Updated: Jun 27
Parenting hacks for writers and other creative & busy souls to start achieving your goals
I’ll let you on a massive secret: productivity and parenthood, as well as consistency and motherhood, don’t go together, like at all. But we, parents, still manage to achieve things. How do we do it?
In this post I’ll go over a few secret methods. And if your life at the moment is a mess and you are contemplating pausing all your dreams and projects until better times – please don’t. There is a way. Slightly chaotic, but a way nevertheless.
Be ok with throwing things and projects out of the metaphorical window.
Anti-productivity: secret methods of how parents achieve things
How do parents do it?
Parents wing it.
Parents hope for the best.
And parents remember to always be flexible.
That’s the biggest anti-productivity secret there is.
If you want to achieve anything, as a writer, mother, employee, you need to learn to be flexible.
You need to learn to adapt and be ok with throwing things out of the metaphorical window at a very last minute.
You cannot afford to be of a fixed mindset.
And it’s not healthy for your well-being to have high expectations about anything.
But apart from that, nothing is impossible and here is what you can do.
Secret #1: Have a fluid plan
Instead of planning as per usual, you need to have a list of tasks or activities that you would like to accomplish.
As a mom, I cannot rely on a fixed plan because something will happen and I won’t be able to stick with it.
Hence I encourage you, my busy friend, to have a plan that you can change, mix and match, reshape or throw in the bin.
You need to have an idea of what you would like to be working on but be prepared to change it.
You also need to know your priorities.
Secret #2: Set priorities with a daily highlight
The daily highlight is one of the crucial activities for parents and other busy people if you want to achieve anything at all.
You need to know what is the most important thing that you need to accomplish today.
How to do it:
Create a list of things that you would like to work on.
Go through it with a highlighter and identify what is important to you today.
Choose a different highlighter and pick one that feels crucial.
Stick with it.
A trap to avoid:
If you do this exercise again, something else might attract your attention.
So you need to agree with yourself that what is highlighted is a priority for today.
Nothing is more important than anything else. – bitofselfcare.com
Secret #3: Divide your daily highlight into several 5-minute tasks
Now that you know what your priority task is, divide it into manageable chunks. Eat that elephant, as they say, bit by bit.
What are manageable chunks? I’d say anything that could be completed in 5 minutes.
Why 5 minutes? Because sometimes that’s all we have.
How to do it:
Let’s say you have an essay to write by the end of the week. Your chunking on day one might look like this:
General brain dump
Brainstorm thoughts and ideas
Write an outline
Write an introduction
Write an argument #1
On day two you could add more research.
On day three read through it to make sure it makes sense.
On day four rewrite it to make it whole.
Day five and six could be for editing and proofreading.
Day seven final tweaks.
It might take time to get in the groove with this exercise. But once you know what you are doing and why, this task will become a super easy task to complete.
You could also streamline your tasks by completing a super quick 1-3-5 exercise where you divide your tasks into big, medium and small.
Secret #4: Turn your house into a workspace
As a parent, you cannot afford to have a dedicated place where you would get into the zone for an extended period of time.
Instead, you scatter things you might need around the room or several rooms.
How to do it:
Leave your notebook on the table, laptop on a kitchen surface, sticky notes everywhere.
Contribute to your project, your daily highlight every time you move from room to room.
Don’t be precious about your style or handwriting.
Don’t have a set plan of what you going to capture next.
I know it sounds painful, especially to those of us who are used to noise cancelling earphones and no distraction whatsoever. Sorry. Not in this universe, not when you are a mom.
And a perfectionist in you might rebel – how can I achieve anything worthy in these conditions?!
Our goal is to make a messy start.
Go with the flow. Be open to insights. Treat this exercise, as you would a walk or a shower — to generate and capture ideas. Read Ideaflow to learn more about why having lots ideas is good for you.
Secret #5: Analyse and re-plan
Once you’ve done a few bursts of 5-minute activities, use your next slot to analyse what you’ve accomplished and what needs to be done next.
This is an important step where you look at all those scattered chaotic notes and see where you are.
Don’t despair if you haven’t moved a lot.
Also, don’t get upset if you have been moving in the wrong direction all this time. That’s why you are completing this step, to keep yourself honest.
How to do it:
Put all your notes and scribbles together and give it a quick once over.
Does the message align with your daily highlight?
Are you progressing or stalling?
What is the next chunk / mini-tasks that you could work on?
In my experience, after a few false starts, you get very determined to do something useful in your next 5-minute slot. Anger, frustration, impatience fuels you. These are good things to help you work on your project.
And listen, don’t expect to produce something of publishable quality at the end if the day. No. Your aim is to have a chaotic first draft. But as I said before, it’s better than nothing.
This method might help you appreciate those quiet moments when you can work on your project uninterrupted.
I know I cannot wait for the time when kids are asleep to work for 30 – 45 minutes in silence, at my comfy desk. (I can rarely do more because I am exhausted.)
But all that prep work during the day would have kept my brain going. I kept feeding it with ideas and thoughts.
I captured important things, so now I have something to work with.
Another good thing about my method is that I never start with a blank page.
And believe me, working at the end of a very long day when you start with nothing – it’s discouraging, to say the least.
Have a fluid plan
Identify the most important task, aka daily highlight
Divide your task into 5-minute tasks Prepare your workspace aka scatter things you need around the house
Analyse what you’ve done every hour or so
Re-plan your mini-tasks
You might not create a masterpiece, but you also won’t arrive at the end of the day with nothing accomplished.