A Day in the Life with Megan Dahlman

Welcome to My World – How to Be Incredibly Productive Without Going Insane

IMG_6417Being a mom means you’re busy. All the time. With little ones, there are always a million things to manage. Do you remember how simple everything was before kids? My husband and I watched a movie last weekend where all the characters were fairly young and kid-less. They just did whatever they wanted! Stay up til 4:00 am on the weekend? Sure! Go hang out after work? Sure! Ride a bike everywhere? Sure! We had to laugh at how foreign that life looked.

If you have kids, your life is crazy no matter what. But for some of us, it’s a little crazier than normal. Right now, I find myself at a point where I’m a wife, I have 3 and 5 year old boys (no nanny, mind you), I run my own fitness business from home, I blog about fitness and nutrition, and I have some long-term business goals that I’m actively pursuing. Doing all of this seems downright insane, but somehow it gets done.

As I have taken on more responsibilities, I have created systems to make all of this work, especially my own self-care. I know moms sometimes feel that they are too busy and too overwhelmed to exercise and eat well on a regular basis. Yes, all of the things we juggle can be overwhelming, but by sharing some of my methods of productivity you may see that it is possible. In fact, you may feel inspired to not only exercise more and eat well, but to chase after some of your dreams, too.

Here is a quick snapshot of my typical day:

5:30 – wakeup and workout

6:30 – quiet time, Bible reading, prayer, thinking through the day ahead

7:00 – kids wakeup; make breakfasts – one for kids (cereal, toast, fruit) and one for grownups (eggs, veggies, fruit); shower and get ready for the day

9:00 – preschool drop-off; personal training appointments, distance coaching phone calls, program design or content writing

11:30 – preschool pick-up; make lunch for kids then lunch for me; more program design or content writing while kids eat lunch

2:00-4:00 – nap time/quiet time for kids; another personal training appointment or distance coaching phone call; try to save myself one hour of this for reading and a nap

4:00 – another personal training appointment, distance coaching phone call, program design or content writing; afternoon snack for everyone

6:00 – done working for the day; dinner time; connecting as a family

7:30 – bath time and bedtime for kids; wrap up some household chores that didn’t get tackled

8:00 – adult time and connecting with my husband; watch favorite TV shows; read other blogs

10:00 – get ready for bed and read

11:00 – lights out!

Obviously every day is a little different, but this is very normal. For me, this feels like a good balance of productivity and rest. Yes, by Friday I’m ready for the weekend, but I feel accomplished, too. Here are some pieces of wisdom that I have found helpful for me:

IMG_6416Prioritizing and automating. I have a number of things that are high on my priority list, and the most important of these I make automatic:

My workouts are extremely important to me. I never “try to fit it in”, I just wake up at 5:30 every single day to get it done. I follow a 4 week workout plan (usually one that I have already designed for an advanced client), so I know exactly what my Monday/Wednesday/Friday workouts look like. On Tuesdays/Thursdays, I practice yoga from some instructors I follow on YouTube.

Eating well is obviously important, so this is also automatic. Whenever I can, I create a meal plan so I only have to think about what to make once. For breakfast, lunch and snack, I rotate between 3 different choices. For dinners, I plan ahead of time what to make so I have all the ingredients on hand. I grocery shop about twice per week.

Solitude is very high on my priority list. I am an introvert and a thinker, so I thrive in silence and solitude. With 3 men in my house, I have to carve out times for this—early in the morning right after my workout, during afternoon quiet time, and late at night right before sleeping. If I miss one of these pockets of time, I feel disorganized and unfocused.

Connecting with my clients, blogging and managing my business is obviously a priority. All day long I’m thinking about the needs of all my different trainees, I check in with them through text or email, I spend time designing workout plans and writing, and I manage the business end of it all (sending invoices, tracking accounts, scheduling, etc.) I am working on making some of this more automatic because some days simultaneously texting with three clients while answering an email and designing a workout plan feels out of control. (Usually a kid starts screaming at the same time. Murphy’s law.)

Here are some things that are low on my priority list:

-Styling my hair (top knot for the win!)

-Cleaning the house and doing laundry (definitely on a needs basis)

-Doing playdates

-Participating in every church, MOPS, or other social activity

-Reading every article and blog post that interests me

Try to prioritize your activities, and automate the most important ones as much as possible.

Pushing yourself forward. I never let myself stagnate in my knowledge or experience. In between all of my top priorities, I actively seek ways to push myself. I’m always reading a personal development book or parenting book (this is my afternoon reading material), taking an online course or webinar, and creating a new idea for something. Even though these things are very important to me, some days they get bumped down the priority list. But during a lighter week, I feel like I can make huge leaps forward toward my dreams and visions.

Patience and Peace. I am working on this. There is nothing worse than being deep in a train of thought, on the brink of creating the perfect sentence, when your kids start bickering. (Wait, no. Not bickering…full-on brawling!) Probably a thousand times a day, I am removed from my “command center” at the dining room table to handle an incident.

This famous quote should probably be tattooed on my arm: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” I must remember that Strong Mommas would be nothing unless I was a momma, unless these two crazy boys were in the middle of my world. I am learning to step away, have the patience to parent well, and make peace a priority in our house.

Don’t be afraid to say yes. Certain things are important, both for you and your family. Taking care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually, should be a high priority. Make room for things you should be doing and things you want to be doing. Should you be exercising more regularly? Perhaps you cut out something else (like sleeping in or meeting a friend for coffee) so you can make fitness a priority. Do you have a dream or a passion that is just waiting to be pursued? Carve out some time and just go for it.

Don’t be afraid to say no. I say no to things all the time. It’s hard at first, but it does get easier. If something is not going to take you in the direction you want to go, if it’s going to make your life complicated, and if you’re only saying yes because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, then you need to stand firm and say no.

So, as a wife, mom, trainer and blogger, my days are defined by waking up early, staying up late and napping somewhere in the middle. I have learned to prioritize and automate as many things as possible. I am finding the balance between pushing forward and fostering patience and peace. Don’t think for a minute that my days are perfect, because often it all hits the fan. But when all these different pockets of time line up right, I can be incredibly productive.

What are some of your productivity strategies? Are you good at saying yes to the right things and no to the wrong things? Is there a dream that you should start chasing? Get after it!

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About Megan Dahlman

Megan Dahlman is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, and mother of two little boys, Calvin and Peter. She coaches women of all ages toward becoming healthy and fit. She is the creator of www.strong-mommas.com , a website fully catered toward moms who are looking for a more heavenly perspective in health and fitness. She recently launched an online coaching membership that provides all the workouts, nutrition guidance and accountability you need to be a truly strong and healthy woman. Megan lives in Oregon with her husband, two boys, horse, dog and chickens. You can follow her on Facebook @strongmommas and Instagram @strong_mommas.

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