MakeYourBed Image credit: DepositPhotos. Licensed by author. Text added by author.

Moms love to make rules. We love to spout advice and impart little words of wisdom on our precious ones. But is anyone even listening? I know I didn’t feel like listening when I was a child. All of my mom’s rules and advice seemed so restrictive and controlling. But now…now that I’m a mom and can see how foolish I was…I know that mom’s advice was spot-on. Even if she didn’t realize it at the time, my mom’s rules helped me develop a good work ethic and create a lifetime of productive habits.

Five Habits Your Mother Was Right About:

Make Your Bed. I used to think making my bed was a waste of time. I figured I would mess it up again each night, and nobody would even see it during the day to know if it was made or not. But I discovered that the act of making the bed actually helps me set the tone for the rest of my day. If I wake up and make my bed then I’ve already accomplished something before the day has even started. I know it sounds strange but when I get dressed and leave my bedroom for the day, a tidy bed translates into an organized state of mind. So now matter how chaotic the day becomes, at least I’ve started with some semblance of order. And – here’s the bonus – when I collapse into bed at night, I’m not reminded of the messy pieces of my life.

Go Outside and Play. If you grew up the same way I did, you spent most of your weekends and summers outdoors. As soon as my chores were finished I left the house to ride bikes, play with friends or explore the woods behind my house. The exercise, fresh air and nature discoveries were abundant. I think that’s a huge part of what made me happy, healthy and creative. It’s not as easy now as it used to be, but I start most of my days outdoors – running or riding a bike. And I try to get outside every evening, even if it’s just to eat dinner on the back porch. Nature has a way of recharging me and giving me a fresh perspective to tackle whatever task I have at hand.

Get Your Beauty Sleep. I actually don’t think my mother ever said this to me… and if she did, she was probably teasing me. But the truth is that I need more sleep than I’m getting – and it’s taking a toll on my health and productivity. Most days I’m up at 5:30 am, which means I really need to be in bed by 9:30 pm in order to meet my sleep needs. But with teenagers in the house, and sports practices that end at 9 pm, it’s nearly impossible to go to bed that early. So this is a habit I need to work on some more. But it’s probably the single most important thing I can change to improve my health and productivity.

First Things First. For most of my childhood I remember going to Mass on Christmas morning at 7 am. My sister and I had to be led blindfolded out of our bedroom and through the living room (where Santa had visited) and out the door to the car. We were probably the only children at the early service. But my parents insisted that we keep our priorities straight – and we focus on the most important things first. That lesson is one that translates into a tremendously productive work ethic – if you can keep it up. Because it demands that you constantly assess your priorities and do the most important things first. It means letting go of the “urgent” but unimportant tasks. And going for quality over quantity when it comes to crossing off items on the to-do list. One of the simple ways I follow this “rule” is by not checking email or social media first thing in the morning. That allows me to focus on what I really need to do – like exercise or bible study or creative writing.

No Phone Calls During Dinner. If the phone rang during dinnertime at my house, we were not allowed to talk. And I remember asking friends what time they ate dinner so I wouldn’t call their house during dinner by mistake. That’s because dinnertime was family time – not to be interrupted. Today it seems that nothing is sacred. That everything is subject to interruptions – which can hinder productivity in addition to family time. That’s why I have ‘no distraction’ zones – places where I don’t even take my cell phone – like my office and my bedroom.

What about your mother? Did she give you any productivity tips that have led to great habits?


Copyright 2015, Theresa Ceniccola
Image credit: DepositPhotos. Licensed by author. Text added by author.