You can’t add more hours to your day, but you can be more productive just by eliminating one productivity killer at a time. Remember that your time is something that will never come back.
Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Forever!
That’s why this post not only discusses five common productivity killers for busy moms, but it also provides you with solutions and resources to help you maximize your time and days.
As moms, we already have too many things on our plates. We help our kids with their homework, take them to extracurricular activities, attend games, and watch concerts, among many other things.
That’s why it’s so important to improve our productivity. That way, we can still achieve our tasks and goals.
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Productivity Killers & How to Eliminate Them
Productivity Killer #1 – Believing the myth of multitasking
For years, we have been told to multitask but studies have shown that multi-tasking is not the best approach towards productivity. There are two main factors involved, focusing and switching tasks.
When you multitask, you are not giving your full attention to any of the tasks you are working on. That means that it takes longer to complete each task since your brain continues switching from one task to another.
A study shows that switching tasks can decrease your productivity time by up to 40%. In other words, if you are multitasking to be productive, you must realize that you are achieving the opposite.
Switching between simple and familiar tasks may not seem like a big deal. For example, you probably won’t notice it much if you are making your bed while on the phone having an informal conversation with a family member.
But, the story may be completely different with more complex tasks.
Just imagine calling your insurance company regarding an expensive procedure not covered by your plan while cooking a broiled double-thick lamb rib chops with slicked-up store-bought mint jelly sauce, for the first time! You would probably have to call the insurance company back or stop working on the recipe until you are done with the call. By the way, that’s a real recipe that you can find here.
After all, multitasking is a huge productivity killer. It takes you longer to complete tasks, your focus decreases, and the probability of making mistakes increases, affecting the quality of the results.
Before going to the solution, check out this short video about what happens to your brain while multitasking.
Start by focusing on one task at a time. Once you complete the task that you are working on, then move on to the next one. Then, start the next task, complete and repeat. Plan your day (discussed under productivity killer #2) and keep a master task list to help you keep track of what needs to be done. A great resource is a book called The One Thing which covers the disadvantages of multitasking and the benefits of focusing on one thing at a time.
Productivity Killer #2 – Not planning your day
Not planning your day has several disadvantages. When you start your day without knowing what to do, it’s easy to get caught up on everything and any little thing that comes your way.
Life is not perfect and last-minute things will occur often. But, when I plan my day the night before, I achieve more. That’s because planning your day gives you purpose and direction so you can focus on what’s really important to you.
You may choose to plan your days in the morning, but doing it the night before gives you the advantage of knowing exactly what to do as soon as you wake up. There is no room for excuses. But, the times that I have tried to plan my day in the mornings, I got distracted by other things and ended up not planning at all (and wasting my time ☹).
I am a huge fan of productivity planners to plan your day. Plus, they are like your personal assistant keeping everything organized and in one place.
There are many cute paper planners out there such as the Happy Planner and Erin Condren. However, my favorite is the Classic InkWell Press Planner. I find its layout easier to customize, neater, and more organized. Especially now with their new 360 disc planner. You can take a look at it here.
But, the planner itself can’t do the trick. You must use your planner for it to work.
Motivate yourself, otherwise, you will end up not using it. Start by making it easy for yourself. Get a planner that matches your personality. For example, my brain pictures the tasks better when the week is arranged vertically. It looks more organized and it’s easier for me to quickly understand what needs to be done during that week. If you prefer a daily or horizontal layout, then choose that one instead.
Also, decorating your planner will probably motivate you to use it even more. Add family pictures to make it more personal and decorate the pages based on the season, holiday, and upcoming events. To make it easier for you, I have created a list of 130 free printable stickers to get you started.
Get a planner and make it a habit to use it on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter if you choose the Happy Planner, Erin Condren, or the InkWell Press. What really matters is to plan your days.
Productivity Killer #3 – Not tracking your time
When you are not tracking your time, you don’t know if you are on track to complete your tasks or meet your deadlines. Even worse, at the end of the day, you won’t know where your time went.
Tracking your time gives you a better idea of the tasks that are consuming your time. Knowing that allows you to make quick changes to be more productive the next day.
Once you start tracking your time, you might find out that you are spending a lot of time on things that will not help you reach what you want in life. For example, you might realize that you are spending too much time watching tv or playing on social media, instead of starting a blog as you wanted for the last two years.
Track your time with productivity apps
RescueTime can help you track your time and it’s available as an app and chrome extension. There’s also Brain Focus Productivity Timer. It’s a popular app that follows the Pomodoro technique.
If you are not familiar with the Pomodoro technique, it was created by Francesco Cirillo in the late ‘80s. The purpose is for you to focus on working on a project without distractions. After choosing a project, set the timer for a 25-minute session.
Once the session is over, you take a short break of 5 minutes. After the break, you start a new 25-minute session until it is time for another quick break, and so on. You have a total of four sessions before taking a longer break of 20 minutes.
Before starting a project, plan how many 25-minute sessions that project will require. By doing so, you are tracking your time and pushing yourself to meet a deadline. If you don’t set a deadline, you will find yourself moving from session to session without being productive.
In my case, I have noticed the difference from when I am tracking my time and when I am just looking at the time itself. I tend to focus better since I am on the clock. When I only check the time, I tend to be more relaxed and as a result, I take longer to complete the tasks.
Start tracking your time. You can download one of the apps already mentioned, or you can do it yourself by using a regular timer. But, if you haven’t been tracking your time, I wouldn’t suggest the latter. If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, his creator just published a book. Click here to learn more.
Productivity Killer #4 – Lack of organization
This year, I am focusing on this productivity killer because there are so many things to learn and it is easy to start collecting articles, books, and magazines.
Disorganization has negative consequences.
That’s why recently, I got tired of a very disorganized area in my house and ended up transforming it into a simple command center for kids. Not only does that area look pretty and clean, but now my kids can easily keep all of their school materials in one place.
Disorganization highly affects your productivity time. Spending time looking for things won’t help you complete your projects on time. And it will get worse if you have to do the work all over again.
Not finding the required tools or materials can delay the completion of the tasks. And that may cause stress, frustration, irritability, and a decrease in motivation to complete the project.
There are different solutions depending on your situation. First, go digital or paperless. If you are keeping many newspapers or magazines, try switching to a digital subscription. Make the point to only print what is absolutely necessary.
Second, transfer your documents to your computer. If you are keeping documents such as invoices, think about investing in a scanner where you can transfer those papers to your computer.
Another solution is to designate an area for every item which is something that I am working on right now. If something doesn’t have a “home”, then make a quick decision to sell it, trash it, or to donate it.
Productivity Killer # 5 – Not taking care of yourself
I am pretty sure you saw this one was coming. As moms, we take care of our kids, work, home, and anything else except for ourselves. Just remember, to be able to take care of others, we should take care of ourselves first. Not doing so may result in higher levels of stress, tiredness, and other health issues.
When I do yoga and meditation first thing in the morning, my attitude towards the day changes. I see myself more focused, patient and handling unexpected challenges in a better way.
Every day, set aside some time where you can get involved in activities that energize you. You could have a combination of reading, running, and meditation. Just make sure to include at least one activity that keeps you active.
Make it a habit to take care of yourself and follow through. Quitting after few days will just put you back where you started. It’s not enough to choose activities and schedule times, you should track them too.
A habit tracker allows you to see your progress. It motivates you to keep moving forward or shows you that you need to work harder. You can track your habits on your cell phone with apps like Habit Streak, Habit Bull, or Loop.
If not, check your planner for a more traditional pen and paper method. Some planners like the InkWell Press, have dedicated sections to track your habits regularly.
If you don’t have those type of planners, don’t worry because there are other options such as these printables.
Decide how you want to start taking care of yourself. Specify the activities and the amount of time you will dedicate to each activity. For example, you could plan meditation for 15 minutes, reading for 10 minutes, and running for 20 minutes.
To make it work, try setting up a specific schedule (for example: from 7 to 8 am). Block that time on your calendar and start a daily morning routine.
As discussed in the book titled The Miracle Morning, having an early morning routine gives you time to take care of yourself and other important projects in your life. That allows you to be more productive before life gets in your way.
Get rid of your productivity killers
After understanding the five common productivity killers, it’s time to take action. Make sure to choose one productivity killer that you need and want to work on first.
Download the productivity guide and don’t forget to create a plan of what you want to achieve, along with the action items and deadlines.
Remember, not all your days will go as planned but they can be better if you have eliminated those productivity killers.
In the meantime, which productivity killer are you struggling with right now? Leave me a comment!
Additional resources to be more productive
- Awesome resources for moms who are serious about increasing productivity
- 3 Quick Ways to Increase Productivity (get daily results!)
- 35 Productivity Tips for Busy Moms
- Best 30-Day Challenge Ideas to Improve Your Life
- Free 7-Day Goal Setting Challenge