Priorities, Boundaries and Goals with Romi Neustadt

on May 21, 2020

You know how prioritizing works: it’s using your go-to burner on the stove, or making sure you send your most recent Photo Book Series volume to print before going to bed. That being said, adding kids to the equation always makes for some tricky arithmetic of what comes first when and why. There’s a good chance that your day-to-day to-do list is filled with so many items that you’re struggling to decide what should come first and what should be left out.

If you feel stuck on getting your priorities straight, you are not alone. Let me repeat that: YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. That’s why Romi Neustadt, author of You Can Have It All, Just Not At The Same Damn Time, chatted with The Momforce Podcast about priorities and goals that are realistic and achievable… especially when you have little ones at home. Not sure how to get your life in order? Here are Neustadt’s pro tips on getting it all done...

What is your go-to motto for goal-setting?

I tell people, “relentlessly edit your life.” When I say this, I watch their shoulders fall from their ears. Give yourself permission to change and adapt. You have time to make edits to your life, and you need to do it relentlessly.

How do you decide what is a priority?

Remember that there are only so many hours a day. If doing things for your children takes precedence, then you need to determine what your goals versus what your priorities are. When I was first starting my work and raising my children, a goal was to keep my kids healthy and fed. I didn’t have the time to prioritize extravagant home-cooked meals, so I determined that it was more important to have more simple foods that I didn’t have to prepare a lot, but still could keep them healthy while keeping me happy and with enough time left over to get other things done. 

Also, it’s important that you be religious about keeping a schedule and mapping out the week. You need to prioritize your life with your spouse, so a date night at home with your partner, even if it is just lunch or dinner, will help you keep perspective.

How do you prioritize your to-do list?

Make a list of everything you do in a typical week… and I mean EVERYTHING. Mark how long you spend doing each thing. Then, make labels. First, mark anything that serves your priorities with a “P”. Next, mark everything that serves your goals with a “G”. Label the things you must do with an “M”. Mark the things you hate doing with an “H”. And finally, label the things you think you should be doing with an “S”. The things marked “H” and “S” should be things you delegate or completely eliminate.

What if some of those things you hate or should do on your list are also “musts” (like laundry or the dishes)?

If you cannot afford to delegate these tasks, you will find that clearing other things off your list will give you more time to do those things you hate and they will be more palatable. And if you want to prioritize not having to do laundry, for example, then I challenge you to look at your budget and see if you can find small ways to rearrange your money and hire a housekeeper. Are you paying for Netflix? Are you purchasing a latte every day? Perhaps this could be reprioritized. What it all comes down to is giving ourselves the gift of time to examine our lives.

What is the difference between being reactive versus proactive when it comes to priorities?

When you have too much on your to-do list, you will instinctively react to the chaos around you and you won’t be able to proactively reach those goals that you have prioritized. You must make a plan so that you can be proactive. Also, try to be aware of when you’re being scattered and overwhelmed. This is a reminder that you might need to check in with your priorities and goals. You have to relentlessly edit your life.

What if you are someone who tends to say “yes” to too many things? How do you say “no”?

“No” is one of the most important words that we will ever learn to say. I challenge everyone to evaluate why you are saying “yes”. Is it actually serving one of your priorities or goals? Or is it because you don’t want to disappoint the person asking or because it is something you think you should be doing?

You have to get really good at saying “no” in a gracious way. For example, “No, I can’t be a PTA mom because my plate is completely full and I wouldn’t be able to give it the time and attention it deserves.” 

You have to take ownership of your life. You have permission to create the life you want. This will free you. No one can tell you what your all should look like. You get to decide.

What is your take on multitasking?

I’m not a fan of the term “multitasking” because it implies that our brains are like computers that can handle multiple things at once. That isn’t true, and multitasking has proven to actually slow us down. I also don’t subscribe to the idea that being busy is necessarily a good thing. It is not a status symbol to be juggling five balls at once. There is an alternative that is good for our emotional and mental health and it is the concept of multipliers. This is when you combine one task that you can do on autopilot with a task that requires brain power. For example, instead of catching up with a friend at lunch or over drinks, go for a walk so you can get exercise in.

Can you share your tips and tricks for managing screen time?

Technology can make us more productive, but it can also rob us of our time and joy. Create boundaries for yourself. Turn off devices an hour before going to bed. Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. Don’t let the first thing you touch in the morning be your phone. 

We have become so afraid of stillness and silence. We’re afraid of being bored. It is okay to be alone with your thoughts for a few moments. That is when we get to hear our “heart voice,” which tells us what is going on with us inside. Not every single minute of every single day has to be productive. Life is not just about doing, but being.

For more real-life parenting tips and tricks, check out the MomForce Podcast! Vanessa Quigley, mother of 7 and co-founder of Chatbooks, hosts this refreshing take on all things mom. Along with her 4 sisters, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of parenting together, bringing in experts to get to the source of your most-Googled "adulting" questions. Check out the#MOMFORCE BY CHATBOOKS FACEBOOK PAGEand find us on Instagram @THEMOMFORCEPODCAST.