Being a parent is quite possibly one of the biggest responsibilities most of us would ever handle. You are suddenly responsible for shaping a complete human being from scratch- who would go on to inhabit this planet for the next 60-80 years. In a tiny way- we are shaping the future of this planet, one child at a time!
Every society and every generation has had its parenting challenges. Parenting in the 21st Century has its own set of challenges too. For one, its harder today to find family and community support to raise your child. Yet, it is easier because now you have online communities from all over the world to seek support on any issue. It is harder because you could be second-guessing yourself at every step due to information overload. Yet, it is easier because you have the tools to choose the right sources. It is harder because you have a demanding career to pursue. Yet, it is easier because there are so many opportunities today.
A universal concern that all millennial parents can identify with is lack of time. There’s just too much to do and too little time! Yet, It is quite possible to turn up the quality of millennial parenting by several notches; if only we optimise what we have today and what can only get better in the future – access to information, abundant research to inform our decisions, handy tools and apps to track our activities and guide our improvements.
Here is a comprehensive list of 137 teeny but powerful productivity hacks for parents (and everyone else too) that covers various aspects of your life all round the clock.
Follow a few(or all) of these effective time-management tips and watch your day magically stretch by a few hours and help you meet all your goals!
A FRESH START
No one can make the phrase ‘mad mornings‘ come alive more than parents. It’s usually at this time that half my mind is wondering about what the hell was I doing with this time before I had kids. The other half is approximately 20 steps ahead into what my kids are upto at this very minute.
It can be mind-numbingly hard to get yourself ready, feed, clothe and cater to every need of other small human(s) while thinking about the big presentation at work.
For people who crave time, especially alone-time, mornings are priceless. At this time, I can safely vouch that parents (mostly mothers) are among the top cravers for alone-time; given how much company they get even to pee.
Here are a few ways to make the most of this time…
1.Wake up earlier
Wake up at least an hour before everybody else, especially your children. Waking up early makes you better mentally and physically; and you get an entire hour to think about your day. You could also use this time to dream about that vacation you took 5 years ago without a tiny hand whacking your face.
2. Make a morning ritual
Experts on willpower believe that we have the most self-control in the wee hours of the morning- before the madness begins because your willpower muscle is still fresh. Yeah, making up your mind to not tear your hair apart during the sibling fights, works at this time.
Use this time to face your fears and deal with them; simply because you have an extra dose of willpower in your stock. Make a ritual, any ritual and stick to it because rituals are associated with feelings of stability and control.
Your ritual could range from writing a journal to mantra chanting to watering your garden or clearing your kitchen counter. Here’s a morning ritual that can make you 8 times more productive.
3. Befriend your morning mood
How you feel in the first hours of the day determines how you feel and act the rest of the day; which is why experts recommend not to use your morning hours reacting to other people. Checking email or rushing straight into the needs of your family can steal the much-needed feeling of control and thus affect how your see the rest of the world for the entire day.
4. Take cold showers
Long practiced by Hindu monks and priests( in the rivers) to train in self-control and self-discipline, the benefits of taking cold showers have recently made a headway into major scientific research. Cold water helps blood rush to the to the mood-regulating areas of your brain sparking it with happy neurotransmitters- increasing mental alertness and decreasing fatigue and stress. With several high-performers swearing by the cold-shower buzz, cold-shower high is a real thing now.
5. Eat breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of your day because your body is really looking forward to it; after having fasted for nearly 8-10 hours.
Yes – this means you have to eat even if this elementary act resembles a circus monkey trick- with you swearing over having stepped on a lego and your toddler just now deciding to experiment with mixing colors over your favorite suit.
By now, we don’t need any more convincing that exercise is non-negotiable(having to run behind your pre-schooler(s)does not count. Okay- it does, but just a little bit).
There are various suggestions for the perfect time for a workout, but mornings really work best for people whose day can turn unpredictable(read: people with little humans in tow). If you think you do not have time for running, Yoga or the gym, practise this 7-minute workout designed to gear you up for a new day.It really crushes your ‘no-time’ excuse. Creative parents turn exercise into something like this. Its so good, it makes me want to drop everything and do it now.
[su_vimeo url=”https://vimeo.com/160489635″ width=”640″ height=”360″]
7. Arm yourself (In lay terms – drink sufficient coffee)
If you have little kids, you probably want to be fully equipped for the oncoming assault on your senses.
It makes sense to guard your morning coffee (or tea) minutes. If you want to stretch it; you could mold in into a beautiful personal ritual for gratitude and awareness.
If you are one of those coffee fanatics and want to know what about coffee makes you go nuts(or is it beans??) over it; check out this fantastic infographic here.
8. Compartmentalize the chaos
Accept that no matter what you do, those little brats have the power to turn all your planning on its head. Laura Vanderkam recommends setting a 15-minute alarm before you absolutely have to head out and allow the chaos to begin in full blast after that alarm goes off to avoid scuttling all the time.
You have heard this one a million times before. Okay, so one more time
9. Make the list
Make a list of everything that needs to get done today. Not just your work tasks, not just your personal tasks. Put everything in there. Experience the high of ticking your tasks off the list.
Tor Refsland explains how to save several hours per year.
10. Have daycare-failure contingency plan-A, B, C, D
Daycare failure is the one thing with that supreme power to make you go hopping mad- and worse if you got to know just at the last minute. Always have a backup plan. Prepare the partner, have an alternate location of work or work from home, look up friends, beg parents to come over or – call EMERGENCY (Okay- I was kidding. Don’t do this one!)
11. Use the 1-3-5 rule
Don’t put in 10 huge tasks on your list and expect them all to get done. Identify one large and important task, 3 medium-sized tasks and 5 small tasks on your list. Try the 1-3-5 to-do list. The one large task is your High-Value-Activity(HVA) for your day.
Note: Milanote is a great tool for maintaining to-do lists and workflows.
Also Read : 58 Companies Parents Would Love to Work For !
12. Get rid of distractions
Once you have zeroed in on your High-Value-Activity(HVA) for the day; block out all distractions. Be ruthless about it.
Silence your phone, put it away, turn off all push notifications, set up “do not disturb” on your work chat status, block social media sites, and work on it for the next 90 minutes. That is 20% of your 8-hour workday. Most experts recommend following this 80-20 rule by fiercely protecting these 90 minutes of your work-time can solve most productivity issues.
13. Schedule everything:
Once you have everything put down there, schedule your tasks. Assign a time for everything. Set up time even for your distractions(Facebook, Youtube) , downtime and ‘just-saying-hi’ time.
You calendar should look something like this.
- Respond to X- 9- 9:10
- Schedule Social Media posts- 9:10-9:30
- 9:25: 9:30- Break
- Research for the report- 9:30- 10:20
- Grab coffee: 10:20 – 10:30
- Meeting with Y- 10:30 – 11:00
- 11:00-11:05- Break
- Write the damn report- 11:05-12:00 (you can tell I hate doing this)
- Check in with the daycare- 12:00- 12:15
14. Schedule your hardest thing to do at the right time
Dan Ariely, a New York Times best-selling author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions explains that we have peak productivity about 2 hours after waking termed as the ‘magic hours’. For parents, this means scheduling this time when the brats are not around- and arranging for it about 2 hours after you wake up.
15. Get your calendar to consent before you say ‘Yes’
Anything that does not fit in the schedule above will not get done. Simply say ‘NO’.
16. Put in your breaks there
17.Drink adequate water in your breaks
Working parents need to be doubly sure they don’t crank up under the double-duty. Drink a tall glass of water and watch your productivity soar by 14%. Apps like IFTTT are great at setting up reminders and alerts.
18.Have ONE calendar
Keeping separate work and home calendars can lead to lot of forgotten appointments and play dates. Put everything on one calendar and sync up your tasks.
19. Buffer it up
Okay, not everything goes as expected. Huh? I know, parents don’t need to be reminded of it – but just saying.
The general rule of thumb is to add another 33% of time to any major task you have on your list. So, if you anticipate 1 hour to go into a task, throw in another 20 minutes of buffer time.
20. Time your activity based on your day
Don’t start a 45- minute activity when you know your kids will be back in 20 minutes. Start it when you know you can block the full 45 minutes. Ill-timing your task can lead to frustration.
21. Make use of the small chunks
That said, don’t fritter way the small chunks of time you get between major tasks. 10 minutes before the kids return, or waiting at the basketball court can be used to take care of simple admin tasks, making appointments- freeing up more valuable time for intense tasks or just free play with your child.
22. Manage your energy
Just like everything else, you wont feel springy at all hours of the day. It’s important to align your tasks to your energy levels. Schedule your most intense task at the time when you have the most energy. At other times, you have coffee.
Here’s a few more tips on managing your energy from Leo Widrich.
23. Have the munchies handy
Before starting a task, stock up on your munchies to avoid wasting time to the pantry and back. Fit the munching into your breaks.
24. Make use of technology
Use software like Evernote or Pocket to bookmark everything you like and put it in the ‘Read later’ folder or use the safari reading list if you are an apple aficionado!
25. Use the power of processes
For any tasks you do on a regular basis; have a checklist or automated routine to help you. Zapier is a great service that links up all your applications and builds powerful workflows for your routine tasks.
1. Finish it quickly
2. Avoid rework
3. Make it easier to delegate.
So if you have to pull out a report every Monday- fully automate it if you can; or make a standard checklist for the process to use every time.
26. Make every task measurable
Writing a book? Write 5 pages every day. That makes it 1 page an hour, about 250 words every 15 minutes. Set your timer and start working. Now smile – because you have one page to show after an hour. You just met your goal.
James Clear explains this powerful productivity technique in this article.
27. Don’t let it subvert your day
Don’t let it get to you that your friend didn’t agree with you on that last comment on Facebook or that troll on Twitterati. The greatest and the meanest had haters equally. Let it go.
28. Have ‘today’ lists and “master-to-do” list
Map out your goals for the next 60-90 days. Map your actions to reach that goal. Put it on the “ master-do-do” list. Pick out 1-2 major tasks and work on the chunks that make up that task today. Over time, your minor tasks will match up to your major tasks and get ticked off against major goals.
29. Get expert help
Focus on the tasks you are good at and add value to your work and business. For everything else, hire someone who is good at it.
30. Acknowledge the reluctance
You can do all the right things, but some days you just are not upto it. The task list intimidates you. Own it up to yourself and do it anyway.
31. Always have backup tasks
You might have everything on your calendar but the meeting you planned might get canceled or that website might keep timing out. Move other tasks up the list to make up for this time.
32. Procrastinate- but positively
Procrastination is one thing most of us are guilty of. Turns out, there is something called positive procrastination. If there is one task you are avoiding because it terrifies you, you can go ahead and work on the next task on the list. Just don’t fritter away time on social media or gossiping at the water fountain because you will end up feeling more intimidated.
33. Upgrade your skill-set
The best way to do something fast is to learn to do it. Actively seek to learn to keep yourself growing. Here’s an online guide to start.
34. Take Power Naps
A few minutes of snoozing in the afternoon can super-charge the rest of your day. University of Michigan researchers found that short naps boost productivity and build tolerance to frustration.
See how New York Times best selling author, Michael Hyatt does it.
So there! Don’t forget to pack in a fluffy pillow into your work satchel today.
WORK: AT HOME
Apart from the common challenges of handling work itself as listed above, working from home has its own unique set of challenges and solutions – simply because home and work never seem like separate entities.
35. Sync Your Work Habits With Your Child’s Routine
Babies have a rhythm of their own. Get attuned to the baby’s routine as fast as possible instead of struggling to fit them into the adult schedule.
36. Dress up
How you dress doesn’t just reflect your personality to others but also to yourself. Feeling low on productivity? Change into your favourite office wear and feel the difference.
37. Budget your time
Just as money-budgeting increases your resourcefulness, time-budgeting increases your productivity. When you know you have hard stops (yeah, that’s the time you will hear loud wailing from the other room signalling his nap is over), you push yourself to focus.
38. Chunk tasks together
Writing a blog post? Calling up clients? Doing laundry? Ordering groceries online? Bundle the tasks together so you don’t constantly switch between tasks. Write 2-3 articles at a time. Call all clients you need to contact at the most suitable time.
39. Kid-proof your gadgets
It could save you a lot of time lost in recovering deleted messages and apologizing for accidental calling.
40. Use cloud storage
Ouch! I learned this the hard way when my daughter poured tomato soup over my laptop. Always, always back up important files on a reliable cloud service.
41. Make them learn while you work
42. Invest in ergonomics
Most of us are tempted to work out of the couch or on the bed while at home. Not assuming proper work postures can result in a lot of lost time and frustrating hours. Invest in good ergonomics.
43. Cordon off your work area
Avoiding distractions at home is much harder because it’s hard to separate tasks and spaces. As soon as they are old enough, get your kid(s) to understand that your work-space is important and cannot be used as a counter to dump other stuff.
44. Get Help
Your being at home should not mean you are always available – except for emergencies. Arrange for day-care or baby-sitting services to engage your kid while you work. Even two hours of distraction-free work will work wonders.
45. Leverage Tech
If you work in a team, use software like Trello or Quip to keep track of projects – to avoid the email ping-pong. Store and share files online with a service like Dropbox ; host a webinar using Any Meeting or GoToMeeting; Manage projects effectively using Basecamp; spend 15-20 minutes a day scheduling social media posts on Hootsuite or Buffer.
46. Work in a place that works for you
Work in a place that helps you focus. Hide in a corner when you need to focus, and move into a collaborative space like a lounge when you want your creative juices rekindled.
47. Group your interruptions
If your job requires frequent feedback from your team members, consider having questions and requests grouped into categories. This way, you won’t have to tap on their shoulder throughout the day.
48. Keep your team happy
Employee engagement and positivity are huge indicators of a company’s success.
Here are 121 awesome employee wellness ideas you can pick out of right away.
49. Use the 2-minute rule
If a task takes 2 minutes to complete, don’t put it away. Responding to an email takes less then 2 minutes? Do it now. Found that you just emptied your nut jar. Add it to your grocery list now.
50. Use the right tools
Install the right tools and apps on your main work computer to optimize work time.
51. Minimize your meetings or eliminate them altogether
Believe it or not, our obsession with meetings is on the rise. Use alternatives like team collaborative software for updates. According to James Altucher, most meetings can be summed up in a 2-sentence email.
If you must have them, then:
52. Group meetings together
Group your meetings back-to-back. This way, you will not be constantly switching from work mode to meeting mode and end up not getting anything done in either.
53. Have a meeting-free day
Use this day to crank out all your high-value activities without interruptions.
Jon Morrow, founder of Smart Blogger(previously, Boost Blog Traffic) uses 2-3 days a week to only focus on writing his courses. No consultation, no meetings, no phone calls on those days.
54. Never meet without an agenda
Once the agenda is firmed up, use it to steer people back into the discussion. Stephanie Vozza, in Fast Company recommends limiting your agenda items to 3 items or less.
55. Use the ‘parking technique’
Be proactive about sticking to time. Slot all unrelated ideas that pop up into the “parking lot”.
56. Snip it ruthlessly
Many leaders believe that meetings are time vampires.
Gary McCollough, a former U.S. Army Captain gives exactly half the time people ask for meetings.
57. Respect people’s time
Show up on time, come prepared for the discussion and provide value. When a task involves a team, respect everyone’s time.
Keep It Short and Simple!
Designer Mike Davidson responds to all emails in less than 5 sentences.
59. Use email rules
Institute policies or rules by which you know when you are expected to respond to an email.
60. Segregate them into folders
File your email into folders based on who you get it from, by when you need to respond and how much time it would take. It helps in de-cluttering. Use Inbox from Google to automagically separate mails based on the subject.
61. Do the rain-check
Check your subscriptions periodically and unsubscribe from the ones you no longer actively use.
62. Use canned response
Make use of standard email responses to acknowledge the email. That way, you know the email has been acknowledged at least.
63. De-clutter your inbox
Regularly clear your inbox of unwanted emails since you really don’t want to miss the important ones.
Also Read : 58 Companies Parents Would Love to Work For !
64. Inspire yourself
down an inspirational quote on your whiteboard, set it as your screensaver or write it on top of your to-do list to stop you from logging into Facebook.
Here are some interesting ones on Pinterest.
65. Redo your room
Redo your room every now and then to radiate novelty. Plonk a few comfortable desk chairs for your little brigade to work alongside you if you need them to. Here are a few DIYs.
66. Make it quiet
Experts confirm that having too much noise or distractions around you can make your productivity drop. Try to find and stick to a work spot that has the noise cut out.
67. Gadget-free zone
Average users check their phones about 150 times a day. Stuck on an idea? Phone in. Waiting for an update? Phone in. Have desks in your table where you can hide your phones. Just the trouble of getting them out will prevent you from checking on it so many times.
68. Turn up the heat.
A study just found out that being in colder environments makes you 44% more prone to errors. Make it warmer around you for improved performance. Well, the other flip side is, you could feel sleepy too
THE LUNCH HOUR
Your lunch hour is 5 hours a week left to yourself without a tiny human clinging to you! Here are some cool ways to use that precious time –
69. Eat your lunch
I know! Sounds stupid, right?
Ignore this one thing and you could see yourself snowballing into unhealthy weight, low energy reserves increased frustration.
70. Get nagging bits out of the way!
You heard (read) me! Grocery shopping doesn’t have to mean standing at the checkout counter while the lady in front of you is fiddling with her wallet. Now, it means loading your grocery list on to online grocery stores that deliver at your doorstep. Amazon Grocery is great for the US and Big Basket, ZopNow are already household names in India. Plus, their ‘save list’ service really eliminates the need to make a whole new grocery list every week.
Get on Amazon Mom for discount alerts on diapers, baby food etc.
71. Work on your pet project
Use this time to research on your personal project or jot down ideas for your next blog post!
72. Get active on Social Media
Studies like the one from KissMetrics show that social media engagement sees a spike during lunch hours. This might be the best time to get on your social media networks and schedule your posts if you need to promote your personal projects.
Sky-rocket your productivity every day by using the last few minutes of your work hours effectively-
Use the 10-10- 10 routine
73. Clear out your table-top
Use 10 of the last 30 minutes of your workday to clear your work-space. Put your files away, arrange your stationary, and – Ah, the joy of crushing that to-do list! Scientific American agrees it will up your effectiveness.
74. Plan tomorrow
Use the next 10 to identify your 1-3-5 list for tomorrow and stick it to your desk. It almost feels like you are physically emptying your head.
75. Clear out your computer
Use 10 minutes to reorganize your work computer for ease of workflow. Make folders and files easily accessible, tag them, group them, etc. Clear out all unwanted downloads of the day.
76. Close all those damn tabs
I am guilty of this. When I start work in the morning, I am staring at about 20 tabs left open from the previous day’s work. I am immediately fuzzy and reach for my coffee; yet again! Just close them all once you are done using them. Pocket the ones you need for later by using appropriate bookmarks and applications.
This is usually the time that’s best used for smoothing out the bumps for the next morning. Try a few of these-
77. Use the first few minutes to wholly connect
After a long day at the daycare; your child might demand that stuffed toy at the very top shelf ‘right now’- while you might be fighting the urge to sort out dinner. Tuning into your kids completely for the first 30 -45 minutes after your ‘reunion’ can reduce tantrums and smooth out your evenings.
78. Lay it out
Don’t let decision fatigue about what to wear, what to make, what to eat sap you in the morning. Lay out your clothes and accessories based on what you might be doing the next day. Okay, we can leave the make-up for the commute!
79. Let them decide
Avoid last-minute meltdowns(ouch!) by allowing her to decide on what to wear the next morning. It may be frustrating to see her in the same frock the 3rd time this week, but seriously- pick your battles.
80. Pack lunches
Cook your meals for the next day and freeze them in the same boxes that you will carry. It’s just a matter of picking them up and popping them into your satchels. Pack in quality time with your little one(s) by allowing them to “help” you in the cooking. Think about it- you can ‘afford’ help more now than in the morning!
81. Group things
Place the things that your kid(s) will need close together. They might still be hollering for the toothpaste that’s right in front of them. Yeah, we know that story, but, hey! – we can try!
82. Befriend the bag
Make sure whatever else you need – diapers, backpacks, favorite stuffed toys- all of them are into the satchels.
83. Table it out
Put out bowls, utensils, cereal, fruit, and bread on the dining table to avoid the morning madness. Helps you with a clean table out- literally.
84. Carve out homework time
If your kids are old enough for homework, set up a regular time for homework. Avoid making calls or talking to others at this time-focus on your child alone. Distracted parenting fuels the habit of distraction in our kids.
85. Develop a wind down habit to consolidate your day
Develop a habit of walking, listening to music, reading to your kids or playing bunny with them as a stress-buster. One consistent activity helps bring the brain to a state of rest. Plus- if it’s with the kids, it rids you of the persistent guilt.
86. Cut down on commute
This one comes from Bethany Koby, CEO of Technololgy will Save Us. If you can afford it, get a home near to your workspace or vice-versa.
If you have to commute; use that time to:
87.Catch up on reading
Use that long commute in the bus or subway to catch up on your reading. Instapaper, Pocket and Evernote are great apps for storing articles for later. Services like the 4-minute books and Blinkist that can give your entire book summaries within a 10-minute read.
88. Enhance your mind
If you have to drive, use this time to listen to inspirational talks or audiobooks on your commute with apps like Audible. You end up feeling inspired about starting a whole new day.
89. Sync up travel dates
When both parents travel for business frequently, a simple way to track your days of travel is for both parents to jot down the dates of travel in a single Google Doc to see when they clash and take turns with the single-parenting.
90. Rely on duplicates
Throw in duplicates of things you can’t miss- toothbrush, deodorant, medicines, etc and have then handy to cut down packing time.
91. Travel with kids
Have a separate duplicate travel kit for medicines, special creams, ointments, and important items (including favorite stuffed toy) that kids can’t miss in their day.
92. Make use of wearable technology
Children can get really curious. Avoid large, crowded spaces turning into a nightmare by making use of wearable technology to keep track of your child’s movements at all times.
93. Make memories
Remember that travel with your kids is really about your experiences together as a family. Quit stressing about the number of activities you pack into your schedule. Focus on making memories.
94. Plan weekly meals
Use weekends to cook meals for the entire week and freeze them. Or just plan them and prep the groceries for the entire week.
I’ll say that again. Delegate. Please.
We know nobody does it as well as you- but you need to let them do it. Have chore charts for everyone at home. Stick up the chore chart on the refrigerator and incentivise the kids for ticking them off. You’d be surprised how much they can do.
96. Swap one workday for a weekend day
Work on one weekend day to clear out that huge pending list at work instead of a weekday. If your spouse is taking care of your kid, you have the rare quiet at work. If not, bring the kids to the office. They are thrilled with the vast empty offices they can run around in. Packing a game or two is a good idea- or just hand them a few markers and stickers to write on your whiteboard or the conference room.
97. Plan the week ahead
Take out 20 minutes and check your calendar( from hack #) to take a hard look at both your personal and professional priorities. Juggle them if you need to.
Relax for the rest of the weekend knowing there is a plan for Monday.
98. Maintain a weekly actions list
Sumitha from A Fine Parent recommends having a weekly actions list of all tasks that need to be accomplished that week. If it is still on your list by the end of the week, either strike it off the list; or maintain the discipline to take fewer tasks on your list over the next week. Over time, you will learn to use your time better; or get better at saying ‘No’.
99. Have a shopping rule
Put one piece of clothing out for every piece of clothing in. Same for bags, shoes, etc. It forces you to re-assess what you already possess and keep from adding clutter.
100. Try the hanger trick
At the beginning of every season, hang out all your clothes on hangers facing in the reverse direction. Once you have worn something, hang it up facing the right direction. At the end of every season, you can decide to discard the ones still facing the opposite direction- or decide to use them more. Oprah Winfrey is credited with popularizing this technique.
Here are some more cool closet organizing ideas.
101. Organize bed linen
Store folded bed sheets and pillowcases into one unfolded pillowcase of the same set. That way, when you set out to change your bed linen, you don’t have to go hunting for the matching pillowcase.
Here are some more ideas for organizing your home.
102. Keep disinfecting wipes handy in the bathroom
Quickly wipe down mirrors, sinks after a hot bath, or after bathing the kids. It is that much easier.
103. Keep assortments
Stamps, cards, paper clips. Post-its and pens. Hair-pins. Screws and nails. Group the assortments- that way you don’t have to accommodate an impromptu trip to the store every now and then.
104. Equip your car with an overnight satchel
Pack that satchel with an extra outfit for each child, diapers, sunscreen, snacks, toiletries. In the case of an unexpected delayed meeting – you don’t have to go home to change for the evening birthday party!
105. Keep your information handy
Write down your insurance information, contact number in a notepad for another driver in the event of an emergency.
106. Schedule a decluttering weekend
Schedule one weekend or one day of the weekend for decluttering every month. You will be pleased at how much lesser you accumulate as you make this a habit.
Here are 21 neat hacks to make your home-cleaning routine smarter and quicker.
107. Create a “Not sure” box
Sometimes, you aren’t really sure if you want to keep it or trash it. Park it in a “’Not Sure” box. You always know better the next time. Usually, you can dump it whole.
108. Teach your kids where things belong
Steer your kids to find the right place for objects every time they take it out. Doing it consistently will keep the house organized and instill a habit for life in them. Keep fewer toys.
Also read: Why you should buy fewer toys for your kids!
109. Manage gifts
Use Amazon to create wishlists. Give away everything that doesn’t fit in. Even gifts.
Ashley Trexler from Lies About Parenting makes a point about telling people beforehand what your kid(s) may really enjoy
110. Start small
If you feel overwhelmed about the entire weekend cleaning project, start by clearing out the counter-top or just one shelf. Usually, it sets the momentum enough to warrant more action.
111. Create a seasonal miscellaneous box
Have an assortment of sunscreen, goggles, deodorant, etc in the ‘miscellaneous box‘ for the summer. Ditto for winter and other seasons- socks, mittens, cold cream, etc.
112. File away quickly
Once you have figured out your own filing mechanism, go over a handful of papers in your pile and sort them into ‘discard’, ‘keep and file’ and ‘not sure’ boxes respectively. File the ones from the ‘keep and file’ box and trash the ones from the discard box immediately. The ‘not sure’ ones can be re-looked into in a couple of weeks. Most will likely go the ‘discard’ route.
Joshua Becker from Being Minimalist shares some more cool ideas for de-cluttering.
113. Put everything back in place
This habit is a no-brainer. You got to find a way to maintain it or you will find yourself doing the same thing over and over again.
114. Make duplicates
Have seconds of things like diapers or baby wipes. Keep duplicates in all the rooms where you spend the most time – kitchen, living area, bedroom.
115. Make frequent-use kid kits
Make little kits for kids with things they can use on their own like a craft kit, a drawing kit, and assign rooms. Even if they aren’t in the exact assigned places, at least you know you have to look in that one room.
116. Label shelves
So, everyone knows where things go. Suddenly, you hear fewer excuses to skip the chore.
117. Bundle household tasks
Do laundry thrice a week instead of every day. Got to go to the PTA meeting? Make a list of all the jobs that require you to get out of the house. Bank, a massage, groceries, quick ‘hi’ to a long-time friend- do everything on one day
118. Choose lean times
Save time by choosing off-peak hours for chores. Hit the gym when it’s not full. Start back home when the traffic is lean.
119. Keep a journal
This is largely to only get a hard look at your own life- and meant only for you. Day One is a great app to start the journal habit.
Here’s a look at Tim Ferriss’ journal.
120. Let go
You are human. Your partner is human. Your kids are kids and humans.
Let go of the urge to stress over the last speck of dirt on your counter or molding your child into a role-model for others.
121. Be Present
Put down your phone when you are playing or reading with your child. Better still, switch it off.
Also Read: Timeless Parenting in the 21st Century
122. Write a Stop Doing List
Robin Sharma recommends that stopping to do something is just as important as starting to do something. Make a list of things you would like to change about yourself and work on them- a tiny bit at a time.
123. Use the Seinfeld X technique
If you struggling with a habit, say – “not yell at kids in the morning”- use this technique to break an old habit or build a new habit faster. Mark an ‘X’ for every day you have achieved your target. If you haven’t yelled at your kids for 5 days and you mark each day of your success, you will be less likely to yell at them on the 6th day- simply because you don’t want to break the chain.
124. Get Sleep
Commit to getting enough sleep to help your body help you to be more productive.
Here’s a simple guide to sleep like the dead.
125. Make important behaviors measurable
To reach any goal, it helps to track our behaviors first.
If you want to make more time with your family, make it about quality rather than quantity. Track the number of times you voiced out appreciation. Track the number of steps you walked or the number of times you took the stairs this week. Consistent measurement improves anything.
126. Shock your brain
Set an impossible task for yourself- one that you are almost sure to fail in. Chunk it up and keep working anyway. Any normal task becomes incredibly easy to tackle afterward- because you have just exercised your brain muscle and increased its capacity.
127. Practice power postures
Amy Cuddy, a behavioral psychologist explains that just assuming a powerful posture will help us feel more confident and in control. Take 2 minutes to practice power-posing just before talking an impossible task or a rough meeting.
128. Seek out the Sun
The Sun can literally wake up your brain cells. Get more of it.
129. Learn from the past
Don’t fritter away your limited time making the same mistakes. Using your time to regret your past mistakes is also poor use of your time. Make mistakes, learn, and move on.
130. Learn the right way to say ‘NO’
Replace “can’t” with “don’t”. It’s that simple. The next time you procrastinate, tell yourself “ I don’t delay stuff”, instead of “ I can’t delay stuff”. Or, “I don’t eat chips” instead of “ I can’t eat chips”.
Here’s James Clear on “Saying No”.
132. Smile, then smile again
You smile when you are happy, right? Wrong! You get happy when you smile!
133. Have someone wish you luck
If you have kept an old dress because wearing it always brings you good- here’s some good news.
Meditation is no more the new trick on the block. Everybody is raving about it; and there are handy apps to help you ease you into the habit.
135. Start your day with a positive note
Kissing and hugging somebody you love is not just mushy- talk. They have real benefits. A 10-year study of men who kissed their wives every day before going to work showed they were perceived to be more positive, earned about 20-30% more than their peers, and live 5 years longer on average. You can substitute it with 5 hugs a day. No limit on the number of times you hug your little one – unless he is begging you to back off.
Eric Barker explains the dynamics of being a good kisser.
Stay off social media and your gadgets (okay, a kindle is allowed) for one day every week. Arianna Huffington, CEO of Huffington Post in her book, Thrive recommends being completely plugged out one day a week for a complete recharge.
137. Hang out with people you really like
Stop hanging out with people stress you out and spew negativity because you have to. You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most
So, go ahead and try the different hacks from this collection. Let us know which ones you think will strike a chord with your lifestyle right now. Do you think following even a few of these could make your life a little easier?
If yes, great!– let us know in the comments below!
One more thing- if you are someone who is practicing something that works absolutely great for you, but is not on this list; let us know too! We would love for your nifty hack to be shared with all the other great parents out there!