I tried to make a schedule but then doctor's appointments and naps did not allow it to be the same every week. As I've said before, I thrive on routine. So instead of just shifting the cleaning days, I didn't do anything. I became stress paralyzed and sat on the couch watching HGTV and eating cookies and cream ice cream. I truly couldn't figure this out. Things got really out of hand and depression started to settle in.
I have a very wise close friend that has more energy than an ant. She is a little thing but I'm telling you she never stops moving. I used to call her during the day and we would have conversations about cleaning and my strong willed child. After our conversations I would feel encouraged and I knew I could do it. I could figure this out.
Please understand I am not a neat freak nor does my house have to be perfect, although order does make me happy. This is really about the weekly upkeep that a house needs in order to function. I seriously couldn't juggle all of the balls.
Seven years later we are a homeschool family and the layout of our daily routine looks different than it did when I first quit my job. Throughout this journey I had to put habits into practice to help me become more productive during the day.
1. Get Up Early
The early bird catches the worm is a true adage. During this time, I have my coffee, read my Bible and make a plan for the day. The house is silent and the faint glow of the end table lamp is all that can be seen.
To me this is the equivalent of a drive into work. On my drive I used to have the radio off and just think about my day and get myself mentally ready.
Silence and solitude is how I recharge.
Not a morning person, check out my post on Becoming a Early Riser.
2. Make a Plan (and stick to it)
To make my plan, first, I consult my calendar and see what appointments we have and who needs to be where. I use a calendar on my phone but also have a planner. I use the weekly spread to break down each of my days to help me be more productive.
Next, I write down what I WANT to get done that day (kind of like a brain dump). I literally write down take meat out of freezer or start crock pot. Then I look at the list and put a star beside what HAS to be done that day. Prioritizing is Key to productivity. Being busy doing the wrong things is not being productive.
Finally, I stick to my plan. I am strongly motivated by crossing things off my list. Sometimes I'll add stuff to my list just to cross it off.
3. Make Your Bed and Get Dressed
As soon as I get up I make my bed. Doing this doesn't allow me the temptation to crawl back in to get a little more sleep. It also makes my room look pretty and I honestly feel accomplished. Plus I can check it off my list of things to do.
Yes I get out of PJ's, even on a cold morning. I put on my work out clothes even though I know I'm not going to get to walk until nap time. This helps me switch my gears from comfort clothes to "work clothes."
4. Do What You Don't Want to Do First
In the book "Eat That Frog", Brian Tracey says that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning it's probably the worst thing you'll have to do all day. The analogy seems gross but is true none the less.
My frog is chores. Not because I don't like to do them but because they are the easiest to put off doing. So I make doing them a priority. In my planner, I make a list of chores that need to be done for the week. I try to keep it to 5 chores, and pick one chore to do a day. For the most part this is a routine now and I can ditch the actual list but I'd rather keep it so I don't get lazy, plus I like lists and checking things off.
5. Set Boundaries
One of my productivity kryptonites is technology. I can get sucked into the vortex of HGTV or scrolling through my news feed. In order to avoid these distractions, I set a boundary for myself of no TV until 1:00 and I turn my phone off or on silent. This is a house wide rule, with the exception of Sara because she watches TV while we do school.
Another boundary that I set is with my calendar. I started to say no to things that were just going to keep us busy but not truly benefit us. Being out and about so much was putting us behind in school and the house was suffering. I put us on a strict schedule for a month until it became a routine for us. We still did field trips but I limited us to 1 a month. I feel like this is the first year that we have a good balance.
6. Use a Timer
Timers are fabulous tools for moms. I honestly have an entire post planned that is devoted to the multiple ways I use timers throughout the day.
In the morning I put my eggs on the stove and I set the timer for 20 minutes. This is the time I use to clean. You would be amazed at what you can do in 20 minutes. Not to mention the workout you can get trying to beat the clock. My girlfriend and I used to laugh about how sweaty we'd get while mopping or vacuuming. Remember this is the upkeep cleaning not the deep cleaning.
7. Implement the 1 Minute Rule
Gretchen Rubin coined this phrase and it is pretty genius. Basically anything you can do in a minute or less, just do it. For example, hang up your coat, put away your shoes or wash a couple of dishes. This works great because it helps to keep the house picked up and then it's less work for you later AND you might find when you're doing something you'll just take a minute longer to do something else.
8. Ask for Help or Delegate
When I had my number four baby I was truly overwhelmed. She was definitely my neediest baby and I was by far too tired to truly do anything. My friend called and asked if I needed anything and I asked her to come and vacuum and mop my house. Having the energy she does she was over the next day. I can't tell you how happy I was that I didn't have to do that.
Having a baby doesn't have to be the only reason you ask for help. As a mom one of your jobs is to raise your kids to be able to survive without you. Look at raising kids from a long term perspective. Doing things they are physically able to do for themselves makes you tired and enables them. As of now I only have my 9 year old that is able to help but she has her list of chores to accomplish each week.
Remember, done is better than perfect because perfect never gets done.
9. Get a Cleaning Buddy
This one is a little strange but stick with me. We've all heard of having a workout buddy, why can't we have a cleaning buddy. They would really just be an accountability partner. My friend did not come over and white glove test my house, she'd be sorely disappointed if she did. Our conversations were enough to motivate me to get things done. Look for someone in your life that leads the same crazy life you do then ask them how they find time to do the house upkeep. It will start a conversation started, I promise.
10. Go to Bed Early
This habit is not to be used as an avoidance of the things you don't want to do.
This one is a relative habit. That means that what might be early for me may not be early for you. So basically just try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. You'll find that you'll be more productive and less grouchy if you're rested. I can live on 5 hours of sleep and do fine for about 6 days but then day 7 I crash hard and need to sleep till the kids wake up. It's a routine I'd done for years so it works for me. Honestly do what feels right for you. Sleep is a key to productivity.
Reward yourself! At the end of the week when you have crossed off your entire list of chores or whatever it is that is defined as productive in your house, reward yourself. Sit down, binge watch Netflix, read a book or go to Starbucks and get your favorite coffee. Whatever you do for yourself, don't forget to pat yourself on the back.
I've given you a lot of ideas to try. I honestly exhausted myself just reading them. If you've read all of this I know you're looking for answers. Here's my advice, don't try to implement these all at once. Rome wasn't built in a day and you can't change yourself all at one time. Pick the one that seems most doable and start there.
I've created this nifty little habit tracker for you to use while you get into the swing of things. It's designed to help you keep track of a new productivity habit for a month. Remember it takes 21 repetitions for something to become a habit.
I'd love to hear if you have a habit that I didn't mention. Write your habit in the comment section. I love to learn new things!
Sending you an encouraging hug!