7 Ways to Increase Efficiency

7 Ways to Increase Efficiency

How important is it to you to have a little extra time to relax at the end of the day?  For me, it’s pretty vital to my sanity.  Without it, I get grumpy, and nobody likes to be around a grump.  With so much to do in a day, how do you ever get any kind of time to relax?  Our daily activities do not have to be so time consuming that we struggle to get them done.  Let me share with you how I have found ways to add a little more free time to my daily routine.

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First off, I plan out what I want to accomplish in a day.  I think of what is absolutely essential that I really need to get done, and the most logical order to get things done in, and then start with one task at a time.  I try not to overload myself with too much at once, which leads to my next suggestion:

Set small goals for yourself.  Don’t boggle yourself down trying to clean the entire house from head to toe in one day, or build a garden and plant one, or do all five of the activities you’ve been saving to do with the kids… keep things simple and be realistic.  An example of my daily goals would be this: get my laundry done and put away, do the girl’s laundry and put it away, vacuum upstairs, sweep downstairs, clean the kitchen.  That’s it!  That’s what I would set for myself for an entire day.  Sometimes I get it done, and others I don’t, but is anything on that list so essential that I would just not be able to function if I didn’t accomplish it?  No.  For days where I have bigger tasks, I give myself less to do.  Of course, there’s always other things that are done throughout the day, too, like prepping food, cooking, bathing the kids, feeding the pets, cleaning up throughout the day, the general things we do everyday typically.

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It’s still hard to get even the everyday tasks done when we are DISTRACTED.  Immediately when you think of this what comes to your mind?  For me personally, it’s my phone, and sometimes even my kids.  Let’s face it – you’re a mom, you may be stuck at home sometimes with the kids on your days off, trying so hard to get things done but also have a little bit of a social life.  It isn’t a bad thing to be on facebook or instagram.  I use them all the time to connect with my friends and outside world.  They are great tools.  Just use them with caution.  Know that if you open up your app, especially on your phone, you will more than likely spend twice as long as you initially intended to, if not longer.

Instead of using your phone for these things, plan time when you can jump on an actual computer to check your accounts.  This is a lot less time consuming and you will be less likely to allow it to interfere with getting the tasks at hand done.  It’s all part of eliminating distractions.  Of course, we are always going to have to stop what we are doing to help our children out.  That should never be looked at as a burden, just part of being a parent.  Try to find ways they can help you out with what you are doing.  My oldest is turning 4 in a few weeks, and recently she has become more interested in helping me with folding some of the laundry, feeding the animals, and sweeping the floors.  I actually got her a small broom and dust pan for Christmas because that’s what she loves to help me with so much.  She is also great at helping me keep her baby sister entertained, who is turning 1 in a few weeks also.  Sometimes I’m not able to keep the baby happy unless I’m holding her, so I vacuum with her on my hip.  It slows me down, sure, but I keep going anyways.  Eventually she’ll go down for a nap, right?!  Do what you can to keep focused while you are trying to get done the tasks you most desire to that day.  Use what would be a distraction as more of a reward once you’ve accomplished something off your list.

This leads me into the next step: planning for breaks.  I think this is really important.  Work towards getting something done, then (once it is actually done) give yourself 10 or 15 minutes to relax, check in on your kids, jump on facebook, then get back to it!  I have to plan breaks in my day because, again, the baby just won’t let me go more than 20 or 30 minutes before she needs to be all over me.  I just feel extra loved, that’s all!

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I do what I can, when I can, and sometimes that’s all anyone can do.  This keeps me from feeling overwhelmed.  I can’t foresee the future: sometimes my day does NOT go how I planned.  Let’s be real: most days don’t go 100% how we planned.  That’s alright.  If I realize half-way through my list that there is just no way I’m going to get everything done on it today, then I don’t stress over it.  I’ll revisit it another time.  Sometimes it’s helpful to wait until the kids are in bed to try to finish up a few things, when there is quiet time to yourself.  I get a lot done in a little amount of time when it’s just me that I have to worry about.

things are heavy

Some days, I wake up and I can’t use my left wrist, or my right index finger, or bend my elbows, or it hurts to walk, because I get random flare-ups all over my body and never know when or where they will be.  That blows my entire plan for the day before it’s even begun.  In these situations I am grateful for a husband who never expects anything from me in a given day.  If I keep our kids healthy and happy, I’ve done a good job.  And I have learned that I can’t expect much from me on those days, and that’s ok.  Trust me, over the past year and a half I have grown to be able to humble myself a LOT more.  I can’t do it all, and I certainly can’t do it by myself.  I am no longer afraid to accept help when it’s offered to me.  I am grateful for it.  Those who care enough about you to be willing to help you clean your house or help with dinner so you don’t have to will not be judging you for the condition of your home, I guarantee it.  Don’t feel bad for needing help.  We all do.  Don’t you dare think less of yourself for it.

Throughout the day check to see how you are doing.  Are you close to getting the things done that you wanted to for the day?  Will you need more time than you thought?  It’s alright to change your plan.  Sometimes we add things to the list, and sometimes things need to be moved to another day.  When trying to improve on your efficiency, you’ll find you need to play around with the amount of time you give yourself to do things.  Evaluate your progress.  In time it will pay off, I promise.

do it right the first time

My dad always taught me to do things once, do it right the first time, as I’m sure practically all of our parents taught us to do.  He’s totally right.  When one of our most frequent complaints in our adult lives is “I don’t have time…”, we definitely don’t have any to waste on re-doing something that we could have done better the first time.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wiped down the kitchen counters, and then when the sun reflects off of them I see all the stuff that I missed and have to go back over them again.  Gross.  I feel lame for missing it the first time (and yes, sometimes it’s hard to see that stuff), but still!   Having to go back and repeat things is an unnecessary waste of time.  Don’t do that!  Take 5 extra minutes before you start vacuuming to actually pick up the floor first, and move all the crap out of your way so you don’t have to stop and do it in the middle of your task.  This is something your kids can help you with if you let them.  My daughter is awesome at this stuff, but because I’ve always had her doing it since she was old enough to put a ball in a bucket.  Again, I’ll take all the help I can get.

Let’s recap on what we just talked about:

  • Plan out your day
  • Set small goals
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Plan for breaks
  • Don’t get overwhelmed
  • Evaluate your progress
  • Do it once

You got this!  You can do this.  Set your mind to it, focus, and get it done.  You NEED the free time at the end of your day!  I know I do.  If there is anything I can do to help you further so you can relax a little more, please let me know.  I want to help.  I’m just like you – trying to work, do a good job raising my kids, and keep an orderly house while having a little free time to do the things I truly love to do.  I hope this can help you in some way.  Again, keep on keepin’ on.

 

XoXo,

Erika

7 Ways to Increase Efficiency

Stress Relief: Do What You Love

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Thanks to millionwaystomother.com for these beautiful images.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Do you feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done?  You wanted to go to the grocery store, but ran out of time; get that load of laundry put away, but threw it to the side instead so you could sleep; wanted to go to the gym but was too exhausted to change your clothes and get there; finish painting that wall, but it was too much to get everything out again…

Why do we work so hard during the day that we leave nothing for ourselves at the end of it?  When I get home I want to be able to play with my kids.  I want to have a family dinner together.  I want to be able to let my kids play in the bath for 20 minutes, to spend time with them.  Time.  That’s the problem, isn’t it?  We “don’t have time” for the things we most desire.  But why?  Why can’t we manage our time better?  Because we are stressed out.

Stress is overwhelming.  We stress about everything!  Is the house clean?  What do I have to get done at work tomorrow?  Did I get everything packed for the kids for school?  What am I forgetting to do?  The grocery list keeps getting longer and longer, but when will I get there?, etc.  Let me tell you a little secret that took me years to discover: everything will work out!  Stop stressing!

I think this is why I find that I have so much time to do the craft projects that I have.  Because I need them.  They allow me to focus on something besides all of the day-to-day tasks that I know will get done anyways.  They allow me to focus frustrations on something better, something that’s more productive.  They allow me to vent.

 We all need some kind of avenue to relieve ourselves from the stress we encounter every single day.

My house does not need to be perfect.  It will never be perfect.  I will never be perfect, and that’s completely fine with me.  My family doesn’t have to be perfect, and that’s O.K.  As long as we are happy, we are healthy, and we have adequate time with each other, we’re good.

When things aren’t in harmony in the home, at work, within family relationships, or anywhere else for that matter, where, what, or who do you turn to?  It is so important to have something to take your mind off of things for a while.  If you’re spiritual, then pray.  Pour your heart out if you need to, it will help.  I do this on the daily!  I also like to find things that just take my mind off of my worries for a while.  CNN actually reported on the importance of crafting and how it acts as a natural antidepressant years ago (find the article here).  There have been countless studies on the benefits of things like knitting, playing a musical instrument, painting, coloring, building things, and so much more.  There is something very powerful and fascinating about creating something from nothing, making things with your own hands.

I craft because I love it.  I also craft because it is soothing for me.  It’s important to me.  My husband knows how important it is and never questions me when I get started on a project; he never gives me a fuss about needing to watch the kids so I can work on something.  He’s amazing in that way.  He’s always supporting me, and loves what I have been able to do for our home.

be better

Raising children is so hard.  It’s even more challenging when you are home alone with them all day long.  I give a huge amount of praise to full time stay at home moms.  I think that is much more difficult and tiresome work than going to a physical job during the day.  I love that I get to work a few days a week.  I need that, too.  I enjoy the adult interaction.  I enjoy what I do.  I think it helps keep me sane at times!  But there is absolutely no greater joy for me than getting to be with my kids.  They are remarkable little people that teach me new things every. single. day.

Choose the Kids

Whatever struggles you are facing, whether they are day to day or completely new, off-the-wall, did NOT see that coming type of struggles, know that you can and will make it through.  I truly believe that.  If you feel like you are unable to find time for yourself, make it a priority.  Put yourself first for once.  Every night I give myself a “cut-off” time.  The kids are both in bed by 7pm.  By 7:30pm, I am done with whatever it is that I needed to get done for the night.  In those 30 minutes I usually clean up dinner, make lunches, pack diaper bags, lay out clothes for the next day, feed the pets, straighten up the living room, and get ready for bed.  I leave my phone somewhere out of sight (and I do this frequently throughout the day).  Why?  Because it is a terrible distraction that can make any mundane task take 5,000,000,000 times longer to get done that it really should.  Agreed?  Again, I don’t like wasting time, because there is always too much to get done, and time is too precious.  When my phone is around, I am usually on it, as are most of us I would think.  If you are having a hard time getting things done in the day, PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN AND FOCUS!  Seriously.  Give it a try.  I promise you it will help you stay on task better and become more efficient.

Stop making excuses.  You have plenty of time.  Use it efficiently.

I don’t mean to sound harsh.  This was a reality I too had to learn.  But now that I have, look at the things that I get to spend more time on… my kids, cooking meals, reading a book, crafting, practicing my piano, having play-dough cook-offs, going to the park, going jogging, getting the shopping done, riding my bike, and writing this blog!  How wonderful it is to not be ‘as stressed’ over time.

Think of the things you love to do the most, but haven’t for a while.  Promise to give yourself 10 minutes tonight to focus on that one thing.  You have 10 minutes to give yourself.  And tomorrow night, try to devote 15 minutes to yourself.  Keep going.  It will be life-changing.  Put the focus back on yourself for a little while each day.  Breathe.  Do what you love to do.  It will be such an incredible outlet for you.

I hope this reaches you in a good light.  I know it has helped me tremendously over the years and struggles seem to become more frequent visitors.  I hope it helps you too.  Good luck with your endeavors.  You can do it.  Keep on keepin’ on.

XoXo,

Erika