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9 Reasons Working Moms Are Highly Productive

9 Reasons Working Moms Are Highly Productive

Working mothers face many challenges in life and yet they are often highly productive people. Discover the productivity secrets working moms use to win at the office and at home.

1. They Know How To Manage Trade Offs

In the working world, we constantly face trade off decisions – whether to do choose option A or option B for a product launch event, for example. Working mothers are highly skilled and capable when it comes to managing trade offs. This skill is developed at home as an infant is raised. For example, when a baby finally gets a few hours sleep in the afternoon, a working mother knows that is a great time to catch up on some tasks.

2. They Know How To Focus At Work

Working mothers tend to have a great ability to focus at work because they cannot afford to stay late at the office every day. From the moment they arrive at the office until they depart, they manage each hour effectively. In fact, a 2013 study by Ernst and Young Australia, found the following: Women in flexible roles waste only 11.1% of their working time, compared to an average of 14.5% for the rest of the working population. This finding also suggests that flexible working arrangements contribute to productivity.

3. They Understand The Power of Relationships

As matrix organizations become more common, it is no longer enough to have a command and control approach to work. Instead, working moms know the importance of nurturing relationships. They know that results in the professional world have a much greater impact when the needs of people are taken into account. A 2007 article in Forbes magazine reported that parents often perform very well at work as some of their parenting skills apply to the work environment.

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4. They Use Top Notch Productivity Techniques

Working mothers have no time to waste on rework and related activities. That’s why working mothers become masters of habits to improve their results. For example, many working mothers have learned how to build a checklist to prepare for the school year (e.g. check school times, buy school supplies, plan school transportation). That attention to detail and logistics pays off in the business world. Working mothers know the importance of working through each step of a process. That same skill set can be used to create a great customer experience.

5. They Use Benefits To Improve Their Health

Some people have a view that they should simply work all the time to deliver results. Unfortunately, that approach only works for a limited period of time. Working mothers, on the other hand, know their limits. If their employer offers health benefits, they understand the importance of fully using those benefits. That means less stress and fewer sick days. After all, you cannot be productive if you are sick! Working mothers also tend to be proactive in their approach to health by visiting their doctor and dentist regularly.

Here are some of the health benefits that working moms know to use:

Flexible work time: they may arrive at 8am and depart at 4pm in order to deliver their work and manage their family needs.

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Extended Health Care: some companies provide insurance coverage for massages and other stress relief practices

6. They Know How To Get Help

They know that sometimes you just need someone to lean on when you’re working hard. Working mothers are highly capable in seeking out support to get through the day. For many working moms, that means calling on family (including the grandparents) for help at home. For working mothers with higher incomes, additional options are available: hiring a nanny, taking a spa day and spending on other purchases to manage life and reduce stress.

At work, working moms are ready and willing to seek help when they need it rather than continuing to struggle by themselves.

7. They Know How To Say No

They know the great power of saying no. A key productivity skill is saying no to low value tasks that do not contribute to your goals at work or at home. For example, consider the case of being asked to serve on a committee at the office. Start by taking a few minutes to look for connections to your job’s requirements (e.g. does this committee help you make sales?) or your personal goals (e.g. does the committee grow your network or help you learn new skills?). If there is no connection, it is time to decline.

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Use the following resources to improve your No skills

The Gentle Art of Saying No

9 Ways To Say No To Work Stress

8. They Create Solutions Rather Than Demanding Company Concessions

Many successful working mothers take responsibility for their commitments. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, explains that constantly demanding accommodation and assistance from your employer is a negative in his book “Winning.” In Welch’s view, it is easier to obtain flexibility and concessions once one delivers great performance. This tip is all about taking a proactive approach to productivity, rather than passively waiting for solutions to appear.

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9. They Keep Drinking Water To Stay Productive

They know that the quality and quantity of their work output is impacted by their mental state. That’s why working mothers drink plenty of water. A 2013 study by the University of East London recently found that drinking water increases productivity by 14% (i.e. completed tasks faster). If you are frustrated with the time needed to complete a task, get yourself a tall glass of water! This tip is especially important for coffee and tea drinkers – caffeine has been considered a diuretic (i.e. it dehydrates you)

Drinking water is all about giving your body the fuel it needs to keep you productive.

Featured photo credit: Startup Woman/StartupStockPhotos via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

“Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

Creativity also emphasizes values.

“The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

1. Cultivate Focus

In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

How to cultivate focus?

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Take a 20 Minute Walk

Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

2. Build a Structure

When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

How to build a structure?

Create a Morning Routine

Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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3. Find Motivation

There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

How to find motivation?

Connect to Your “Why”

Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

How to become an expert?

Make a Mastery Training Plan

Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

3. Review your progress

Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

5. Create a Conducive Environment

A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

“a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

How to create a conducive environment?

Add or Subtract Stimuli

Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

The Bottom Line

Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

Reference

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