I am the queen of distractedness. I get on FB to message a certain person, and before I know it, 20 minutes has gone by, and I’ve completely forgotten why I got on there in the first place.
It usually takes me actually getting up and going back to what I was doing before, in order to remember who I wanted to message and why. Then the cycle starts all over again.
Tell me I’m not the only one like this. Please.
The best solution I have ever come across for this problem is so easy and yet so effective.
How to make the most of your time? SET A TIMER.
I’m totally serious. Whatever it is you’re doing, decide how long you want it to take you, and set a timer for that amount of time. Or for five minutes less if you want a warning, lol.
This technique works well with teenagers doing their schoolwork, as I detail in this post: Homeschooling Teens Who Are Easily Distracted. Why wouldn’t it work for moms who are trying to be productive, as well?
The thing about a timer is that you want to beat it. It helps you focus and concentrate. It helps you say NO to distractions, because you are aware that distractions will mean that the timer dings without you finishing the task at hand.
Lesson planning? Set a timer. You can set it for 15 minutes to get one child’s plans done, or for an hour to get them all done. Whatever works for you.
I actually don’t recommend setting it for longer than 50 minutes at a time, because studies show that the extra 10 minutes aren’t as productive as we think they’re gonna be. We need breaks. Take a break for 10 minutes and reset the timer for another 50, if it’s a big job.
Or do the same thing but in increments of 25 minutes on task and 5 minutes break.
But just set the bleepin’ timer (or should I say “beepin”? haha), and get ‘er done.
Cleaning the kitchen? What seems like it’s gonna take two solid hours, and so you procrastinate until you can’t fit anything else into the sink, will in reality probably take 20 minutes at most. Set a timer and race against it to see how far you get. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
If, while the timer is going, you think of something else you need to do, then just jot it down somewhere and keep on working on the task you started the timer for. A planner would be helpful for this — as I discussed on Day 6 — but don’t let any thought distract you. Just write it down and move on.
If the timer dings and you’re not done yet, you can stop and go onto something else, and re-schedule the rest of the task for later, or you can re-set the timer for another length of time and keep going on the same task. Next time you’ll have a better idea how long it should really take.
I am SO MUCH MORE PRODUCTIVE when I use a timer, y’all.
I also set a timer when I’ve started a load of laundry, to remind me to go back and switch it to the dryer so I can get another load started in the washer — so I don’t forget about doing laundry altogether and have nothing to wear tomorrow. #reallifeissues
Or set one to remind yourself to go check on your kid who hates math and may be tearing his hair out by now but is unwilling to let you know.
Or set one to remind you to drop off a Hershey’s kiss (and maybe a real one, too) for your husband while he is paying the bills.
Or set one when you go lie down for a nap — so you don’t sleep until 6pm. LOL.
Related Resource: Podcast Episode 48: Time Management Tips for Homeschool Moms
Here’s a neat alternative to a timer that my friend Crystal Wagner at Triumphant Learning shared with me: build several music playlists that each last for a specific amount of time. You can start the playlist and treat it like a timer — when it’s done, you’re done. A really cool way to tweak this is to have the same song be the last one on EVERY playlist. Then when it starts, you know you have the length of that song to wrap up what you’re doing.
Here’s another thing I recently heard about: it’s an app called Strict Workflow. It will block you out of the standard distractions — Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. — for 25 minutes so that you can get your real work on the computer done. Then it gives you five minutes to go have fun on those sites; then it’s back to another 25 minutes of work. This has been very kinda extremely helpful for moi since I started using it. :-)
A timer has many great uses to help you make the most of your time as a homeschool mom. You may not want to purchase only one. This is a great application of the tip to own multiples of items you use the most, as detailed on Day 4. I’ve been known to give one to each kid and have one in each of several rooms. Go crazy. Your productivity will only benefit!
- Episode 91: Unschooling Teens — My Experience and Advice (with Julie Polanco) - November 18, 2022
- Episode 90: Are You Giving Grace to Your Teen? - November 4, 2022
- Episode 89: Kristin Moon’s Homeschool Experience — Do’s and Don’ts for High School - October 21, 2022