7 Important Productivity Habits My Parents Taught Me

My childhood was a very regular one: I hung around with my friends, went to school and had a lot of activities going on on a daily basis.

When I look at my childhood, I’m able to see the productivity lessons my parents taught me. Although I had a hard time following them when I was a kid, and I can now truly value them as the cornerstones of my productivity.

1. Take notes

I got this skill from my father and I still use it on a daily basis.

In order to remember something important – for example after having a conversation – I’ll write down notes so that I won’t forget what I was supposed to do afterwards.

If I don’t have pen and paper available, I’ll put a reminder about the matter on my mobile phone’s calendar about it.

Also, if I’m at my computer, I keep my Notepad open for note taking. Eventually, I’ll move my notes (especially the ones that require action) to my task management software for further processing.


2. Put things back where they belong

This is a simple, yet effective habit that I picked up from my mom.

Whenever I use an item, I make sure to put it back where it belongs.

For instance, if need some tax papers and I have to get my file folder out of the closet (where it’s normally kept), I make sure to put it back there after I have processed the documents. That way things are not floating around and our home looks cleaner and more organized.

3. Don’t leave things until to the last minute

My mom was teaching me about the Parkinson’s Law without even knowing it :)

Many times, I’d have homework that I had started to do the night before the deadline – even if I had many weeks to do them. And since my mom wanted me to take care of my homework well, she reminded me about my behaviour many times when I was a kid.

Eventually I learned my lesson and I didn’t leave things up to the last minute. That took away the stress of trying to do my homework in a panic – the night before the deadline.

If you are leaving things to the last minute, change your behaviour and act as fast as possible after you have learned about the task. It’ll save you from unnecessary stress later.


4. Pack your stuff the night before

Small preparations the night before helps a lot the next morning.

My parents always told me to pack my backpack in advance, so that everything was ready for the next morning and things would roll out as smoothly as possible after waking up.

I’m now 41 and I’m still using this same small – yet effective – habit on a daily basis.  It takes me only 10 minutes to pack my stuff and this quick preparation speeds up my morning a lot.


5. Take good care of your stuff

Whenever you buy new stuff; be sure to take care of it too.

I have learned this lesson especially from my dad and I appreciate this habit a lot. His message was that when you keep good care of your stuff, it won’t break down so easily and the item “lives longer” that way.

For instance, when you have a car, make sure you clean it on a frequent basis. If you tend to forget to do it, make a recurring calendar reservation (with an alarm) about it on your mobile phone.

This way you’ll remember to take care of the matter on a frequent basis and your car stays clean.


6. The better you communicate, the better you’ll be understood

Yet another great lesson that I learned from my dad.

You see, the better communicator you are, more likely that other person understands what you are saying and this prevents false assumptions.

That’s why he mentioned many times, that I should pay attention to my vocal output and I should be as clear as possible.

Whenever you need to communicate clearly, make sure that the other person understood what you just said. You do this by asking if he/she got your message and that both of you are on the same page.

This clears the confusion and no time is wasted on taking the wrong action.


7. Napping is a great way to restart your day

Thank you mom for teaching me about this wonderful habit!

Although she didn’t specifically insist that I should take naps, I just followed her example and I became a napper too.

I still use this habit frequently and I have found it to be a powerful way of jump-starting my afternoon. Sometimes even 15 minutes of napping will do wonders for my productivity. It’s definitely a short time well spent :)

You should consider napping too, if you are feeling tired and your energy levels are low. Just make sure that you don’t sleep any longer than 20 minutes, because otherwise you’ll feel groggy when you wake up.

Lying down for a moment (for instance after getting back home from work) is a great way to have a productive evening. And if you haven’t napped before, give it a try and see how it works out for you.


As a kid, I wasn’t too excited about these productivity lessons and I had some hard time following them. Only afterwards have I have started to appreciate them and they are now a fundamental part of my everyday life.

We have a son who is still a very little, but I have decided to pass these lessons on to him as well when he grows up. That way he can better prepare for certain situations in his life later on.

Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.

Over to you: What productivity lessons have you learned from your parents?



21 Responses to 7 Important Productivity Habits My Parents Taught Me

  1. Kim Hall says:

    These are terrific lessons to have learned as a child and to be passing on to your son as well! What a blessing to have parents who gave you such a valuable gift.

    I learned that doing things right the first time was far preferable to rushing through and having to do them over. Whether cutting out pieces for a skirt or lumber for a woodworking project, I was shown over and over the benefit of “measure twice, cut once.” 

  2. CarolynStevens says:

    I’m as lucky as you Timo as, with the exception of napping, my parents taught me the same lessons, particularly the one on Parkinson’s law as our surname’s Parkinson.  Like you though, I didn’t appreciate or value them at the time but use them constantly today.  
    The funny thing is though, as my parents are getting older, I find myself reminding them of some of these lessons, like taking notes and putting things back where they found them.  They seem to have picked up napping pretty well though!

  3. Bobbi Emel says:

    Timo, I’m so glad you added #7. I love to nap! Sometimes I nap for too long, though, and it is as you say – then I’m groggy. 

    Thanks for the great tips!

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  5. These are very good things to teach kids! Very similar to what I want to teach my daughter. If more parents took this approach and understood the power of giving kids good habits great things would happen more often.

  6. Tania Belkin says:


    These are all great tips. I will get my children to read
    it.  I don’t think they will go for the
    nap at this age. 


    But my father had a nap every day for 20 minutes. He found Norwegian
    research which concluded that napping promotes cardiovascular health and helps
    people live well into old age.  


    I am not someone who takes naps, but I can give it a


  7. Timo Kiander says:

    Hi Kim!

    Thank you :)

    You are right: Focusing on what you do and no matter if it takes a bit longer to do it (well) is much better than rushing it and fixing your results afterwards.


  8. Timo Kiander says:

    Hi Carolyn!

    Yep, I guess we need to remind them what they taught us :)


  9. Timo Kiander says:

    Hi Bobbi!


    The ideal length for a nap is 20 minutes (at least for me). I feel refreshed when I wake up.


  10. Timo Kiander says:

    Hi Fredrik!

    I agree. I think that it’s our responsibility as parents to teach the good habits. And sooner it happens, more likely they apply that knowledge in their life.


  11. Timo Kiander says:

    Hi Tania!

    Sure, just give it a try! Just make sure it’s 20 minutes and not any longer. That gives you the maximum boost to your day.


  12. Jorge Blanco says:

    I totally agree with napping. It’s such a great way to recharge you especially when you need it. I often do this for 20 minutes and sometimes, I find it to be more refreshing and recharging than sleeping at night.

  13. Kola says:

    i think i need to print this list and highlight numbers 2 and 4. seriously. Lol

    to answer your question though, the most important productivity lesson i learned from my parents is – “just do it” :) 

  14. Timo Kiander says:

    Hi Jorge!

    Yes, I agree. It’s a very powerful technique!


  15. Timo Kiander says:

    Hi Kola!

    Thank you :)

    Yes, sometimes you just take action without any hesitation.


  16. Zachomana says:

    very good.Hope all my grandchildren will read & follow them.

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  18. Abby says:

    Double-check your work. In the days before computers, double-checking your addition and subtraction by adding down a column and then adding up the column, were excellent ways to verify your work. Automation can lead us to assume the numbers are right on the first talley. Well, assume makes an ass out of u and me, eh? This becomes a strategic approach in any work where your do the work and then check the work to take a more objective view point. Amazing what you can find when you check it out.

    Be patient with old folks. By walking slowly behind my aging grandma, my mothr admonitioned, “Be patient. Walk slowly behind your grandma and learn to be patient.”
    Many important parts of life require waiting for others out of respect and concern. Otherwise, we’re self centered too much and folks won’t find that an appealing quality. Plus, patience walking slower, caring about and respecting others, gives me time to appreciate the moment more, not just the self-gratifying things I want that feed my ego and get me in trouble with folks and with my family, friends, and self. Patience can prevent car accidents, bring wealth to those who don’t sell their stock too soon, help mom and dad get through the 9-month pregnancy, and so much more.

    Pick it up when you see it. Don’t wait for “the maid” (mom?) to pick it up. Pick it up yourself–that is your contribution to the household. We all need to care about our surroundings and pitch in when needed.

  19. Stacey says:

    Absolutely loved this list. I do agree that a nap in the afternoon or in the early evening does wonders for productivity. A lot of my best work has been done after a nap.

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