Asian woman working while holding her baby

The thin line between work and home life has blurred even further since the start of WFH, when working Filipino women, who also happened to be mothers, found themselves in a seemingly impossible situation. Working from home while taking care of the family in the same space challenges everything we know about productivity and balance. To paraphrase a line from a popular rom-com, build the tracks, then the train will come. Working Filipinas everywhere sure rose to the challenge. We asked amazing moms for tips on how to be productive, and they agreed on these key habits.

Make a To-Do List

Harvard Business Review notes compelling benefits to creating to-do lists. According to its study, to-do lists limit indecision and keep people on-task, thus . They’re also good tactile tools for scheduling work-life balance, which many busy executives recommend. Managing editor Jordana Blanco agrees, “To stay productive, I keep a very thorough to-do list and organize it in order of priority. I also make sure that quality time with my kids is on that list.”

Our respondents also swear by making to-do lists to promote productivity. Marketing consultant Nicole Jacinto-Gonzales makes sure to put every task down, no matter how seemingly trivial it is. “At the end of the day, I cross out what I’ve accomplished and then carry over those I haven’t to the next day. It’s not rocket science, but this is one habit I have that helps me balance running a household with four daughters (ages 3 to 21!) and a marketing consultancy on the side,” she says.

Advertising and communications manager Andee de Guzman-Que, on the other hand, credits time management and making a to-do list every day for her productive hours. “Sometimes, thinking about the things you need to do can be overwhelming and might seem like an impossible feat. But I find that making a to-do list, ticking off items one by one is an effective solution that not only reminds you what to do but also puts your deadlines and priorities into perspective,” Andee shares.

Know Your Priorities

Aside from accounting for work-life balance in one's schedule, identifying priorities also helps . According to the Journal of Consumer Research, most people prioritize tasks with the shortest deadlines — even when less pressing tasks were just as easy to complete and offered equally gratifying payoffs.

The study says that this may make one feel productive. However, the most truly meaningful tasks rarely have specific deadlines. Because of this, we often put them aside instead of working on them for our fulfillment and growth.

Brand manager Camille Flores-Oloan identifies which tasks are most crucial and urgent. She says, “Balancing family and career takes conscious effort. Working from home, I have to be deliberate in setting boundaries and switching from work mode to mom mode to give my family my full attention. I would rather accomplish a few items on my daily to-do list excellently than start so many things and end up not finishing anything at the end of the day. It is where prioritization comes in.”

Entrepreneur and mom of two Cheryl Tan-Chua says balancing family and career is not impossible if you know which of the two to prioritize. “This will help you sort out your everyday choices. Planning will as last-minute changes can throw you off balance most days. Lastly, acknowledging that you can’t do everything by yourself and by having a good support system goes a long way,” she says.

Save Time for Me Time

The American Psychology Association, taking breaks, interacting with other people, and practicing self-care can help boost productivity. It notes that people who take the time to care for themselves, whether through exercise, practicing yoga, skin care, or taking walks, have better focus and concentration. It’s the key to being more productive. It also keeps you from feeling deprived and resentful of your responsibilities.

In addition to making to-do lists, both Nicole and Andee also make it a point to set aside some me-time. “I make sure to spare a little time for myself. Nowadays this means releasing all the tension with a quick workout. All these practices keep me sane and help me stay productive,” says Nicole.

Andee adds, “I think working out really helps in my productivity. It gives me a boost to help me get through my days. While work is a top priority, spending a bit of time with my kids and my husband throughout the day also lifts my mood. Taking a quick break in between to breathe and have a bit of playtime really helps.”

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These amazing women agree that organizing tasks on a to-do list, knowing one’s priorities, and making time for oneself are essential to being productive and balancing work and family. What are your tips on how to be productive?