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Raise your hand if you regularly get to your kids’ bedtime only to realize you got nothing done you wanted to that day. And at that point, all you feel like doing is vegging out on the couch for 30 minutes alone!
Most moms will agree: There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Why? Because you’re stuck on an endless hamster wheel of laundry, cooking, cleaning, laundry, cooking, cleaning.
Or maybe you feel like you can barely keep on top of your inbox at work between all your meetings and assignments? Yep. Been there, too. As a mother, wife, and professional writer with a 9-5 job–who also runs this blog on the side, I’ve had to make some major shifts in my routine to do it all.
So let me share some of the game-changing productivity tips I’ve learned along the way. The good news is: Whether you’re keeping a household running or a Fortune 50 company, the same principles apply. So come on, let’s get organized mama.
Here are my 9 favorite productivity tips:
1. You need to start batch working, mama!
I was going to save this tip for the end, but I’m too excited to share it. You know how you feel like you are washing bottles endlessly or doing dishes 1,000 times a day? It’s because YOU ARE.
This tip comes straight out of the world of entrepreneurship but I’ve found amaaaaazing implications for it in motherhood and household duties.
The bottom line is this: work smarter, not harder by grouping similar tasks together at a designated time and letting them go if it’s not time to do it.
You probably already do this subconsciously to a degree but you can leverage it even more, I promise.
I’ll share one example of a million I use frequently. There are times throughout the week that I wear piece of clothing but it isn’t really dirty so I’m not ready to wash it yet. (Is that gross? I’m a mom, get over it.)
Anyway, I let a little pile of clothes stack up on my dresser throughout the week, and then Sundays I do all the laundry, fold clothes, and put all clothes away, including my little pile.
The alternative would be putting clothes away every single day. And who has time for that? I just read a study talking about how it takes over 20 minutes to get back to a task you are interrupted from.
My interpretation of that is that hopping from small task to small task, just isn’t an efficient use of time because of the mental energy it uses to start each one.
That’s why I let my little pile build up until it warrants my attention. See! There’s a method to the madness, I promise. I’ve used the same process when washing bottles.
Instead of washing each and every bottle the minute it’s empty, we have a little washing bin in the sink. When it’s filled at the end of the night, we wash all of them once and prop them to dry overnight.
Waaaay more efficient than washing 8 bottles on 8 occasions. Right? Right! Implementing this trick alone saved my sanity during those early postpartum days when if felt like there was always so much that needed to be done.
And my final favorite batch working task? This one is so popular I guarantee you’ve at least heard of it: meal prepping. This is yet another Sunday night task in my household. I grocery shop for all the supplies I need on Saturday.
Then most Sundays, I spend an hour or two preparing two meals with 6 portions each. That’s enough to feed both my husband and I three times throughout the week, which is what we have found the max amount of times we want to eat the same thing. Lol.
2. Plan ahead and prioritize.
Let’s continue with this deceptively simple tip. It seems like a no brainer. But even though we know we should have an action plan, we don’t always sit down and take a few minutes to do it. The psychological effectiveness of to do lists is pretty interesting.
But the bottom line is this: whether you’re a naturally anxious person or not, written out lists both help us calm our minds and reward us mentally when we can see progress being made.
Whether you prefer digital or analog ways to get organized, find what works for you. For my die hard planner lovers, check out the Clever Fox Weekly Planner. It’s got all the bells and whistles including a vision board space, monthly overview, goal setting, mind map, even a gratitude prompt.
They’ve developed a cult following from organization aficionados. At the time I wrote this, it’s rated 4.7 stars with nearly 8,000 reviews.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to prioritize what’s most important or urgent to get done first. It’s well documented that we overestimate our ability to get things done in a day by about 30%. So make that weekly list, and slot in what you can realistically accomplish each day.
3. Stop multitasking. Yes, really!
Remember what I said earlier about the amount of time it takes to start a new task after being interrupted? Moms have been flexing their multitasking muscles for so long out of necessity, we have a hard time breaking the habit when we are really trying to get things done.
So your best bet is to find focus and eliminate distractions. How? Put your phone down. Close your 50 browser tabs. And invest in this magical, wondrous invention called noise cancelling headphones.
It really is worth investing in a good pair to drone out baby shark or whatever other obnoxious toys or kids shows you have going in the background. With high quality sound and noise cancelling abilities, I’ve always been a fan of the Beats brand myself.
Yes, I’m claiming that not doing work is actually a productivity tip to get more work done. Ironic. Iconic. What can you delegate to your team at work?
How can you involve your significant other and kids to contribute to the success of the household while teaching responsibility? Is hiring help in the cards?
Besides getting a monthly house cleaner, hiring help could also mean getting a subscription to a meal kit service. Something like my personal favorite, and the most popular option in the United States, Hello Fresh.
The benefit of this is not using your valuable mental energy to figure out what to prepare next. With a set choice of tasty options, you always know you’re going to get something awesome. Or ou could eliminate the struggle of finding time to run around the grocery store.
Depending on what phase of motherhood you’re in, just leaving the house at all can feel like a chore, especially with a baby or kids in tow. Shipt grocery delivery service is a great option if you’re in that phase of life.
It helps you check something off the list with a little help. Plus, the convenience factor of having food delivered to your front door that SAME DAY? God bless technology. Amirite?
However you go about it, skipping that thing you don’t want to do or that thing it would be easy for someone else to tackle, will help you stay in your so called zone of genius longer. Thus, you’ll be able to produce more and higher quality output, whatever that means for you.
5. Practice acceptance and gratitude.
I know, I know, why is this on a list of productivity tips? It might even seem a little obnoxious to say. But hear me out on this one. How much time do you spend hemming and hawing about doing a task you don’t want to do?
Doing dishes, your timesheet, whatever that thing is. I used to HAAAAAATEEEEE doing dishes. I cannot overstate how much I hated them. That is, until I realized it literally takes no longer than 5-10 minutes to load or unload a dishwasher.
I was actually making the task SO MUCH WORSE by having a terrible attitude about it. The dread leading up to it was actually worse than the activity itself.
So now, instead of thinking omg I have to do the dishes again? I reframe the thoughts in my mind by saying: In 5 minutes, my sink will be empty, my kitchen will be a little cleaner, my mind will be a little lighter. And that’s worth it.
6. Create a simple, SUSTAINABLE routine.
You have your kids on a routine don’t you? So why don’t you have one for yourself? Nothing crazy. Start with a few tasks you complete each morning and a few things you do before bed. I also have found if I build working out into my routine it’s 1,000% easier to get done. Just say, “I’m going to go for a walk every day over lunch.”
And see how much more likely you are to do it than if you say, “I’m going to work out 5 days this week.” Routines become habits. So in other words, you go into autopilot to get more things you want to do done with less mental energy.
There are also real health benefits to having routines including getting better sleep, having better health, and being less stressed. I promise, I didn’t make this up.
7. Carve out the time you need for the task at hand.
As you’re creating your routine, actually block off your calendar. Whether it’s at home or at work. Add a couple time slots throughout the week to address the ongoing, miscellaneous maintenance tasks of your life.
The once in a while things that you never seem to have time to do. Maybe Saturday afternoon when the baby is napping you sit down and pay your bills.
Or at 3:30 every Friday afternoon you make yourself a goals list for the following week and block off working time for Monday morning to dig into your priority task of the week.
Having that designated time helps you jump into a task knowing exactly what you need to accomplish, so you can focus 100% on the actually doing it part and 0% on the what am I supposed to be doing part.
8. Take breaks.
Yes, seriously! You are not a machine. I read recently this shocking article about how the average employee is only actually productive for 3 hours a day. If you think about how distracted we are and how much our minds wander, it’s really not a surprise.
But also, knowing this is liberating. Because once you know this about how your mind works, you can leverage it to get more done by building in short periods of intense focus along with necessary breaks.
9. Try the Pomodoro Technique.
If you want to go all in on the concept above and you really want to be a workflow machine, try one of the most famous productivity tips of all: The Pomodoro Technique.
Here’s how it works: First, you choose one single task to work on. Then you actually set a timer to do that and only that single task for 25 minutes.
Yay, you’ve just earned yourself a 5 minute break. You do that three more times in succession, and you’ve got yourself a 15 minute break.
I’m telling you, I think these productivity tips are going to be game changing for you.
While I haven’t gone full Pomodoro quite yet, I have definitely been dabbling. Here’s my abbreviated version: I identify something I really want to or need to get done (like write this article).
So I turn off my chats and email. I put my phone out of reach, put on some tunes, and work on it for as long as I feel like it. Sometimes it’s 25 min, sometimes less, sometimes even longer.
For me, it’s more about not having the distractions than it is about a magical time limit. And here’s a bonus tip for you.
Well, that’s the show. If you try any of my productivity tips out, please let me know in the comments which was your favorite. Or let me know if you have any to add to the list.
Overwhelmed by everything on your to do list?
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