical day now:

Monday through Friday:

6:00-6:30A: I wake up and lately been meditating and/or reading.

6:30-7:45A: Wake up the boys and prepare for school.

7:45-8:15A: Commute to work.

8:30-noon: Work as executive assistant to VP ($230 million company & 1200 employees) business unit of Fortune 500 healthcare company.

Noon-1:00: Once or twice I week I go out and pick up lunch. Other days I eat at my desk.

1:00-5:00ish: Continue day job (it varies so greatly that itís hard to give you a typical day.

5:00-6:00P: Commute home and pick up boys from daycare.

6:00-7:00P: Tutoring on Tue &Thur for oldest son

6:00-7:00P: Homework and start dinner

7:00-8:00P: Dinner and finish a work project

8:00-10:00P: Watch TV/internet or sleep on couch; on a good night, I’ll take bubble bath

11-midnight: Move from the couch to bed

Saturday and Sunday: The weekend is usually taking the boys to practice/attend games. They are signed up for some sport almost year around. The remainder of the weekend is church and catching up on household chores.

I do have somewhat limited resources financially, so how do I create capacity to work on my personal dreams/goals without killing myself?

Thank you so much for your time. And please keep up the great work!

Maria Adams

Dear Maria,

I was so moved by your story. Clearly you are one compassionate, smart, hard working mom.

First, I want to say, I am so happy that your son is doing well and that you and your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers.

I am sure that it was a terrifying experience to watch your son go through the resuscitation process. But, sometimes it is those experiences that drive us to a better outcome.

We better understand that life is too short to not be doing something we love that produces revenue. Which is why I am so pleased to dissect your schedule and help you to achieve your goals.

I noticed in your letter that you do not mention a husband. So I am assuming you are a single mom. If this is the case, it is extremely important that you develop a support system. You need to recognize and accept that you cannot handle everything on your own. We all need support systems; so do not feel like you cannot ask for help. I will go into specifics of where this comes into play in just a moment.

The first change that I want you to make is to get up at 5:30. From 5:30 to 6:00 you will exercise. I acknowledge that if you are a single mom, you cannot leave the house and run off to the gym or even for a jog outside, leaving your young sons home alone.

Here’s the good news – you don’t need to. You can exercise to your favorite DVD or a P90X program. Or use a mini trampoline in the house. There are even several great shows early in the morning on T.V. that teach Zumba. And, where there is a will there is a way.

I want you to do this because you will have so much more energy during your day.

From 6:00 to 6:30 you should continue with your meditation. This will mentally prepare you for your day.

From 6:30-7:45A: Continue to wake up the boys and prepare for school. This is fine, but make sure you eat a healthy breakfast with protein.

The activities you are doing from 7:45 to noon are fine as is.

From noon to 1:00, I want you to take a 20-minute walk and then have your lunch. However, do not sit at your desk. Eat outside or in a lunchroom at your office.

I want you to change your scenery during this time and the quick walk will keep your energy flowing for the rest of the day. I want you to prepare your lunch the night before so that you can just grab it on your way out the door.

The activities from 1:00 to 7:00 will remain pretty much the same.

Now, the next part of your day you have dinner and finish work projects. I understand dinner but not finishing work projects. This should be done during the day; you need to set boundaries with your boss. By eliminating this, your evenings now start at 7:30 not 8:00.

And your 8:00 to midnight activities are extremely unproductive and a waste of time. This is what I want you to do instead.

From 7:30 to 8:00 get all the little things done for the next day. Prepare lunches for you and the kids, set clothes out etc.

From 8:00 to 9:00 work on a program that is going to help you get your business going again. To start, prepare a business plan and action plan of what has to happen.

From 9:00 to 9:30 this is your time, take a bath, read a book or better yet, journal. By journaling each day you will be able to pinpoint activities that are just a waste of time.

9:30 LIGHTS OUT! No falling asleep on the coach, no late night Internet activity. This will also give you a good 8 hours of sleep even with you getting up a half hour earlier.

I understand on the weekends that you have kids sporting activities. But I want you to find a parent or two (or three or four) that you can start partnering with. Some days, they take your kids and others you take theirs. This way it will free you up a couple of afternoons a month for you to work on your own business.

I also want you to think about all the other things you do on the weekends that you do not need to spend time on. You will be able to identify that time by reviewing your journal. Then, start eliminating these things and use that time instead for personal growth.

What we are doing here is forcing Maria to develop support systems, prioritize, and make good decisions.

Maria, I want to thank you for allowing me to put you on the hot seat here today; and allowing all of our working moms to learn from your honesty. Please commit to this schedule for the next 30 days. Then, write to me again and let me know how this has affected your life.

Finally Maria, I have a favor to ask you. When you write to me again, please send me a picture of you and your boys (this goes for everyone who writes to me).

Whenever I receive pictures via email, I print them out and put them on my community board. Every time I sit down to write an issue I look to this board for inspiration and boy do I find it!