10 Productivity Hacks Working Moms Will Actually UseMay 2, 2018
Are we aiming for a 4-hour work week here? Um, no. We live in the real world. Instead, we’ve compiled a bunch of easy-to-implement tweaks tailored for working mamas. Take a look, incorporate as many into your routine as possible (several are designed to work in tandem) and definitely let us know how shower coffee works out for you.
- Shower coffee. It’s controversial, yes, but some hardcore folks swear by drinking their morning joe in the shower to save time. One pre-req: A shelf out of the reach of water and errant shampoo suds.
- Strategic scheduling for calls and meetings. Take calls during your commute or little one’s naptime (if you’re a work-from-home mama). And schedule meetings for that coffee spot around the corner so you can dose up on caffeine at the same time.
- The Pomodoro Technique. Developed by a gent named Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, this time-management technique breaks work into 25-minute chunks, interspersed by 5-minute breaks (with a longer one midday). Use a timer so you’re not constantly checking the clock. If you’re a work-from-home mom, use your 5-minute breaks for quick cleaning tasks like wiping down counters or watering plants (or say screw it and make a cup of tea).
- Bucketing tasks. Don’t waste the cognitive overhead that comes from switching gears when you task-jump from responding to emails to brainstorming for a new project to filing expenses. Instead, bucket similar tasks, and tackle them all at once.
- Smarter to-do lists. Craft a realistic daily to-do list from a master list that holds everything and the kitchen sink (because—don’t forget!—you need to call and get that fixed, too). Group tasks by type (see above) on your list to most efficiently work your way through them.
- The 2-Minute Rule. Certain tasks—making doc appointments, writing a quick thank-you note, filing papers—tend to languish on your to-do list. Rather than letting them collect dust and stress you out (even minimally—they clog up your mental space), jump on them. The golden rule: If a task can be done in two minutes or less, just do it.
- Lunch-break grocery runs. Hit the store during your break, stash your spoils in the company fridge (with your name scrawled on the bag as many times as needed), then take everything home that night. Obviously, this works best for just-need-a-few-things trips, not epic Costco excursions.
- Personal-day prioritizing. Rather than scrambling to bring one kid to a dentist appointment at 11 on Monday, and another to a check-up at 2 on Wednesday, set up as many appointments as possible for the same day and take a personal day to get them all done.
- Wearing headphones. They’re great for focused bursts of concentration and signal to your coworkers that now’s not the time for idle chit-chat. That said, give your ears breaks and keep the volume to a reasonable level since studies show that earbud use can cause hearing loss over time.
- Embracing the daydream. No doubt, being in the zone and making great progress on a project can be exhilarating. But it’s impossible to keep up that momentum indefinitely. Creativity spikes when your mind wanders (ever had a great idea in the shower, or while blow-drying your hair?) so let it, and when you return to your task, you’ll have a fresh outlook and—probably—some new, even better ideas.
And one bonus: Hide your phone! Well, not literally, but if you have it tucked in your purse out of sight, not right by your mousepad singing its siren call, you’ll check it far less.