The last month or two, I’ve been able to arrange my work and personal life into more of a groove. It’s been a real struggle finding our new “normal” since having MacKenlee. Finding balance in all the craziness that comes along with parenthood is no joke. There have been days that feel as though I’m running on a hamster wheel. I’m running and running, making no progress, but I’m afraid to hop off this crazy wheel.
Now that we’re +6 months in, we’ve been able to get a bit of a handle on what our daily life should look like as a family of three. Want to know how I got a handle on it all? Where I decided was the first place I needed to dig in? Read on as I share my secret to a successful day. These tips are good for anyone, whether you need to be more productive at the office or wiser with your homework and study time.
If you have ever worked from home, you know how easy it is to get distracted. If that distraction isn’t bad enough, let’s throw a baby into the mix and see how much you can get accomplished. Hint: not much at all. You think, “If I throw in one load of laundry, then…” My days all began to consist of “If only’s” and “Thens.” They began to take over my days. I would start so many projects, then proceed to get distracted by the 150 things I had going on all at once. That all changed the day I cleaned out my office.
A Clean Office: Huh? Yep, you didn’t misread that. Sounds too simple, right? I don’t know about you, but I can’t focus in a messy space. If I sit down to work at my desk and see piles of mail or mounds of unopened boxes, my mind drifts constantly until I start working on one of the messes staring me in my face. When my workspace was clean and clear from all clutter, I cut out my environmental distractions.
Another major distraction? My cell phone. Of course I need to have it available while working. When I’m not using it or expecting a call, I turn it on airplane mode. This prevents me from picking it up and checking messages, social media, etc. If airplane mode isn’t an option, then turn it to silent and turn your phone over so you can focus, checking for missed calls every 10 minutes or so.
The worst distraction of all? Email. You may not have the luxury of shutting it down, but if you do for short periods of time, it could greatly promote your productivity. This is especially true if you get desktop email alerts like I do. When I log out of my email to focus on my task at hand, it keeps my eyes and mind focused on my project.
Put away any other distractions. This is me really putting my stuff out on front street… I pick my split-ends. It’s a real problem for me. I get distracted and see a split-end and before I know it I’ve been sitting there for who knows how long, picking at my stupid hair. I know that if I’m sitting down to work, my hair needs to be up and out of my face. Such a dumb waste of time. We all have these dumb waste-of-time moments or habits. Let me know what yours is in the comments below.
Use a timer. One of my newer, more brilliant productivity boosting habits is using a miracle cube to set time limits on my projects. I only have a set amount of time that I can spend in my office baby-free. That time is gold to me, so I have to use it wisely. By scheduling out those minutes to focus on certain projects, I stay productive and can handle that daily to-do list like a bad mother shut-your-mouth.
Be smart with my minutes. When I have childcare, I know that I need to use those baby-free minutes carefully. That means, hand pick the projects that I need more concentration (i.e. quiet) for. Leave the easier projects for other (noisier) times. Prioritize your time wisely.
Set goals. I’m a list maker. Man, I love my lists. As I sit here at my desk typing out this post, I see four different lists on my desk. I also have three other lists on my vision board. I have a Goals/Dreams list on my vision board. On my desk, I keep a running monthly to-do and a daily to-do. This helps me keep my day and time in check. But don’t just set goals for yourself, set timelines. Give yourself a date/time that you want to accomplish specific goals by.
Take care of yourself. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in work or a project that everything else goes out the window. You can’t let this happen. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t give 100% on your work. You need sleep, nutrition, breaks and exercise. Make sure that you are caring for yourself, even in the midst of your hectic work schedule.
Learn to say no. That two letter word is the most powerful word in the English language. And yet, we have so much trouble saying it sometimes. Here’s the thing I’ve learned: when I say yes to something that I need to say no to, I’m cheating myself of being available for something I actually want to do. If we’re doing something begrudgingly, not only will it make us unhappy, but we won’t give it our all. I don’t want to take on a project unless I can give it my full 100%. I’ve learned that when I’m burning that candle at both ends, I don’t produce my best work and I’m unhappy. No needs to become a word we’re comfortable with in order to maintain balance in all areas of our lives.
Comment below with some of your best tips for staying productive, even when life gets crazy.