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6 Time-Saving Tips for Working Parents

6 Time-Saving Tips for Working Parents

There are never enough hours in the day for working parents. One of the first things I noticed when I went back to work after having my first child was that I had to start keeping track (in minutes) of how long it took me to do anything, because if it took any longer than planned, the delicate balance of working and child rearing would fall apart. If you’re a working parent, here are a few things you can do to capture some time for yourself each day.

Shower at work

If your office has shower facilities, consider using them! Just pack a gym bag for yourself with the next day’s clothes and other items before you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, pull on comfortable loungewear so that you can quickly and conveniently get your kids ready. Drop them off at school or day care while not worrying about spills or having to go back home to change your clothes. Your dry cleaning bills will drop too. Not planning on using the gym at work? That’s okay; it’s perfectly reasonable to drop in just for the showering facilities–they are there for you to use!

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Get ready at home after you drop off the kids

No showers at work? This is likely if you work at a smaller office or your company doesn’t have the space or plans for an onsite gym. Instead of waking up early to shower, wake up and get the kids ready first. Then drop them off and come back home to get ready and shower…in peace. This works if your kids go to school or daycare close to home.

Have everything ready to go the night before

This means that you’ll have to take an extra 15 to 20 minutes in the evening to pack up lunches (put all non-perishables in the lunch boxes, perishables in the fridge already packed to grab and go, and water bottles pre-filled), set out clothes for the next day (yours and your children’s), and, if your car is parked in the garage, put everything that you can into the car. The less organizing you have to do each morning, the faster you can get out the door and the less stressed you are to deal with your four-year-old spilling milk five minutes before it’s time to leave.

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Order school hot lunch if it’s available

Hot lunch can seem expensive at four to six dollars a pop, but when you consider the time and effort it takes to pack a lunch, as well as the rising cost of most food at the grocery store, hot lunch may be a good option. There are more healthy alternatives out there these days with schools contracting with catering companies focused on providing wholesome nutrition for kids. And your kids may love hot lunch; it’s something different than the cold leftovers from last night’s dinner.

Hire a nanny that can do drop offs and pick ups

Even better, have them arrive when the kids wake up so they can manage through all the early morning getting ready routines, like teeth brushing, bathing, and dressing. Keep them an hour or two after pick up to help with snacks, dinner prep, and homework help. This way, you’ll be able to get ready and commute to work without the worry of getting kids out the door on time (unfortunately, depending on your job, this time may or may not be stress free). You’ll have more time in the mornings and evenings to catch up on work, grocery shop, or even hit the gym.

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Bathe the kids at night

Kids don’t need to bathe in the mornings, they aren’t aclimated to it. Until they are in middle school, you can probably get away with keeping your bathtime routines in the evening when time pressures and impending work stress are out of the way.

Featured photo credit: Families/normalityrelief via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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