Why I Prepare to Be Productive

posted by Andrea | 02/22/2017
Print pageEmail page

Over the past 7+ years of blogging, I have shared my fair share of productivity tips, tricks, tools, what works for me, what doesn’t, etc. etc.

Sometimes one thing works for a while, then another tip or idea or tool works better, then we have another baby or take on a huge home renovation project and I completely change my most productive time of day, and then the kids start sleeping better so I change back… I think you get the idea 🙂

As with almost everything in life, my productivity changes as my season of life changes. The productivity tips, tools, and ideas that work for me right now, probably did NOT work for me a few years ago, and might not continue working for me in another year or two.

However, one thing I have always done is to “prepare to be productive” the night before.

  • I write out my to-do list for the day ahead
  • I put a star by the tasks on my top 5 list
  • I do a general house pickup (including the dishes and dishwasher)
  • I pick out clothes for me and the kids
  • I make pancake or waffle batter for breakfast
  • I pack snacks and/or lunches
  • I glance at my meal plan and pull anything I need out of the freezer to defrost
  • I pack Nora’s backpack and make sure she has everything she needs for school
  • I make sure the diaper bag is ready to go when needed
  • I put anything I need next to the back door in the mudroom (books to return to the library, my grocery list, a package to bring to the post office, etc.)
  • I look up directions (if needed) and send them to my phone
  • I schedule my blog post and a few links or pictures to social media for the next day
  • I clean out my inbox (my goal is always to zero it out every night and I often succeed)
  • I charge my laptop and phone if needed

I might be missing something, but in general, I can plow through this list of tasks very quickly after the kids are in bed, and AFTER I feel like I’m ready for the next day, I sit down to write a blog post and tackle any virtual assistant work I didn’t finish during the day.

Please note: I do not start working on my blog post or my VA work until AFTER I feel prepared and ready for the next day.

This might sound insignificant, but I can not tell you how important it is for me to prepare for a productive day BEFORE I sit down and finish my work for the night.

If I simply put the kids to bed and sit down at my computer to write, I am confident there would be many nights when I would get distracted and continue working until I wanted to go straight to bed. And once I’m tired, I definitely don’t want to start packing lunches, making pancake mix, washing dishes, etc.

So I prepare myself for the next day first! 

Of course, just because I prepare to be productive does not always mean that I AM as productive as I’d like to be. Situations come up, kids get sick, plans change, activities are canceled, the kids don’t nap, our internet stops working, we have unexpected visitors stop by — meaning I don’t accomplish everything I wanted to.

HOWEVER, I am confident that preparing myself to be productive still allows me to accomplish more (even on the bad days) than I would without preparing. And on the good days, it’s not uncommon for me to completely cross everything off my to-do list and have extra time left over to read, work on my digital photo books, or just go to bed early!

Plus, preparing to be productive has produced so many other benefits in my life.

  • I am less stressed because I have a plan
  • I am MUCH less forgetful
  • I waste less time during the day
  • I have more time for things I want to do, not just the things I have to do
  • I get better-quality sleep because I don’t lie awake thinking through my day or worrying about forgetting something important
  • I have developed a really fabulous productivity habit

As I continue to change and tweak the productivity tips and tools that work for me in my current season of life, I have a feeling I will stick with my habit of preparing myself to be more productive each day.

I figure if it’s been working well for so many  years (and through so many life-changes) it will probably continue to work for me for many years to come!

How do you “prepare to be productive”?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: FamilyWorkSchedulesProductivity

 
 

Leave a comment

13 comments

  1. Alissa

    03/23/2017

    This post has really stuck with me (as I am coming back a month later to comment on it). So often I am in survival mode (as a result of saying yes to too many things) and the I spend my time dealing with the urgent. So many of the ideas that you share all work together (me saying No leads to more time –> this leads to time to prepare to be productive instead of dealing with whatever pot is about to boil over). I have started to take 5 or 10 minutes at night (because what is 5 minutes?) and do something to help my morning go better (usually the dishes). I appreciate all of your encouragement! I don’t think I always have to hear a new idea or tip just support to keep developing healthy habits! Thanks Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, yes, yes! This is so true Alissa! Everything sort of works together and all the pieces come together so nicely at times!
    Yay for taking 5-10 minutes to better prepare yourself and your home for the next day. I’m sure it makes a huge difference for you!

    [Reply]

  2. Victoria

    03/17/2017

    This post reminds my about my own story of trying to prepare for the next day. Once I started to take care of the things that are necessary first evenings became easier for me. But, since our children are a bit older and go to bed later I don’t always have time and energy for other projects. But I’ll take it. I now read books again and relax before the next day. I feel better.

    [Reply]

  3. Kelly

    02/26/2017

    I’m so impressed with all you get done! By the time I would get through that list, it would be my bedtime with no time for anything else. My prep just includes prepping coffee. Without that, I’m useless in the AM.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I think you might be surprised how quickly everything goes once you have a good system in place. Plus, Dave helps AND our kids go to bed really early (like 7:00) so we have plenty of time to finish our list and have a little time to relax!

    That said, at least you get your coffee done the night before — that’s better than nothing!

    [Reply]

  4. MC

    02/24/2017

    I really love how you put things. It’s concrete with great examples. You’re very encouraging 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks 🙂 I do think the examples help a lot — so I always try to give examples from my own life!

    [Reply]

  5. Holly

    02/22/2017

    I have an area where I lay out items I will need for whatever projects I will be working on the next day. I’ve been doing a lot of painting, so I have an area where I leave the paint can and paint brush so it’s the first thing I see when I walk out of my room. I also lay my paint clothes out the night before. I love being productive, but sometimes I have to trick my brain. When I painted my living room, with 11 foot ceilings, I got the ladder out & drop cloth all set up the night before. I realize this may not work with small children, but there was no way I was going to leave that ladder out all day & there was no way I was going to put that ladder up without painting…so by having it all set up I had no choice other than to paint the dang room. I also will get my cleaning caddy out and set it on the counter so that it’s right there in the morning. It bothers me to leave it out, so I quickly clean so I can put it back up again. I do make lists, but it’s easier to let the list sit there so sometimes I go a step further and “stage” my to-do list with time I will need. I probably need mental help, but it works for me.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I always do this when I’m ready to paint too… I get everything ready to go so when it’s time to paint, I can just get started. Granted, it only works with rooms where I can shut and lock the door so my kids don’t go in (not the living room) but it’s a very useful tactic!

    [Reply]

  6. Heidi

    02/22/2017

    Each day before I leave work, I write down an “at home” to do list. It’s my bare minimum lists of tasks that need to be completed before bed. Each night before bed, I make an “at school” to do list (I’m a special ed high school teacher). Not only does it allow my brain to basically compartmentalize my home vs. work tasks, but helps me focus on the basic need to do’s in each place.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is such a great system — thanks for sharing Heidi!

    [Reply]

  7. Janice

    02/22/2017

    You are SO practical and that is why your blog is a favorite. I have always liked the K-I-s-s formula which is “Keep It Simple Stupid.” People complicate too much of life and a big part of that is procrastination. Thanks for always breaking things down and showing your readers HOW to be successful.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Janice! And yes KISS is a good “life formula” in my opinion 🙂

    [Reply]