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6 Mother’s Day Gift Tips for the Productive Lady in Your Life

6 Mother’s Day Gift Tips for the Productive Lady in Your Life

Mother\'s Day Gift

    The problem with picking a gift based purely on productivity is that most people like gifts that they won’t buy for themselves: people want something fun, something special — and your mother is no exception. And Mother’s Day is almost here: it falls on the on the second Sunday of May, which just happens to be this weekend. We each have only a few days to make sure that we don’t try to give Mom something as that drags down her productivity, clutters up her workspace or generally makes her wish she swapped us for more grateful children.

    Navigating the mall displays of gifts “Perfect for Mom!” can be incredibly difficult, But these tips can help simplify that last minute shopping spree you might be considering for Saturday night. Heck, with these tips (aside from the card), you might be able to check Mom’s gift off your to-do list right now.

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    1. Give the Gift of Time

    When I was a kid, I always made my mom coupons for Mother’s Day: she could cash them in on a couple of hours of babysitting for my little sisters, some help around the house — that sort of thing. And I still give her the gift of my time: right now, I’m working on teaching her how to run a blog. Offering up some of your time to help your mother complete pet projects can be an ideal way to give her something she’ll actually be able to use. A nice dinner out or a family get-together can fall into this category as well: just remember your time is valuable — valuable enough to make a good gift.

    2. Ditch the Gift Cards

    Conventional wisdom seems to say that everyone loves a nice gift card: you don’t have to worry about getting the right sizes or picking the right movie. But there are plenty of options that make for better gifts. After all, what’s the use of money that you can only use one place? Or money that you have to make a special trip to spend? There are some gift card options that allow you to provide money that can be used anywhere that takes Visa (or whatever card company you purchase through). It’s not a perfect solution, but it will save you from finding that gift card you purchased in your mom’s junk drawer sometime next year — a friend cleaned out his grandmother’s house and found, literally, a stack of gift cards. Her family had sent them for a number of occasions and she never used a single one.

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    3. Check for Gadgets They’re Lusting For

    Anyone who thinks that ladies don’t have just as much gadget lust as guys seem to is sadly mistaken. And, unless your mama really does enjoy spending time in the kitchen, skip the domestic gizmos. In the last month alone, my mother’s dropped hints about an iPhone, an iPod and a DVD player she can take in the car. I may not want to get my mother every gadget under the sun, but she’d be happy to get them — and she’s not all that into technology. She doesn’t follow it closely but she does hear about cool toys. If your mother has a favorite hobby, consider checking if there’s a gadget or tool she’s lacking for her pursuit. Sure, your gift may not make your mother anymore productive, but she’ll still enjoy it.

    4. Make a Donation in Your Mother’s Name

    My grandmother has made dire threats towards anyone thinking of bringing ‘clutter’ into her house. She doesn’t necessarily need anything and certainly would rather we spend time with her than mail off some present she doesn’t really want. We do want to honor her in some way, though, and she has directed us to her favorite charity. If you want to acknowledge your mother’s efforts in turning you into the wonderful individual you are today, consider making a donation to her favorite cause.

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    5. Share Your Memories

    This is the moment for all those family photos, recipes and everything else memorable that you’ve had stashed away. Pull out the photo albums and frame a few for your mother’s walls — or scan them and make a screensaver for your mom’s computer. There are so many possibilities you can try: turning a few favorite family recipes in to a cookbook, writing down a few favorite family stories and finding the accompanying photographs. Just a few fond memories can bring a smile to your mother’s face (and maybe remind her why she didn’t swap you in for a better behaved kid).

    6. Go in Together

    I have two sisters who I can team up with on a Mother’s Day present for my mom. I have seven cousins who I can go in with if I want to do something for my grandmother. To put it simply, not only can I get the benefit of my relatives’ ideas for gifts, but together we have more buying power as well. Mother’s Day isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about which relative can get the biggest, fanciest present. Instead, if you do want to get a relatively large present, it makes sense to make it a group effort. If it’s something nice and that Mom will like, your relatives will be glad to not have to worry about a gift on their own. (And, for those of us with the bad habit of waiting until the last moment, finding a relative to help out with the bill can cover your butt!)

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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