Sometimes, okay, quite often, women ask me, “how do you do it all?”
Before I even begin to answer, you need to understand that I don’t do it "all" – whatever “all” means. What you see is not the whole story and other parts of my life suffer when I focus on another.
I have a type A tendency to get shit done. Shit like, work full time with two kids in school and sports, a dog, two cats. Stuff like freelance writing, blogging, ghostwriting, and volunteering my time on the PTO – mainly writing so I don’t need to be there in the flesh. I’ve checked things off like teach cooking classes, writing workshops, painting, and publishing a book.
To sum it all up, I love crossing shit off lists. My list is painfully short though, and I re-write it daily. I’m a big believer in spending time on the right things. Meaning I don’t spend time getting good at things that won’t serve me.
Here are some of my favorite productivity tricks as a working mom (don’t you dare call them hacks):
1. Make a list. Every night, I write down the most important things to get done on a small square sticky note. What I didn’t finish gets copied from the day before. This helps keep tasks simple and do-able. They might be small, like “mail letter”, or slightly bigger, like, write 1,000 words today, or finish a blog post.
2. Touch everything only once. This means emails and physical mail. Keep it aside and unread until you’re ready to deal with it. Deal with email in batches. I reach inbox zero every day – it CAN be done.
3. Protect your schedule. If you’re not controlling your calendar, and your calendar controls you--you’ve lost. Block your calendar for at least an hour before you leave for the day if you work at a corporate job, block time midday for lunch and a sanity break, and any other time that’s important to you. If you’re working on a big project, block chunks of time, then actually work on it during those scheduled time slots.
4. Cook on the weekend. Seriously, this is the easiest and most important thing I do for my sanity. Not thinking about what’s for dinner when we get home from hockey practice at 7 is a sanity-saver. Cook a bunch of stuff on the weekend, even if it’s just a bunch of veggie side dishes, it will save you so much time and money all week long.
5. Routine is KING! The less you have to think about in your day the more you can save your precious brain power for all that important shit you want to cross off your post-it note to-do list. For me, this includes eating the same thing for breakfast every single day. Lunches are some variation of a salad and dinner is the same. I’ll have variety when I go to a restaurant – for now, the more you can do out of habit, the more your brain will thank you.
6. Do it all at night. The more you can do before you go to bed the better – get the coffee pot ready so you can just hit start, make your smoothie, pour the cereal, crack the eggs, pack the lunch, sign the forms, write the check. Do it all at night. I can get out the door in 45 minutes including shower, dressing and kids’ breakfasts. You can do it.
Hey! Look at that--It's wine-thirty! You know where to find me.