How to be productive with a baby in the house

photo credit - Robyna MayAs part of our journey to rediscover our minxy selves we are dedicated to re-igniting our passions.  We are also dedicated to being good mums to our little ones and we know balancing those things can be tricky.

Sarah has written about how to find time – 7 simple ways to start creating the time that you need. I wanted to talk about how to be productive when you share every moment of your life with a precious little person (or persons).

I remember being pregnant with Master I and being convinced I would be able to work from home, be as productive as I was in the office and totally ace the motherhood thing. Ah, first pregnancy naivety is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?  Needless to say, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Sarah and I have had to carve out time in our busy lives to dedicate to this project, and to be honest, we have both struggled with it. As women, I think we are all juggling a few balls in the air.  I know I often feel guilty  about “stealing” time from my kids.  But the fact is, having passions and a career outside of them is as healthy for them as it is for me.    But I do need to think carefully about how to use my time wisely.

Here are some of the things I am doing that make the juggle more manageable:

photo credit - Robyna May>> Be Realistic

I am a chronic over-estimater – I always think I can get five times more done than is realistic.  I made a time finder tool for myself so that I could understand where my time goes and how much “spare” time I really have. I also wanted to note the times when I am most productive.  Using this tool, I am much more realistic about the time I have and what I can get achieved during that time.  You can download the tool for yourself: Free Printable: Time Finder .

>> Set Weekly Goals

I find it useful to look at the week as a whole and decide on three major goals I would like to achieve.  These are things outside of the normal routine of house work and childcare.  For instance, my three major goals for a week might be:  Catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while, Sew a top for myself and dedicate two hours to learning more about blogging, SEO and social media.  I may achieve more than these three goals during the week, but these are the ones I promise myself.

>> Plan your day

When I was working in an office, I would always set aside the first half hour to plan my day.  I find it useful to apply this discipline still.  Look at your day and decide what you want to achieve, whilst staying realistic.  If some of your tasks are large ones, break them up into smaller tasks.  Make sure tasks (aside from errands) are about 25 minutes each (the reason why is below).  If you like you can use the this daily planner.

>> 25 Minute Tasks – Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro approach to productivity is to work on tasks for a short, set period of time.  The length of the task should be about 25 minutes.  After each 25 minutes (or pomodori) you take a 3 – 5 minute break.  After four pomodori, you take a 15-30 minute break.  It’s mean to be excellent for mental agility and improve productivity.  I am sure it does all that, but I like it because it coincides with about the amount of time Baby E is content to play by himself.  By employing this technique, I can get short bursts of work done and still give Baby E the time and attention he needs.  There are plenty of iPhone apps you can download to help with the technique.  Or you can just rely on an old-fashioned timer.

>> Plan Snacks & Lunch

Whilst planning your day, also plan snacks and lunch.  I find it helpful to have Baby E’s snacks ready to go and I do this whilst making Master I’s school lunch.  It just frees up time in the latter part of the day.

>> Have a kid friendly work area

Set up a few little activities near your work area.  I find when I am working in the kitchen, the tupperware drawer or a pot with a wooden spoon are wonderful toys.  When I am doing laundry, the peg basket offers endless fun.  When I am at the computer, I have a box of toys ready beside me.

>>Check your time-wasters

When you are working with a baby in the house, you have to be flexible and you have to use the precious time you have wisely.  For me, this means turning off email, Facebook and Twitter.  I have to concentrate just on the ONE task on hand.  Another reason the Pomodoro technique works well.

>> Use your incidental time well

What do you do when you have a spare five – ten minutes?  Perhaps you are in a queue or you are a passenger in a car or you are waiting for someone.  I am guessing you check your phone.  I do.  I am trying to use that time more wisely.  Carry a notebook with you and jot down ideas. Use you notes app to draft some writing.  Or, let down time actually be DOWN TIME and just enjoy silence and reflection for a few minutes.

>> Be easy on yourself

Trying to achieve things with kids in the house is no mean feat and what works for me, may not work for you.   Sometimes, you just have to give up your plans and spend the entire day cuddling and playing with your baby.  And some days, that is the most important thing you can do.

>> Other great ideas

I love these posts on productivity:
>> 9 Slightly Weird Productivity Tips from the clever Smaggle – not too sure about the nude bit.
>> Unleash the Power of Progress: Create a Done List from the awesome Swagger Project – Some times you need to remind yourself of what you HAVE achieved.
>> Bullet Journalling at The Organised Housewife – I love this method of keeping track of what needs to be done.  Sometimes just writing it down makes it seem achievable.

Robyna xxx

How do you balance productivity with caring for your kids?  Any tips to share? Written a blog post about it? Please share!


10 thoughts on “How to be productive with a baby in the house

  1. GoodThingsSmall says:

    These are great tips – thank you! I tend to do too many things at once and none of them well, as well as getting distracted too easily. Even though I don’t have any young children – these are still practical tools that I can use as an office worker and stepmother!

    • Robyna says:

      Thanks – yes I think there is a bit of a myth that multi-tasking is efficient. I definitely need to concentrate on one thing at a time!

  2. allmumsaid says:

    These are great tips! Many of these I do but I must admit that I am a very lacksy-daisy person so if I don’t get to something I tend to just cross it off and add it to the next day (sometimes the same thing can be crossed off for a week until it’s deadline is fast approaching).

  3. Joy @TheMamaMinute says:

    What an excellent post! I especially love the pomodoro technique; am totally going to try it next time I’ve got a day at home with Mr 2. He’s at the age where he is verbally demanding my attention, so short bursts of productivity look like the way to go.

  4. crazytocalm1 says:

    Be realistic! I think number one is the one I need the most. I set out with big dreams in the home office and well… not quite what I had planned happens. I love these tips. Thank you.

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