The best productivity habits can help us live every day with more peace, order, and intention.
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Who isn’t looking for little ways to be more productive?
The best “productivity hacks” aren’t about trying to do more and more, on a never-ending hamster wheel of effort. They’re about making the most of our time so that we can live with more peace, order, and intention.
As a mom of four young kids who works outside the home and homeschools, I feel like I’ve tried every productivity trick in the book!
These are five of my favorite ways to make the most of my daily work. It’s not how I “get it all done,” because I don’t (does anyone?). But these tips help me keep my days on track and get the most important things done when they need to be.
1Use a block schedule to plan your day the night before
I’ve been obsessed with block schedules ever since doing a productivity workshop on this helpful blog by a mom of eight.
She explains why it’s so helpful to group similar tasks together, and even includes this awesome block schedule template you can print and fill out at home. I laminated it so I can fill it in with a dry erase marker at night.
I really find that time-blocking is a much more reasonable approach for a mom than the traditional hour-by-hour schedule plan. A block schedule allows me to roll with the punches and be flexible throughout the day while still getting things done at the right time.
2Pray through each moment of your day
Taking a few moments in the morning to pray through each moment of your day ahead is such a game changer. Not only are you visualizing everything you will be doing that day, but you are asking God’s help to bring your best efforts to the day ahead. It really makes the day go more smoothly!
It can be hard to make the time. One of my friends, a fellow homeschooling mom, tells me that she does this daily morning prayer while she’s in the shower, because it’s the only quiet and uninterrupted space in her morning! So fit it in wherever you reasonably can.
Asking God to help with the challenges is key. I might say something like, “Help me to present today’s school lessons in an engaging way … help me to be patient and calming during the witching hour when the kids are cranky … help me make some headway on the laundry.”
Somehow this little moment of visualizing the day ahead and asking God to walk with me through every moment makes such a difference!
3Do your hardest work first
Supposedly Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” The idea is that doing your hardest work of the day first thing in the morning will give you a feeling of accomplishment and make the rest of the day feel easier after that.
After some Googling, I wasn’t able to find substantive evidence that he actually said that. But the concept is widespread in popular culture, and there are even books named after this quotation.
It really does help to do your hardest task first. For me, this might mean getting up before my kids to do some writing or exercise, or doing a time-consuming house cleaning task early in the day (like folding a load of laundry or cleaning the bathrooms right after breakfast).
I also teach my kids to “Eat the frog first,” which for them usually means doing their hardest subjects (math or handwriting, depending on the kid) first thing in the morning.
4Use a timer
I find it helpful to time myself as I do tasks, and try to beat my previous time. For example, unloading the dishwasher takes me seven minutes, while folding a load of laundry takes about 15. It’s a good feeling if I can do those chores in less time!
A timer can help you stay anchored to the work at hand. They’re super motivating for kids too. My kids love to see how fast they can put away their laundry or clean up toys off the floor.
5Plan meals and grocery shop once a week
I consider myself an evangelist for the good news of meal planning. You’ve got to try it if you haven’t. It saves so much time!
In our family, we grocery shop just once a week, usually on Saturday evening. I do online ordering and store pick-up to save even more time.
It’s such a game changer to know exactly what’s for dinner ahead of time, and know that we have all the ingredients on hand. If you want to know exactly how I meal plan, you can read all about it here!
These are some of the ways I try to make the best use of my time to bring more peace and order into my days. I would love to hear your favorite productivity tips too!