3 Crucial Steps to Getting the Most Done While Baby Sleeps

Nannette Minley


(photo by Baby Names Logs)

Too many of us leave productivity up to chance. Productivity is like some sort of muse that comes at random inexplicable times.

1. Create a realistic list of tasks that you can accomplish in the “typical” span of nap-time.

The number one way to feel accomplished at the end of your precious kid-free time is to check things off a to-do list. There are few things as satisfying as plopping down after having finished all the things you needed to do.

Now, not all to-do list’s are created equal. In fact, most stink. They are unbalanced and guided mostly by anxiety. (Must get bills paid or else it’ll go to collections, for example).

I find that how you write your to-do list is more important that having written one at all. Depending on the type of life you live, the list will be different for you but this is the formula I use: 2 business items, 2 home items, 1 self care item. [If you’re not a businesswoman, maybe replace the business category with a project category or omit it all together.]

The business items are normally things like responding to email or working on a blog post. The home items are almost always picking up the 23467564 toys that my children keep finding and throwing all around the house. It also includes things like starting the crockpot for dinner. The self care item is either a shower, playing with my make up or even taking a snooze myself!

I find that having 5 items on my list is sufficient but my kids nap for a while and I tend to work quickly when I know what the next task is. When choosing how many items to put on your list, consider the amount of time it should take you to complete that task and give yourself a little breathing room. If your child naps for 1 hour, don’t put 15 items on your list. This is a sure way to feel totally unaccomplished at the end of nap time and that’s the exact opposite of what we are trying to do here.

Create this list in your mind as the morning progresses but jot things down on your phone or a notepad as time allows.

2. Prioritize that list (eat the frog/ start with most time sensitive).

Now that your list is created, it’s time to prioritize the items on it. This is for two reasons:

A: You never know how long your tot will actually sleep. Sometimes my kids will sleep for 3 hours, and sometimes for 90 minutes, and sometimes 15. B: So you don’t spend the whole time working on one of the tasks that could have waited a few days.

Prioritizing that list is fairly simple. I normally abide by 2 different methods of prioritizing, timesensitivity and difficulty. If you HAVE to get a shower because you’re getting your family photos taken this afternoon, that’s at the top of the priority list because it’s definitely time-sensitive. That same shower would be near the bottom of the list any other day. If you told someone you would email them 3 days ago and you still haven’t, that’s time sensitive. On the other hand you have the “difficulty filter.” Difficulty can mean that it’s physically going to require the most energy or it’s the thing you’re dreading the most. Calling your cable provider to dispute an incorrect bill, for example, would be very difficult even though it’s just calling someone on the phone. Prioritize those tasks near the top of your list and do not skip them. After you’ve completed it, everything else is smooth sailing and really ends your work time on a positive note.

3. Do the list!

This one is simple enough. When your kids heads hit the pillow, you are already armed with your list and you need to jump on it right away. A common pitfall is putting the kids in bed and then collapsing on the couch to start browsing the web. Don't let that precious time go waste. After you complete a task, take a second to indulge in the feeling of checking that item off your list. Cheer yourself on because you did it!!


 1. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by things that didn’t make it onto today’s list. Your time is limited and you are doing the best you can. Give yourself a break!

2. Stay off Facebook or whatever social networking site is your go-to when you’re bored. It’s hard to get back on task after that because there are links and notifications that will keep you occupied. Before you know it, you hear your kids waking up!

3. Meal-prepping/ Batch-cooking is a great way to cut down the time allocated to cooking and eating your lunch. I know that sometimes lunch is my first full meal and I want it to be awesome but I need my time for other more pressing things. Preparing meals ahead of time gives me the best of both worlds! I get to eat something yummy but need only to re-heat it and eat it!

4. Don’t wait until the kids are asleep to clean up the clutter. If your kids are old enough, incorporate tidying up into their pre-nap routine. It gives you the opportunity to teach them how to tidy up AND it takes an item off your list!

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