Moms at home have a lot to manage and a lot to get done. Though quick tips and tricks often don’t get us far, sometimes there are little hacks that, once incorporated, free up not only some of our time, but more importantly, some of our brain space, our mental energy.
Here are three productivity hacks that help me get more done.
1. Use alarms & timers to get more done.
Alarms are for more than just getting up in the morning. Alarms are tools to remind you of the time and your plan.
I’ve used alarms to
- wake up in the morning.
- remind myself of my bedtime in the evening.
- transition to school time.
- get myself out the door on time.
- remind myself to move the laundry to the dryer.
- prompt me to call the kids to EHAP.
If you have a smartphone or iPod Touch or tablet, the default clock app is all you need to set up helpful alarms. I am also fond of the silent alarm on my Fitbit Charge as my bedtime notification. If you use Google Calendar you can also set up notifications to remind you 15 or 30 minutes before any appointment on your calendar.
Beware of overusing them, however, because once you begin ignoring them they are no longer effective.
2. Notice pockets of time to get more done.
As moms and managers of our homes, there are many little tasks that need to be checked off sometime. But there are also so many big things to do – and so many interruptions! How can we get more done than what we already have on our plate?
Keep a running list of the things you need to do that will take you five minutes or less – and tackle one while you’re on the phone, while you’re waiting for dinner to cook, while a child reads aloud a book. With such a list at hand, you don’t have to waste time thinking through all the possibilities you might have for the time. You look, pick one, and do it – no decision fatigue, no thinking, no mental effort required.
We can’t always arrange how our days play out, but even if you tackle one five-minute job before heading to bed, you can end the day with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
3. Reframe the task to get more done.
Pair something you dislike doing, but must do, with a compatible activity that you enjoy.
- Walk on the treadmill while watching Downton Abbey.
- Listen to an audiobook while folding laundry.
- Chat with a friend while cooking dinner (earbuds with a mic are handy for this).
- Listen to a podcast while mopping the floor.
When I fold the laundry, I take it up to my bedroom, close the door, and listen to an audiobook or podcast while I fold. This way it is a 10-minute retreat, not a tedious and procrastinated chore. You’ll not only get the chore done, but you’ll also have learned something, connected with someone, or at least enjoyed a moment of peace. That counts as getting more done.
What you name your task matters. It is part of the story you’re telling yourself. Find a way to name it cheerfully and enjoy it. It might take some creativity, but it is possible.