5 Ways to Increase Productivity- A.K.A.- Work When You Can (and stay sane)

 Picture of my Bullet Journal. What's a Bullet Journal? Read on!

Picture of my Bullet Journal. What's a Bullet Journal? Read on!

Apologies for the lack of inactivity for the past few months. It’s been wild. Between family visits, starting our oldest son in Transitional Kindergarten, starting our youngest son in a pre-school program, adjusting to my husband’s change in work schedule (again), and a root canal, all mixed in with all the usual life-ing and parenting... let's just say I’ve had to pick and choose where my energy went.

            While I don’t want my blog to be so low on the priority list, it was that or quit washing the dishes. While there’s no contest in my mind which I’d prefer, my family tends to notice when there’s no food, or if their clothes aren't clean, and they tend to prefer eating their food on clean plates. (So demanding!)

            While I was away, there has been some intense soul searching. Good and deep and exhausting. While I’m not going to share details, I am going to share some of my takeaways from it all. Because I’ve hardly read any books lately, so any extra energy I’ve had has been dumped into editing my manuscript. Which is another update for another day.

            The takeaway for today that I dragged from the madness that has been the last several months is Work When You Can. 

            Where we live it rains. A lot. Especially in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. And even in the Summer. I’m originally from the high desert, where even if it rains or snows, just wait an hour and the sun comes out. I’ve never been somewhere it’s this cloudy this often. (I do love it though!)

 All this rain makes for a gorgeous rainforest feel, just five minutes from our house! LOVE!

All this rain makes for a gorgeous rainforest feel, just five minutes from our house! LOVE!

            People told us when we moved here that if we wait for a sunny day, we’ll never do anything. They were right! You gotta just go for it. Rain boots and jackets on and head outside!

            I’m learning to apply this lesson to my life as a mom/writer/growing as a professional in my industry. There are always distractions. (Distractions = Rain. Get it?) Like, always. (I can’t count the number of times I was interrupted just while writing the last four paragraphs.) If I wait to get anything done until I have no interruptions, I’ll

one) never get anything done, or

two) spend any and all free time I have- like after the kids go to bed- working. Whether that means housewifeing or writing or editing.

            Don’t get me wrong. Some days are just shot and you’ll be working from the moment your feet hit the floor till the moment your head hits the pillow, and even then you’ll re-write your grocery list in your head twice before you fall asleep. But, I’m realizing that I spend a lot of time working against myself. Why? Because distractions. I’m looking at you, social media! And books. All the books.

            I gave up Facebook in the spring. And honestly, I don’t even remember the date I rage quit. But I’m sure I’ll write all about that one day. The point today is not about that. It’s about learning what our distractions are, and then fighting to organize our time better.

            If you, like me, have been guilty of distractions…  sitting down on the couch to drink your coffee (after the third re-heat) and open your apps to check who’s liked your latest picture, or if anyone retweeted that funny gif you tweeted (that’s about all I know about twitter. Sorry I’m not that cool) and then suddenly you look up and it’s been over an hour and you’ve done nothing…

or perhaps you get so overwhelmed with everything that you just shut down, read a book, watch TV and do nothing...

then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what we do. Because technically we're doing nothing. 


(DISCLAIMER: I am not villainizing any of these things. Taken on their own, and in healthy doses, each of these things can be a great outlet...though I would argue reading is the healthiest option, but what do I know?)

            I have to regularly put my phone down.(And the books.) I try really hard to not check my phone, (aside from important texts or phone calls) until I have gotten the kids ready for school, taken them to school, done yoga and at least attempted a writing session. I’m not saying I do it every day, or even close. But I can tell you, the days I succeed, my productivity SKYROCKETS.

            I’ve challenged myself... Like just now, to make this a daily thing. If we can compartmentalize different tasks, we will have time for them. But we will make time for the things that are a priority for us. It’s just a fact. What you care about, you take time for. (Think about that for a minute. Bit of a gut punch? Yeah, for me too.)

            I want to be an author. You want to be a ____________. Fill in the blank. What are you doing towards that? How much time are you spending on social media? Browsing for books, shoes, car parts, etc.? Binge-watching your favorite TV show. (P.S. Stephen and I just binge-watched West World! So wild and so good!) Whatever your kryptonite is. Doesn’t mean you can’t do these things, but if we push those things later in our day, as perhaps rewards for a day well spent… they become easier to savor even. Because then there's no guilt that we didn't fulfill any tasks.

            THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT PERFECTION (or even the attempt at perfection). I find that the more I strive for perfection, the less I actually accomplish. Why am I telling you this? Because I constantly battle against perfectionism. Life is not perfect. It will never be. And because of that I find I have a couple of default responses when I forget this and life smacks me in the face.

            One) despair. Which leads to freaking out, crying, drinking a whole bottle of wine, and accomplishing nothing other than keeping your children alive that day. (Oh no, I’ve never done that…. ahem)

            Two) Why bother? I’ll never get it right. So why try. I won’t write that book, travel to Europe, exercise regularly, etc. etc. Well with that attitude, no wonder! (Yep, me again.)

            Point? It’s all in your head. You’re not going to have it all figured out. It won’t be perfect. Not even close. I’ll have lots of days where everything is a mess. All of that is okay... even normal! But I can't live there... So long as I pick myself back up again... (Or if someone needs to help me…because there’s no shame in that either)… Then one day I will publish this book. And accomplish my dream… and keep my children alive (and hopefully healthy and happy too) in the process.

SO WHAT CAN YOU DO THAT WILL HELP YOU WORK TOWARDS THIS?

LET ME TELL YOU!

ONE) Put your phone down. Notifications on silent. Leave it in the other room!

TWO) If you're worried you'll miss an appointment, etc. because you aren't with your phone, do what I do and set your phone on Do Not Disturb- but leave the alarm function on. AND SET ALARMS. Wow my life has been transformed by this! I have an alarm for everything...including alarms to help me not forget to pick my kids up at school. Because I'm a great mom and would forget they're there until the school called :) 

 Screenshot of my pone...the list goes on. I have alarms to remind me to take the trash can out for collection... etc.

Screenshot of my pone...the list goes on. I have alarms to remind me to take the trash can out for collection... etc.

 

THREE) Do one thing at a time. Remember you cannot do it all, so pick the thing that will give you the most peace of mind. Hate a messy kitchen? Clean the kitchen. Messy bathroom gross you out? Clean the bathroom. Set a timer. (Most rooms can be cleaned, or at least surface cleaned in 10-15 mins!...if you maintain them, you can clean a bathroom in 5 minutes!) Race yourself. Turn on music. Sing. Stop thinking about what you're doing and Nike! (Nike did not pay me for that, but if they want to they can hehe.)

FOUR) Consider a bullet journal. A bullet journal might sound trendy, or look overwhelming, but it's a very practical effort to make journaling and/or organization effective and highly customizable to your life. It takes a bit of set up to begin, but its so satisfying and highly effective for a wide range of people. Ask my family. I've tried to make them all start one. And if you haven't listened yet and you're reading this... watch this video.

FIVE) This might be the most important one! Be proud of yourself when you accomplish something. I have spent YEARS feeling guilty that I couldn't do it all. ENOUGH. Do the thing. (Even if it's one thing.) Then celebrate. Don't shut down, but pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Give yourself some credit. And try again tomorrow.

Just start! You can do it! I believe in you!

This post by no means covers everything there is to help with productivity or even everything I do regularly... What do you do? Share in the comments, I love to learn new methods!