By Erica Duran
September. It’s the time of year when lazy summer days have the potential to flip into chaos. With so much to think about – the new school year, fall soccer and even the looming holiday season – it’s easy for families to get off track and lose focus, as to-do lists grow longer by the minute.
I am sure you have heard many tips on time management and productivity before, but have you actually implemented them? We tend to estimate that setting up a new system will be harder and take longer than it actually does. And we underestimate the lifestyle bliss that a good system will provide. You could experience days with no last-minute stresses to get lunches packed or running out of clean clothes; clear surfaces throughout your home and office, with no clutter or stacks of mail and paper; and you could be enjoying more precious moments with your kids. Time is everything. Let’s take it back.
Here are six productivity tips that you should not just read about, but really implement for your household this fall:
1) Establish a morning routine
Do you want to feel put together and calm, or rushed and frustrated? When you do the same routine each morning you know what to expect and you get a rhythm to your life that keeps stress low. You shouldn’t have to decide if you are going to have breakfast and what to make; have five to seven breakfast ideas in rotation. You shouldn’t have to decide what to wear when you are still waking up; have it planned the night before. A morning routine can be as simple as the following list – the only trick is consistency:
2. Make bed
4. Get yourself ready
5. Get children ready
6. Family breakfast
7. Launch your day with the most important task first
2) Establish a nighttime routine
You’ve had a rough day, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave the dinner dishes dirty, toys strung throughout the house or the daily mail piling up on the countertop. Just think about how much better you will feel if you took twenty minutes to straighten up, clear all the surfaces in your home and set out your plan and clothes for the next day. No arguing or negotiating with yourself at night, either. It just gets done.
3) Batch your like tasks together
Batching is both common sense and “strategic procrastination.” You let like tasks build up so you can tackle them in a session. Doing like tasks together gives you momentum and saves you five times the mental effort of refocusing from task switching. You can batch tasks like emails, running errands, health appointments, phone calls and more.
4) Plan all meals, shopping, and food prep a week at a time (at least)
You know all those recipes you’ve been pinning? Pick twenty or thirty of your favorites, or five to seven per week. Make a master weekly shopping list (remember to save this list for future weeks – it’s already done for you). As you bring the items home, wash and prep everything you need for the week’s meals (batching like tasks!). Now each night you will just be throwing the meals together; no stress. Then, just “rinse and repeat” the next week. I promise you won’t get bored if you have five to seven meals, and you’ll save yourself from the “What’s for dinner?” nightly panic.
5) Never set something down “just for now”
Clutter attracts clutter. If you set something down “just for now” you are risking either losing the item because it isn’t in its “home” or you are just causing yourself a big project in the future because soon you won’t be able to see your desktop or bathroom counters under all the clutter. Clear surfaces tend to stay clear.
6) Get help (housekeeping, laundry, errands, etc.)
It doesn’t cost as much as you may think to get help with tasks that take a long time or are unpleasant. Cut out other life-wasting and money-wasting areas like cable TV or going out to dinner just one night less per month. You wouldn’t believe how much support you can get for just under $100 per month! I guarantee you’ll save at least 8 hours per week and enjoy your life more if you just delegate some of your “dirty” work to someone that would be so happy for the job.
I know we are all so exhausted and overwhelmed by the end of the day that it is easy to just grab a glass of wine and collapse in front of the TV or play another round of Candy Crush. You believe that these strategies are what it takes to have a stress-free life and smoothly running household. Now is the time to implement them! M