Do you feel like you are always on the move, but not getting anything done? It’s like this never-ending cycle of constant running around like a chicken with your head cut off, yet it never really feels like it is getting any better. Trust me, I’m with ya.
I just couldn’t figure out where my time was going.
I knew that I had been doing laundry, dishes, cooking dinner, not to mention the 5-year-old who always has me running. Yet when I think about how many hours I have from when we get home to when I go to bed, I just don’t understand how my to-do list is still haunting me with items unchecked. They weren’t even daunting tasks. They were just mundane tasks that I didn’t feel like I had time to do. Well, now those tasks have been moved to the next day. Because, sadly, those things still need to be done.
I was getting tired of not having enough time, but I wasn’t wishing for more time, because I knew I would fill it with mundane tasks. Aaannndddd, that’s not all that appealing to me.
So I decided to analyze my evenings.
I get home around 4 pm. My son has evening activities Monday thru Wednesday, so we are in for the night around 6:30 pm. I usually go to bed around 11 pm, so that is 4.5 hours that, if used wisely, I could accomplish quite a bit. So why wasn’t I?
The answer, I was feeling busy, but I wasn’t being productive.
“It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about?” ~ Henry David Thoreau
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I have learned that there is a big difference between being busy and being productive. Being more mindful of what you are working on and being purposeful with your time can be a massive eye-opener.
Want to find out how to fix it?
Trying to be perfect.
Problem: When you spend too much time trying to be perfect you end up wasting time.
What good does that do?
Spending unnecessary time trying to make sure graphics are designed just so in Canva or Photoshop.
Editing your blog post for the third time.
Folding that fitted sheet for the 100th time because it still looks like you just rolled it up.
Most of the time, once you finish or finally quit, you hadn’t made much progress from when you started nitpicking.
Solution: Sometimes it is best to walk away. Work on something else for a bit, then come back to it if you so choose. Also, set a timer. That way, you feel more of a purpose and urgency knowing that you only have a fixed amount of time to work on it. And sometimes you just have to accept that it isn’t going to be perfect and move on.
Not writing things down.
Problem: Do you sit down to work on a project or task then start to remember that you had the perfect idea for it yesterday? Problem is you remember that you had the idea, but can’t remember the idea itself.
I figured out that I don’t want to try to remember things I had thought of yesterday. Because, you know, when I finally sit down to write that blog post, I will spend a majority of the time trying to remember the idea I had rather than taking that time and expanding on that idea. Now, I realize that you may not always have a pen and paper on you to write down these thoughts. If you are anything like me, you get them when you are driving in the car or at karate practice. I know you probably have your phone with you though….
Solution: I like to use Evernote. This handy little app on my phone provides me the talk to text option, which is useful when I’m driving, I can make a new note. Then once I am at my computer, I can open Evernote and BAM, its right there.
This is also super helpful because when I get to work, I may have a ton of things thrown at me right when I walk in the door so had I not gotten my thoughts and ideas out, by the time I walk into work, I may have forgotten all about them.
Of course, there are tons of apps you can put on your phone that are free, so you may as well take advantage of them.
Not understanding yourself.
Problem: When you were at a typical 9-5 job, you always had to answer to a boss. Ugh. NO Fun. Amirite. So you quit and become your OWN boss. So awesome right?! No one to answer to, no one to hassle you about deadlines. Seems perfect. However, no you no longer have that accountability that a manager or boss provides. When you become your own boss, did you start missing deadlines or find yourself not be as productive during the day? That’s because the only one holding you accountable is you.
Solution: You need to understand yourself to realize how you work best to be productive. WHERE do you work best? WHAT is the best time for you creatively? What ARE your limits?
You need to know these things about yourself, especially if you are new to blogging and being your own boss.
Ask yourself those questions and find out when you will be most productive during the day and schedule your tasks accordingly. Here is a daily task list so you can start getting yourself scheduled.
Don’t work at the kitchen table if food is going to be a distraction. Don’t work where there is a tv if you know that you are going to keep watching what is on rather than work.
For me, I like to have the tv on when I am working on my laptop or cleaning a room. I need the noise. However, I do know myself well enough not to put on a show that I haven’t seen before. It needs to be one that I have seen a million times and can picture what is going on without having to actively watch. For me, it’s Gilmore Girls or Friends. I have seen every episode a staggering number of times so if it is on I don’t have to be actively watching it for me to be able to know what is going on. However, if I put on a show that I am waiting for the first time or have seen maybe once before, I will stop to watch and then I have nothing to show at the end of the night except my progress on Netflix. No bueno.
Not scheduling breaks.
Problem: Do you feel that since you are working at home that you can’t take a break? Do you keep working because you have only 4 hours when the kids are at school, so this is your time and you need to cram as much into it as possible because once those kids walk through the door, your time is now theirs and nothing you need to do will get done until after they go to bed?
Trust me, I get it. I just no longer agree with it.
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean that you don’t need a break. If you push yourself too much, then you can surely get burnt out.
Solution: Step away from your computer, shut off your phone, and put down the tablet. Make yourself some lunch, get some fresh air, but walk away from your work. Whatever you do, just decompress for a bit.
When you get back to it, you will feel more energized. I like to schedule my breaks every hour. They aren’t long, just enough to make a cup of coffee or go to the bathroom or stand in the sun for a few minutes. Nothing more than 10 or 15 minutes. But walking away when you feel flustered or feel like you are getting blocked is an excellent refresher.
Tip: Once you really start to understand yourself and how you work, you may begin to anticipate that you are about to be blocked or get stressed out. The key is to take a break right before you hit that wall because sometimes it is hard to get back to work once you are fully engulfed in that stress or creativity block.
Mistaking being busy work for being productive.
Problem: Have you been running around the house picking up items, researching for your next blog post, sorting the mail, etc? All of these things may seem like they are productive, but did you complete any of those tasks?
Did the items you were picking up get to their proper home or did you just move them out of sight for now?
Did your research give you anything you can make tangible right now or did you get sidetracked while online?
Did you deal with the mail, or just stack it nicely and move it to a new location?
So maybe you weren’t actually being productive, but doing busy work instead?
Even though you feel like you are productive, it is not always the case. Be mindful of the task at hand and if you are going to start it, complete it.
Solution: I had read once about the “One-Touch Rule”. The premise is to save you time from redoing work. By only touching an item once, put it where it needs to go from the start. That way you are not wasting time later by having to deal with it again.
I love this rule, and I have been trying to use it in my own life actively.
Instead of getting the mail and putting it on the kitchen table. Going back to it and looking at it a few hours later, throwing away the junk and putting the rest on the counter. Once again going back to it at a later time to go through and open what is left only then leave it on the counter some more…
That mail has now been touched three times when I could have brought it in, sorted out the junk, opened necessary items and put those items where they belong in the first place.
Those few minutes I took each time to move or look through the mail without ever doing anything with it was a waste of time. If you stop to think about how many times you go back and touch an item that you could have just put away in the first place, you will be amazed at how much it can add up.
*Now is the time to stop tanking your productivity. Use these tips and start being more purposeful with your time because once it is gone, you can’t get it back.
What are some things that you have done to increase your productivity? Share them in the comments below!