Like most mothers I know, I am also my household’s COO, overseeing everything from who needs new basketball sneakers to where that plug is for that thing.

And like most mothers I know, the permission slips and medical forms and airline cost-comparisons and overdue taxes expand to fill all space available, everything I can give them, until I’m blogging once a month and writing my novel never and feeling really, really mad at myself about that, all the time, without knowing how to change things.

‘Twere ever thus, of course. Here is a publicity photo of me from 2007, already riffing on the risible notion of productive motherhood. Eight years later there are admittedly a few things wrong with this picture. It’s like my personal Back to the Future 2.

In 2015, my calendar is on my phone, which I use for absolutely everything except talking on it. The pretend third child became a real one– a girl, which would have shocked the 2007 me– who is somehow already in first grade.

But perhaps the wrong-est thing with this picture is the idea that this is how motherhood is. Oh well.

If I could go Marty McFly back to when motherhood really was that chaotic, I’d tell me to chill out and focus on my kids. (My actual kids.) I’d also tell me that I don’t get extra credit for trying to do it all AT THE SAME TIME.

And these days, I don’t have to. I’m still a overwhelmed mother of three, but they’re not toddlers anymore. I have child-free hours every weekday.  And I have a choice as to what I will do with those few hours, even if I sometimes forget that.

Time-management expert Laura Vanderkam puts it this way: the most important priority in your life should be like ice cubes in a glass. Everything else can pour in around it, like water, and somehow it finds a place.

Perhaps my email inbox and my to-do list shouldn’t be the ice cubes in my glass.

And so, for these first months of 2015, here is my resolution, thanks to Robin Sharma:

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your work day to the one best opportunity in your life. Nothing else. Zero distractions. Just get that project done. Period. 

I’m trying to make my writing the ice cubes in my glass, my one best opportunity, the thing that comes first instead of last.

I’ve got a ways to go.  I just interrupted writing this blog post to check my email– purely out of habit– and found my inbox topped by an missive labeled “urgent,” blasted to about twenty moms I know, asking if any of us had heard good things about a particular summer camp.


The “urgency” of the request notwithstanding, that is not my ice cube. That is somebody else’s ice cube. I shouldn’t be spending my morning hours, the most brain-powered part of my day, holding someone else’s ice cube.

Remind me that I said that.

What is your one best opportunity? Is there a way you can make more room for it in your life?


photo by Sue Barr

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