I spend a lot of time thinking about all the ways that successful business strategies can be applied to other areas of our lives and recently -- thanks to the arrival of my second son -- had occasion to apply those strategies at home. Here are five things that helped get our chaotic household running efficiently.
1. Use data, not your gut.
Most people (and small business owners for that matter) will proudly say that they follow their gut on major decisions. And that's generally a good thing. But, did you know that the world's top CEOs are actually trained precisely not to follow their gut? They're taught instead to manage with data and that's a good lesson in the home, too. Case in point: it's easy for both moms and dads to feel like they're the ones doing the bulk of the childcare or chores, or feeling like the other person doesn't know all they do. Capturing those tasks on a shared list not only ensures everything gets done but also gives your partner visibility into everything you're doing and vice versa.
2. Don't rely too heavily on the calendar -- prioritize!
Our days are often driven by the calendar but that means only the most pressing, not the most important, things get done each day. Instead of letting the calendar rule the roost, set priorities for yourself. We do this using an app, and it's great to set not just monthly or ongoing priorities, but also daily ones: what are the three things I absolutely have to get done today? This helps ensure the important stuff gets done and also lets you off a hook a bit for not conquering your entire to-do list.
Related: How to Prioritize Your Priorities
3. Use pictures.
In Lean Management we always try to use images to convey a message because the brain processes images faster than text. Images are especially useful in a workplace with international clients or coworkers whose command of a given language can vary. For our household, it’s a way of communicating with our toddler, and it’s working like a charm.
4. Daily Management.
Daily management is a lean tool that encourages a daily stand up at a whiteboard to talk about what needs to get done. It keeps everyone on the same page and helps keep progress going since it’s daily. Software developers adopted this concept more recently, and may refer to it as kanban boards, daily scrum, or agile development but it’s basically the same thing. My wife and I do the same thing with our schedule board so we know from one week to the next who's got a meeting coming up, what childcare we've got scheduled, any unusual events happening, etc.
5. Get the whole family involved.
Getting everyone involved is a key part of this, so it's not just one person's job to keep the household schedule; everyone knows what's happening and everyone takes responsibility. Just like team projects in an office setting, making sure that each person feels shared ownership is vital to getting 100 percent effort from everyone.