A few weeks ago my sister asked me how I am so productive and efficient during the day. I laughed at that thought, because I often feel like I’m running around with constant interruptions. My days look so different from each other, and working right now is the hardest it has ever been. There are a lot of factors beyond my control that add some disorder and difficulty to my life as far as being productive is concerned.
But then I realized that maybe, just maybe, this is one of my strong suits. As chaotic as I feel inside, I know my business has remained strong and most people probably have not noticed much of a difference. Weddings are still getting delivered. Family sessions are still getting scheduled. Blogs are still written (case in point!). So I began to think about how exactly I can accomplish this in the midst of life upheavals. I came up with a few pointers…
1) Batch tasks by days, hours, or weeks. When I sit down to work, there are things that I do consistently each day, every week. On Mondays I follow up with inquiries. On Tuesdays I do work for Tidewater and Tulle. Wednesdays are often my blogging days. Thursdays are for social media scheduling. These are just examples (there are a lot more!), but knowing that I have time allocated for my common tasks frees me from feeling jumbled and overwhelmed Monday, and prevents me from forgetting the things that can become mundane and slip out of my mind.
2) Keep a running list of things you can do when you only have 5 minutes to spare. This list for me is SO long, and so necessary. Honestly, I do not try and write when Willow is running around. If I have a quiet few minutes (both unexpected and rare!) I may dive into a blog, but for the most part I plan things like this when I know I will have uninterrupted, quiet time - during a nap, or at the YMCA. However, I do have a lot of things I can do when things are noisy or chaotic, when I’m holding her on my lap, or when I know she will only be occupied for a short amount of time before she needs me again. This is how I get a surprising amount of work done.
3) Plan for Friday on Monday…and Monday on Friday. I generally know (almost) everything about my schedule for the entire week by Monday. On Sundays I think through what’s coming up. I have some unplanned times for sure, but I know what work I will attempt on what days, what ‘extras’ I have in my week, and even when I will be able to workout. This does change (which can be hard for me!), but planning in advance helps me stay on track and shift my schedule according to what’s coming up.
4) Leave margin. I am learning this, slowly and surely. There are some days when I have zero margin and when the alarm rings, my feet hit the ground (or before, since I often ‘happen’ to wake up early). But that can’t be the norm. It’s not healthy for me or Willow. I need some space in my days, whether it’s an extra 20 minutes after an activity in case all does not go well, or some additional work time in the evening if the daytime is less productive than I hoped. Leaving margin makes me more efficient because when the unexpected comes, my entire day is not thrown off - just the next few hours until I can take advantage of the extra time I already planned!
There’s so much more I could talk about because I feel like I barely scratched the surface, but I’d love to hear from you! Where do you struggle with productivity and efficiency? What questions do you have? I have a feeling another blog will be coming on the topic soon!