Focus on what is important — and yourself

Published 4:05 pm Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dear Leah,

My mind has been everywhere these days, and I can’t seem to focus on my life. I’m trying to balance work, school and my family and I just don’t know how to keep going. I regularly forget doctor’s appointments for my children, and my work is suffering. I know it won’t last forever, but I’m really struggling and I just don’t know how to get organized. Please help!

— Full Plate

Email newsletter signup


Dear Full Plate,

Oh, you are a dear person! It’s not surprising you are overwhelmed — going back to school while working and raising children is a tremendous challenge!

I do have some words of wisdom for you to keep organized. First, try to slow down a little and be intentional with what you are doing — some people call this being “in the moment.” We tend to stress ourselves out with the “what if’s” and the worries — if we are able to take each day as it comes, the work becomes more manageable.

If you have a smart phone, use it — at least for those appointments you regularly forget. They will ding reminders when you need them. I know from personal experience as a mother that the minute you get around your children and address their immediate needs, other concerns tend to navigate towards the recesses of your mind, perhaps never to be found again.

If you don’t have a smart phone, keep a notepad or planner with you at all times, and write down appointments you have or reminders you need. Check them off as they are accomplished. Toward that means, keep a notepad by your bed — we tend to remember things right before bed, so you’ll need a vehicle to write them down. This will also help you sleep better at night, which is greatly needed with your schedule.

Take a few hours on the weekend to record weekly tasks you need to keep track of, such as grocery lists. Rather than having to remember everything you need when you head out to the store and be worried you will forget something, you can refer to your lists.

Try to schedule time for stress relief, such as an exercise class, or a few minutes to meditate every day — this will help settle you down from the constant running you are doing and allow you to focus. Explain to your children and your partner that you need this time to re-charge. Something you may find helpful is to visualize yourself completing tasks — you will have a plan in place and be able to direct your energy to being productive when you have the time.

And, finally, please always ask for help when you need it! Even small children can help pick up around the house or make their own snacks and take some of the burden off you. Older children and partners can help with bigger tasks such as running errands and making appointments.

You have a full plate right now, but you certainly don’t have to do everything. Focus on what is most important each day — and make time for yourself — this will help keep you from getting burned out.


Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at