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How to Prioritize Your Day to Maximize Productivity

Using Google Keep to Prioritize Your Week and Day. This method will allow you to be your most productive self ever!

How full is your plate? If you are like most moms, you try to do everything, be everything, to everyone. You work (either at home or away from home), and take care of your kids, and manage your family’s lives, social calendar, and maybe the finances. You’re the one who makes sure the kids go to the doctor and the dog goes to the vet, and you remember that your husband’s second cousin’s wedding is next month, so you need to make a hotel reservation and check their gift registry. There is so much to do and so few hours in a day, it is seemingly impossible to know where to start. And free time? If you do eventually sit down and put your feet up, your head is most likely soon to be swarming with all the things you SHOULD be doing instead.

How to Prioritize Your Day to Maximize Productivity

Using To Do Lists to Supercharge Productivity

See what I hear from most moms is that it is the MENTAL LOAD of parenting that weighs on them the most heavily. It’s the constant worrying, the planning, and the feeling that it is all on YOUR shouders. Now I don’t want to knock the dads. I know that most dads are helpful when asked and some are even helpful when they aren’t asked. But that doesn’t always take away the pressure that most moms feel to keep everything is our family’s lives running smoothly.

Beyond the care of your family, it might even be nice to have some time to yourself too! But some, or maybe most days, this might seem like a really nice fantasy.  This post will focus on how to prioritize and plan your day so that you can accomplish more and maybe even have time to engage with your family or relax by yourself.

The Tools

In my senior year of high school, I was awarded the “Most Forgetful” superalative, and my classmates definitely got that one right. I am, by nature, a daydreamer and I live inside my head. If i didn’t write everything down, in multiple places, I would be a complete wreck. So I write things down.

I live by lists. I keep lists for EVERYTHING. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a huge fan of the Google Keep App.  It syncs with your Google account and even allows for collaboration on your lists (this might come in handy if you and the hubby decide to share a grocery list).I believe just the act of writing something down helps memory, but just to be sure, I review my lists several times a day.

Some examples of the lists I keep include my groceries, things we are saving up for, upcoming blog post ideas, specific points for a blog post, my workout schedule, my daily to do list, my weekly to do list, and gift ideas for my loved ones. I also keep two online calendars, one just for me, and another that I share with my husband.

The Method

Step One – Lists

Maybe you have the memory of an elephant. Maybe you are naturally super time efficient and task oriented. If you are, I envy and applaud you. But if you are like me, and need to help yourself be less of a hot mess express, if you need a new way to plan out each day, consider implementing these practices.

Download a list app. If you are a paper and pen gal, go grab a notebook. I love actual stationary, but I find that apps are 1. free, and 2. a lot more efficient. You also most likely always have your smart phone within an arm’s reach.

Go download Google Keep. It’s simple and easy to use.

Ok, you downloaded the app. Now, I want you to take some time and make a giant master to do list. Every thing goes on this list, big and small tasks, tasks for the future and tasks for this afternoon.

Did you do it? Is your brain sufficiently empty? Ok, take that llist, and categorize it in a way that makes sense to you. Here is an example. For your first list, you might create categories for essential grocieries, nonessential or “treat” groceries, short term wants/needs (like that swimsuit or a garden hose), and long term wants/needs (like a vacation or a new family vehicle).

Do that again for each list. After you have completed separating the contents of your brain, step back. What can you knock out today? This week? What is so far in the future or unimportant that you might consider removing it from your list?

Make these revolving lists a part of your life. Anytime something comes to mind, write it down. You can make a plan for it later.

Google Keep is a Must-Have Free App for Busy Moms

Step Two – Plan Your Week

One week of planning is about all my brain can take at a time. So I try to roughly plan my week ahead of time, as early as the Thursday before. It takes me about twenty minutes but saves me lots of time during the week.  I do this is my Plum Planner. Plum Paper makes amazing (and gorgeous) customizable planners. I could not live without mine.

 {Comment below and I'll send you a link for 10% off your first Plum Paper purchase.}

First, I check the calendar. What events does my family have this week? Are there any bills due or tasks that MUST be done by a certain date? I write them in my planner. Then I write in my husband’s and my work schedules. I write in what meals I plan to make for the week and my workouts. I write in my cleaning schedule for our home.

After all that is down, on paper, in my planner, I review my to do lists. Whatever is most important or urgent goes on Monday’s to do list. If I have leftover time on Monday, I tackle other things on the list, and so on and so forth. Usually, by Thursday, I am feeling pretty accomplished.

Step Three – Plan Your Day

This is the good part! Thanks for sticking around. Each night before I go to sleep, I write out a list of what I hope to accomplish the following day. (I know it’s bad to look at your phone before bed. No lectures, please.) I write down EVERYTHING. Showering goes on the list, because I am a mom, and if it’s not on the list, it does not happen. Doing this before bed offers a few benefits. Firstly, it’s a brain dump. It allows me to sleep better because I am not anxious about the next day. Second, usually I am talking to my husband before bed and he usually reminds me of something I have forgotten to add to my list.

I start my days out the same way every morning. I let my dog out, feed her, and make coffee for my husband and I. Then I review the list I made the night before. I decide what three or four things MUST be done today, that will take no longer than 90 minutes. Those things get done FIRST. I try to knock them out before the kids wake up, but sometimes it gets done while the kids are having their after breakfast free play time. Play time and Mommy’s work at home time are scheduled to happen simultaneously. We have free play time at my house from 8-10:30 and this is my work time. During this time I complete my daily cleaning task and most other tasks I have for the day. This is where my three or four most important and urgent tasks get accomplished. If I have extra time, I review my master list again and pull from there.

Figuring out how to get things done when you have kids at home can be a challenge. Check out this post —> The Art of the Schedule.

Kids First

I babysit three kids and have two of my own. It’s a busy house. We do snacks at 10:30 A.M., then an activity, then lunch, play time, and finally a nap. My productive time comes before snack time and after nap time. I rarely every try to get anything done during that time because the kids need my attention and that comes first.

When making your to do lists, write down how much time you need to accomplish each task. Be honest with yourself. Write down the MOST time it would take your to finish your task, not the least.

Review your daily schedule. Fit in the tasks for each day in your downtime on your schedule.

A Few Extra Tips

  • Get in a routine. Having a routine will help keep your to do list from getting too long. You will be better able to find your productive time within your day.
  • DELEGATE. If you are like me, you think your whole household is your responsibility. If you are a single mom, I commend and admire you. But if you have a partner, take advantage of your partnership and share the load. Reach out to your village and ask for help when needed.
  • It’s hard to clean the bathroom with little kids interrupting you every five minutes. So don’t do it! If something can’t be done with kids around, do it when they are sleeping, or at grandma’s. Trying to complete tasks like deep cleaning, important phone calls, or ironing with little ones on your heels will just stress you out. Carve out the time when they are not around.
  • Make your important phone calls between 9 A.M. and 11 A.M.. This is when people working in an office are most likely to be available.
  • Don’t sacrifice your children’s care for work. If you don’t remember anything else from this post, please remember this: Your children will not remember if your house was dirty or if you had peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. They just care about the time you spend together as a family.

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