How Do You Do It All?
The question I get asked the most is “How do you do it all?”
I went from homeless single mother because of domestic violence to multiple international award-winning CEO, author, speaker and charity ambassador.
We travel a lot, I spent 7.5 years trying to secure custody of my kids and won.
Plus I work around my kids, aim to be at their events and try to do the usual family things such as dinner, sports and so on.
Juggling too much then and the stress of it all resulted in numerous health issues though.
I took some time off, regrouped, changed direction and then 2020 happened.
Since then, life was hectic for other reasons and not the same one the whole world was facing (although we dealt with that too).
Most recently, the “How do you do it all?” question came up at a dinner with family and friends in Vanuatu.
We were discussing the previous few years since we hadn’t seen each other in a long time.
As we talked, it was clear on everyone’s faces, as well as the comments, they were shocked at the past few years and how much I juggled.
Especially since I did a lot of it pregnant or with a baby and toddler in tow.
What I Did in the Past Few Years: Babies, Natural Disasters, Moving and More
In 2019 and early 2020 I was travelling a lot, living the lifestyle we had been working towards. However, 2020 started differently, for everyone.
The worst bushfires Australia had ever seen which we were in the thick of while housesitting. Then we had a double death in Vanuatu we flew back for.
After that, flying over to the Solomon Islands was meant to be brief to sort out custody with his ex (amicable and easy).
Instead, we got locked down there, hit by a cyclone then I had to apply for a special visa for all of us to be able to return since Justin wasn’t a resident or citizen.
We repatriated, managed to find a house, buy a car and found out I was pregnant soon after we arrived. Various health issues including heart problems and passing out made that pregnancy difficult.
After my son was born, I did a 3 week road trip to Melbourne to get our things and I had to sort his residency visa.
During this time, he was unable to work because he was from Vanuatu.
Once that was done, I was pregnant with our daughter and he went to Tasmania to study commercial diving.
So I was in Noosa, running my business, parenting 2 teens and a baby while pregnant.
We went to Tassie for a few weeks when he had a break between his courses but that was difficult being 20 weeks pregnant.
He qualified close to Christmas and at the end of January got a job in another state so moved but flew back 2 weeks later for the birth of our daughter.
With only a week off for that since he had just started, I was on my own after a traumatic and complicated birth.
Juggling work, a newborn, a 1 year old, my teens, their jobs and extra-curricular activities as well as trying to heal was difficult.
Throw in packing the house and organising to move interstate and it was beyond what most could have coped with.
On top of that, there were other issues in the background that I haven’t shared publicly and won’t.
How Can You Do It All?
Looking back, I would not do things the same nor would I ever recommend to someone to attempt to do that much.
Attempting to do it all is a recipe for disaster. At some point, your mind and/or body will give up. We are not meant to do everything all at once.
However, creating an abundant life, full of things that matter to you and feeling more fulfilled is possible.
Being the sort of parent, friend, sibling, colleague, business owner or whatever role you want to be is doable.
Knowing what you want in your life, the lifestyle you want and being realistic and strategic about it makes it easier.
Here are my 10 tips to ‘do it all’ or achieve more.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to products and services I use.
1. Know What You Need
We are not all the same and what we need to do things varies. Factors such as stages in life, mental health, physical health, ability, resources etc are different for everyone.
For example, I need childcare for my toddlers otherwise it is almost impossible for me to get any work done.
I wasn’t able to get them into childcare until the end of February 2023. They love where they go and are thriving which is a relief to me.
My household has autism and ADHD (I was diagnosed with ADHD at 16) so we made changes accordingly.
You can read 11 changes we made for our neurodiverse household for ideas.
However, I also need travel and new experiences regularly otherwise I get stressed out and bored.
A clean home is essential otherwise my mind feels overwhelmed and can’t focus.
Having a ‘uniform’ sorted so my clothes are ironed, planned and ready to go from the start of the week reduces a lot of decision-making and saves me time.
Distractions need to be kept to a minimum and there is specific music for specific tasks that help me stay focused.
Knowing these things about myself enables me to achieve more in a shorter time, work when I am focused and do the things I want/need to do.
2. Know Your Values and Goals
In a previous article, I wrote about knowing your core values. These are the things that drive you and why you do what you do.
Being clear on your core values enables you to make decisions easier and check that what you are doing is aligned with the life you want.
I am clear on what is important to me, the life I want and my core values – integrity, family and health are my three big ones closely followed by freedom as in financial freedom, career freedom, travel and a lifestyle I love.
Take the time to sit down and work out what your core values are and ask yourself if your life is in line with those values. If it’s not, what do you need to change?
Next, look at your goals and habits. Having a goal is good as it is something to work towards, however, when it comes to creating a lifestyle you want, it’s your daily habits that will determine if you achieve that or not.
Read my specific goal-setting method and what I recommend to see how I set and achieve goals to do all I do.
3. Review Your Time and Eliminate Time Wasters
How do you truly spend your time? Check your screen time on your phone, log your screen time on your laptop and start making notes or use an app such as Toggl to track how you spend your time in general.
Many of us waste house a week scrolling or streaming when we could be doing something more productive or fulfilling.
Does scrolling social media or streaming the latest series add value to your life and mental health?
Downtime is necessary for our mental health, however, mindless scrolling or streaming doesn’t usually add value and research has shown it can be detrimental to our mental and physical health.
Once you have reviewed how you spend your time, you might be surprised to see there are things you could stop doing, do less or do differently to get more time. You might also identify things you can outsource to enable you to spend your time on things important to you.
Common Time Wasters and How to Eliminate Them
While I did list a few above, here are some more common time wasters and tips to help you gain control of your time.
Social media, Netflix/Stan/streaming services and TV, in general, are all common time wasters. Delete what you can from your phone, set time limits and stick to your boundaries. Go as far as cancelling your subscriptions and trial a month without TV/streaming to see how you go.
Disorganisation costs you time and often money. Things such as no meal plan, no to-do list or no routine can impact your time. Create or access an easy meal plan (there are meal kit services for this).
Use a to do list app (I like Asana) or jot down the most important and urgent tasks you need to do the next day and stick to it. Develop routines for things you need to do regular and set up reminders for them.
Doing things manually instead of automating where you can such as bills that could be direct debited. Instead, many people look at their bills a few times and then pay manually and waste more time. Review your bills and be aware of your finances but automate what you can.
Even some cleaning such as vacuuming can be automated e.g. with a Robovac. Schedule reminders in your calendar for events such as birthdays and events you need to buy gifts for so you remember and can combine these tasks.
Checking emails when you don’t have time to action whatever they say is a big time waster for many. They check, make a mental note to come back to it, check it again then action it but that’s double handling, wasting time and it uses mental energy better spent elsewhere.
All those tasks such as making appointments, paying bills, and researching the best price for things take time. Find ways to reduce your life admin. The book Life Admin Hacks (they also have a podcast) was great for us to learn how to streamline life admin.
Having clutter around the house is overwhelming mentally and wastes a lot of time. Moving things around, cleaning and trying to find things is a waste of your time.
Get rid of as much clutter as you can. Yes, this goes under organising technically, however, it deserves to be noted by itself.
4. Get Organised
Being disorganise was listed as a common time waster. It also wastes mental energy, often costs you more money which means you need to spend more time working to pay for things usually and overall, it’s exhausting.
That said, I have not always been organised and there are areas of my life I still struggle with disorganization. It’s a work in progress, one where I give myself grace, acknowledge what I am capable of and do those things that matter to me or impact my life the most.
Routines and having them written down with habit trackers I can colour in helped me track what worked and what doesn’t for me personally. The visual reminder helped me do it over and over until it became a proper habit. I have some free here.
Homes for things will save you time too. I need a station at the front of the house which has hooks for our keys, bigger hooks for our bags and racks for shoes.
This small change made a huge difference because as soon as I unlock the door, I hang my keys and bag. Previously, they would come in with me and end up in the kitchen, lounge, bedroom, bathroom, wherever I went first then I’d forget.
To do lists and time trackers mentioned above helped with my organisation as well. I need the reminders and plans otherwise I will waste my entire day.
In fact, I prefer to have my day, week, month and various seasons planned ahead of time to make it easy to do what I need to do each day and to ensure I am on track with my goals.
5. One Task At A Time
Multitasking wastes time and brain space but can be hard to stop. Jumping around tasks means your brain has to adjust each time you do it.
Choose a time for everything and stick to it. When you can, time block to do those tasks as specific times in chunks of time instead of hopping around tasks.
For example, I batch write articles, batch create graphics, have a set time each week for a time check-in etc. Those things are done faster when I can group them together and do a few at once.
It was difficult to time block at first and I had to do it slightly differently to how most people recommend from what I have read. Time blocking is great but with ADHD, I tend to hyperfocus or get easily distracted and can only focus when I feel it.
So when I am hyperfocused, my family give me the space to focus if they are home. Often, since they are at school and daycare now, I get hours to hyperfocus.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself, what times work best for me and how to motivate myself to enable hyperfocus. Regular exercise, travel, new activities and having a clear plan help me to hyperfocus on tasks when I need to.
Sometimes you can do two things at once. For example, if you are cooking dinner you can cook a double batch and freeze half for later. This will drastically reduce the dinner preparation time another night meaning you have basically done two things at once.
Listening to a podcast, audiobook or similar while driving can be another great way to do two things at once. Provided it doesn’t distract you from driving.
These things are not the same as checking emails, social media and writing an article all at once. They are things that combined can be done effectively or can reduce time without taking more mental effort.
It is about choosing certain tasks such as cooking where for a small amount of extra effort you can save significant amounts of time later and reduce your overall workload without impacting on the quality of work you are doing.
Review what you do and how you do it to find those few things that are worth doubling up on and those that are not. Change your habits accordingly.
6. Create and Stick to Boundaries
Setting limits on my time and accessibility to others was hard. Creating boundaries around what I will and won’t do, when I will or when I am available took time to learn but was worth it.
Growing up as a people pleaser, aiming to make everyone’s life easier, made my life harder. Once I learned to let go of my need to please others and do everything for everyone, got help and healed those issues, I freed up a significant amount of time and headspace.
Get therapy if you need or read some books and implement the tasks to learn to set boundaries.
One I started with is learning that “No” is a complete sentence, and using it accordingly.
You don’t need to provide excuses or reasons, you can simply say ‘No”. Instead of providing a reason, keep it simple. Once you provide reasons, people will try to solve your problem so you can say yes to them.
By not giving a reason, they can’t do that. No matter what they say, simply say no, or that doesn’t work for me and don’t elaborate.
Don’t take on things you don’t want to do and don’t let others pressure you into things or make you feel guilty.
How you spend your time is your choice. If you are clear on your values and purpose, it is easier to say no.
Being confident (read 20 tips to increase confidence) and increasing your self-worth will make this easier to do as well.
One year I decided with my kids if something wasn’t a “Hell YES!” then it was a “Hell NO!” Meaning, if we weren’t totally pumped about something if it didn’t align with our values, goals and plans for our life, then we weren’t going to do it.
That year was incredible. It taught us so much and meant we were available for amazing opportunities that were aligned with the lifestyle we wanted.
7. Work When it is Best for You
The time that has been best for me has varied depending on the stage of life I was in e.g. with a newborn and toddler, the best time was nap time as it was the only time until I got childcare.
At other times, I had health issues so the best time was when I was able to do something. When I was younger, I was not a morning person and worked best late in the evening.
Find out what works best for you and go with it. You might not always be able to work exactly to it but knowing it will help you structure your day.
As a female, I have noticed that other things such as hormones impact when I work best so I plan around that as well. If you can, learn about all the things that will help or hinder you when it comes to the ideal time for you to work.
8. Insource and Outsource aka Delegate
You don’t need to do everything. Our time is limited, spend as much of it as you can doing things you enjoy and things that matter to you.
In both your business and personal life there are things you can delegate. Insourcing is about delegating in house e.g. getting the kids to do chores or having a team member/colleague assist if appropriate.
Outsourcing is getting someone outside to do it such as paying for a cleaner at home or hiring a personal assistant for your business.
If you spend all your time doing the little things, you won’t have time for the big things. By doing everything yourself, you are severely limiting your time and capacity.
When you start outsourcing it might feel daunting because of what you’ve been taught e.g. you should do it all yourself/it’s an unnecessary expense etc. Freeing up your time is worth it though.
Think about tasks that you can outsource that cost less than you can make in an hour if you struggle with the idea of it being expensive. For example, if you can make $30 hour doing something but pay someone $15 or $20 to do a task you don’t want to do, you are ahead.
Start small if you need and add more things as you save more time and feel more comfortable with.
9. Be Kind to Yourself
There are only so many hours in a day and only so much you personally can do. If you can’t do something, don’t feel guilty.
Do what you can, only take on what you know you can accomplish and congratulate yourself on the things you achieve.
Beating yourself up over something you didn’t do is not going to change the fact it didn’t get done. It wastes more of your time, makes you feel awful, demotivates you and is counterproductive to everything.
Acknowledge you didn’t do it, accept it, learn from it and move on.
Also, I loathe the quotes about how we all have the same amount of hours in a day. Yes, we do but we don’t have the same resources, advantages, knowledge, capacities or anything else.
Don’t compare yourself and what you get done to anyone else.
10. Recognise and Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Often we focus too much on what we haven’t done which will get you nowhere. Take time to recognise your achievements, no matter how small.
Set your goals then when you achieve them celebrate. I am guilty of achieving what I set out to do and then moving straight into the next thing without celebrating or really acknowledging what I have done.
11. Make Time for Self-Care, Fun and Recreation
It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing too much or trying to manage your time so well that you forget to have fun. Make time for self-care, continue with your hobbies and have fun.
Life is meant to be enjoyed, lived and not all work. Design your life how you want, not how others think you should.
Check out 6 tips for self-care for ideas on how to do this better.
What tips do you have to help you do everything?
11 changes we made for our neurodiverse household
My morning routine
My evening routine
Know your core values
My specific goal-setting method
Toggl to track time
Life Admin Hacks
20 tips to increase confidence
6 tips for self-care