Spring always brings with it the energy to renew and refresh. It’s a time to air out the house, wash and update fabrics, brighten up with paint, and transform worn furniture. To get it all done seems like it may require a small army…. or… one very productive Mom! Learn to be a Mom that can work with your cycles for less chaos and greater productivity.
In just the past month, I’ve managed to paint our kitchen and dining room walls, recover four kitchen chairs, sew new valances for the laundry and bathroom, replace the living room rug, and stain the outdoor deck floor. Yet, I’m no where near done. The deck railings still need staining, flowers need planting, the hallway needs painting, and I’d like to paint a few doors all before the kids get out of school in June.
For many years, completing home projects while raising three children, and working my part-time jobs as a blogger, furniture refinisher, marketer, and bookkeeper was a challenge; but employing some valuable tactics have kept me on-track for accomplishing both home and work projects. Here are
10 ways to simplify, work efficiently & get projects done:
Understand your cycles
If you’re a woman, this first point is the most important one you will ever learn in your lifetime! It’s one that was never clearly identified for me until about two years ago when Alisa Vitti gave her TED Talk.
As women, our hormones adjust throughout the month. In summary, there are four hormonal ratios we, as women, go through in a one-month cycle. These variations in hormone levels, change the way we think and function. If we learn to identify the phase we’re in, we can use that information to make plans and work more efficiently.
Week 1 (Follicular Phase) is the week following our periods. This is when we have more access to creative energy than at any other time of the month. During this phase you should dream…. mastermind… plan… write… create! Week 2 (Ovulatory Phase) is when we have our best communication skills and the most energy. People are drawn to you during this phase. This is the time when you want to have important conversations. Week 3 (Luteal Phase) starts right after ovulation and ends when your period begins. During this phase we become very detail oriented. It’s the time to organize. Clean the closets. Re-organize your office to be more efficient. Finally, week 3 (Menstrual Phase) is the time we have the most conversation between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. At this time, you’re most able to receive those “gut” instincts. Evaluate your life and follow your gut.
If you use this information to set up a work schedule and plan projects that coincides with your weekly cycle, you’ll find you waste far less time forcing projects that don’t come naturally.
Plan your projects
If you plan to paint a room, create a list of all the supplies you’ll need and make a single trip to the hardware store. If you’re recovering chairs and making curtains, make a single trip to the fabric store.
Realize you can’t do it ALL
The list of projects is unending. There will always be a new project to add to the list and you have to learn to accept that completing that list will take time, sometimes years. In order to feel a sense of accomplishment and allow yourself to relax on a regular basis, shorten your project list to just a few items at a time. What five things can you accompish today? What 3 major projects can you accomplish this month? Set realistics goals and celebrate their completion with a 30-minute walk around the block, a day spent doing something fun with the kids, or even a vacation.
Don’t copy others
Accept that you are different and the way you do things are different. While it’s important to stay up-to-date on your work’s industry, read less often. It may sound strange, but if you’re a creative – an innovator – then be creative in your own rite. Don’t get distracted by the hundreds of newsletters that flood your inbox. Consolidate the time you spend reading about other people’s work. Spend less time reading what others are creating and do what you feel is right for you.
Don’t be the fixer
If you’re the one everyone comes to to fix everything, it pulls time away from things you need or want to get done for yourself. Don’t claim to be the one who can fix everyone else problems, whether it’s the office copier or listening to a cronically-depressed friend complain about life.
Wake up early (or stay up late)
Recognize when the best time of day is for you to accomplish each task on your list. I happen to write best at 5:00 AM. The family is still asleep for a few hours and I won’t be disturbed. I love sitting by the window and the only sound is I hear is the birds waking up. Later in the morning when my energy is still high is the best time for me to do physical work, like sand furniture and paint. By mid-afternoon I become drained so it’s the best time to do busy-work like clean up the house or bookkeeping.
In other words, work with your internal energy clock.
Declutter at night
Fill the dishwasher, organize the shoes in the hallway, pick up the living room, and clear off the counters before you go to bed. Waking up to an organized house means waking up to less distractions.
Develop a morning clean routine
Develop a 30-Minute Morning Clean Routine. Spend no more than 30 minutes picking up the house each morning and getting ready for the day. Doing things like making the beds, starting the laundry, and emptying the dishwasher will help you feel as though you contributed to the home maintenance enough so that you can focus on your work for the rest of the morning.
Design a work uniform
Whether you work inside or outside the home, you’ll spend far less time getting ready each morning if you don’t have to think about what to wear. Design a work “uniform” that is basically the same each day. When I work out of the home, it’s black pants, white shirt, and the same shoes. I may add to that a sweater, jacket, or belt, but essentially it’s the same work uniform everyday. Men can get a away with wearing a white shirt and suit everyday, so why can’t women? You’ll find it minimizes ready-time and stress in the morning and you’ll get to spend more time helping the kids get ready for their day at school, making for happier children.
Take a 30-minute break
Go for a walk, sit on the deck and sip a cup of tea. This time alone with yourself (and maybe your dog or child) will relax your body, refresh your thoughts, and re-energize you to finish out the day.
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