How many times have we thought, “if only I had enough time to read more books?” “I wish I could be that smart.” “I wish I could do [insert personal goal].” And how often do we find ourselves spending countless hours watching Netflix or TV squashing our productivity? Over the last couple weeks, I’ve found myself doing just that. Getting by with the bare minimum of house keeping chores (running one load through the dishwasher, doing baby’s laundry just so she’ll have pajamas to sleep in and play in for the next week – because face it, my baby hardly ever gets dressed, – making the necessary food prep so I can actually eat when I go to work) and then lounging on the couch watching Netflix (Call the Midwife is my most recent guilty pleasure because my brother got rid of cable so HGTV isn’t an option and there really isn’t a lot of good options on Netflix) while my baby plays or sleeps.
About a month ago I had cleaned up my bathroom for the first time in…ages. I was preparing it to be available to my sister-in-law when her baby is born and then moves into his own room across the hall from me. There is a Jack and Jill bathroom between our bedrooms. But as of late the floor has become cluttered again, mostly with my clothes. But also my shoes. My closet is packed, and has been, since I moved in. It’s storage for things I thought I wanted to keep, but quite frankly, I should just toss out. That would free up my closet floor space and actually give me access to the shoe rack that I bought, built, and put in there.
My car is also a cluttered mess. You can’t see any floor space. Most of it is trash. The rest I should just toss out anyway because I clearly haven’t been using it to begin with! But I wanted to work on my living spaces in the house before I touched the car. And so it sits. Because as I mentioned above, the last couple of weeks I have just come to a grinding halt with my productivity mojo.
That stops now.
Last week I had a couple extra days off work. Did I get anything done? Not really. But it got me thinking about what I’m filling my time with and where I’m going in life. Am I really getting where I want to go by sitting on the couch and watching Netflix all day? Sure, I’m still getting my workouts in, which are crucial for my career and self-care goals, but is that all I want to accomplish? And how can I accomplish those career goals with not just satisfactory bare minimums but with excellence?
On Friday, a day I normally work a 12 hour shift, I took my baby to Barnes and Nobles and perused the shelves for books. Not only do I love reading, I am a strong proponent of self development by way of reading. I picked up two books to start with and read the first one in less than 48 hours!
What book was that? It was actually Rachel Hollis’s book, Girl, Wash Your Face. This book has become somewhat controversial in the religious circle I come from, but more on that and the book itself in the next post! What I will say now is: I loved it. The second book I am now working on is When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams by Jill Eileen Smith. Seemed quite fitting with the predicament I found myself in over the last couple years.
Habits to break for better productivity
When attempting to make better choices for self development, you will always find habits that need breaking. I’m terrible at getting distracted with my phone. I get stuck on social media just scrolling and scrolling for no reason at all and my productivity in life tanks. Just this morning I found my phone at 18% battery life before 9:30 a.m. Ouch! (Okay, in self defense, my baby decided she was going to be up at 6:30 this morning instead of her usual 7:30.)
But think about this, we have cut off our exposure to social settings in person and turned to relying on our phones and social media to interact with other people. It removes crucial socialization skills learning far more than homeschooling your kid does. (FYI, the biggest myth surrounding homeschoolers is that they will have issues with socialization skills.)
There is no reason for me to be devoting all of my good productivity time to social media. That gets me no where, except to discourage me at times because everyone else’s life seems far more put together! Who needs that negativity in their life? Not me.
Removing all of the distractions to productivity
So now that we’ve removed TV/Netflix from our routine and cut our social media addiction down, I think you’ll find we have plenty of time to complete the tasks necessary to meet our goals. Productivity goes up! Not sure where to start? Everything you have to do still seem a little daunting? Single parenting is hard, I get it. There’s not a second person to help get things cleaned up and dealt with.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and devote that time to the kitchen. Make it a competition with yourself to see just how much you can get done in the kitchen in 20 minutes. Time up? Set the timer for another 20 minutes and work on another room. Both of these tasks are best done when your baby is napping, unless they’re a little older and don’t take naps. Then give them tasks that they can do to help you during those 20 minutes.
Set aside one hour a day to read a book. This is also a good time for your child to read a book, color, build blocks/legos, play with play-doh. Your child can be learning and developing at the same time. I might even recommend creating stations where they can focus on one thing for 10-20 minutes of your reading hour and then move to the next station at the end of their timer (or leisure). If your child is too young to do any of these things, you might use their nap time or the first hour after they go down for the night to get your reading in.
But read. Read. Read. Did I say you need to read? It doesn’t matter what type of book it is. Fiction, non-fiction, self development/care, religious or non, how to, just get a book and read it. I’m focusing at this time on self development books. I even just downloaded Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin on Audible and plan to listen to it later when I take my baby for a walk. I’m interested in experiencing audible books for the first time. But I also have several boxes of Louis L’Amour books I plan on incorporating in my reading repertoire. Diversify!
You can get a lot done in your day if you remove the distractions from your day. You can get even more done by being intentional with your activities. Wait, I haven’t mentioned the point of being intentional in this post…necessarily! That is coming in a later post. But it does fit in with the choices we are making with our daily activities. Don’t go through life just trying to make it to tomorrow, just trying to keep your head above water. For a time it will feel like that and it will be that. But I believe wholeheartedly that single mothers can thrive without the financial and physical assistance of a partner. We just have to make that choice each day to do things differently, to focus on those things which will get us where we want to be.
Join my band of Gypsy Mothers!
In my last post, I was actually remiss in leaving this part out, and I don’t want to do that again. I’m so excited to see this community grow. Join my band of Gypsy Mothers and let’s thrive together! Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and even Facebook!