How I manage my time through the day is something I get asked about very often. I’d written a similar post when I was working full time a couple of years earlier. This is sort of like an update to it. I still have no special tricks or techniques to share, but I thought I’ll go ahead and list down things that I think have made me make the most of my time ‘productively’ with two kids around. These are what I’ve figured work best for me over time.
I love making lists, so this tops my list of productivity hacks if I can call it that. I make lists for everything – things I need to buy, things I need to get rid of, things I need to finish off, things I need to sort, etc. However, I do not use any app for this. You will find my phone notes full of lists and all the white boards/kitchen walls with lists. If I have my phone handy, I quickly type in what I need to do/buy, etc. in to my notes. You will find grocery/pantry stuff that I need to buy and what I have written on my kitchen wall tiles (using washable markers of course) or on the white board on my fridge.
I used to write the veggies I have in the crisper on the fridge white board earlier, but over time I’ve learnt not to hoard vegetables and fruits in one go and so just go by memory now. My little pantry cupboards have post-its with what and how much of things I have in each shelf. This helps me gauge what I need to add to my monthly grocery list.
Similarly, if I know I’ll be having a busy day, I make a quick to-do list on my phone that I check off as I go. This helps me not miss out on tasks – leaving the water cans out, utility bill payments, ordering grocery, school payment, etc.
I never thought I’d say this but waking up early has tremendously helped me in getting more stuff done. Waking up before the others means I get to sit down for five mins drinking my morning cuppa and planning ahead for the day. This includes planning for meals, activities/things to do for the kids, planning my work, household chores, my workout, prepping for breakfast with some flexibility factored in for other things that will eventually come up as the day progresses.
This quarantine has made me realize that I can be a morning person if I want to because I have pretty much stuck to my usual 5-530am wake up time throughout and getting my exercise for the day in the early hours somehow leaves me with 5 extra hours a day.
So, on a typical weekday – I’m up by 530am, have my tea and prep for brekkie, workout, bathe, make breakfast and clean. This way, a lot is done before the kids wake up (on good days, that is) and I have the rest of the day to do things leisurely. I save the sweeping and mopping for the evenings because it feels like a workout in itself by the time I’m done.
Weekends are still for prepping for the week – I batch cook sauces, soak and pressure cook beans, pulses etc., make dosai batter and the likes.
I have also realized that planning (not rigid plans but having some sort of an idea of what to cook through the week) and buying fresh produce for the week accordingly saves plenty of time and with the new washing and sorting routine as soon as they’re bought, I’m saving plenty of time prepping on a daily basis too. This has also ensured that I use up greens while they are still fresh and don’t forget about them and find half rotten leaves 5 days later.
Lunch and dinner is typically something super quick that I can manage with the kids around. Most of it taken care of easily, thanks to my four pressure cookers that I use extensively.
A lot of time these days is spent with the kids. I’m not a crafty mom, so I either print worksheets that they can use or look up on Pinterest for ideas that are easy to recreate (and mess-free) because patience isn’t one of my virtues. When we’re not being ‘productively’ engaged, there is quite a bit of screen time involved so that I can do whatever it is that I need to do, peacefully (and quickly). I used to be so worried about this at one point, but now I’m all ‘whatever floats your boat, sista’ about it.
Another thing I’ve learnt is that doing laundry immediately (putting them out to dry as well as folding dried clothes) helps me not pile up a mountain on the couch every week. Because if I decide to potate, I’m Queen Potato and nothing less. There are still days when it gets accumulated but about 85% of the time, I do it immediately. The same applies for doing the dishes. It helps me save a lot of time and keep the kitchen/sink cleaner if I do the dishes as I go.
When I’m not cooking, cleaning or doing other household chores and need to get some work done – I’ve found that the Pomodoro Technique works best for me. I get distracted very easily. This method has help me focus on something for a period of 20-25 minutes after which I take a little break and then do another similar session or more as needed. This has also helped me lessen procrastination as I know once I focus and finish a task off my to-do list, I can be free and having a deadline (this 20-25 min time interval) always pushes me to get stuff done.
I’m also someone who multitasks a lot. This means I get a lot of things started but not necessarily finish all of them as I’d like to. Multitasking also means I get distracted a lot jumping between tasks. Overtime, I have realized that this isn’t really my strength unless it’s doing the dishes/putting the laundry out to dry while my chai gets ready or watching Queer Eye while doing the dishes. But other times, I’ve found that having a more structured order of tasks (as far as possible) helps me get things done more efficiently.
There are days when I feel like I’m always doing something and don’t get to actually ‘engage’ or spend time with the kids. On such days, I try to make them work with me – prep greens, rinse the dishes I wash, sort/clean up their toys, fold their clothes etc. The younger one ends up messing things further but the elder one sort of gets it now and on good days, is more than happy to help.
So, I guess that gives you an idea of what a day in my life looks like. I’m happy to answer if you have any specific questions. Do drop a comment below.