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?
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.