“Mom!!!!!!” I hear, for the millionth time today.
I ADORE my kids. But I also want to get some stuff done. Sure, having a successful career and writing a bestseller would be great. But some days I’d be equally thrilled with taking a shower and drinking a hot cup of coffee. Wait, where IS my coffee anyway? Has anyone seen it?
Please, Give Me Some Productivity Tips for Busy Moms Like Me!
Anyway, efficiency and productivity are two things that I was always striving for in my pre-Mom days. I decided that having one kid can’t be that hard, right? I can totally still work 40 hours, half from the office and half from home, no big deal.
Then my daughter was born. And suddenly I couldn’t seem to figure out how to make time to go to the bathroom, let alone run a business.
Can Having Kids Make You MORE Productive?
But over the years, having kids has actually helped me become more productive. Not because I somehow managed to set aside more hours in the day to getting things done, but because I’ve been able to recognize what’s worth my time and what isn’t, and how to make the best of the time I do have.
Honestly, I think one of the reasons moms make such good doctors, nurses, teachers, and so many other highly skilled, demanding occupations, is that we have figured out how to work hard, work fast, and work despite a billion distractions in every form. Like today when I had dinner going in the crockpot while I sorted 3 mounds of laundry and took a work call, while I was playing with my kids and even managed to find a half-eaten pickle where no pickle should have ever migrated.
So whether you work outside the home or inside the home (both equally hard in my experience), here are a few things to help you get more done in less time and with a better result.
7 Surprisingly Effective Productivity Tips for Busy Moms
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1: Identify Your Priorities
This is key for productivity no matter what your kids’ ages are…or whether you even have kids at all.
When we don’t take time to identify what’s actually important versus what just feels urgent, we end up in a chaotic swirl of lots to do and never enough time to do it.
And at the end of the day, it feels like we’re nowhere closer to our important goals than we were yesterday…because we probably aren’t.
One of the best things you can do for your productivity is to figure out what is most important to you in this season. And it’s totally okay if it’s not what was most important to you last year or 5 years ago, or what will be most important to you 5 years from now.
What does this look like practically? This may look different for each of us.
My 5 Priorities:
—Connecting with God in a genuine way (relationship; this is different from ministry)
—Connecting with my husband and having a strong marriage
—Loving my kids well & raising them to be amazing people
—Influencing others in a positive way – to help build strong marriages & families, to help people know God’s love & value for them
—Enjoying life by lowering stress and embracing adventure, laughter, travel, great food & coffee and community
My friend Jess Beard, who blogs at www.fivethings.life has a great, simple formula to help you identify your 5 things!
2: Eliminate the Non-Essentials
We spend SO much time doing things that don’t really matter, just because they’re right in front of us. But once we have identified what’s truly important to us, it makes it a lot easier to let go of the things that are not so important.
Danny Silk, in his stellar book Keep Your Love On, calls this “managing your yes.”
I LOVE this concept, because instead of focusing on having to say NO to things (which most of us hate to do and feel guilty about anyway), it EMPOWERS us to CHOOSE what we will say YES to.
The truth is, every time you say yes to something, you are by default saying no to something else. So if I say yes to completing a random project for an acquaintance that someone else could have done, I am automatically saying no to spending time with my family or taking a much needed break to help me feel refreshed and be a better wife, mom and pastor.
So take a hard look at the things that are consuming your time and check them against the 5 priorities you identified in #1.
Because you are making a commitment to say YES to your priorities, you can feel complete freedom to say NO to anything that doesn’t fit within those.
Examples of Great Things to Say No to:
- extracurricular activities (yes, you can limit your child’s activities to 1 thing and still be a great parent)
- social engagements
- social media usage
- volunteer opportunities
- a perfectly clean house (okay, I said it)
- a job or second job that is supporting expensive cars or things you don’t really need
Automate and streamline things whenever you can! There are SO many great tools out there now. I created a great checklist to get you started! Grab your free copy of the 7 Household Tasks to Automate Today checklist and start simplifying!
3: Take 5-10 Minutes to Plan Your Day
This simple habit will exponentially increase your productivity. I was floored to find out a few years back that people who set goals are 10x more likely to achieve what they want to achieve than those who don’t. What???
By simply identifying what you want to accomplish and writing it down, you are significantly multiplying the likelihood that it will happen. You can either do this the night before, after the kids have gone to bed, or first thing in the morning before the day is underway.
What you DON’T want to do is simply make a giant to-do list of all the things you SHOULD get done. This is often an unrealistic list and can end up feeling like a chain around your neck that produces more PROCRASTINATION than PRODUCTIVITY.
Check Out My Favorite Planning Method
What you SHOULD do instead is to think of your priorities from #1 and identify THREE things that are most important for you to accomplish for the day. Then list everything else on your plate under lower categories of Should Do and Would Like To Do.
What are 3 things that will actually help move you forward in what matters most to you? Because truthfully, there will always be more laundry and dishes and work emails. But your marriage, your family and the dreams God has planted in your heart deserve your best self.
I learned this fabulous system for planning and prioritizing from Ruth Soukup, who designed The Living Well Planner. I highly recommend you check it out! It’s a fabulous tool for getting things done that matter most to you and so fun to use. Check it out below.
4: Take 20-30 Minutes to Give Your Kids Some Focused Attention
My productive mind wants to jump right into getting stuff done in the morning and usually the last thing on my mind is playing with my kids.
However, I’ve discovered something. If I take a little bit of time in the morning to give my kids my undivided attention to play with, snuggle with, eat breakfast with or read to, it fills their love tanks and actually launches them into a large span of playing happily by themselves (or sends them off to school feeling filled).
Not only do they feel loved and valued (which is one of my top priorities), but then I have a window of time when I am feeling energized to get some work done and my kids are playing without me.
NOTE: It may take some time to get your kids in this habit. The important thing is that you are showing them that they are a top priority to you. You can gently explain to them that you have work to get done, so “We will play together for this amount of time, then Mom is going to do some work while you play.” The more you do it, the easier it will be for them to play by themselves. You can obviously be around and available, but it helps them know that their job is to play while your job is to do work.
5: Do Your Hardest or Worst Things First
If you’ve never heard of the book Eat That Frog, it’s all about fighting procrastination by tackling your hardest tasks at the beginning of the day. The concept is that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, it will be the worst thing you have to do all day.
So, based on your 3 most important things for the day, choose what will take the most brain power or that you are dreading the most and JUST DO IT.
Not only will you have accomplished something important, but it will give you an extra boost to get a bunch more done because the rest of your items will seem easier in comparison.
For most people, the morning hours are when they have the most energy, mental clarity, and motivation. But you know yourself best. If late at night is your prime time, schedule your time accordingly.
Whatever you do, don’t waste your prime time doing piddly things that don’t take a lot of brain power (like scrolling through Instagram or folding laundry). Take advantage of your most productive time of day by doing your MOST important things during that window. Then save the easier, less important things for the hours in which you tend to be more tired and less motivated.
I’ve found that when I do this, even if I only work productively for 2-3 hours in the morning, I get way more done overall than when I piddle around all day long without intentionality.
6: Recruit Your Kids to Help
With my firstborn, I did all kinds of things for her that she could have been doing for herself.
Then one day I was introduced to the idea that if your child CAN do something, they SHOULD be doing it.
This not only builds independence and confidence in your child, but it can actually be a huge help to you too if you let it! I was delighted to discover that my 5 year old was capable of sorting clothes, loading, measuring detergent and running the washing machine!
Even your littlest ones, starting at age 1-2 can begin to help with things like picking up toys and putting them in a bin, putting clean spoons away, or putting dirty clothes into the hamper.
The earlier you get your kids helping, the faster they’ll learn and the more help you’ll have with the tasks in your day. Plus, kids love to be included and to help! They get to spend time with you and really enjoy learning new things and mastering new tasks.
Every morning when I stumble into the kitchen to make my coffee, my 2 year old runs after me, exuberantly begging to “scoop it!” So I lift her onto the counter and let her measure out the fresh grounds for me. The smile on her face is so worth it…even when I haven’t had my coffee yet.
7: Schedule Time for Rest & Fun
Okay, so this is hard for me, I will admit it. When I have a lot on my plate, the last thing I’m trying to do is sit down and rest.
How is resting productive??? It seems so counterintuitive.
But if you are constantly driving yourself into the ground, you will actually become LESS productive. (And if you’re anything like me, grumpier too.)
Studies suggest that we actually reach a point in which our work becomes counterproductive. People who work long hours are more likely to make mistakes, have poorer interpersonal communication, and get less done.
So even though our minds tell us that never stopping to rest is the key to productivity, research begs to differ.
When we put a limit on our work and take time to rest and enjoy life, the time that we DO work is actually more productive and we’ll be more likely to enjoy it as well.
Plus, I know for me, if I have something fun to look forward to, I often work harder and more efficiently because that fun time is like a reward.
So know when to stop and don’t feel bad about doing it. Having fun is actually making you more productive (and probably a happier, healthier person in the process).
But Wait, Productivity Isn’t Really the Goal
In the midst of your striving for productivity, it’s really important to make sure that productivity itself is not your main goal. In relation to productivity, organizational psychologist, Adam Grant, says “A better option is attention management: Prioritize the people and projects that matter, and it won’t matter how long anything takes.”
Remember that, as much as we all love productivity, it in and of itself is meaningless. The more you focus on your true priorities and limit the non-essentials, the more you’ll get done of what truly matters most.
Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of 7 Household Tasks to Automate Today and start simplifying!
Like this post? You may also enjoy…
- How to Rock Your Goals This Year: 8 Tips for Success
- 5 Ways to Connect With Your Kids in 5 Minutes or Less
- 5 Ways to Connect With Your Spouse in 5 Minutes or Less
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