How to Get SH*T Done When You Have Small Children

how to productivity
woman smiling at a young child as they sit on the floor

Work for yourself and happen to have children under the age of 5? I bet you can relate to trying to carry on a business call while someone pulls on your leg, begs for cookies or discreetly pulls every last bit of toilet paper from the roll.

We’ve all been guilty of plopping a child in front of a video (educational of course) just to eeek out a few minutes to get some work done, right?

Imagine using a simple timer (set for a maximum of 25 minutes per stretch) to get your work done as well as spend quality play time with your child!

25 minutes of uninterrupted work time can actually allow you to get MORE done than sitting at your desk for hours on end.

 You can use:

  • for your timer if you are working on a computer
  • the timer on your microwave
  • a cellphone timer

Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique? The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. I have tweaked it to include focused play time with your child in exchange for uninterrupted work time.

If you are blessed with little ones at home, this method can REALLY be your saving grace.  You might have to modify it if 25 minutes is too long for your child to play on their own.

Here’s How It’s Done

Pre-planning will maximize the work you get done: 

  • Plan out the activities you and your child(ren) will do
  • Plan out the activities the child will do alone
  • Gather the necessary materials for the work YOU intend to get done
1. Set the timer for 15 - 25 minutes to start.

You can adjust the time depending on the age of your child and their ability to play alone. Explain that you are going to play together until the timer goes off.  The important part of making this work is that you are fully engaged for the play period.  That means, no checking social media, no getting up to get something in the other room, no texting or taking phone calls.  This is dedicated, uninterrupted play time with mommy.   

When you establish this trust with your child and set the boundaries for how this is going to work, you have MUCH better leverage for when it is YOUR uninterrupted time!

2. When the timer goes off let them know that it is now mommy’s time to get some work done.

Explain that the timer is going to get set again and THIS time they are going to get to play alone and without interrupting mom until the timer goes off. IF they have played well for that period, mommy will be back for another round of uninterrupted play time once the timer goes off.

**This may take a few cycles for the kids to get it and to believe you that you’ll be back for play time again.

You may be tempted to increase your work time… right?  Who’s going to know?  Heed my warning, this WILL backfire on you if you increase your work time too much or too soon.

3. During your work time you need to be prepared and ready to roll so you can make the most of your 15 - 25 minutes.

Don’t balk at the short time, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done! Make a list the night before and gather up all the materials you will need.  Once your 25 minutes starts you should not need to get up unless it is to tend to a child. The most important part is that you will be working on one task until it is done.  No jumping into Facebook, flipping over to email or working between tasks.

For instance, if you have decided to work on client follow up you will have:

  • The phone numbers + email addresses of those who require follow up,
  • a charged cell phone,
  • a pen for taking notes and documenting the follow up.

If you are going to work on scheduling social media posts you will have:

  • a written out editorial calendar or list of ideas for posts.
  • only ONE social media site open. {if you have no will power use for Mac or getcoldturkey for Windows}
  • a HEAVY dose of WILLPOWER to stay focused, but I know you can do it!

We’d love to know what works at your house! Share your tips in the comments.