Updated: Mar 11, 2022
Practical tips to find more time for yourself and your to-do list.
So much to do and so little time! Have you ever wondered how some other homemakers (who you think are better than you but they are not really) keep it all together at home and still manage to find time to dance, exercise, work, or socialize? Well, firstly, all that glitters is not gold, so others may look more in control but its not necessarily so. On the other hand, what looks tough to do, is sometimes not so much so. You just have to make some changes around you to increase your productivity everyday and gradually it all falls into place.
I'm no expert on this (which I prefer because its fun to keep on learning), but I'd like to share with you some hacks that have worked for me and might work for you as well, in increasing our efficiency and productivity as makers of home.
1. Spell it out. Stick a post-it on your refrigerator, or put up a chalkboard/whiteboard in your kitchen. Make a list of all the pending tasks that are on your mind. Also add the topics that you want to learn about, areas you want to improve, goals you want to achieve. Make sure you write both the easy to do and time taking tasks that you have been procrastinating about. Keep crossing out the finished tasks during the day (usually they will be the easy ones you wrote, but crossing out a few on the list will encourage you to work on the other things in the list as well).
2. Start and end constructively. Don't look at your phone first thing after waking up, and put it away at least 15 mins before going to sleep. Try to stretch in bed before and after sleep (there are many simple stretches that you can do in bed itself), and if you like, you can sit up and do some breathing exercises as well. You can practice this for as little as 5 mins everyday, you don't need to do any preparations for this, just making up your mind will do.
3. Creatively multitask. Put on some headphones or speakers and listen to an audiobook or podcast while you are in the kitchen or doing routine work like cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. Time usually seems to go by slow when you are doing mundane tasks everyday but it flies by when your mind is engrossed in something fun. And this way, you will learn something new without having to spare extra time for it. My husband listens to news analysis, comedy shows or interviews of his choice while cleaning the dishes. I watch dance videos while cooking, and try to practice new steps in the kitchen itself! It's no longer an unusual sight for my family (ha ha)
4. Don't wait. Try to make a habit of picking up the mess, dusting off that furniture, or cleaning that window the moment you see it. Don't put it off for later. It will take you much less time if you do it right away. Piled up work is both mentally and physically stressful to take up. You may not be able to do it all, some time consuming things will definitely need to be scheduled for later, but its the little things that end up making a place look messy. Manage them on the go.
5. Learn something new everyday. At the end of your day, remember to reflect on "What did I learn today?" or "What did I do differently today?". If you find no answer to that, add something you want to make or something new you want to try, to your to-do list. Watch or read about something new once every few days, and try it out when you are taking a break from household chores. The best way to stay young always, and to break the monotony of everyday chores, is to keep on learning new things or new ways to do the same things. It gives you a sense of achievement and keeps you motivated.
6. Prioritize. Rank your tasks based on how they make you feel if left unfinished or uninitiated, then deal with them in that order. Often we feel short on time because we end up wasting too much time on activities which don't add much value to our day. Prioritization gives clarity and control.
When evaluating your to-do list, think about the must-dos and may-not-dos. In the Must-do list, consider---what can be done quickly/easily by you, what may be delegated to a help or another family member and what needs greater time and attention today.
The same task can be given different priority rank on different days or different time of the day, like cleaning the study maybe a priority someday but less important than finishing a video lesson some other day. On days when I am feeling low and out of form, my mental health goes into higher priority than cooking, cleaning or folding the laundry. So on and so forth.
7. Take that first step. Very often we stay behind in learning or practicing something new because we are too full of doubt to take that first step. Whether your journey is big or small, the hardest step is the first one. It's important to begin, without worrying too much about how far you'll go.
Make an enquiry at that yoga/dance/sports class you always wanted to join, if you wish to create something, pick out those ingredients or raw materials you need, if you want to write, put down those first few words, read that first page of the book you've been too busy to pick up, just open that tab in your window and leave it open, if you don't feel like going further, you can always close the screen or come back to it later.
I do understand that, depending on our context, our challenges may be different. Like, some of you who stay with an extended family do not have the luxury to skip cooking a meal to make time for some hobby, or have some other limitations. That's alright, what works for me may not work for you, but if you understand your limitations, you probably also understand your opportunities. Try to find them and make use of them.
I'd love to hear your ideas to be more productive at home. Tell us what works for you!