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Being productive at home is sometimes a difficult thing. Being productive at work is easy, well, easier. There are deadlines, schedules, and people relying on you to get things done. You’ve been trained from that first part-time job to be productive at work, learned how to prioritize, and stay busy. You know the saying “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.”
When you leave work, it’s like all of that training goes out the window. You don’t have anyone holding you accountable and no one is checking to make sure you swept the floor today. On top of that, there are so many distractions at home.
With all of the things going on in our lives, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with our responsibilities at home and let things slip. When you constantly come home to a mountain of dishes in the sink, the living room in disarray, and laundry piled to the ceiling, it can cause a feeling of anxiety. It can make you feel like you’re not good enough, or like you’re not pulling your weight. Well I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way!
Here are some easy ways you can be more productive at home and find that balance in your life again.
1. Share the duties
Get someone else to help out. If you have roommates or a spouse, there’s no
reason one person should be responsible for everything. Find an equitable way to divide the duties.
Get the kids involved. Even young children can take out the bathroom trash, tidy up their rooms, or collect dirty laundry.
Find a division that works for you.
2. Get organized
Think of your household like a business. Proper organization is essential in any business.
A few years ago my mother gave me the book Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley – The FlyLady. She has developed a great system for clearing the clutter and chaos from your life. It focuses on one area of your home each week and cycles through them throughout the year, so you never have to do a deep cleaning, and it all starts with creating a daily habit of shining your sink. All in just 15 minutes a day. She has a fantastic website too which keeps you on track each week. It even gives you daily to do items and shows you how to put together your own control journal.
I found her program especially helpful to develop a routine and keep me on track, so I didn’t overlook any areas of my home. Once I made it through the decluttering phase, and now just have to do the maintenance cleaning, it’s a real breeze to keep the house in order. Getting organized is a big step in being more productive at home.
3. Make a list
Writing down your goals makes them real. It’s a commitment to that goal. Make a written to do list for each day. Include things as simple as mail the car payment. When it’s completed, cross it off the list and feel the gratification of having accomplished something. It may sound a little ridiculous, but even just accomplishing one thing is something. All those little things add up over the week. Trust me and give it a try.
Not to mention, writing things down frees up your mind from having to remember all those little things.
4. Divide and conquer
Break large tasks up into small tasks that you can complete in short chunks of time. Maybe instead of clean kitchen you say do the dishes, sweep the floor, mop the floor, take out the trash. Not only does it make the chores seam less overwhelming. If you can’t get them all done, you can still get part of it done and feel like you’ve accomplished something when you cross the item off the list.
This also makes it easier to enlist help. I know if I have a list of specific small tasks, I can say to my husband “Here’s my list of what I want to do today. Can you help with any of these things?” Otherwise, he has no idea what I want to get done.
You’ve made your list and decided what it is you want to get done. Now you must decide which things on your list need to be done first. Is there something that needs to be done today? Do you have company coming for dinner?
Figure out which one of these tasks is most important to you to complete first. Make those things a priority over the others.
6. Set a timer
Sometimes it’s overwhelming to look at a task and think how long it’s going to take to complete. Setting a timer can help make them feel more achievable. Set a time for 10 minutes, get whatever you can done in that 10 minutes, then move on to something else. You’re making progress on the big task, and over time it will be completed without leaving you feeling overwhelmed.
7. Be a meal planner
If you’re not creating a meal plan, you need to start now. Not only does meal planning save money, it also makes your life easier. It’s one less decision you have to make each day. Instead of standing in front of the freezer trying to decide what you feel like having for dinner tonight, you make a plan ahead of time and you just have to get the food ready the night before.
As an added bonus, everyone will know what’s for dinner each night, so you don’t get the phone calls at work asking what’s for dinner. You don’t get the “Mom, what’s for dinner?” the minute you walk in the door. You can even have the kids help by getting food out of the freezer or pantry and staging it for the next night. Or your spouse or older children could start dinner before you get home if they already know what the plan is.
8. Be realistic
Be realistic about what you can accomplish.
This was a hard one for me. I’m a perfectionist. If I have company coming, I want every square inch of my home looking perfect. Sometimes that’s a monumental feat depending on how bad the house has gotten. Be realistic in what you can accomplish in the amount of time you have. You aren’t going to be able to deep clean your whole house in 2 hours. Do what’s most important, and if you have extra time, then you can do more. Or watch Netflix. You decide.
9. Embrace the imperfect
Stop trying to be perfect. Don’t put off doing something because you can’t do it perfectly.
I used to think if you’re going to do something you must do it perfectly. If you can’t do it perfectly, then don’t bother doing it at all. So I wouldn’t vacuum. I thought a proper vacuum job meant you first dust everything, and vacuum from top to bottom. First the lampshades, then the curtains, move all of the furniture, vacuum under everything, and every square inch of your house, every stray cat hair, every cobweb and dust bunny in every nook and cranny. So I would go longer than I care to admit before getting so sick of looking at it, that I would spend all day doing it. I would be so exhausted afterward and it would look good for a few days and that’s it. Then I realized, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Doing something imperfectly is better than doing nothing.
10. Stay off social media
My uncle said a long time ago that Facebook was a huge time suck. Boy was he right! I went on the other day to look for a specific photo. 30 minutes later I still
hadn’t looked for the photo. I was scrolling through my feed. It wasn’t even anything worth seeing, just a bunch of random shared memes and things the Facebook algorithm says I should see.
If you want to be more productive at home, you’ve got to stay away from things that will distract you. If you must do them, schedule them in your free time. Or try setting a timer so you don’t overdo it.
11. Don’t procrastinate
Finish the “chores” first.
Remember when you were a kid and your mom always made you do your homework right after school? Well, there was a reason for that. When you
procrastinate, then get caught up in all the other stuff going on at home, you don’t get the important things done.
Do your chores first, and you always ensure there’s time for them. You can truly relax and know you accomplished everything you wanted today. Plus, it’s so much more relaxing when you sit down after finishing your to do list instead of trying to relax but feeling guilty about the chores you haven’t done.
Reap the Rewards
Working full-time outside of the home can bring its own set of challenges. One of the biggest problems we face is not having enough time to get everything done. This leaves us feeling guilty about not meeting our responsibilities and overwhelmed by what seems like a never ending to-do list.
When you walk in your door you should feel a sense of calm. You’ve just entered your safe haven, away from all of the chaos of the world, and from work. Having a career doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a well-kept home. It just means you have to be a time management ninja to stay productive at home.
And don’t forget to plan time for relaxation and fun. Studies show downtime is essential for proper mental, physical and social health and can even reduce the risk of some serious health problems like cardiovascular disease. Take time to meditate, read a book, go for a walk, take a bath, or watch your favorite show on TV. Downtime is an important part of any self-care routine and it will leave us recharged and ready to take on the world tomorrow.
What are some ways you maintain the balance between household duties and free time?