My Productivity Toolkit

Success is predictable.

— Life is a Recipe

Sometimes we forget that being a mom is a full-time job. I have three girls and my days are a whirlwind of appointments, tutoring, practices, and building my business. To get everything done requires organization and motivation. There are days (and weeks) where things don’t go exactly  as planned. Over time, I learned that I had to put systems into place to ensure we were as productive as possible.

Waking up early is one of the keys to my productivity. Having time in the mornings before my kids get up is imperative. It’s nice to have time that is completely my own. Before the morning madness of rushing breakfast, rummaging for forgotten homework, and getting the girls off to school, it’s great to have peaceful moments to meditate on my upcoming day. Getting up early is like getting a headstart. I like to have a clear vision of what my day looks like before I dive in. My morning planning is more than just a to-do list. I like to prioritize my most important tasks, set my intentions, and make a plan for how I’m going to them done.

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I’ve found that it’s also important to write everything down! Whether it’s a new idea for a project or an appointment I don’t think I’ll forget, I write it down immediately. Today there are many programs that are popular for helping us organize and save time. Pencil and paper are one of the trustiest of the age-old tools. But Google’s suite of tools is handy. First, Google’s apps are free. Secondly, I can use Google Calendar for planning (and getting reminded about) my day. Thirdly, Google Docs gives me a mobile canvas to keep track of project notes. It’s easy to think you’re going to remember everything but after emails and work calls it’s easy to forget even the most important task.

Taking on big creative projects while raising kids that go to different schools can be overwhelming. I’ve found that it’s impossible to take on everything that comes your way. One of the most important productivity tools that I’ve found is something that’s built into us all: the word “no.”  Sometimes I have to just set and keep boundaries. Whether it’s taking on extra work or volunteering for the fourth school event in one month you can burn out if you say yes to everything that comes your way. I always take the time to assess the importance of what I’m being asked to do and figure out if I actually have the time. I’m a perfectionist. I want to put my best foot forward and that’s not possible if I take on too much at once.

I’ve found that I am my most productive when my life is balanced.  And there are many new tools available that help us to stay in control and in balance.  As I, and all of us, assume the role of super-parent or super-professional, it’s important for all of us to figure out our own unique productivity toolkit. That toolkit is a key ingredient in our quest to live “life to the full.”

In our culture of busyness, what’s in your toolkit that helps you stay productive?  Share them with us!

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Life Recipe:
Productivity

  1. If you’re not an early riser, try your hand at waking up early. The hours before the hustle and bustle may give you the space and time to great a game plan for your day.
  2. Take note. It’s biologically impossible to process and remember everything that comes your way. Whether pen and paper or a digital solution, keep a pad nearby.
  3. Use your “no.” Whenever you set boundaries or politely decline an invitation, you’re effectively freeing yourself for something that may be better for you. Don’t be afraid to say no. It may actually be a hidden “yes.”

Lunch Recipe:
Red Lentil Mushroom Ragu

  • 1 1/2 cups of red lentils
  • 1 package of bella mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • ¾ cup of celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup of carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of basil
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces of farfalle pasta
  • 1/2 cup reserved starchy pasta water
  • ¼ cup of parsley (for garnish)
  • ½ cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt (more to taste)

Instructions

  1. Take a large pot and heat olive oil over medium heat.

  2. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook for until translucent.

  3. Next, add the garlic and mushrooms.

  4. Stir mixture together. Let cook for 4-6 minutes.

  5. Next, add tomato paste, vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, lentils, thyme, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and salt. Mix well.

  6. Let simmer for about 30 minutes.

  7. Cook pasta of your choice according to instructions on the box. Save ½ of pasta water.

  8. Next, pour ½ of reserved pasta water into the sauce and mix well. Add in your pasta.

  9. Serve and garnish with fresh parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese.