As a full-time working mom, I am always looking for ways to be more productive. I want to share five things that have helped me increase my productivity – both at work and at home.
I used to be a person who would have a long to-do list each day. And I worked really hard to get everything done – which simply led to frequent burnout. I finally realized, that productivity is not about how many things I can cross off my list – that just means that I’m busy. To me, being productive means that I’m making progress towards my goals. So I changed my mindset and started with determining my priorities. They dictate what are the most important things to accomplish each day. And that helps me narrow down my focus and allow me to concentrate on what is important.
I have found that in order to have more time to work on my priorities, I needed to find a way to be more efficient with repetitive things that I do each day, like getting kids ready for school, cooking, and cleaning. And this is when I fell in love with routines.
I’m not referring to a very structured step-by-step breakdown of what you do every single day. It’s more of an order of how we do things when it gets crazy at our household. And that would be morning and evening. This helps the kids because they know what comes next and it helps me avoid million of questions, such as: why are we doing that? what are we going to do next? why can’t we go outside and play now? Moms and dads – you know what I mean!
And it helps me because I don’t have to constantly think about what things I need to complete before kids go to school and what needs to be done before I go to bed. Instead, I’m on autopilot, so to speak. For example, I know that after the kids are in bed, I need to finish cleaning the kitchen, turn on the dishwasher, and pick-up the living room. I found that when I go through the same tasks each day, I do them faster as I become more and more efficient.
And keep in mind, that those routines will have to be adjusted as needed – for example school day morning routine will be different from weekday morning routing or summer morning routine.
3. Start Your Day the Right Way
This is part of my morning routine, but it is so important that it needs to be addressed separately. What made a huge difference for me was doing something for myself in the morning. In other words, I suggest spending some time with yourself to collect your thoughts and get ready to tackle the day. You will have to find for yourself what will work best for you and your circumstances. What works for me is getting my workout done before everyone else gets up. It allows me to clear my head and energize for the day. And if time allows, or more specifically if my kids are still asleep, I also like to journal, drink my coffee, and eat breakfast while I read a book.
4. Balanced Diet and Regular Exercise
It might seem like it completely does not belong here, but it definitely does. Ever since I have eliminated processed and unhealthy foods (for the most part anyway) from my diet and started working out six days a week, I am so much more energized. I wake up happy each day, I no longer feel like I need a nap after each meal, I’m no longer sluggish to get going on my tasks in the afternoons, and I no longer need to sip on my coffee all day long to stay awake and be productive. So it is absolutely critical to fuel your body with a balance diet and get some physical activity each day: whether it’s walking, yoga, weight lifting, swimming, or anything else that you enjoy. I used to say that I don’t have energy to work out – but it’s a completely false statement. I have so much more energy now that I do work out. and having more energy definitely helps with productivity.
5. Write it down
I found that writing things down help me keep focused and be more productive. So what specifically do I write down? First, your goals and priorities. Seeing them on paper (or in a digital format) makes them more real to me. I also like to write down my ideas, whether it’s ideas for my blog, my work projects, or house improvement projects. I write down lists of things that I need to do when I’m getting ready to host a party or preparing for a family vacation. Why do I write all of those things down? Because if I don’t I just keep thinking about them. And if my brain is clattered with those things, I find it hard to concentrate on a task at hand. But if I write it down, I know I won’t forget about it, and I can put it out of my mind to concentrate on my priorities. It’s definitely a productivity win!