Do you find it hard to imagine the word productivity right next to working motherhood? Do you find it even harder to put meaning behind the word itself? If you’re anything like me, I had always felt insufficient in this scope because so many things were vying for my attention I was “multi-tasking” and never completing one task at all. I’d return to each task and feel completely overwhelmed and started listening to the mean mama that lives in my brain. She likes to tell me that whatever it is is impossible and that anxiety was a normal feat for me as a working mother. Well, I’m showing her who’s boss.
While perfection is unattainable, progress is certainly within reach. I’ve been trying 5 productivity exercises to see which one sticks in my everyday. Since all of our daily habits and schedules are different I wanted to touch on all of these methods to share a decent opinion on them!
1. Write down everything that is just not working in your life right now. What needs fixing? Answer "if, then" questions for your self. Are there schedule gaps that need filling? What areas of life need the most adjustment? This will help you determine which of the next few options would suit you best.
2. Ivy Lee Method : This method is where you write down 6 action items in order of importance that need to be executed the next day. Then the next day, you work down your list. If for some reason you cannot get to all of them, the last few end up on the top of the list for the next day and so on. Now, I tested this one out and low and behold- I could NOT stick to it! Although it wasn't the method itself it was me. I was having a hard time fitting only 6 items on a list. So what I did was modify it. I wrote down 6 work related items and 6 personal items. Not on one list, but is two separate columns. I've found success doing things this way, but play with it and see how it goes!
3. Brain Dump : I use the Happy Planner which I'm obsessed with mostly because of the customize able and accessibility of it. I buy these extra pages which I'll link here that are called "brain dump" also made by the Happy Planner. There's a whole section for brain dump. As i think of things randomly throughout the day, which is quite often, I'll write them down here. It's not the most organized, but it works because if I forget hours later what I wanted to remember, I know where to refer back to.
4. Google Calendar : Two words- Color. Coding. I organize my work and regular life appointments here and it's a life saver. All of the work items are purple, my personal items are lavender, Noah's items are blue, and miscellaneous items are green. It's free in the app store!
5. Keep clear work spaces and home counters. I know it's a tall order, but i actually tried with 3 adults and a toddler at home to manage to keep my work station clear for a week as well as the counter tops and dining table. Clear of papers, business cards, etc. This is especially hard for those of us who work from home. BUT the benefit here from either perspective is that when you leave your stationary office for the day at a place of employment, you feel accomplished as though things are complete. Even if they are not, you know where to go back to them and don't walk in the next day already feeling frazzled. On the flip side, you come home to a clear space not feeling tense. I have just found that I feel very at peace when table tops are nice and clear.
Now productivity is not a goal in my opinion, rather it's a journey. Some days will look better than others and that is what you've got to lean on.
Please do share your productivity hacks working mothers to promote working motherhood wellness! Leave a comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
X, Giana Vasconcellos, MPH