Chronic procrastinator, reporting for duty! In university, I told myself that I worked best under pressure and that all-nighters added excitement to my life. I have fallen into the Netflix-portal of "Just one more episode," too many times to count. I would put off adulting in favour of scrolling Facebook.
But, now, I am a reformed procrastinator, just over here living my most productive life. The cool thing is, you can too. Here are my top tips for cutting out procrastination (and, therefore, being a more productive human)!
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Outsourcing - what the heck is it? Basically, outsourcing is a business practice used by companies to improve efficiency by shifting tasks, operations, jobs, or processes to an external contracted third party for a significant amount of time.
Now, I am a huge promoter of delegating tasks when it comes to motherhood (you can do it all, but that doesn't mean you have to, mama!). So, here are 5 tasks that you can outsource to increase your efficiency and, honestly, just enjoy your life more.
Our family isn't the greatest with time management; my husband is always late, I'm a chronic procrastinator, and the kids are always going somewhere. But with so many people in our home (my husband, me, our 2 year old, my 10 year old stepson 50% of the time, and our 15 year old niece 98% of the time) and so little time to get everything done, we had to up our time management game.
It's possible, I promise.
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Working from home is the dream - wearing your pajamas, Netflix on your breaks, setting your own hours and no one ever drinks all the coffee before you can fill your cup.
However, it can also be incredibly difficult to stay motivated and undistracted when you work from home! So, here are some simple tips to help you stay productive when you work from home.
1. Write To-Do Lists
Whether you are an entrepreneur or a work-from-home employee, you need to be clear about what you need to get done and when you're going to do it.
Personally, I write a to-do list for the week; then, every day I write the top 3 things I want to accomplish for the day and I schedule my entire day with a time-blocking schedule. (Want a copy of my printable daily schedule? Sign up for my free resource library here!)
I also recommend utilizing the eat that frog principle. Mark Twain once said, "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." Basically, do the thing you're dreading from your to-do list first. If you'd like to learn more about this practice and beating procrastination, check out Brian Tracy's book, Eat that Frog.
2. Get Up earlier
I talk about this a lot - but especially if you're a mom, getting up before the rest of your family will do wonders for your productivity.
I schedule my coffee maker to start brewing at the same time my alarm goes off. Then, before anyone else is awake, I organize my to-do list and schedule for the day, make note of any appointments or meetings, answer emails, and organize my social media.
Another option is to use that time to relax, especially if you work long hours as a mompreneur. Take a long shower, drink your coffee, read a good book - fill your cup. You'll be happier and more positive, which will only help your productivity for the rest of the day.
3. Do a 30-Minute Mad Clean
Ok, so you know when it's 30 minutes before company arrives at your house and you do a mad clean and you're shocked at how much you can accomplish in half an hour?
Do this more often.
I struggle to focus completely on work when my house is a mess (and I have a toddler so it's a mess 97% of the time). So, I set a timer and clean like crazy for 30 minutes; the mental break from work AND the benefit of having a tidier home helps me to refocus on my business.
Only answer emails that need to be answered. Only respond to messages that need your response right now.
If you're a work-from-home mom, it can be easy to become glued to your phone. But here's the thing. Being productive? It means that sometimes you actually stop working. That you are present with your family. That you step back from your business and be with the people you love or you do something that you enjoy.
Trust me. You'll be more focused when you do work if you can prioritize when needs to get done immediately and what can wait.
5. Meal Prep
You can set yourself up for max productivity by prepping lunch and snacks ahead of time. I love to make jar salads - it's the perfect pre-portioned meal that I can dump in a bowl and eat at the computer. Right now, I'm loving this Burrito Bowl Jar Salad.
There are so many resources on Pinterest for meal planning and prepping; you can read my own strategy here!
6. Ask for help. Hire help if you have to!
For us, that looks like this:
My daughter goes to my mother-in-law's for a couple of hours every day during the workweek so I can focus 100%.
We hired a company to pick up the dog poop in our backyard and someone to come clean our house a couple times a month.
Our kids do the dishes and clean the bathrooms.
You don't have to do it all by yourself.
Do you work from home? How do you stay productive?
1. get up before the kids (if you can)
Ok, this is an obvious one. It might require you to go to bed earlier or to put your alarm clock across the room so you can break up with the snooze button. However, give yourself some grace. If your baby wakes up at 5am everyday and the idea of getting up at 4 is literal misery - give yourself some grace and adapt your routine to include the kid(s).
2. Gratitude is the opposite of stress
If the first thing you do when you wake up is look at the (super depressing) world news or stress about your list of things to do - I want you to stop. Right now. If you can take anything from this list and put it into practice, I hope it's this.
"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." - Eckhart Tolle
Now, you can incorporate gratitude into your morning routine in a multitude of ways and I encourage you to find the way that works for you. Some people turn their alarm off and immediately think of 5 things for which they are grateful. Some might meditate on their gratitude, while some will focus on what they are grateful for while brushing their teeth. Some prefer to put pen to paper, listing every single day their grateful hearts. It doesn't matter how you do it; it just matters that you do.
And if your kids wake up early with you, include them in this practice. Imagine focusing every single day from childhood on all the things you have to be thankful for. That's a pretty freakin' cool gift to give your children.
Look, you don't have to run 10k or even do a full workout if you don't want to. Your morning exercise routine might be 10 minutes of yoga (or, heck, even 1 minute of yoga). You can stretch or you can do intense cardio. You can do some push-ups and sit-ups or you can do a full strength-training workout.
Whatever you do will set you up with more energy for your day. Plus, who doesn't want a healthy dose of endorphins first thing in the morning?
4. Write your to-do list
Some people prefer to do this before bed; I like to do a brain dump of everything I need to get done during the day when I wake up. I take a fresh piece of paper and write done everything I can think of that I need to accomplish, whether it's work tasks or wife tasks.
And then, I pick 3 things. Yep, just 3. I reflect on what might be time-sensitive (a blog post that needs to go up or a living room that needs to be cleaned before people come over tonight). And I focus on getting those 3 things done during my day. If I accomplish more? Yay, go me! And if not? That's ok. There's always tomorrow.
5. Read (or listen to) something inspiring
Put down your phone, avoid the newsfeed and the news, and pick up a good book or plug into an inspirational podcast or audiobook. (As a mama of early-rising kids, you might find that listening to books is the key to getting in more "reading.") I always advise my clients to avoid business-related information first thing in the morning; hang out in a positive space when you wake up and you'll feel more ease when you get to your work-related tasks.
6. Give yourself some grace
You're a mom; this is pretty much my advice for anything. Didn't get to write down your to-do list? That's ok, maybe writing it down before bed will be a better fit for you. Didn't get to read before the kids woke up? Cool, turn on a podcast (find my favourites here).
Always, always, always give yourself grace. Don't ever beat yourself up for pressing snooze or skipping your workout. You're human. There's over 7 billion of us; welcome to the club.