Productivity Hacks for the Busy Parent
If you ask a parent if they can do something the most common response is “We are just too busy”. Between school, work, sports, scouts, and church it is amazing we have any time to just have some family time. You go all day and by the time you cook supper, do homework, get baths it is time for bed and you have lost your day. To battle this I am going to share some productivity hacks to help you be a more efficient parent and maybe help lessen the stress.
Prepare For the Next Day the Night Before
Starting off your day the right way can reduce stress and anxiety all day long. I don’t know how many times a rough start to my day has just ruined a good portion of my day. By preparing as much as you can the night before you can reduce the rush and hectic morning and get the day started on the right foot. Prepare packed lunches as much as you can. Lay out all your kids clothes and even your clothes so all that is left is to get dressed. If you are a coffee drinker invest in a coffee maker that is on a timer and will have coffee ready as soon as you get up.
Take Care of Easy Tasks Right Away
My rule of thumb is if it can be done in 5 minutes or less just do it then and don’t put it off. People are always amazed at how responsive I am with emails. Most of the time if I know the answer to the email or they are just looking for a yes or no I will shoot back a response right after I read the email. I try to keep a near zero inbox so things don’t just sit for a long time. This works for things around the house with your kids. Need to knock out spelling words? Just take care of it right after supper so the kids can move on to playing and having a good time. Got junk mail that day? Go through it real quick and file bills to be paid and throw away the junk.
If you let the little things pile up then they no longer are the little things and you have a pile to deal with. This is why you can use another technique to break up your tasks into smaller intervals. If you look at your kitchen and think this whole thing is a mess it will take me forever to clean it, you already lost the battle. But if you break the task of cleaning your kitchen into the parts it becomes manageable.
Let’s look at how this can work:
- Wash dishes
- Sweep the floor
- Clean the counters
- Empty the trash
- Clean the stove
All of these things can be done separately and if you tackle one task at a time it makes it manageable. And if you do two of these a night you can keep a clean kitchen and keep it from getting out of control and not have to worry about cleaning the whole thing on a weekend. But to take it a further step see the next hack.
Have the Kids Help
Once your kids get old enough have them take on small chores. Even at a young age children can help by wiping off counters, walking the dog, or pulling the trash and putting a new bag in the can. As they get older you can have your kids put away their own clothes, clean their own bathrooms, or even do the laundry. We provide a small financial incentive if and only if they complete their assigned chores without having to be told. This also helps them build a good work ethic while helping you out.
Order Groceries Online
If you have been shopping with your kids ever you know this is a draining experience. And it also can cost you an hour or two of your week. Why not order your groceries online and then do curbside pickup. Wal-Mart will let you pickup same day so you can make your list in the morning and pick up that afternoon. This also prevents any impulse buys and whining kids when they don’t get what they want.
Learn How to Say NO!
As a parent it seems like everyone and everything is seeking your attention and your time. Learning how and when to say no can save you not only time but a little bit of your sanity. We love our kids and we want them to have full lives but letting them participate in every sport and every extra curricular activity will just run you down. So say no once in a while and learn what things really matter to your kids.
Turn off the TV
Growing up the TV was one of the few mediums of electronic entertainment. We had video games but most of them grew old and tiresome pretty quickly. To pass the time we would just sit around and watch the boob tube for hours. Today I catch myself doing the same thing. With so many more channels and shows you can lose multiple hours and before you know it the whole day is gone. Instead of watching TV you can read, go hiking, learn a new skill online, or play some games and connect with your kids.
Get a Good Night of Sleep
This one is hard. When you have babies and toddlers they can be up and down. And as you get older some times your body just doesn’t cooperate. But once you have your kids in a good routine to sleep through the night, make sure you work on getting yourself a good solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep. With a good night of sleep you have more energy to get things done quicker and more efficiently. You may be less likely to take a nap when that late afternoon drowsiness sets in.
Here are some hacks I use to help get a better night sleep:
- Cut down drinks an hour or two before bedtime. Nothing ruins a good night sleep more than having to get up and use the bathroom multiple times in the night. Especially avoid caffeinated beverages. I usually try to stop drinking anything with caffeine by dinner time.
- Avoid late night snacks. This one is difficult for me but I find it is helpful to not snack too close to bed time. Sometimes that food has sugar or caffeine that will keep you from going to sleep quickly.
- Find your max relax. This just means find that one thing that relaxes you before bedtime. It can be watching a show on Netflix, reading a book, or even meditation. Do an activity that won’t stimulate your brain too much and avoid stress. For me any time I work up until bed time it is just too difficult to shut off my brain for an hour or two after I work. My go to relaxation is actually playing a video game by myself.
- Lower the temperature of your bedroom. Nothing keeps me up more than having to sleep in a hot bedroom. During the winter this is a pretty easy task. But during the summer you may consider turning down the air conditioner to keep comfortable.
- Use white noise. There is a joke that it doesn’t matter what time of the year it is someone has a fan on in their bedroom. That person is me. In fact we have two, one for me and one for my wife. Having the white noise drowns out any unexpected noises in the evening that could disturb you. Sometimes when you have little kids the static from a baby monitor can provide a nice masking to the silence and give you comfort that if your child wakes up you will hear them.
- Pray over anything troubling you. Right before I close my eyes I say a prayer over my day. I thank God for everything he gave me, the good and the bad. Why because if I survived the day then it was all good. Each day of life you have is precious so thank God that he allowed you to live it. Some days this will be tough, you will go through things that you will question whether God is even paying attention. But He is, so thank him for it all and pray that tomorrow will be a better day.
Every parent wishes they had more time. But when we sit down and really chart out and track what we spend our time on each day, we find that we do have the time. Being efficient and aware of what we allow to waste our time is like getting a new lease on life.
Do you have any productivity hacks that you utilize on a daily basis? If so head over to our Facebook page and let us know.