My wife amazes me. Each day, I watch in awe as she conquers the required tasks to keep our household running efficiently. On a typical day she must: get the kids ready for school, care for the dog, run errands, clean the house, prepare meals, reply to e-mails and phone calls, and spend quality time with family. Keep in mind that most days aren’t typical – crises occur, kids get sick, things break around the house, and the cable guy never shows up when he’s supposed to.
In addition to handling all of those tasks, my works at our church, volunteers at my children’s schools, and finds time to binge watch The Walking Dead and Arrow.
I would fail miserably if I had to do all of the things that she does, but my wife handles them with aplomb. She inspires me to be more deliberate with how I spend my time.
After observing my wife for the past 17 years, I’ve picked up a few of her productivity techniques. Instead of wishing for more hours in the day, I’ve decided to maximize the time I have.
Start the Day by Getting Focused
I struggle with remaining focused. I’m easily distracted and I bounce from task to task. My wife has taught me that the key to staying on-task is to start the day with a plan. My wife wakes up an hour before the kids do so she can have a few moments to get focused. She uses this time to read, pray, and reflect on her day. She also identifies the important tasks that need to be accomplished for that day and makes a plan to get those done. This quiet, early morning meditation and planning keeps her focused and prevents her from getting rattled when things don’t go awry.
Make Lists (And Use Them)
I make many lists throughout the day. However, I quickly discard them as I encounter new tasks and requests. My wife also makes many lists. There are lists on the refrigerator, on her computer, in the car. Sometimes I think she needs a list to keep up with all of her lists. Unlike me, my wife actually uses her lists to get things done. Throughout the day, she references her lists to stay to remain productive. At the end of the day, she has a sense of accomplishment because she has crossed items off her list.
Although I spend most of my day in front of the computer, I’m not the best at using technology. I still use physical calendars and journals to keep track of things. Although I’m getting better at using digital tools, I still have a lot to learn from my wife. She uses her smartphone to write and record notes, sync our calendars (BTW – we started using a family calendar app called Cozi), send communications, research items, download recipes, and shop. Her phone is constantly buzzing with reminders throughout the day to keep her focused on what she needs to do. She also uses Dropbox to update and keep track of files she’s working on.
Take Break, But Set Limits
Although my wife is super busy, she knows the importances of taking breaks to reenergize. She likes to unwind by playing games on her iPad, visiting Facebook and Twitter, and chatting with her friends on the phone. To avoid being sucked into a time vortex by these activities, she sets a timer. When the buzzer sounds, she resumes her duties.
Ask for Help
I’m a bit of a perfectionist and it’s hard for me to ask for help because I believe I can do everything by myself. When my wife reaches the point when she can no longer do everything by herself, she enlists the help of friends and family. Some people are reluctant to ask for help because they see it as a sign of weakness, but my wife knows that she can be more effective if she uses all of the resources available to her.