Being a parent is quite possibly one of the biggest responsibilities most of us would ever handle. You are suddenly responsible for shaping a complete human being, from scratch, who would go on to inhabit this planet for the next 60-80 years. In a tiny way, we are shaping the future of this planet, one child at a time!
A universal concern that all millennial parents can identify with is lack of time. There’s just too much to do and too little time! Yet, It is quite possible to turn up the quality of millennial parenting by several notches; if only we optimize what we have today and what can only get better in the future – access to information, abundant research to inform our decisions, handy tools and apps to track our activities and guide our improvements.
Here are a few effective time-management tips that can magically stretch your day by a few hours!
1.Wake up earlier
Wake up at least an hour before everybody else, especially your children. Waking up early makes you better mentally and physically; and you get an entire hour to think about your day. You could also use this time to dream about that vacation you took 5 years ago without a tiny hand whacking your face.
Develop the habit (yes- even if you are ‘not’ a morning person) by just waking one minute earlier every day. Here’s a cool tool backed by science that will totally help you become a morning person.
2. Make a morning ritual
Experts on willpower believe that we have the most self-control in the wee hours of the morning- before the madness begins because your willpower muscle is still fresh. Yeah, making up your mind to not tear your hair apart during the sibling fights, works at this time.
Use this time to face your fears and deal with them; simply because you have an extra dose of willpower in your stock. Make a ritual, any ritual and stick to it because rituals are associated with feelings of stability and control.
Your ritual could range from writing a journal to mantra chanting to watering your garden or clearing your kitchen counter. Here’s a morning ritual that can make you 8 times more productive.
3. Befriend your morning mood
How you feel in the first hours of the day determines how you feel and act the rest of the day; which is why experts recommend not to use your morning hours reacting to other people. Checking email or rushing straight into the needs of your family can steal the much-needed feeling of control and thus affect how your see the rest of the world for the entire day.
4. Take cold showers
Long practiced by Hindu monks and priests( in the rivers) to train in self-control and self-discipline, the benefits of taking cold showers have recently made a headway into major scientific research. Cold water helps blood rush to the to the mood-regulating areas of your brain sparking it with happy neurotransmitters- increasing mental alertness and decreasing fatigue and stress. With several high-performers swearing by the cold-shower buzz, cold-shower high is a real thing now.
5. Eat breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of your day because your body is really looking forward to it; after having fasted for nearly 8-10 hours.
Yes – this means you have to eat even if this elementary act resembles a circus monkey trick- with you swearing over having stepped on a lego and your toddler just now deciding to experiment with mixing colours over your favourite suit.
6. Move and Shake
There are various suggestions for the perfect time for a workout, but mornings really work best for people whose day can turn unpredictable(read: people with little humans in tow). If you think you do not have time for running, Yoga or the gym, practise this 5-minute full body workout routine designed to gear you up for a new day.It really crushes your ‘no-time’ excuse. Creative parents turn exercise into something like this. Its so good, it makes me want to drop everything and do it now.
7. Arm yourself (In lay terms – drink sufficient coffee)
If you have little kids, you probably want to be fully equipped for the oncoming assault on your senses.
It makes sense to guard your morning coffee (or tea) minutes. If you want to stretch it; you could mold in into a beautiful personal ritual for gratitude and awareness.
If you are one of those coffee fanatics and want to know what about coffee makes you go nuts(or is it beans??) over it; check out this fantastic infographic here.
8. Compartmentalise the chaos
Accept that no matter what you do, those little brats have the power to turn all your planning on its head. Laura Vanderkam recommends setting a 15-minute alarm before you absolutely have to head out and allow the chaos to begin in full blast after that alarm goes off to avoid scuttling all the time.
9. Schedule your hardest thing to do at the right time
Dan Ariely, a New York Times best-selling author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions explains that we have peak productivity about 2 hours after waking termed as the ‘magic hours’. For parents, this means scheduling this time when the brats are not around- and arranging for it about 2 hours after you wake up.
10.Have ONE calendar
Keeping separate work and home calendars can lead to lot of forgotten appointments and play dates. Put everything on one calendar and sync up your tasks.
You calendar should look something like this.
Respond to X- 9- 9:10
Schedule Social Media posts- 9:10-9:30
9:25: 9:30- Break
Research for the report- 9:30- 10:20
Grab coffee: 10:20 – 10:30
Meeting with Y- 10:30 – 11:00
Write the damn report- 11:05-12:00 (you can tell I hate doing this)
Check in with the daycare- 12:00- 12:15
11. Time your activity based on your day
Don’t start a 45- minute activity when you know your kids will be back in 20 minutes. Start it when you know you can block the full 45 minutes. Ill-timing your task can lead to frustration.
12. Manage your energy
Just like everything else, you wont feel springy at all hours of the day. It’s important to align your tasks to your energy levels. Schedule your most intense task at the time when you have the most energy. At other times, you have coffee.
Here’s a few more tips on managing your energy from Leo Widrich.
13. Acknowledge the reluctance
You can do all the right things, but some days you just are not upto it. The task list intimidates you. Own it up to yourself and do it anyway.
14. Always have backup tasks
You might have everything on your calendar but the meeting you planned might get cancelled or that website might keep timing out. Move other tasks up the list to make up for this time.
15. Take Power Naps
A few minutes of snoozing in the afternoon can super-charge the rest of your day. University of Michigan researchers found that short naps boost productivity and build tolerance to frustration.
See how New York Times best selling author, Michael Hyatt does it.
So there! Don’t forget to pack in a fluffy pillow into your work satchel today.
16. Budget your time
Just as money-budgeting increases your resourcefulness, time-budgeting increases your productivity. When you know you have hard stops (yeah, that’s the time you will hear loud wailing from the other room signalling his nap is over), you push yourself to focus.
17. Chunk tasks together
Writing a blog post? Calling up clients? Doing laundry? Ordering groceries online? Bundle the tasks together so you don’t constantly switch between tasks. Write 2-3 articles at a time. Call all clients you need to contact at the most suitable time.
18. Use cloud storage
Ouch! I learnt this the hard way when my daughter poured tomato soup over my laptop. Always, always backup important files on a reliable cloud service.
19. Use the 2-minute rule
If a task takes 2 minutes to complete, don’t put it away. Responding to an email takes less then 2 minutes? Do it now. Found that you just emptied your nut jar. Add it to your grocery list now.
20. Develop a wind down habit to consolidate your day
Develop a habit of walking, listening to music, reading to your kids or playing bunny with them as a stress-buster. One consistent activity helps bring the brain to a state of rest. Plus- if it’s with the kids, it rids you of the persistent guilt.