We homeschool moms (and dads) are busy people. I think it’s safe to say that, on a whole, our outlook on life is happier when we feel productive. So, I want to offer you some tips to increase productivity.
I mentioned a while back on a Weekly Wrap-Up post that I have Fridays when I just feel kind blah – sort of on the verge of feeling depressed. Once I began to pay attention to that phenomenon, I discovered that it consistently happened on Fridays when I went to bed the night before feeling like I was going to get a lot accomplished the next day (because most Fridays are a light school day for us), only to find that, by afternoon, I felt like I’d spun my wheels all day and gotten little accomplished.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been paying attention to what happens on days when I feel most productive and I’ve identified six key factors that seem to play a huge role in my level of productivity (and one that I need to be doing!).
1. Get up early.
I know. I can’t really believe I said it, either, but it’s true. For the past three weeks I’ve been trying to get up earlier. I consistently get more done on the days I get up earlier, even though I’m also trying to go to bed earlier those nights. It’s not that I have more hours in my days; it’s just that I use the hours I do have more productively and don’t feel that I’m running behind all day.
The funny thing is, Brianna has been trying to get up earlier, too, and she says the same thing. She says she feels like when she’s up early, she should be doing something useful. Whereas, at night, it’s easy to just goof off.
With that in mind, two of the biggest night owls around here are trying hard to become morning people.
2. Make lists.
I’ll admit it – I’m a list person. I think that comes partly from the feeling of accomplishment that comes from being able to mark an item off my list and partly because I’m at the age where, if I don’t write things down, I forget them.
I have a weekly menu on the fridge. Thanks to Jen Fulwiler’s great meal-planning idea, I’ve set Google reminders to help me remember to thaw out meat or start the slow cooker. Thanks to my new iPad, I have a list of household to-do items, a list of online to-do items, and a list of “when I have time” to-do items.
I used to put a lot of those things on the same list, but it was easy to overlook things when the same stuff stayed on there for awhile (such as the things that are now on my “when I have time” list). Having them separated makes it easy to see what I need to be working on when I’m online (“play Words with Friends turn” is not on the list) and what I need to be working on when I’m not online (or, better yet, before I get online).
3. Get plenty of rest.
I honestly don’t think #1 would be effective if it wasn’t done in conjunction with getting a good night’s sleep. Too many moms are burning the candle at both ends. I think this can be particularly true of work-at-home/homeschooling moms or moms with young kids. I know that getting in bed earlier can mean that there are things that go undone, but I am not good for anything when I’m tired.
Getting enough rest can be very difficult for me because I am one of those people who requires a lot of sleep. Nine to ten hours a night is optimal for me, but I have to have a minimum of eight hours.
I’ve found that by keeping lists and getting up early, I can do what I need to do and still get in bed at a decent time. Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that it certainly helps that all my kids are older now. It doesn’t have to affect my sleep if someone won’t stay in bed – as long as they find something quiet to do.
Regular exercise is good for both mental and physical health. There are plenty of times when I don’t feel like working out, but I almost always feel better after I’m done. I try to walk for half an hour on the treadmill each day at a minimum.
5. Make healthy food choices.
Just like getting plenty of exercise, eating healthy is good for your mind and body. Making good food choices keeps your alert and helps you not feel sluggish.
6. Drink plenty of water.
Y’all know I have to have my sweet tea but I limit it to a couple of servings a day. Too much sugar makes me feel sluggish and lethargic. Plus, it contributes to weight gain, which also zaps my energy. So, I try to make sure I drink about 100 ounces of water a day. I don’t really think that much is necessary, but sipping on water all day keeps me from munching when I’m not hungry.
7. Use your time wisely.
Okay, I’m going to confess, this one is more as a reminder to me; it is not something I have perfected. At all. I am often guilty of wasting time when I think I’ve got plenty of time. That’s how I can start getting ready for something early, only to find myself running late. I seriously think I have ADD.
I hate detailed schedules of the “for this hour I do this thing and this hour I do that thing” variety. That being said, as we get back to school next week, I’m going to try to spend a couple of focused hours in the morning working on social media management and blogging tasks.
I’m hoping that the result will be that I have time to finish the things I really have to do in the morning before the kids are up so that I can spend more time doing the things I want to do with my family in the evenings.
What tips have you discovered that help you to be more productive?
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.