By Candace Baumgardner
If you’re like me, the first thing you probably want to do after a long work day is take a relaxing bubble bath, watch some trashy reality TV and have a nice glass of wine before bed. But as a working mom, these ideal post-work activities are pure fantasy.
As soon as you get home, there’s cleaning to do, homework to help with, and dinner to cook before you can even think about finally taking off your bra. Organizing your day and being more productive after 5 can actually improve your productivity and well-being during peak work hours as well.
It’s 4:50 and you’ve just finished up your last big project for the day. Your desk is littered with memos, manila folders and disposable coffee mugs, but you feel too exhausted to do anything but surf Facebook with one eye on the clock. Instead of rolling your eyes at your former college classmates’ incendiary political status updates, you could be doing this:
- Clean up: A disorganized environment always gets you started off on the wrong foot, so set yourself up for success by cleaning up for future you. Try to make this a habit after every work day. Scientific American says that rituals can actually reduce anxiety and increase confidence.
- Set up for tomorrow: There’s nothing better than starting out ahead, so use the app Schedule Planner to plan your next work day and get ahead on some of the easiest tasks on the list, like sending emails and making phone calls.
- Tie loose strings: Try to keep your work and personal lives separate by tying up all loose strings before you leave the office. Talk to your boss about something you’ve been meaning to ask about all day and solve that one problem you were too busy to tackle earlier.
Driving home you pass the pizza place and think about stopping in for fast food the second time this week because you don’t feel like cooking. You come home and head straight to your room after just a brief greeting to your kids. Here’s what you could be doing instead:
- Exercise: I know you’re exhausted, but pushing yourself to exercise even for a half hour can do wonders for destressing and re-energizing. Have a healthy snack with the kids and talk about your day, then take the whole family on a bike ride through the neighborhood or a quick walk with the dog.
- Complete personal responsibilities: With your newfound invigoration, complete personal responsibilities like calling State Farm to ask about discounting your auto insurance or pay the utility bills that have been sitting on the counter all week. Check is a great app to download for keeping your finances in order and managing bill due dates.
- Do housework: Use a chore chart and offer incentives to get your kids to help you out with the workload. This ensures a cleaner, more harmonious home without exhausting yourself.
- Prioritize sleep: The most important thing you can do at the end of the day is to make sure to get enough sleep. According to WebMD, reducing your sleep by even one and half hours in a single night can reduce your daytime alertness by 32 percent. It might be hard, but wait until the very end of your day before relaxing. This will help get your body into sleep mode, making it easier to get in your eight hours and gain a fresh start on the following work day.
Candace Baumgardner is a mom of three and a computer software engineer. She writes about tech trends from her home in Seattle, which enables her to spend more time with her kids.