“Today was just not a very productive day.” I feel like those words have left my mouth often since becoming a mom. Or at least, more frequently than before. Because some days, I’m just not a “productive” mom.
Some days it feels like I am constantly on the go, constantly doing things, only to reach the end of the day…and have nothing checked off my to do list.
I think a lot of us feel this way. A lot of us feel like we’re constantly doing things, only to still accomplish nothing that we had actually planned to do.
And it’s no wonder. Being a productive mom is hard! There are constantly little mouths to feed, bums to wipe and diapers to change, and snacks to hand out.
We won’t even talk about the mini you following you around and undoing any cleaning you try to do. Or leaving a trail of toys in their wake.
Moms get pulled in so many different directions, it’s hard to not feel like your head is spinning.
But here’s the thing. You don’t have to give in and throw in the towel. You don’t have to resign yourself to getting nothing done for the next ten years or so.
While there are going to be days where things just don’t get done, there are things you can do to minimize those days. Even with babies and toddlers, it’s absolutely possible to be productive—even when mom duties are pulling at you.
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How To Be A More Productive Mom
Some days I wake up feeling like supermom. Everything seems to fall into place, and I’m highly productive.
On these days, I often get the whole apartment cleaned, blogging tasks completed, and plenty of check marks on my to do list.
But if I’m being honest, those days aren’t the norm for me. I wouldn’t say they’re unicorn days, because they happen more frequently than that.
But for the most part, my days look more like getting an acceptable amount of tasks completed.
And then there are the truly unproductive days. Days where I struggle to find the motivation to get even the bare minimum done.
Days where nothing significant gets done. Often these days coincide with poor parenting days—yes, I have those too.
To be honest, when these days come, most of the time I call it a day and set my to do list aside.
Dealing with Unproductive Days
You might be thinking, “Hold on a second! You quit when you feel unmotivated?!”
Yes. And here’s why.
This may be the same for you, or it may not be. But for me, when I have those really unmotivated days where nothing gets done, or I can’t seem to get things done no matter how hard I try, it’s usually because I need a break.
I love being productive. I love checking things off my list, and seeing the visual evidence of what I’ve accomplished. But sometimes, I drive too hard and fail to carve out enough time to recharge and refill.
And when I don’t set aside enough “me” time, it leads to highly unproductive days. No matter how hard I try, I can’t be productive when I’ve failed to make time to recharge.
I’m a big believer in self care and finding time to refill, but sometimes my desire to get things done outweighs my desire to take care of myself. Ironically, this always leads to unproductive days.
If you find yourself in a similar place, the first thing you need to do is stop and recharge. It’s okay to set aside the list and make it a day of recharging and relaxing.
Put on a movie for the kids and then allow yourself to do whatever it is you need to do to recharge. I’m betting that you’ll not only feel way better the next day, but you’ll also get far more done.
10 Tips To Be A More Productive Mom
Even if you’re fully charged and ready to take on the day, it can still be hard to get things done as a mom.
To help you out, I wanted to offer some simple tips that have helped me to be a much more productive mom. Even with little kids!
1. Redefine productivity as a mom
Okay, first things first. If you want to be more productive, you need to start defining what that actually looks like. And for most of us, I think we’re doing it wrong.
It’s time to redefine productivity for moms.
Not so that we can feel good about ourselves even though we didn’t do anything. But so that we actually recognize the things we do that are highly productive, even if they can’t be checked off a list.
For example, teaching your children. Loving your family.
When was the last time you checked off “teach (insert child’s name) kindness today”? Probably never, because it was never on your list in the first place.
Moms do the things that are the most important, and yet those things never show up on a list. We are literally raising the next generation. And yet very little of what goes into that ever shows up on a nice tidy checklist.
We need to start recognizing those intangible things as being productive. Teaching kindness is productive. Loving your children is productive. Helping your children become independent adults is productive.
Chances are, you’re a lot more productive than you give yourself credit for.
2. Set realistic expectations
Another reason we fail to be productive is because we expect too much of ourselves. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s good to push yourself, and strive to do better.
But you can’t set unrealistic expectations, either.
You can’t make a to do list a mile long and seriously expect to get it all done in a single morning—or day. Too often, we try to cram too much into too short a time span.
As a result, it either doesn’t get done, or it gets done poorly. And poor work often needs to be redone. In the end, expecting too much of yourself leads to more unproductivity.
Instead of trying to tackle a huge to do list, try setting just three things that need to be done today. These are the three things you focus on doing today.
If you get more done, great! If not, count it a productive day as long as you got those three things done.
For me, my three things are usually exercising, scheduling content, and reading. None of them take a particularly long time, but they are the basic things I need to do in order to feel accomplished that day.
3. Plan out your day ahead of time
This is the simplest part of being productive, and yet the most overlooked. If you don’t know what needs to be done, and what of that is most important, you will not be productive.
Sit down the night before and plan out the following day. Personally, I like to plan out my whole week in one sitting. I think better that way, and it’s easier for me to see the whole week and our commitments.
Always write out a to do list. Don’t try to remember it all in your head. Even if you have an awesome memory, you’ll end up forgetting something. Guaranteed.
Lately I’ve been using a Trello board for my to do lists and calendar. But I also really like Happy Planners when I’m in a paper-and-pen kind of a mood.
Figure out if paper or digital works best for you, and then get in the habit of writing it all down. Be sure to keep your planner and to do list somewhere it won’t get lost. When I’m using a planner, I like to keep it on my kitchen table.
However you do it, planning out your day ahead of time will save you valuable time. You won’t wake up and waste time wondering what you should get started on. Instead, you’ll have a plan ready to go and can get right to it.
4. Get up earlier
Still struggling to find time for things? Try getting up earlier in the morning.
Don’t stress out yet! I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a wake up early kind of person. I hate waking up to an alarm, and it always leaves me tired and struggling to wake up.
But, I also know that the morning hours are my most productive hours. This has always been the case for me, even long before I became a mom.
If you’re able to swing it, try getting up just a little bit earlier. You don’t have to get up crazy early, just a little more than what you’re used to right now. Give it a try and see if you get more done.
If you struggle to get up to alarms (I do!), try going to bed a bit earlier. Your body will be more rested, and you’ll be more likely to feel refreshed when you get up.
5. Exercise early and often
One of the best ways to get yourself going in the morning is to move!
While it might sound contradictory, exercising can actually give you a boost of energy, get your blood flowing, and help you conquer your day.
I’ve found that the earlier I exercise, the better my day tends to go. And the more stuff I get done!
A little exercise can also help you break up your day. The movement can help get you out of a rut and get your day moving again.
I often break up my entire exercise routine so that I do a bit of it throughout the day. This helps me start my day well, but also helps me stay motivated all day.
In the early morning, I usually like to fit in some time doing Pilates with The Balanced Life.
The routines range from must 15-30 minutes, which is more than doable as a mom. And it helps me feel so much better! Pilates is known to improve flexibility and mobility, and build strength at the same time.
Later in the morning, my toddler and I go for a walk, weather permitting. Walking gets us both outside and moving. And of course, fresh air always makes you feel better!
In the evenings, I always fit in 20-30 minutes on my exercise bike while I’m watching TV. This helps me end my day well, and of course squeeze in some movement while I’m winding down for the day.
6. Do one load of laundry per day
Alright, let’s talk about the elephants in the room.
You know the ones. That pile of laundry still sitting in the basket—or on your couch—waiting to be folded.
Or perhaps the one still sitting next to the washing machine waiting to be started. Or the one inside the washer that’s been washed twice already because you keep forgetting to switch it to the drier.
Laundry is just the never ending chore that constantly haunts moms everywhere. There’s just always more of it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with it.
Instead of letting it accumulate into an unattainable job, try washing just one load per day. Be sure to fold and put it away too!
I’ve found that doing just one load a day makes it a lot more manageable. And you won’t have to spend an entire day folding it, either!
7. Have a routine
I can not even begin to tell you the power of having a routine in place. When you have a routine, you know what to do and in what order to do it.
Having a morning routine in place, specifically, helps me get going and start my day well. I always end up being more productive when I follow my routine.
Don’t get hung up on having a super elaborate routine. Start simple, and just get in the habit of following your routine. Once you’re used to doing it, everyday, you can start adding in new habits as needed.
Getting into the habit of a routine can take a little time and effort, but it is so worth it! Just start doing it now, where ever you’re at in motherhood. You can even have a routine with a baby!
8. Set aside time for yourself
Okay, this might not be the most popular productivity tip. But here’s the thing. When you fail to refill your cup and recharge yourself, you will quickly become unproductive.
One of the biggest mistakes moms make is to run themselves dry.
I get it, I do. We have it ingrained in us to take care of everyone else first. And usually this leaves us with little to no time to care for ourselves.
But some of the things we do don’t have to be done right then. Some things, a lot of things, can wait.
Feed your family, care for them, love them. But know it’s okay to set boundaries. It’s okay to set periods of independent play. It’s okay to leave some things for later.
Start regularly carving out time to do the things that breathe life back into you. Read a book, take that shower, do a solo shopping trip, take a minute to breathe.
We need to stop acting like the entire world will fall apart if we take one hot second to ourselves. You’ll feel better, your family will do better, and you’ll find you’re more productive in the long run.
9. Move often
I really can’t stress this enough. Sitting still is a killer of motivation.
Whatever you have to do, be sure to move often during your day. Even if you have a huge pile of laundry to fold, don’t let yourself get stuck sitting all day while you fold.
Get up and move! Take breaks, walk around, stretch, do some Pilates. Whatever you have to do, keep movement throughout your day.
Your body will feel better, your mind will feel better, and you’ll stay motivated and energized.
10. Involve your kids
Alright, look, as moms we have a problem. For some reason, we tend to think we need to do everything. And it’s just not true.
Learn to involve your kids in the work that needs done. Let them help—even if it takes longer. Teaching kids to help is a valuable life skill.
And ultimately, the more independent they become, the more time and energy you’ll have available.
So even if it’s a little inconvenient at first, learn to involve your kids. Assign chores—even to toddlers. You’ll thank me later.
Ready to get more done?
What do you think, mama—ready to become more productive and get more done?
Start with a simple routine. As it becomes more and more ingrained, slowly introduce new habits. These will eventually build, and you’ll find yourself getting more and more done in the same amount of time.
In the meantime, be gently with yourself. You don’t have to do everything, and everything doesn’t have to be done today. Give yourself grace. Take time to rest.
What do you struggle with most when it comes to getting things done?