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What a Lifeguard Can Teach an Overwhelmed Mom About Productivity

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Have you ever taken your kids to a water park? It’s not the most parent-friendly place, especially because there’s so much to see and do. Between the miles of slides, splashing water, and people everywhere, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Kinda like everyday mommy life. ?

This week, I was listening to The Next Right Thing podcast as I was going through my morning routine. Emily P. Freeman was talking about how the lifeguards at a water park are trained to focus on their small square of the pool. Each lifeguard then relies on others to focus on their small square. Through teamwork, the entire pool is covered.

That’s a great idea (in theory).

Delegating tasks to others in your family is an easy way to teach responsibility and get the job done quickly. If you have older kids, ask them to help around the house. Divide up the chores with your spouse. Even if things aren’t done the way you would do them, at least they’re done, right?

But what happens when you don’t have a support system?

If you don’t have another lifeguard (or someone who can help with the chores) in your house, how can you still get everything checked off your list?

Again, there’s a lot that the lifeguards can teach us!


By focusing on one small thing at a time, you can get a lot accomplished. The catch is to only focus on one thing at a time.

I’m always telling my kids to keep their noses on their own faces (i.e. stop the tattling madness).

But that can be applied in my own life, too. For example, when I’m vacuuming, instead of carrying a toy all the way upstairs, only to start folding laundry, then cleaning my son’s room, and then 30 minutes later remembering that the vacuum is still running downstairs, I need to remember to focus.

Create systems

If you struggle to focus, try creating systems in your house.

Focus on one thing at a time. If something crops up that needs your attention right now, like a bleeding child, take care of it, but immediately go back to what you were doing.

If you stumble across something when you’re vacuuming, put it in a basket to take to another room. I often put things on the stairs if they need to get carried upstairs. Then, every time someone goes upstairs, they carry one thing and put it away.

Handle things immediately

Apply the “touch it once” principle. As you open mail, immediately sort it (and put away your sorted folders) and throw away everything that isn’t important.

This works really well for paper clutter, but it also works in other areas of your life.

In the book Getting Things Done, David Allen uses a two-minute rule. Everything that can be done in less than two minutes should be done immediately. That’s not always possible when you’re an overwhelmed mom, but I’ve found that it helps if I do it as much as possible.

And if you can’t finish a two-minute task, write it down or tell Siri to remind you, because let’s face it, you will forget.

Think about different ways that you can focus, create systems, and handle things immediately in your home. By eliminating distractions or making an effort to manage your tasks better, you’ll be so much more productive (and then you’ll have time to do the things that you really want to do instead of just bouncing from one distraction to the next).

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