The course of a family never did run smooth… or is that love? Well, whatever the Bard was referring to, it’s a truth known universally that running a home can be taxing. Keeping kids organized—and sometimes spouses too—to say nothing of holidays and guests, groceries and chores, is a lot to keep track of and there are only so many hours in the day.
At its most basic, being organized and productive is a matter of planning, and the same holds true for a household.
1. Before you plan, sleep
Keeping a smooth household can’t happen if you’re running on empty too. Getting enough sleep each and every night is the first step to getting things done with a spring in your step. However bedtime works best for you—no coffee after three pm, or lots of water in the afternoon, or a workout at midday—try and hit the hay by 10:30 pm at the latest for a fresh start the next morning.
2. Develop some good habits
There are habits that make the day to day easier and one of them is to pick up the house, each and every day. Keeping a handle on clutter and making sure to return objects to their proper home throughout helps you to remain productive because you’re not wasting a lot of time looking for things that aren’t lost but just ‘missing’.
This is one of those tasks that even the smallest child can help with, so you’re not left with it all to manage! Delegate tasks and make sure everyone does their share. As it becomes a habit, you’ll find you have to nag less and they’ll just get it done. Kids, for example, should be tidying up their rooms and each person can be given a communal space that they are in charge of.
A daily sweep through the house isn’t the only way to keep on top of the little things:
- If you’re going upstairs or down, have a place to put things that need to go up or down the next time someone is going that way and have them take it (or do it yourself!)
- Do the dishes at night, every night. Leaving them in the sink is a sure fire way to ensure that they’ll be ignored in the morning rush to get out the door. Get them done and into the dishwasher or drying rack. It’s one less thing to worry about the next day!
- In rooms where people tend to congregate, have a junk basket where things get popped in that have been left lying around. Every few days, triage what’s in the basket and send those items home, or at least to the correct person’s bedroom! Another option is for each member of the family to have a basket, perhaps on a console table or other communal space. Anything found that is theirs gets popped into the basket. All they have to do is pick it up on their way to their rooms and return the basket on the return trip. Overflowing baskets will be emptied on garbage day (or so you can tell them!), which will help to keep the contents moving!
- Keep a whiteboard handy where you spend a lot of time so you can note ideas, list items, or anything that pops into your head, so you can take it out of your brain and not clutter that too!
3. Recognize the bad habits
There are things that we do every day that are habitual time wasters. Scrolling through your Twitter feed for ‘just a few minutes’ can quickly become ‘a lot of minutes’! Online window shopping is another, as is watching television or just chatting on the phone.
Now don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with engaging in these activities but there’s a time and a place for them and you need to be aware of exactly how much time you’re spending on these each day so that you can limit it if it’s getting out of hand.
4. Put together a have a routine and make sure everyone knows about it
It’s no good having a solid routine in place if you’re the only one in the house who is following it. So whether you use an online calendar that everyone can see on their tech or a whiteboard in the kitchen, with the month ahead activities and events all laid out, find a way to establish a routine, whether daily or weekly, and stick to it. You’ll find things go faster if you plan your day / week a little because you can eliminate tasks that you don’t actually need and you can leverage others to get more bang out of the effort.
Example? If you know you’re going to be baking for your son’s bake sale on Thursday, make sure your regular Monday night grocery shop includes everything you’ll need to bake! This will save you a possibly frantic trip to the store on Wednesday night because you forgot all about the sale!
5. Make lists!
There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing DONE items off your list, and it’s encouraging for your productivity too! So make lists to get things done, whether daily, weekly or by activity.
A specific list that can make or break your productivity is meal planning. After all, that pesky family of yours probably keeps asking to eat, three, sometimes four times a day! Of all the nerve, right? You can make your life a lot easier if you know what they meal plan is for the week so that you can keep an eye on groceries and tasks: who is prepping what and cooking which item?
An important aspect to meal planning is having meals that are universally liked and, if you can, that share some ingredients: you can save time and money by preparing meals in advance and buying in larger quantities. If you have a regular repertoire that you repeat on an ongoing basis, you’ll be more likely to have the ingredients on hand, thereby avoiding that dreaded grocery store dash!
Without a plan, there’s every chance that the steaks you wanted to BBQ will still be frozen solid at 5 pm or the beans for your homemade soup will not have been soaking since the night before. A plan will help you to stay on top of these things, at a glance!
TIP: If planning isn’t your thing, try a meal subscription box. The food arrives, along with a recipe, more or less in the quantities that you will need for a full meal and possibly a few leftovers, depending on your plan. For busy lifestyles, it eliminates a lot of running around shopping and will introduce your family to new flavours and recipes, in a fun way that they can help with!
6. Keep it real
Life isn’t a race or a contest and no one is keeping score except you, so make sure you take time to rest, be with family, read a book and in general, take a break. It’s okay to embrace lower expectations to ensure that you don’t miss out on the important aspects of your family’s life!
Do you have any productivity tips that you use? Share them with us! We’re always looking for more ideas!