The Secret to “Having It All”: The Sucky Rotation Schedule

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The Secret to “Having It All”: The Sucky Rotation Schedule

Meredith Atwood, Sponsored Triathlete
Athlete Diary

I received an email from a reader, and it went something like this:

I am racing my first 70.3 in a few months. I do most of my workouts when my family is asleep — this translates to 4:30 a.m. mornings. Even still, the long runs, bikes, swims, strength, and yoga remain doable. My body can (and most of the time my head wants) to do the workouts. Many times I wish I could do more with my workout, but I am doing okay. The problem is I need sleep. And time with my kids and husband. Sometimes, I can’t justify another early wake-up and early bedtime. How do I balance all of this?

Ah, yes. This is the burning question. How do we tri-inspired people do it all: work, raise kids, swim, bike, run, maintain relationships and sleep? Sleep? What is that, especially?

The task, is would seem, is impossible. But the truth of the matter is this: You actually can do everything. You can “have it all!” However. (You knew there was a “however”!)

In order to accomplish “it all,” one thing on your have-it-all list must always suffer at all times. Let me explain. If you are a busy person (job, family, kids, pets, life), then you likely have a long list of things you must handle to keep life going: pay the bills, take out the trash, clean your house, school projects, kids’ sports, etc. The list is long, and seems to grow oftentimes.

The first step in accomplishing all the things is that you must make a special type of list, known as the SRS, and this is my trademarked, brilliant and amazing list.

What is the SRS? Well, it is short for the “Sucky Rotation Schedule.”

In order to feel like you are making it all happen, you must allow something to fall below the Suck Line on the Sucky Rotation Schedule. The Suck Line can be defined as the line that separates the things that must be done from the things that shall henceforth be ignored (for this week at least).

For example:

  1. Relationship
  2. Work
  3. Kids
  4. Swim
  5. Bike
  6. Run
  7. Grocery Shopping
  8. Cleaning
  9. Dr. Appointment
  10. Second/Third Job
  11. Friendship
  12. Dry Cleaning
  13. Sleep

————–SUCK LINE————

  1. Laundry
  2. Girls’ Night Out
  3. Lawn Care

For me, whomp whomp whomp, my focus on my household laundry bin is usually the main thing to fall below the Suck Line. That is, until the kids are like, “Mom! I have no clothes,” to which I roll my eyes and say, “Whatever.” (Then I go to their rooms to find literally not a stitch of shirt, underwear or sock.)

Now, I jest (sort of) in my response here. But not really.

Because really, in order to be a working, tri-ing, functioning busy person of the world, you really must let certain things “go,” and slide below the line of importance.  

Maybe it’s the workouts. Maybe it’s your house cleaning. Maybe it’s sleep. But in order to survive, you must make the list and allow something to fall off the charts for a short period of time. For a week or so, that one thing (or two or three) is consciously getting neglected. And that’s okay. It’s necessary. (Unfortunately, I have found that for most women, it’s usually we who are neglected: our health, our nutrition, or in my case, my hair- for the love, get this girl to a salon.)

So we all, but women especially, must to work to rotate the items the list. To achieve the ever-elusive magic “balance.”

First, make your Sucky Rotation Schedule in order of importance (mine is not precise, by the way, just an example).

Keep the high priority items high priority (always), and let the smaller, moveable things go.  

For example, let your yard look like a jungle once a month. Let the laundry pile up, and don’t touch a stitch of it except to wash and dry workout clothes. Ignore the grocery shopping one week, because you cooked and froze and pre-planned the week before.

Balance. Juggle. Move the last handful of items up and down. Rely on your list. Breathe.

My advice to the email above would be to bump something else below the Suck Line. Raise sleep to a priority, and let the workouts give a little … for just a while. Don’t wake up at 4:30 for a week. Take a break. Let the swim and the laundry suck for a while.

When the Department of Health or Hoarders contacts you, then bump laundry up to a priority, and move something else down.

It’s a simple game of Life Tetris.

Can we have it all? Sure. But we must be crazy, smart, sassy and armed with our SRS list to make it happen.

Meredith Atwood is a wife, mother, attorney, IRONMAN, tri coach tri club founder, blogger and author of the book “Triathlon for the Every Woman.” She is a weekly contributor to, and a member of the founding advisory board for Women for Tri. You can follow her on social at all things @SwimBikeMom, and on her blog at, and her podcast, “The Same 24 Hours” on iTunes.

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