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We all have big goals that we want to accomplish – eating healthier, exercising more, opening an Etsy shop, writing a book… And you already know that you need to break them down into small bites and make time for them.
You also already know that setting and maintaining good, productive habits is the true secret to achieving those goals. Unless your second-nature habits are moving you toward your goals, you’re not likely to get very far.
Beyond your goals, there’s the everyday stuff – managing your family, your house, your job, and your me-time. It can be a struggle for sure! In order to stay on top of everything, good habits are also a necessity for your regular life.
You can have habits that change your life, or you can have habits that keep you stuck.
The Secret – Start SMALL
What are some habits that you need to develop to get you where you want to go? Goals are great, but it’s your daily habits that will actually get you there. Without a plan, your goals are just dreams (not that dreams are a bad thing – they’re a great starting point to your goals!).
What positive habits do you need to implement? What negative habits should you consider stopping? What habits do you currently have that should be tweaked because they aren’t moving you toward your goals?
When setting new habits, it’s important to start small. VERY small. There are varying opinions out there, but general consensus is that it takes at least 3 weeks of consistency before something becomes a habit. It can take less, and it can take more, of course – some new routines are easier to implement than others and each of our brains is wired a little bit differently as well.
Since it takes a while to make something second-nature, trying to revamp your entire life simply won’t work. So it’s necessary to start small – take on only one or two new habits at a time, and make sure that they truly become habits before moving on.
Below is a list of habits that I believe are foundational to being a highly productive mom. ALL moms have a lot on our plates, so these habits are useful whether you work outside of the home, work from home, or stay at home.
Full disclosure: While each of these habits has been personally tested by me, I’ve not yet been successful at turning 100% of them into daily, don’t-have-to-think-about-it habits. I’m not perfect, though life would be a lot easier if I was 🙂
Regardless, since I’ve at least tried to implement all of them, I do believe that implementation of any or all of these habits will truly change your life for the better – they’ve most definitely changed mine (when I do them fairly consistently).
The 14 Positive Habits of Productive Moms
#1 – Wake Up Before Your Kids
For me, this has been one of the biggest game-changers of my entire motherhood career. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that waking up before my kids is a habit that is very important to me.
You don’t have to wake up hours before your kids and get all of your cleaning and other stuff done before they get up – you can simply sit and drink your coffee without those crazy kids demanding breakfast RIGHT THIS SECOND. It only takes about 30 minutes to get the benefits of this habit, but you can even get started with just 10 or 15 minutes!
Because it’s not a huge time commitment, and because you’ll be able to see the benefits almost immediately, it’s super easy to implement and stay motivated to continue.
I started by just showering before my kids woke up. Then I gradually increased the time to include a peaceful coffee. Now I get up about 1-1/2 hours before my kids to write or read.
Here’s why this is a great habit to start with: When your kids wake up, you’ll be ready to greet them because you’ve already started your day on your own terms. You’ll be in a better mindset and feel more awake before you’re thrown into breakfast-making, shoe-finding, and getting out of the door in time, so you’ll be able to interact more positively with the kids.
Not having to deal first thing in the morning with the bombardment of chatter and chores that comes with having four kids, I’m able to respond more positively to them when they DO wake up. Plus, starting the day in chaos means that the day is more likely to continue in chaos. Starting the day peacefully? You guessed it – the day continues to be relatively peaceful.
Getting up before your kids allows you to start your day as YOU – not a mom, wife, or whatever other role you have. This, in turn, not only makes you more productive, but it makes this motherhood journey more enjoyable.
#2 – Plan Weekly
I want to be present with my kiddos. I want to do all the things. I want some time to rest.
There are sooo many things that need to be accomplished every week (and so many “wants” as well!), and in order to fit them all in, you need to plan your days. When I don’t have a plan, the days just kind of happen, and I’m in reactive mode, putting out fires all day long.
Every Sunday I have a meeting with myself. I do both homeschool planning and personal planning for the week ahead. It’s become a time that I look forward to – I try to make it peaceful alone time. I have a coffee, tea, or glass of wine, depending on what time of day it is 😉
When I DO have a plan, I’m proactive about how my time is being spent, and I’m able to spend my time more wisely.
Why weekly planning instead of daily planning? I find that it’s easier to budget my time with weekly planning. I’m able to assign my weekly tasks to a particular day. I can see when we’ll be out of the house, so I can adjust those weekly tasks accordingly. I can put in rest time and family fun time right after I put in my appointments and other obligations so that I can be sure that both are going to happen!
If daily planning works better for you, then go for it! The importance of this habit is in the planning itself, not in the frequency. Setting aside some time to plan is such a great habit to help you be more productive.
#3 – Just Get Started
Butt stuck on the couch? Just get up. Kitchen a disaster? Just start on one side and work your way over. Clean clothes piling up? Start with socks and underwear, and go from there.
Just get started.
Procrastination is where productivity goes to die. Those messy counters, sink full of dishes, and crumb-covered table can definitely seem overwhelming – it happens to me almost daily. But the best thing to do is to START.
If it helps, you can set a timer for a few minutes, and then start. Or you can simply count down from 10 in your head. When that time is up, START.
Don’t let a big job overwhelm you. Decide today to create the habit of just getting started. Start small, start SOMEWHERE, and momentum will carry you through.
#4 – Avoid Social Media
Spending a lot of time on social media isn’t beneficial. Best case, you waste a bunch of precious time. Worst case, it leads you down into a spiral of comparison and makes you feel horrible about yourself.
Either way, it’s not a good habit for you, especially when you’re trying to stay on top of your to-do list.
I struggle with this one, but I’ve found that when I stay off of Facebook for the whole day, I just feel better. I know that it’s partly because I’m less likely to waste time when I’m not staring at my phone, but a big part of it is that I just feel physically and mentally better when I’m not on my phone too long. I’m sure there’s something scientific behind that…
If I sit down for a “break” on the couch with my afternoon coffee, I try to bring a book with me instead of my phone. It makes my brain feel better, plus I’m more likely to actually get up off the couch when my coffee is done and not get sucked into any social media rabbit holes.
#5 – If It Takes Less Than a Minute, Do It NOW
Otherwise known as the “one-minute rule,” this habit states that any task that will take a minute or less should be done NOW, without hesitation.
Don’t stop to consider. Don’t tell yourself you’ll do it later. Just take those few seconds and do what it is that needs to be done.
These aren’t major things – they’re those little things that don’t even make it onto the to-do list. They seem insignificant, but if you consistently practice the one-minute rule, you’ll see amazing results. You don’t have to pause to consider your priorities. Just do whatever task presents itself right away – as long as it takes a minute or less.
Swipe the food crumbs into your hand as you walk by the kitchen table and throw them into the trash. Answer that email that requires a quick yes or no answer. Put your lunch plate in the dishwasher (I’m not so great at this one). Hang up your coat right when you walk in the door instead of putting it on the back of a chair.
Because the tasks are quick and easy, it’s not too difficult to implement this habit. And results can be seen quickly – keeping all of those small, nagging tasks under control makes me less stressed and usually makes my house appear cleaner.
If it’s something that takes less than a minute, do it now.
#6 – Take a Break / Make Time to Relax
Almost every single day between homeschool and cleanup / work, I take a break. I grab a coffee or tea and a book, and I take 15 minutes or so to reset. I set aside this time because it allows me to regroup before moving on to the next chunk of my day.
By “break,” I mean that you pause with the intention of getting back to your tasks within a reasonable amount of time.
Productive moms know that downtime is just as important as getting-stuff-done time. Breaks rejuvenate your brain, helping to prevent the “decision fatigue” that bogs us down toward the end of the day. Your motivation will be renewed, your productivity and creativity will increase, and you’ll be less likely to yell at the kids – all because you stopped for a few minutes in the middle of the day.
Of course it’s important to occasionally take longer breaks than those 15-minute rests throughout the day. Make sure you’re scheduling family time and solo time beyond these quick daily breaks.
We all need time to recharge. Making time to relax, unwind, and have fun is a powerful habit to implement.
#7 – Focus on the “Big 3”
Every morning, I determine my “Big 3” – the three priorities that I want / need to accomplish that day. These are not things that would go on my daily to-do list, like making dinner and doing a load of laundry. These are things that, if I got nothing else done that day besides these three things, I would feel productive, accomplished, and like my day had gone well.
You can do this the night before as well – it doesn’t have to be done in the morning.
If you want to really up-level on this one, do your Big 3 first, before you do anything else – eat that frog, so to speak!
#8 – Exercise
To be perfectly honest, whenever I try to start this habit, I completely fail. I haven’t found a type of exercise that makes me want to put in the time, so it’s always the last thing on my to-do list – you know, that thing that you carry over every single day because you just couldn’t squeeze it in?
(Don’t worry about me, though – the kids and I lead a very active lifestyle, so I do get a lot of physical activity.)
Exercise is beneficial for your body AND your mind. It keeps your heart healthy, reduces stress, helps you sleep better… I could go on and on, but you already know the benefits.
#9 – Practice Gratitude
Gratitude brings you joy, keeps you grounded, and gives you a new perspective. It’s like a daily mental boost.
A daily gratitude habit could take a couple of different forms. You could write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for every day. You could spend some time telling yourself positive affirmations in the mirror every morning. You could set a daily prayer time specifically to thank God or the Universe for your blessings.
However she chooses to practice gratitude, a productive momma carves out time in her busy day to be grateful for what she has, and she tries like heck to not take anything for granted.
#10 – Keep a Schedule
By “schedule,” I mean a very loose schedule that evolves naturally out of the flow of your day.
I’m a fan of block scheduling. I know that certain things happen around the same time every day, so I take advantage of that! I arrange my day into blocks. There’s the mom block in the mornings (see habit #1!), then a bit of a kid / housekeeping block. Next, we move on to homeschool and work, then the dinner / family block.
When I know what’s coming next, it’s easier to not get overwhelmed. While I’m homeschooling, I don’t have to worry about the urgent work email that just came through because I know that that block comes later in the day, and I can handle it then.
Block scheduling is a bit like compartmentalization in that aspect – you can ignore certain tasks that you know you’ve already set aside time for later in the day.
If a block schedule doesn’t feel like “enough” to you, it’s totally fine to use a more detailed schedule – do what works best for you!
#11 – Read Personal Growth Books
Putting good information into your brain is soooo important.
Reading, in general, enhances your knowledge and expands your thinking. Reading personal growth books in particular fills your brain with positive words and uplifting concepts. As you ingest this type of content, it replaces your negative thoughts with positive thoughts – love, possibility, power, and even some magic. You start to believe you can do more, be more, and experience more.
Even if you struggle to get into this habit, I’d recommend pushing through. Reading an inspiring book every morning helps your creativity, productivity, and self-image.
You should know that I’m absolutely not saying that you should never read another trashy romance novel again. I’m always in the middle of at least two books – a novel and a personal growth book at minimum. But I know that the more positivity I put into my brain, the more positively I think and act.
#12 – Meal Plan
Meal planning can save you time, money, and a whole lot of stress, all while improving your family’s health.
If you’re like me, most days are filled with running around, working, or handling other household things right up until dinnertime. Knowing that you already have all of the ingredients you need to make a quick meal seriously decreases the chances of ordering pizza. Again.
Planning and cooking healthy meals can be really time-consuming, and time is something that I don’t have a lot to spare. So having all of my meals decided on and shopped for makes my chaotic evenings run much more smoothly.
I’d recommend making meal planning into a routine to help make the process a bit easier. For me, I do my meal planning on Sundays and then order my groceries for Monday pickup.
Also, I know that some people decide on their meal planning day what they’re making each night – I don’t. I assign a couple of meals to particular days, like a crockpot soup if I know we’re going to be out all afternoon, but for the most part, I choose in the morning what I’ll be making that evening.
I have no idea on Sunday morning what I’m going to want for dinner on Friday, so this allows for some flexibility.
#13 – Clean Your Toilets, Bathroom Sinks, and Kitchen Counters Every Day
Well… Maybe every other day 😉 This has been one of my favorite habits that I’ve implemented in the past couple of years. Because my kitchen and bathrooms are always reasonably presentable, I’m always ready for guests – no more scrambling for 2 hours before friends arrive, cleaning the house and stashing things that I can never seem to find later (I can’t be the only one who does this!).
Kids are gross, y’all. And if you’re only cleaning toilets and sinks weekly, they get really bad. And it takes a long time. Daily cleans are super quick – a spot check for pee on the seats and floor, and a quick scrub of toothpaste globs, and you’re good to go.
As for the counters, just put away the crap on them, and give them a quick wipe. Every few days, move the stuff that’s on them and clean under it. Easy peasy.
If I aim to clean them every day, but skip a day here or there, it’s no big deal – they still stay pretty clean.
#14 – Have Fun!
Don’t forget this one.
Yes, you’re a mom, and you have 37 hours’ worth of things to do in a day. You’re responsible for your people, your pets, your home, your job… Remember that you are an actual human being, and you’re made for more than completing task after task after task.
Don’t miss out on the good stuff because you’re too “busy.” Play the games with the kids, go for a hike with your family, grab drinks with the girls every once in a while. Have a 30-second dance party in the kitchen. Read a book that you enjoy.
Do things you love to do, and have fun in the process. If you find that you’re constantly in productivity mode, try to break out of it. Make it a point to do at least one fun or silly thing per day. These spontaneous (or planned), laughter-filled moments are the ones your kids will remember when they leave the house someday.
Evaluate and Assess
Forming new habits is an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation and assessment of your accomplishments – and also your non-accomplishments 😉
After implementing a new habit for a week or so, take some time to reflect on how it’s going.
Not all of the above habits are going to work for you, and that’s okay. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. If it’s not going well and you’re feeling like it’s a waste of your time or requires extra time or energy, you can definitely scrap or modify the plan.
If you find that your new habits are helping, that’s awesome! I’m cheering you on 🙂
If you’re like me, you might be tempted to try and start a whole bunch of these awesome habits at once. DON’T DO IT. Pick ONE. Well, okay – maybe two.
Pick a habit or two and set a goal to do it every day. Choose an easy one first – one that you truly want to do, and one that will give you an easy win. If you choose a hard or complicated habit, or one that involves something you truly don’t like to do (I’m looking at YOU, exercise!), you’ll want to quit.
I know it can feel overwhelming with so many things you want to improve. Where you start doesn’t matter AT ALL. The best, most important thing you can possibly do is to begin. Today.
Which of these habits do you already do? Which will you try next? Leave a comment!