If you’re anything like me, you might hear the word, “productivity” and cringe. That, or turn on your heels and run—far, far away. But lately, I’ve come to realize that productivity isn’t actually a dirty word. Really!
Listen. My kids are still young and my obligations are few. I set my own schedule and, if I really wanted to, could sit at home in my pajamas all day. But, there’s a sense of pride that comes with knowing that I didn’t just survive eight hours with my toddlers, but thrived. And honestly? I’ve come to really hate ending my weeks feeling as I’ve accomplished nothing more than sweeping the same spot over and over again. I don’t want to live like that forever.
Obviously, there’s so much grace here for all of us. We’re all in different spots of our lives, and different seasons, too. If you’re a first-time mom, you have full rights to say, “LOOK LADY, I kept my kid ALIVE today.” Props. That’s REAL productivity. And, I sincerely believe that. And even if you’re not, I’d say that some days just go down in flames and it’s all we can do to celebrate the fact that our home is still standing and so are all of our kids.
But eventually, we have to move forward, right?
For me, I’ve been taking tiny steps to do exactly that. I’m just not comfortable resigning myself to only being a hot mess, a train wreck, or in leggings all the rest of my life. I have dreams. And that includes drinking my coffee HOT every morning, not lukewarm. You?
Part of moving forward is realizing that productivity isn’t about the hustle, and it’s certainly not about succumbing to the daily grind. In my opinion, productivity is learning to balance (not overextend) in areas of both work, and in rest. I’ve also learned that productivity is a lot simpler than we think. It’s not about busting our mom buns to accomplish all the things, all the time. That’s neither possible, nor healthy. Instead, it’s about making room in our routines for small habits that will eventually pay off in a big way.
Since making the stand to be more productive as a SAHM, I’ve been faithfully applying three small habits to my daily routine that have truly made all the difference. They may be tiny, but they have had a huge impact in how much more I’ve gotten done. More importantly, these few habits have made an impact in just how good I feel at the end of a long day.
Make Your Bed Every Morning
This idea came straight from a friend who was taught to do this by her parents, and then reinforced by this incredible speech floating around the internet.
I’ve found that making the bed not only makes me feel better about myself and my day, it inspires me to get other things done and to layer other small habits on top of it. The accomplishment of doing one small thing trickles and then snowballs into various other tasks; it’s like a gateway habit.
I’ve also noticed that making the bed every morning makes my husband unexplainably happy. It’s become like a weird love note I leave for him everyday. And if just for that, it’s worth it. Once this habit really becomes second nature, I plan on teaching my toddlers how to make their beds, too.
Wear Your Shoes
I’m sure if you look hard enough, you could find scientific explanations for why each of these habits are so life-changing, but for the moment I’ll sum it up with one word: MINDSET. We don’t even realize the things that we’ve assigned meaning to, and subsequently a follow-up action.
I’ve found that when I really have tons of things to do for the day (even at the house) getting dressed, but more importantly, wearing shoes makes all the difference. I’ve found that it makes me move faster and work harder. I also generally stay more focused on the tasks at hand. I think part of it is because we don’t generally relax with our shoes on, so when we take them off it’s a signal that we’re done—physically and even emotionally.
Write a To-Do List
Okay, so this may seem like a general habit – but my friend, Evelyn from the Small(ish) blog has taken this and elevated it to such a notch that it would be tragic not to share.
Basically, START your to do list with your intentions for your kids. Or, if they’re at school—for yourself. For example, on today’s to do list, my focus is to encourage exploration and surrender my expectations for a “perfect” day. It’s not until after I think about our hearts that I might move on to the tasks for the day.
After much research (there are a lot of resources, here) I’ve realized that in order for me to feel effective and productive, I’ll generally only attempt to accomplish three medium sized tasks a day. I’ve tired of writing all of it down, only to see a lack in what I’ve done. So, as encouragement to myself I’ve stayed realistic in what I know I can tackle according to the season of life I’m in, and the day of the week, too.
I think this is where true productivity lies. It’s not about what other people are accomplishing with their days and then attempting to fit your life into that particular mold. That can just be plain depressing. It’s about taking a good long, hard look at our own life and being realistic with what we can manage in a single day and then DOING IT.
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