Productive – Having the power of producing; generative; creative

To produce –

1. to bring into existence; give rise to; cause.

2. to bring into existence by intellectual or creative ability.

3. to make or manufacture.

4. to provide, furnish, or supply; yield.

It seems that the process of being productive would require hard work or creativity, at the very least. The problem is, our lives today are so filled with a lot of mundane tasks that the creative, hard work sometimes gets pushed to the side.

One way to make room for the productive opportunities is to create effective routines for the things that we should or must do each day anyway. Having a routine for the sometimes mundane will help to free your mind for more lofty things.

Let me also say that kids do well with routines as they like to know what to expect. In areas that directly involve them, consider having a chart or poster for their responsibilities. See: Using Chore Charts to Reduce Mom Stress

What are some areas that you can implement routines?

1. Meal planning Knowing what you are going to have at each meal takes so much mental energy. That is why it is important to have it all planned out. Remember how it feels to be 4 pm and no idea what to cook for dinner? Wouldn’t it be nice to never have that panicky feeling again? If you need some help or ideas to get started with planning out your meals in advance, read Meal Planning 101.

2. Grocery shopping Along with the meal planning comes grocery shopping. Just planning it doesn’t get it bought and in the cabinets! Most of us have a static list of items that we buy every so often. Create a grocery list for you based on your needs, or if you use a meal planning program like Plan to Eat, it will create your list for you.  Using your meal plan, make your grocery list and get your shopping done. Make it a weekly routine, or bi-weekly. Some even shop monthly, although you would still need to run in for perishables.

3. Everyday pickup Having designated clean up times for your main living spaces will help it stay somewhat neater and not get piled up. Some pick up before lunch and dinner. Some pick up after school and after bathtime. For most families it will to be at least twice a day, if not 3 times. Attaching it to a fairly static event will help maintain this routine.

My 4 school-aged grandchildren know that when they get home from school, they have a snack, and then go directly to chores. Always. So there should be no whining, no nagging. Obviously this is NOT a perfect world, but having the routine helps tremendously.

4. Bathtime and bedtime – Kids somehow have amnesia when it comes to bedtime, lol! Having a routine that you do every night will help them accept it and get into it and make life a little bit easier for you. If they know they can have a snack after bath or that they are NOT allowed a drink of water, it will help cut down on the requests and lessen your emotional load a little bit, and every little bit helps!

5. Routine cleaning – Decide how often certain things need to be done in your house to keep it liveably clean. Not immaculate. Wonder Woman doesn’t live here anymore, so clean to YOUR standards, and not what you think others think you should do.

What things need to be done daily? A load of wash, the dishwasher, sweep kitchen?  What about weekly? Change the sheets, vacuum floors, scrub bathrooms? Make it routine so you don’t have to THINK about it all the time. You know it will get done in its designated time. Need help figuring this out? See 28 Days to Hope for Your Home.

6. Mail and paper processing Bring the mail in and head straight for the trashcan. Throw away what you can immediately. At the very least have a bin for shredding. Then place important mail in a designated spot to be acted upon later. Process the kids’ bookbags as soon after getting home as possible.

7. Bill paying – Have a time weekly, bi-weekly or monthly that you go through those bills that you put away each day when sorting the mail. Write checks, pay online, take care of other correspondence during that time. Knowing that you have that designated time will help you to put some of those nagging worries out of your mind. “Did I pay the credit card bill? I have to be sure to RSVP for that party! What did I DO with the bill for XYZ?

What area of your life have you successfully implemented a routine? What area are you going to tackle next?