Sunday, September 18, 2011

Maximizing your time and increasing your energy

Sometimes people ask me where I get all the energy I seem to have, or how I have time to do this or that. Personally, I don't think I have unusual amounts of energy, nor do I get everything done that I need or want to. But, working slow and steady, I often find myself surprised at all the stuff I got done once night comes around. Of course, there is always more that DIDN'T get done than what did. So I am not writing this because I am some sort of authority or source of special wisdom on this question. These are just some tips that someone else might benefit from.

  • Getting up early is key, as is staying up a little extra at night to get those things done you can only do when the kids are asleep. I find that for every minute I spend planning the night before, it saves me about 10 minutes in the daytime. For instance, if I take the time to make and print the boys' spelling worksheets on Sunday night, I can get them working quickly on Monday morning, rather than them getting into trouble while I am on the computer in the daytime.
  • Speaking of which, I find that I get so much more done when the computer stays off during the kids' waking hours. Same for chatting on the phone - just not a great idea. Imagine if you walked into a daycare or school where the teacher/ caretaker is chatting on her cell phone while checking Facebook. You would be appalled - because it's impossible to do a good job caring for children while being distracted on all sides. I have emails pop up on my cell phone, which is nice in case there is something I need to know about right away - such as someone giving away a huge stash of cloth diapers on freecycle, or an almost new washer and dryer set. Yes, I have gotten both of these, and many more wonderful things through freecycle. But I have turned off the little jingle that notifies me every time I get an email, and only check to see if there is anything new when there is time. It only takes a few seconds, and unlike with the "real" computer, there is no temptation to start browsing the internet, or type up an email, because it's just not very convenient.
  • For us, getting the kids to go to bed reliably, and reasonably early, is crucial to my sanity and productiveness. It was a great day when I realized that the less kids sleep, the more energy they have - not a good cycle! In our house, bedtime is around 8:30, a little later on church nights. That gives me two to three hours of time to work or relax (ha!) without interruptions. I used to be frustrated that our house was only clean, tidy, and quiet while everyone was asleep. But then my husband put it in perspective when he said it's like a busy restaurant - you don't clean until after closing, when all the customers have left. During business hours, you want it to be busy, and with that busyness comes a certain amount of mess.
  • Similarly, I have noticed that the more I work, the more energy I seem to have. If, on the other hand, I sleep in and drag my feet, it makes me tired all day long, and I will lack both energy and motivation to want to get anything done.
Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.- Proverbs 19:15
See? Being lazy makes you tired. Tell that to all the bums on welfare who sit around all day and then go on disability for all their aches and pains and drowsiness they start having. So if you are tired and lacking motivation, just set a goal of working for 15 minutes. When that time is up, you may suddenly be so energized you'll want to do more.
  • My final, and maybe most important point, is nutrition. Some foods will make you tired and sluggish all day long, while others will give you lots of energy - naturally, of course. Eating sugary white carbs such as cereal for breakfast is not nearly as good a choice as having a warm, protein-rich meal. My favorite, that I make almost every day for breakfast, is two eggs and braised greens such as kale or collards, with a fresh tomato or some fruit on the side. Green smoothies are a wonderful energy burst, too. Because I have been pregnant, breastfeeding, or both non-stop for over ten years now, I also find it important to take daily supplements. Currently, I take a prenatal, fish-oil capsules, and a calcium supplement. If my iron levels are low (which causes severe fatigue) I add an iron supplement

Please don't feel like you need to get everything done, every day. If the day is over and you did your best but there are things that were neglected, than God must have not wanted you to get them done.


  1. Great post! No "secret formula" just plain and simple common sense!

  2. Great post. I do agree that a protein rich breakfast is the best way to start the day and stay energized for several hours. It makes a huge difference for me.

    My sister is a
    homeschooling mother so when I want to talk to her on the phone, I usually send her a text that says "would love to talk to you about (insert topic here) what is a good time to call?" I do try to respect her time teaching her kids. I don't pick up the phone and call her straight out through school hours unless it is an emergency.

    On the other hand, sometimes I feel like others assume I have all the time in the world to shoot the breeze on the phone and I never know how to politely get out of a phone call through the day. Sometimes I won't even pick up if I recognize the number as someone with whom I'll spend a long time talking.

  3. Thanks for this post, now I understand how you're able to mop floors at night! This is very encouraging for those of us who struggle with tiredness. I thank God that I have the energy and motivation to get out of bed and work everyday and that I don't have to resort to welfare, that certainly is a negative cycle leading to depression and people who have to struggle on disability welfare are in my prayers. I like your tips about nutrition, I will definitely check that out. I am newly married and trying to get pregnant so I'm thinking new levels of energy are going to be required!! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to share and encourage,

  4. I love greens, but had never thought of them for breakfast. Which is strange, because my mother used to make spinach with cut-up hard boiled eggs for dinner.

    That's a great idea!

    I also agree that being on the computer during the kids' waking time can lead to lots of distractions and before you know it, an hour's gone by in the few seconds it's taken me to check the smartphone to see if there are any new emails I need to know about.

    That's some food for thought, and something I'm guilty of from time to time.

  5. Can't remember if I already posted here, but thanks for this article! Copying into my parenting notebook! :)

  6. I loved this post. Practicality at its best! You are a good mother!!!


  7. Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog recently and I love your practical advice in your seemingly very busy life. (I don't know how you homeschool 6 children!) Very helpful to women in general and I think that all the work that stay at home moms do is not even close to being recognized in our society. After all, you are helping to raise and educate the next generation. Although you are obviously not getting a paycheck for all the work you do, there is something to be said for the unpaid workforce of stay at home parents and all they do to keep the world going. There is a huge emphasis in this country on the requirement of a good work ethic to be successful, even though many out there physically cannot keep up with the required work or are one paycheck away from being homeless. Therefore, I took offense to the calling of people on welfare "bums" and I think you may be barking up the wrong tree. The following article is called "Arguments For a Four-Hour Workday" and it discusses that if industry were structured differently, everyone would be able to live a more human life with enough free time to enjoy one another while at the same time getting every single person's needs met, not just the minority in the owning class.


Your KINDLY WORDED, constructive comments are welcome, whether or not they express a differing opinion. All others will be deleted without second thought.