Productivity for Working Moms: Where to Start

Being a mother is unlike any other job out there. It is a continual juggling of running a household and attending to the needs of everyone in our care. Throwing a career into the mix is like throwing accelerant onto a fire, without careful tending something is bound to get out of control. Some moms can do it and make it look easy, yet others are struggling to get out of bed in the morning for fear of what the day will hold. What is Supermom’s secret? Productivity. When you google “productivity + working moms” you will get overwhelming lists of productivity tips, but where do you start? How do you go from inefficient to a productive working mom with time to spare? Is it possible to find work-life balance? I am here to tell you, “Yes it is!”

I have been a working mom for over six years. The moment my first child was born I had a full-time job as a “Mother.” I have worked outside of the home and from home, all on top of that full-time job of mothering. Being at work or at home comes down to a basic equation of the ratio between inputs to output. A good productivity ratio will contribute to the work-life balance that you crave. To keep this post manageable I will focus on productivity at home vs. productivity at work. I believe if you are productive at home with time and energy to spare, it will spill over to your productivity at work as well.

In the world of running a household, inputs are what you put into your work, namely the time, energy, and resources/money. Output is your results, that is to say, the value or quality of your work. On top of that ratio is the outcome: how you feel when the day is done.

Over the past few months I have been studying about psychological assessments. As I thought about how to increase productivity, I realized that all problem solving begins with identifying potential issues. I have created an informal, non-standardized assessment to help you become aware of your productivity issues.

Step 1: Make a List

Write down all the responsibilities and tasks that take up your time on a lined piece of paper. It may look something like:

  • cooking
  • cleaning
  • laundry
  • grocery shopping
  • talking the kids to school
  • volunteering in the community
  • helping the kids with homework
  • watching TV
  • yard work
  • walking the dog

Step 2: Rate your Outputs

Rate yourself on how well you are doing at staying on top of these areas by writing beside each item whether you are: doing very well, getting by, or not keeping up. Don’t get hung up on my terms; just rate yourself however you are comfortable.

Step 3: Rate your Inputs

Specify next to each item how much time and money/resources you put into doing each of these tasks. Also indicate how much energy you put into it, either: lots of energy, some energy, or no energy.

Step 4: Rate your Outcomes

Think about how much you enjoy doing these tasks by writing beside each item whether you: love doing, tolerate, or detest with a passion. Also indicate how you feel once the task is done: exhausted, relieved or no sweat.

Step 5: Evaluate your List

You should be starting to see the problem areas that are sucking your time, your energy, your resources, and the joy out of your life. Considering all these things, choose the items on your list that are not that important to continue doing and which ones you can delegate. By delegate I mean enlist the support of your partner or kids, or outsource to someone who can do it for you.

Step 6: Take Action

I can already hear you saying, “I don’t have the money for outsourcing.” As a working mom you know better than anyone else the value of your time – your employer may put a price tag on it, but think of it in these terms: you can always earn more money, but you can never earn more time! Your time is precious. Many people in your life need and cherish your time.

Look at your list again and choose at least one item to research. How much would it cost to outsource things like: your laundry, weekly house cleaning, mowing the lawn, or walking the dog. There may be a high school student across the street that would love to earn some extra money, or a stay-at-home mom that is considering a laundry business to help out her family financially. If you don’t know anyone personally who you could outsource to, ask your friends for recommendations. I have found great recommendations from Facebook, and sites such as Craigslist and Kijiji.

After you decide what must stay and what responsibilities can go, you can start coming up with solutions to deal with what is left; what only you can do. This is where everyone’s top productivity tips come in. It may take some trial and error to figure out what will work best for you and your family, but identifying the areas where you are unproductive or inefficient is the place to start. Congratulations, you are now on the road to becoming Supermom!

Miranda is one of the newest members of the Life Strategies team. Aside from juggling her Mom and work responsibilities, she’s a blogger that shares her practical experience on her personal blog. Miranda recently won the Shapeover Challenge and became a Reitmans Fashionista. Read more…


Originally posted November 12, 2010 by Miranda Vande Kuyt.

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