Advertising
Advertising

7 Productivity Tips for Working Parents…So You Can Leave Work at 5PM Guilt-Free

7 Productivity Tips for Working Parents…So You Can Leave Work at 5PM Guilt-Free

If you’re tired of always being the last parent to pick up your child from daycare, consider this: are you working as smart as you can? Clocking in extra hours doesn’t always mean you’re working harder. While it’s no secret that workplace pressure continues to rise, it’s nearly impossible to leave the office on time if you’re not working efficiently from 9 to 5, regardless of what’s on your plate.

If you’re ready to rid your child’s status of the last one standing (at daycare), here are 7 habits to get you working smarter so you can leave work on time, guilt-free.

Do the Hard Stuff First

For many, the most productive time of your workday is the morning. Instead of responding to emails or doing other low value work, use the peak time to get the hard tasks done first. Just as getting stuck on a roadblock has the ability to affect your mood for the entire day, checking off a notable item on your to-do list has the ability to set a positive and productive tone for the rest of your workday.

Advertising

(Mentally) Prepare for 5PM

I don’t mean packing up and getting ready to leave. Second to starting off your day with a punch by knocking off some major items from your task list, set the expectation with yourself to leave at 5PM. For me, one of the major reasons my productivity wanes after lunch is because I don’t own my afternoons. I get thrown a lot of ad hoc requests and even meetings sometimes, and before I know it, it’s 4:59PM and I’ve yet to finish my priority work.

Instead of going with the flow of the day, and working on whatever gets thrown your way, identify your key priorities and block time in your calendar for it. Then, identify the time you want to leave the office and aim to get your priority work done before that time.

Take More Breaks (To Avoid Burnout)

It might sound counterproductive but you’re a human, not a robot. Working too long is actually the killer of productivity – according to science, you can only focus for 90 minutes at a time. It’s called the ultradian rhythm: a recurrent period or cycle repeated throughout a 24-hour circadian day. Just like your sleep cycle has highs and lows, so does your brain’s ability to focus throughout the day.

Advertising

If you’ve noticed that the longer you stare at your computer, the less focus you have, its nature’s way of telling you it’s break time. Even a five minute bathroom break and water refill can help you get back on track.

Don’t Multitask

Let’s face it – humans are notoriously bad at multitasking. We’re just not meant to focus on more than one thing at a time. When you’re constantly switching gears, you lose momentum. You might feel like you’re accomplishing a lot but you’re actually spinning your wheels.

Not only that, but multitasking reduces the quality of of your work, and (surprise!) hinders your efficiency too. The biggest instigator of multitasking mayhem? Your inbox. Just because an email arrives, it doesn’t mean you need to respond. Set times for checking your email and you’ll be surprised at how effectively you pummel through projects when you’re not switching from screen to screen.

Advertising

Protect Your Priorities

No one will respect your 5PM check out time, if you don’t first. Be assertive by communicating when you have to leave, so you can set boundaries around your time. If your co-workers need something, let them know to speak up by a certain time, in order to avoid last minute assignments or meetings.

When you communicate your goals, you’re more likely to follow through and people tend to be supportive when goals are made public knowledge.

Give Yourself Transition Time

I never seem to do this, so I’m always scrambling to get out the door but giving yourself time to wind down from your workday is important too. Make sure you’ve cleared out any essential email, organized your files or workspace for the next day, and tied up any loose ends before you head out for the night.

Advertising

Block out 10 to 15 minutes before your planned departure to get yourself sorted, so you don’t revert to checking work emails during critical family time in the evening.

Know That Work Will Be There Tomorrow, And the Day After

Be honest: will there always be a to-do list? Yes. Will there always be fires to put out? Probably. The thing with time is once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. And while there will always be work that needs to be done, you don’t have to be a slave to it.

It’s a hard concept to grasp, no doubt, but the harsh reality is that there will always be more to do – so at the end of the day, you have to decide how much time to invest in your work each day.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Jennee Rasavong

Freelance Content Marketer

5 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions That Don’t Involve Losing Weight (And Are Actually Achievable) productivity tips for working parents 7 Productivity Tips for Working Parents…So You Can Leave Work at 5PM Guilt-Free smartphone in bed Science Explains Why We Should Stop Using Smartphone In Bed Science Says Working Moms Have More Successful Daughters Introvert Mom 15 Things Introvert Moms Want You To Know

Trending in Parenting

1 How to Identify And Play to Your Child’s Strengths 2 How to Help Your Kids to Deal with Bullies at School 3 3 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Learn And Grow Positively 4 The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids 5 How to Be a Better Parent: 11 Things to Remember

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 12, 2020

How to Identify And Play to Your Child’s Strengths

How to Identify And Play to Your Child’s Strengths

As you sit there, perhaps on a sofa, maybe a lounge chair, or while you’re sharing a meal at the table, you glance over to the pride and joy you are happy each day to call your child. They smile back, running around the table they learned to stand up using or kiss you on the cheek as they snatch your car keys for their first (or second, but what feels like hopefully the last) errand using your car. You watch as they take their plate from the table, ask if anyone needs anything on their way to the sink, and then finally meander towards the living room saying to you, “Bed fort after dinner?”

How respectful! How creative! Such initiative!

What you may not realize is that because we don’t often think about this in the day-to-day of parenting, your child’s strengths—the initiative, creativity, drive, passion, and introspective nature that turns other people off—are cultivated daily!

If you’ve never given thoughts to your child’s inherent strengths, that’s okay. As is all too common, you’re conditioned to only look at what they need to fix.[1]

Turns out, identifying, cultivating, and managing your child’s strengths isn’t very difficult. In fact, much of those three steps can occur during a visit to the park. Let’s discover simple and effective ways to highlight your child’s strengths.

Identifying Strengths

Now, I know what you may be thinking: between office meetings, Zoom sessions, laundry, and grocery shopping, when exactly do I have time to become a psychologist?

I get it. But really, identifying your child’s strengths is not difficult. In fact, a simple exercise usually suffices—participate in their play!

Advertising

Participate in Their Play

Play can take many forms and is usually defined as an activity that does not bring extrinsic value to be enjoyed—us adults typically refer to these activities as “hobbies.” Whether your child is two or thirteen, children are children, after all, and play is essential.

According to a report from the University of Utah, play is a way for children to practice “problem-solving, self-control, and learning how to share.”[2] Aren’t those powerful strengths that we should identify and cultivate in our supportive role of helping children thrive as adults?

When children engage in play, they naturally show how they lead, how they empathize with others, and how they work with others (or not) to solve problems. If you spend time being present with your children during play, you will be able to see how your child’s strengths manifest in the simplest of activities. Seeing your children play allows you to see how they make mistakes, too, which is a powerful indicator of their sense of self.

Allow (Supported) Mistakes—and Often!

Identifying your child’s strengths has nothing to do with demanding them to be perfect. Far from it, actually. Remember—you are guiding them to becoming a self-sufficient and nurturing adult, and there aren’t many of us out there that are perfect!

Highlighting moments when your child has made some mistakes and working through how to bounce back or fix that mistake can be wondrous when they are working towards understanding their effect on others, themselves, and the world.

Just like parents that tend to focus too much on the negative, children too often learn more from their mistakes than their successes. Catch your child softly during a mistake, and work through a plan to get themselves out of it. Your goal is not to fix their issue, of course, but to build within them the capacity to make a better choice next time.

When you take on this mindset of an engaging and present parent that is looking for ways to build your child’s strengths, you’ll be surprised at what you see them able to do.

Advertising

Some solid examples of inherent child strengths to look for include:

These are the soft skills that are being developed as young as preschool and even before. In today’s global workplace environment, ensuring that your child is developing in these (and other) areas will set them up for success.

Okay, great. You’ve watched your children at the park or tag along with your teenager to a volunteer event and notice how gracious they are. How do we keep that going?

As is normally the case, you’ll see that cultivating strengths is no more difficult than identifying them.

Cultivating Your Child’s Identified Strengths

Imagine this scenario: Thursday evening, and you’ve worked your fourth ten-hour day. Your partner is late getting home from work, and your three kids are all wanting different things for dinner that should have been made yesterday.

At the exact moment you’re about to snap from the pressure, your middle child says, “Hey, maybe we can all act like chefs tonight and make our own dinners? Might be fun!”

Um, yes, please?

Advertising

As you settle in bed later that evening and reflect on that exchange in the kitchen, you start to highlight other times that child—and, as you doze, your other children in their own ways—stepping up and leading. You know this cannot be by accident, so what’s going on here?

Provide Many At-Bats

Just because a child can take their plate to the sink doesn’t mean they are responsible enough with Grandma’s China set. But when you provide the “at-bats” for children to build capacity using their strengths, you see the road to them handling more difficult scenarios becoming less and less cluttered with obstacles.

There will come a day, and perhaps soon, that your child will be able to navigate that China with extreme grace. Today just ain’t that day, but with some work, it’ll come!

Providing opportunities for your child to build on their strengths is a great idea. Everyone likes to feel competent, and your child is no different! Setting up scaffolded opportunities for them to showcase their budding personalities decreases the stress and increases the chance that, next time, they will perform even better.

Teach Them to Trust but Verify

Good leaders don’t have all the answers. Neither should you and of course, we don’t expect our children to know everything. But we should build within them the capacity for understanding what they don’t know and figuring out ways to get the information they need to work through their situations.

You cannot always have the answers, either. So, what should you do?

Exposing them to the world of information that exists is a good start. Great, you’ve identified your child is empathetic, but must they assist and provide supportive care to everyone they encounter? Or should there be some healthy boundaries established?

Advertising

Working with your children to mold and curate these more nuanced approaches to their strengths will provide them with a good road map to use when they ultimately leave you and lead their own lives.

Turning Weaknesses Into Opportunities

While not exactly the elephant in the room, I can’t possibly write an article about child strengths without also addressing the fact that our children aren’t possibly capable of being good at everything.

Perhaps one of your most important roles as a parent is to decide what strengths your child has and to inspire them to cultivate those strengths using the tips and suggestions in this article. However, there will be a wide variety of opportunities for you to work through the challenges your child experiences.

I don’t want this to sound too harsh but the fact is, everyone has competencies on a spectrum: you can work, hustle, and grind to develop parts of your personality or skill set to whatever gain you set for yourself. Allowing children to operate with a mindset of progress, not perfection, will help their journey. You cannot be weak, after all, if you are constantly striving for improvement.

So, the next time you take your kiddo out to the park, attend a professional sporting event, or perhaps when you’re playing cards in the living room on a cold winter night, pay attention to how they maneuver around.

How are they asking for what they need? How are they offering support? How are they handling conflict? How are they bouncing back from missed opportunities or mess-ups?

In each of those moments—and many more—the opportunity to cultivate strength in your child is just around the corner!

More Tips on Developing Your Child’s Strengths

Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next