Today I welcome Jo fromMind your Mamma to the blog. Sara, is on a mission to slow down, simplify her life and become more mindful. She writes (mainly) about slow living, self-care, mindfulness, decluttering and organising.
What If Parents Took Productivity Advice To The Letter?
We are all time-poor, aren’t we? There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do all the things we want to do in life. So it’s really no surprise that productivity advice is so popular. We all want to know how to become more productive and efficient and squeeze more in in less time.
Especially if we’re parents and have a million and one responsibilities in life.
But imagine for a second we took some of that amazing productivity advice to the letter and implemented in in our day-to-day parenting. What would happen? What would it look (or sound) like?
Stop multitasking. Focus on one thing at the time
According to research, multitasking really isn’t good for our brains. Contrary to what we keep being told about women being better at multitasking than men, the truth (for men and women alike) is that our brain can only focus on one thing that requires our full attention. If you do more than one thing at the time, it’s only because you can do at least one on ‘auto-pilot’.
All very well and good when you’re at your desk and relatively in control of your working tasks, but what happens at home?
“Kids, I’m going to make dinner. Just give me 15 minutes, and I’ll bring you your food.”
These are probably the statements your children will hit you back with when you say that.
“Mummy / Daddy, I need water! NOW!”
Or: “Mummy / Daddy, he [my brother] hit me / bit me / took my teddy / looked at me!”
Or: “Mummy / Daddy, she [my sister] snatched the remote control off me. I want to watch football, not ‘Tom and Jerry’!”
Can you imagine the ‘true productive parent’ sticking to monotasking and not trying to deal with the situation? You know as well as I do that give it a few minutes, and the general moaning and whinging will have turned into wailing.
“Sorry Kids, can’t hear you. I’m making dinner. See you in 15 minutes.”
Yeah, right. Next?
Set up theme days
A lot of professionals swear by it. If your work involves tasks that you have to do every week, you can carry them out a lot more efficiently if you give each day a theme – so Monday could be the day you clear your email backlog or do your admin, for example. Tuesday could be the day where you schedule all your meetings. Wednesday the day you write your reports etc. Working in this way allows you to keep your concentration on one particular type of activity – your brain uses the same type of skills, and it’s easier and more efficient for you to work in this way.
How would this work when you’re in charge of childcare though?
“Sorry Kid, today is laundry day. I’m washing, folding, ironing (do people still do that?) and organising things in our drawers.”
“Mummy / Daddy, I’m hungry!”
“I want to go to the park!”
“I need to go to school”
“Sorry Kid, today is laundry day”
Group your interruptions
If you work in a busy office where people are likely to come up and talk to you and ask you questions, you can set aside a certain time every day when you tell your colleagues to come and talk to you. You could say that between 9am and 12pm you’re working on something, and you’d rather not be disturbed. Or tell them that if they see you with your headphones on, you’re working on something that requires concentration.
Imagine you could do that with your children.
“Kids, let me pack your bags, so we can go swimming.”
“Mummy / Daddy, where’s my toothbrush?”
Go and help Kid with toothbrush.
“Mummy / Daddy, the baby needs a nappy change.”
Go and change the baby’s nappy.
“Mummy /Daddy, I can’t find my shoes.”
Go and help Kid find their shoes.
Half an hour later…
“Mummy / Daddy, can we go now?! I want to go swimming! Is the swimming bag ready? How long does it take? I want to go swimming! Now!”
Well, they’re grouped alright, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to get anything done anytime soon!
What do you say, fellow parents, shall we just throw the productivity advice out of the window? And just accept that when it comes to children, there are no rulebooks?
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Great post, thanks Sara. Although wouldn’t it be great if for one day of the week you could group your interruptions with children (joking)! And yes, I totally agree with you, there are no rulebooks with children and we are all just trying to do our best.