Motherhood is crazy. We’re always looking for the magic method to finally get it all done. Honestly, I don’t know that we ever truly will. At least not until the kids are grown. But in the meantime, there is one method that I’ve found to be particularly helpful: task batching. In the parenting whirlwind, it can be a challenge to stay focused, but by keeping similar tasks grouped together, there is hope for a little more focus among the chaos.
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How to be a More Productive Mom with Task Batching
Task batching can be applied to any part of your life. In this post, I’m breaking down a few of the most common areas where it can be most helpful for moms in particular.
I know there are moms out there who love cleaning. They get all amped up about their new vacuum or nifty dusting wand. I, on the other hand, loathe it. My best bet is to bust it all out as quickly and efficiently as possible. In comes task batching. At least if I do it all, I can breathe a sigh of relief for a short time while the house remains somewhat clean. Now that I’m working from home and homemaking isn’t my only role, I’ve found that spreading things out throughout the week often leaves me feeling like I never stop cleaning.
Here’s how I batch my cleaning tasks. I’ll throw in a load of laundry and then start at the top of everything and work my way down. I’ll run around the house with a duster and get the lights and fans. Then it’s onto upper cabinets and the top if furniture. Altogether, we’re talking 5 minutes.
Next, I tackle all the surfaces. Countertops, coffee and end tables, nightstands, etc. I’ll usually save the kitchen countertops for last so I can do the dishes at the same time.
By this point, my house is looking significantly better and my first load of laundry hasn’t even hit the spin cycle.
Now, I quickly run around the house collecting all the clutter and putting in its rightful place and then it’s onto the floors. I vacuum the whole house, then grab the Swiffer wet jet and make my way through all the hard floors.
Now for the finishing touches. I’ll grab the Windex and clean mirrors and touch up any windows. I’ll shine up the faucets and anything else metal I can find.
By this time, I’m ready to throw my laundry in the dryer and hop in the shower with my handy microfiber cloth. While I’m in the shower, I wipe everything down and then continue on with my shower. In less than an hour, I’ve cleaned up my whole house and myself!
Bonus Tip: If you put in your headphones and crank up the upbeat tunes during this process, you’ll move even faster. I promise.
Again, I know there are moms who love cooking. In fact, my husband loves cooking when he has the time. When I cook, I never fail to screw something up. That’s probably why I don’t like it. The meat is usually overcooked due to my fear of undercooking it, and the veggies are either a pile of mush or crunchier than expected. It’s just not my thing.
So, what do I do when I have to do something I don’t enjoy? Get it out of the way as fast as possible! I started meal prepping when I became a stay at home mom and I am obsessed. I prep all of my husbands workday lunches at the same time and batch cook as much of our weekly dinners as possible at one time. Most of the week, I just pop some precooked meals in the microwave or toaster oven and we’re good to go!
If you can put all of your meal prep on one day a week, that’s one less thing you have to worry about for the rest of the week! For some, this may mean literally prepping every single meal and placing them in individual containers. While this is awesome, it does take some extra time. Personally, I like to focus on the most time-consuming or frustrating tasks. For example, I’ll cook all of our meat for the week, but I often cook the sides daily.
A less intense variation:
A less intense option is simply to prep ingredients. If you buy a bunch of fruit on the weekend, go ahead and cut it up for easy access throughout the week. Or if you have your meals planned out for the week, chop up the veggies and separate them so that, when it comes time to cook, you just throw everything together.
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Growing up in Phoenix, I quickly learned that running errands was something I did not want to do more than I had to. With crazy traffic just to get down the street, grocery stores that look like black Friday every Friday, and lines backing into the isles, I want to spend as little time out and about as possible. Granted, we now live in New England and things are much slower around here. But, I still maintain that getting as much done in one shot as possible is the most efficient way to go. Not to mention, it keeps me from overspending.
Meal planning ties into this a bit as well. When I go to the grocery store, I have a list of exactly what I need for the week. No more. No less. I’m in and out as quickly as possible and those end cap sales have no effect on me. If there are any other errands that need to be taken care of, I get those out of the way first, then grab my groceries and get home. In the interest of task batching, I also usually clean out the refrigerator as I am putting away the new groceries.
Errands + meal prep = some serious task batching action
Right when you get home from the grocery store is also a great time to go ahead and get the meal prepping done. When I wasn’t working from home and could dedicate an entire day to something, I liked to do my cleaning, errands, and meal prep all in one day. Boom – Homemaking done!
Of course, when you have little ones, messes are always made and the laundry never ends. But if you batch together the big stuff, picking up here and there and cleaning up messes as they happen isn’t too much trouble.
Here’s the tricky part. If you’re a work at home mom, you’ll appreciate this. Task batching your work can be a lifesaver. I wear many hats in my line of work. I’m essentially a blogger, a social media manager, a graphic designer, and a web designer. So I try to segment my tasks by activity type. When I write my blog posts, I only write. I save the graphics for their own designated time. The same goes for web design. I’ll usually take a day to focus solely on website updates when they are needed. When it comes to social media management, dedicating a specific amount of time to it is the only thing that keeps me from pinning new ideas and Facebooking all day long.
If you have a traditional job, or even a work from home job where you work on a time clock, it’s a little easier to make this happen. But even when I worked in an office, I found myself scatterbrained and hopping from one task to the next. If it is at all within your control, separating your day into task types can really increase productivity.
For work at home moms, this can be particularly helpful during nap times. I used to try to get a little bit of everything done during each nap time and found that I wasn’t completely finishing anything. By dedicating one entire nap time to one type of task, I was actually able to start marking things off my to-do list.
Honestly, ladies. Task batching is the only thing that has kept me going these last few months. I made the decision to follow my passion and I couldn’t be happier. But with two blogs, a home-based business, and a part-time “real job”, it wasn’t easy finding a way to get things done. This is what has worked for me and I sure hope it works for you too! If there’s one gift you should give a mom, it’s the gift of time!
What are your favorite time management tips? Let me know in the comments below!