I think we can all say that productivity looks a little different now than it did a few months ago. After being on lockdown for almost 50 days now, the new normal for me is working from home with two little ones while running several businesses, meeting hard deadlines, keeping my inbox clear, and homeschooling my oldest Chloe.
I used to pride myself in getting almost everything checked off on my to-do list on any given day. I measured productivity by how much I’ve been able to take off of my to-do list, but that is simply not the case anymore. Yes, I still write myself a to-do list every day, but I’m lucky if I’m able to even accomplish 20% of what I wanted to do for the day.
I’m not here to tell you how you can do MORE in a day as I’m not sure if that’s quite possible during this time, but I’m here to share with you how I work smarter and a few tips & tricks that have worked for me that I’ve picked up along the way!
1. Throw Your Normal Schedule Out the Window!
Do NOT try to mimic your usual schedule at the office. This is the first thing I realized that wasn’t going to work for me. I kept hearing people around me and on social media saying, “it’s important to stick to your daily schedule & routine.” So, I tried it and I completely failed. I think this might work when you don’t have kids, but when you bring kids into the picture your normal schedule no longer exists. I’m so used to going into the office – checking my e-mails and generally catching up. I now do that at the end of my day once the kids are in bed. It’s not ideal to work at night, but this is my new reality. What I do focus on in the morning is the meat of my work – which is any hard deadlines and content building. I always start off with the heaviest thing I need to get done for the day. Everything else can wait.
2. Meeting Days vs. Working Days.
Everyone wants to do a video chat or meet virtually these days, which is so important to stay connected, but I soon realized with back-to-back “meetings” and video conference calls, I would NEVER have enough time to actually get the real work done. First things first, I cut down as many “meetings” as I could. Then, I decided that 2 days out of the workweek I will not take ANY calls or ANY meetings so I can purely focus on the work I needed to accomplish. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, especially if you have to report or attend to a boss. But I create a strict schedule that works for me so I could prioritize the real work that needs to get done.
3. Streamline Everything and OVER-Communicate with Your Family, Kids, Partners.
I’ve been using my DELL every day and it has been pretty life-changing. I’m able to streamline everything so easily with my personal schedule and my family schedule. Since this laptop I’m using has facial recognition AND voice command, it makes my life SO much easier. I don’t have to worry about losing a password or wasting time on the little things that usually eat up my time because everything is so automated on the DELL. Also because it’s a touchscreen, my 5-year-old Chloé is able to do a lot of her learning and activities from the laptop now. I also ALWAYS over-communicate with my partner on my schedule and we take shifts with each other so we can really maximize the time we have.
4. Set Realistic Goals and Create TWO Lists.
It’s important for you to set realistic goals for both your life at home and life at work. I like to make TWO lists now, instead of one overwhelming list. The first list is a very small list with 3-5 things at most on there with the important, non-negotiable things that I need to get done for the day. When I end up writing a massive list, the reality is I can only get to 10% of it and it makes me feel so unproductive. But, if you change your perspective on how you view productivity and set realistic goals, you will feel like you can take on any day! Your task list should make you feel good at the end of the day by being able to clearly visualize what you were able to accomplish – so make a small list that is realistic and practical! The second list you should make is of ALL the things that you eventually need to get done, but are not a priority. This is a running list that you can eventually get to if you have some extra time.
5. Focus on the Most Important Tasks and Save the Emails for Later.
Most of us need to focus on our children throughout the day now so we need to focus on the most important tasks and not overload our own schedules. What has worked for me is to save the non-linear work, such as answering emails, for times that I can be more distracted, such as bath time. My kids love the bath so if I give them some bubbles, they’ll be in there for at least an hour and that’s when I can have my DELL with me in the bathroom and plug into my emails and quickly respond to people! I also like to save answering my emails for the end of the day after the kids are down for bed. This allows me to focus on the important tasks during the day instead of getting sidetracked with things to keep my inbox clear. But most importantly, be kind to yourself during this time. It’s really easy (myself included) to wish you had more time and wish you could get more done, but the fact of the matter is that we’re all just figuring it out as we go. People at all levels and occupations and even your bosses are adjusting to this new normal! We are all in this together and know we will come out of this stronger than ever before!