I am often aware that the skills I had (a long long time ago) in the workplace are the same skills that work for me at home – or should work for me. This is confirmed as I read blog posts on how to be productive. I recently read 10 Hacks to save time and boost productivity – written for the business person and as I read through the list, thought that the same hacks work for mums. So here are my 10 hacks for us mums. To be honest – as I tweak these tips I am actually writing myself a goal list for next week – I want to be, I need to be more productive!
1- Organise your space for productivity
One of my biggest de-motivators is clutter. Clutter on my desk, kitchen, floor space or in my head! The kitchen is the hub of my home and I always work better knowing the dishes are done and the sink shines! (thanks to Flylady). But recently, with my older family coming and going, the dining table has become a dump-space at the end of the day. My current goal is to go to bed with this surface tidy and welcoming. Another goal I have is to file my paper piles that accumulate as a sort of ‘to-do’ pile into a ticker-file. If I wake up to an organised space I’m more likely to be productive. (I wrote about Orderliness a while back.)
2- Quit Social Media
Well, I’m not about to quit social media altogether, but here is a reminder to eliminate distractions and to do things at the designated time of day. I want to browse my personal social media after I’ve completed my major to-do’s for the day. Some other tips I’m working towards
Turn off my notifications. I don’t need to know every time someone somewhere does something connected to my Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest account. Let it be a surprise when I open up my account at the right time.
Remove Social media platforms from some devices – I certainly don’t need them all on all devices! I do better when I use my ipad not my phone for social media (except for Instagram – it works best on my phone)
3- Exercise in the morning
If it doesn’t happen in my morning it just doesn’t happen! The Entrepreneur post mentioned that exercising, though it uses energy, releases endorphins which then help us get through our day. Though it is tricky to find time when we have a family who needs us in the morning, it is worth working out something that will help you look after your physical body. I’m still trying to find the best time to do this – but I need to do it!
4- Write up my to-do list the night before
As a part of my afternoon/evening routine I try to tidy my desk and plan my tomorrow. This seems to help me sift through my priorities and get me ready to go when I wake up. Another thing I do is have a notebook and pen in my bedroom so that when I think of something I can jot it down. I often have a brainwave as I shower just before bed. If I was to come out to my desk to jot down notes, I would be an hour or so before I made it back to the bedroom. I have been tempted to keep my phone beside my bed so that I can take notes there – but I don’t sleep well with my phone beside me, which is in keeping with advice to keep the phone out of the bedroom. The old fashioned notebook, and alarm clock work well!
5- Drink water throughout the day
Water feeds the body and brain. We need water. I don’t drink enough water and I have tried all sorts to help me. The most successful reminder has been to use a nice glass that I enjoy drinking from (my friend bought me a set of tall coloured glass tumblers for this very purpose) and keep some cut lemon to use in the water. Must do this again!
6-Keep one week day at home
Keep one week day at home – at least. When I had young kids I tried to alternate days out and about with a day at home. This gave us time to get things done at home, as well as a break from social and/or activity-based commitments. This gave my children time to be. I also tried to keep my weekends for family and friends – not work.
[Tweet “Keeping one week day at home a week gives Mum time to get things done.”]
7-Take a few breaks during the day
Though it is tempting to go flat out all day we will run out of puff! We need to take time to smell the flowers – enjoy our home, enjoy our children, enjoy a simple cup of tea. I am a big believer in Mums taking a break (read a post about mummy breaks) We need to make it happen. I remember a challenge was issued in an online forum I used to participate in – that we took 5 minutes every day to walk outside and smell the roses. 5 minutes to enjoy the sunset, to sit and listen to the birds tweet, to listen to a favourite song, to just breath.
8-Create a routine
The Entrepreneur post, talked in terms of a schedule – and I know many mums are against that idea – and to be honest, who can keep to a schedule anyway cause there are so many unplanned events and interruptions in our day. But we can have a plan – My routine flows something like this: Personal care, blogging, housework, admin work, and then whatever else is on my daily to-do. We need to know that we have the time allocated in our day to achieve the things on our to-do list. If we consistently have too much on our to-do list, we will feel overwhelmed and non-productive. Instead we need to match our to-do with the time we have available.
9-Two minute rule
This is the rule that says if it takes 2 minutes or less – do it now! Some of the tasks that I’ve seen that need doing that I have put down to do another time but I know would only take 2 minutes are: make my bed, dust the bookcase, put some books away, put some washing away. Closely related to this rule is the rule that says: a place for everything, and everything in its place. When we have a place for everything it is easier to quickly put things away – and notice that most of the jobs I could do in 2 minutes are putting things away in their right place!
10-Outsource or delegate
Just as a manager doesn’t have to do everything to get the job done neither does mum. We need to learn to delegate to the youngest person who can do the job. I must admit I often call on my older two because I’ve learnt that they can get the job done, but in the meantime the younger two don’t always have the opportunity to learn how to do the job competently. I’ll be thinking over the weekend how we can pull together as a team and work on the weak spots of maintaining our home.
So there you have it: ten things to tweak in my life. Is there something in that list for you?
Even though productivity is so highly sought after – both in the marketplace and in our homes – we need to be careful that we don’t become task orientated. That will be more of a challenge for some of us than others. But we need to balance the goal of being productive with being available to our family, being flexible with their needs and being loving in our responses regardless of what happens in our day.
[Tweet “Don’t let our desire to be productive distract us from our desire to be relational in all we do.”]
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