We all have so much to do that it’s hard to stay focused. In addition to hefty to-do lists, there are the million-and-one things vying for our attention and trying to get in front of our face. Distraction builds on distraction. It can be a hard mode to shift out of.
Ashley didn’t realize how distractible she was until the details of life started piling on with motherhood. She shares her journey to walk in faithfulness despite herself with us.
Ashley is a former English teacher, and current homeschool Mom of three elementary age kids. She shares about her favorite Biblically-based, Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool resources and tips on her YouTube channel Joyful Noise Learning. Ashley loves to make people laugh and to inspire others to live from the joy of Jesus among the noise in life and homeschooling.
The following article is based on Ashley’s answers to my questions during our interview, which you can also find in video form below.
Why are homeschool moms so distractible?
Homeschool moms have a lot on their plates. On top of cleaning, cooking, meal planning, other homemaking tasks and general home management, there’s homeschooling, and then other things like helping with a church ministry or other volunteer work.
For Moms who have a lot to manage taking things one step at a time is essential. Homeschool moms have so much to accomplish, and practice is really the thing to help you get better at it. No system will ever eliminate all the chaos, and you really can’t plan for everything, but having good strategies in place and getting better at using them can help everything run more smoothly.
These three strategies are what Ashley uses to get things done and feel less scatterbrained in the process.
Manage Mom-Life ADHD with time blocking
Time blocking is the practice of setting aside blocks of time for a specific task or vocation throughout your day. This might look like having a 45 minute exercise/devotion block, then a four hour school block, then a 2 hour cleaning block, and so on.
This strategy really can help with productivity, because instead of staring down your entire to-do list with all the things that need done, you can just devote a block of time to whatever needs done in a specific category, like cooking, cleaning, or homeschooling.
The block system allows you to give you full attention to the task or the area that time blocked for. It not only frees up your hands, it also frees up you mind. The school block is for doing and thinking about school, not housekeeping. And if you know that the next time block is for cleaning, it lets you focus on the thing at hand and not get distracted by those dishes over there. Of course, if someone spills something on the floor during the school block, it doesn’t need to stay on the floor until the cleaning block later in the day, the real strength of blocking is letting you prioritize one area while not worrying about all the nonessential things you could be doing in other areas.
Blocks don’t have to be the same length as each other, and the amount of time you block out for a certain vocation can vary from day to day. We are humans not machines, and like any system, time blocking is a good servant but a bad master.
Focus better by putting away distractions
Especially if you’re a Mom that already feels easily distracted, adding in external distractions like phones is no help at all. Some strategies to deal with technology distractions would be setting timers on your phone to remind you how long you’ve been on it, or using a focus mode where certain apps are turned off for some amount of time.
When you definitely want to be giving your full attention, like during the homeschool section of your day, it can be helpful to just leave the phone in another room. Which is hard, because having phones with us all the time is such a habit, but it really can help with being more productive.
Spending less time on social media also gives us more time to focus on the people and work right in front of us. We can trade in the mindless scrolling, and getting discouraged because everyone else’s life seems more together, for more opportunities to be delighting in our vocations.
Distractions in general, but especially social media can take away your traction in your life, and makes your attention span shorter. Ashley found that after getting off social media, even her ability to read long sentences got better.
With ADHD, it’s essential to organize your priorities
Not everything can be a priority. Sitting down and taking the time to figure out what things are actually a priority at this time and season of your life can be really helpful. It’s totally legitimate to be devoting different amounts of time and attention to a certain priority depending on your other responsibilities.
School might be one of your main priorities most of the time, but then during a break from school something that’s usually less of a priority, like decluttering, can step into that place, you just can’t focus on everything equally at the same time.
Focus is hard and takes practice. Don’t give up!
Ban distraction with a brain dump:
Yes, simply writing it all down will help to
- Reduce stress by getting your thoughts onto paper
- Reduce frustration by assigning homes to stuff, tangible & intangible
- Reduce anxiety by knowing what you have on your plate