I cringe a little when friends ask me how I find time to blog and podcast and raise my boys. I didn’t wake up one morning and think I’ll start writing a blog and I’ll cohost a podcast and I’ll start some art projects. It happened really slowly.
The best things in life are slow. We develop as people; we develop our craft; our projects grow (and sometimes shrink) right along with us. That’s how it all works in different seasons of life.
Enough of my mama friends have asked me how to make time for these things (while looking at me like I’m a freak to make this happen) to make me realize that I’ve learned a few things about getting the work done while you’re mothering. Because, right now, all of my work is done with my kids home with me. I don’t have a babysitter or a regular day free for work- although I’m not saying that will never happen. So here are ten ways I accomplish projects.
- Teach yourself to work in small chunks of time. This was, and sometimes still is, a hard one for me. The productivity books tell you to find your golden hours- a large span of time to do deep work- always in your best time of the day. That doesn’t work in real life if you’re raising children or working a full-time job for that matter. You do the work when you can fit it in and for whatever amount of time you can fit in. Learn to put in fifteen minutes of good work and then come back to it later.
- Leave your supplies out. I’m very unmotivated to use that fifteen minutes of time well if I know I’ll spend 7 or 8 of it getting out the stuff I need and then putting it away when I’m finished. Find a small cabinet, a cart, a shelf and leave what you need right there. Make it easy for yourself.
- Pick something you love. You’ll find yourself drawn back to the work from sheer love of the project. Don’t pick what you think you should be doing or what everyone else is doing. Find your passion and start in on it.
- Start small. Maybe don’t remodel the spare room to be a sewing room just yet. That just delayed starting your project while you remodel. Put up your machine in the corner of the living room and use it every day. Lay out a pencil and a sketchbook on the kitchen counter.
- Do the first thing. Gather your materials. Buy the yarn. Write a list of ideas. Start a reading list. Sign up for a free blog on wordpress or blogspot. Then do the next thing again tomorrow.
- Ask for help. When we bulk record the podcast, Justin is usually home with the boys so I can concentrate on recording. Swap out the kids with a friend for one afternoon a week. Ask your husband to take over while you spent one night a week at a class. (Be sure and return that favor!)
- Stop something else. You don’t have unlimited time and if you want to start something new, you might have to quit something. Quit watching that nightly show and devote that hour to working on your project. Or at least do the project while you watch the show. Stop surfing facebook and read a book. Quit talking on the phone during naptime and paint.
- Pick a time for the work. If you randomly start every day with a “I’ll fit it in when I can” attitude it will never get done. Have a set time- at 10 AM, at naptime, as son as the kids are in bed- and don’t use that time for anything else that’s not an emergency. And the laundry is not an emergency.
- Know what to do when it’s time to work. I keep a running list of work tasks for each day. I lay it out at the beginning of every week and then update it every day as I finish and don’t finish that day’s work. Don’t waste your precious time deciding what to do. Know, when you sit down, exactly what you are working on and get to it!
- Know your why. Why does it matter? Does it help someone else? Are you growing a skill that you could make a job out of? Does it fill your cup so you have more to offer your family? Remind yourself of that and get back to work.
A lot of days it’s just doing the same old work over and over when it doesn’t seem exciting. It’s a lot like motherhood. But as you do it, day after day, it adds up and you see the progress.
What project are you hoping to start? If you are looking for some ideas, start here.