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Note from Lisa: Are you a multi-passionate mom who is trying to do a lot with your life? In this guest post, Lauren shares five productivity habits that can help you get more done.
Take it away Lauren…
I am a teacher during the day. A coach during the afternoon. A writer at night. And a mom full-time. This has always been my tagline in my bio. It’s my way of saying, “Yeah I work and have many jobs, but being a mom never turns off.”
Even though I might not be physically present with my son all the time, my role as a mom doesn’t stop. That’s why it is so important for me to find balance among the chaos, which is what I call my many passions.
I love all my different projects that I have taken on, but in order to do each of them well, I have had to implement some self-discipline and rules for myself. I’ve never been one to take on something that I cannot devote my full attention and self to.
Productivity Habits to Start Each Day
Starting the day off right is important. Here are two things I do each morning.
1. I Write Down My Goals for the Day
I need to see what I am doing each day in writing in front of me. Whether I jot them down on a daily planner or on my sticky notes on the computer, it is important I see what I want to accomplish for that day.
I usually schedule in one goal from each of my roles, no more and no less. A teaching goal for the day. A coaching goal (if we are in season). A writing goal. A cleaning goal (It is sometimes as simple as unloading the dishwasher). An exercise goal. A mom goal. And a fun goal.
Yes, I think it is important to block off time for something fun to do for myself, with my husband, or with my son. If it isn’t written down as a goal, it gets shoved to the side each and every day. We, moms, need time for fun.
Here’s a sample of my goals:
- Teaching goal: Create lessons for the next day
- Writing goal: Write reason one of my Moms Wear Many Hats blog
- Cleaning goal: Clean the toilet
- Exercise goal: Go on a 30-minute run with my son in the stroller
- Mom goal: Play outside for 15-30 minutes with my son and his bubbles
- Fun goal: Listen to one episode of the Office Ladies podcast
Then, I find pockets in my day to get them done. Life happens, I know, but I feel better when my goals are glaring back at me. I’m less likely to put them off.
2. I Get Help
Simply put, I get help. I would never be able to do all that I do otherwise. I have always appreciated it when women have been open and honest about what kind of help, they have. Rachel Hollis says, “Yeah, we have a nanny. And a housekeeper.”
It does no service to moms everywhere when famous women try to skirt over the fact that they get help. It makes us normal working moms feel as if we cannot keep it together. We compare ourselves to these celebrities. “Well, if they can do all that while being a mom, what am I doing wrong? I can barely keep up with the laundry.”
I am here to implore you to get help if you can! My in-laws watch my son every day while I work. Sometimes, my son stays longer, so I can blast out a blog.
I have enlisted my husband’s help to make dinner every night (He enjoys it).
If someone offers help, I no longer feel guilty taking it if I really need it. Get help wherever you can find it and thank yourself later.
Productivity Habits for Later In the Day
Morning aren’t the only time of day to work on productivity. Here are things that help me later in the day.
3. I Learn to Say no
This is a huge one. Saying no is hard for those kinds of moms who are people pleasers and do-it-alls. I was readily saying yes to most anything thrown my way pre-child.
But I learned the hard way post-child. Seven months after my son was born, I went back to teaching full time while also returning to coaching cross country as one of the head coaches AND trying to get my foot in the door with blogging and writing. I about lost it.
I had warned the other coach that I might not be able to make it to practice as much as before. She happily understood, and we got an assistant. But, as someone who was used to doing it all and making it work, I went to nearly every practice and meet.
On the outside, I kept my composure, but on the inside, I was wracked with guilt from being away from my son when I was with the team and then wracked with guilt from being away from the team when I was with my son.
I was so stressed from the constant go-go-go. I would break down once I got to the car. What I should have said was no. So simple of a word. Only two letters. Yet, so hard to say.
I learned though. I had to. This upcoming year, I stepped down to assistant and already feel so much more relieved.
Say no to anything that doesn’t leave you with excitement or passion or takes away from something that leaves you with excitement or passion.
I would love to be a volunteer mom in my son’s school one day, but you won’t see me signing up to bring any homemade treats. Store bought for me. If that isn’t your jam, and you have other passion projects instead, say no. Trust me, it feels so good.
4. I Prioritize and Sacrifice
I realize that now that I have a son, I don’t have the endless amount of time that I used to have. That means I have to prioritize and sacrifice. During the weekend or summer, once the midday nap rolls around, it’s go time.
What do I want to accomplish in this roughly two-hour time span?
Most days I’ll work on a blog post or spend the time reading. Reading novels. Or reading successful websites and blogs. Reading children’s books to learn how to break into that market.
I know that writing and reading are two things I can’t really do yet while my son is awake. I can exercise and clean (He loves watching me clean) when he is awake.
That means watching TV, scrolling mindlessly through social media, or taking a nap are off the table unless I really feel an intense desire to do one of those.
Same thing once my son goes to bed at night around 6:30-7. Sleep is important, so I know I make it a priority to go to bed at 10:00, but in those three hours I try to make the most of it. Normally, I finish up with my writing goal for the day, watch some TV with my husband as our bonding time, call or text with friends or family, plan for the day ahead, and finish up the day with reading.
I like having to prioritize my day with things that only really matter and eliminating all the fluff.
It might sound draconian and like I never allow myself to have fun but reaching my goals is fun to me. And I also prioritize time for self-care and laziness when I feel that I need and deserve it.
Prioritize and sacrifice. Once I started doing that, I started to see the results I wanted.
A Final Productivity Habit for Throughout the Day
Finally, here is one productivity habit I use throughout the day to help me spend more time with my son.
5. I Do Time Ins
Since, like I mentioned, I am a mom full time, my presence in my son’s life is of great importance. When I am with him, I want to be fully present with him. Not off thinking of my to-do list.
But, in reality, I know that spending every minute of my son’s awake time fully present and engaged with him is unreasonable and unattainable.
So I do time-ins sprinkled throughout the day when we are home. Short 10-20 minutes sessions with my son. I set the timer and then just play with him. No phone. No wandering mind. Him and me.
When the timer rings, I let him know that Mommy has to do something, nearby of course. I might spend some time cleaning, reading, working on the computer, browsing my phone, or making a phone call. Never for too long to cause my son to get frustrated but enough so he develops the skill of learning to play by himself and for me to catch up on some work.
I read about time-ins in a parenting book, and they are working wonders.
With these productivity habits you will be reaching your goals and thriving in your many roles in no time.
If you need more help with productivity, check out Balancing Diapers and Deadlines – a 32 lesson course to help you get more done as a work at home mom.
Lauren Barrett was born in New Jersey, grew up in West Virginia, went to college in Pennsylvania, and now lives and works in North Carolina. She is a high school teacher of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing by day, a cross country coach by the afternoon, a writer by her son's nap times, and a full time mom to an amazing toddler. She loves her faith, running, visiting MLB stadiums with her husband, chocolate, scrapbooking, pretending she would actually do well on the Amazing Race, re-watching The Office, listening to Bobby Bones, and helping out all moms. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, James, and son, Henry.