I’m like a moth to flame when it comes to productivity articles. I read them daily. And often I glean some tips that could be super helpful in my personal home office and daily freelance work schedule.
The problem? Implementation.
If you’re like me, you get fired up, inspired and then fizzle. You say you’ll do whatever the tip is, when you can get to it. But, for some reason going to bed an hour earlier, pre-assembling a breakfast that inspires you to get up in the morning or starting a gratitude journal to fill your day with joy just never gets done.
Let’s Be Realistic. My Hurdles.
In an ideal small business world I’d have all day to move forward in my work. But, life happens.
I’m juggling fatigue, skin irritation an unexpected flares from rheumatoid arthritis, Celiac Disease and eczema; caring for two senior dogs with mobility issues and picky appetites while working in a temporary office set-up so I can be closer to those lovable furry co-workers; and attempting to fix up a historic home with my DIY-loving husband.
You have hurdles too.
Maybe it’s a new baby at home, caring for an elderly family member, juggling another job or preparing for a major transition, like moving or getting married! We all have life events to navigate, so make your productivity aspirations attainable.
Tweaks to Boost My Productivity
My first note to self: Stop scheduling more than I can handle without working seven days each week. Harsh? Maybe. But, I’m learning that self-care (not endless work shifts) makes me a better businesswoman and improves the quality of my work.
I’m nourishing and improving my number one business investment: Me!
1. Schedule breaks into the day.
I’m going to take 10 minutes off here and there to let the dogs out to potty, make a snack, stretch my back or bring in the all-too-often deliveries from Amazon Prime that linger on the front porch.
What I’m not doing now is accounting for those time slots. They add up and I wonder why I don’t get everything done at the end of the day. Then, I shift tasks to my “catch up days”, which are Saturday and Sunday, and end up working most of the weekend.
I actually realized this flawed workflow awhile ago when I was mapping out my RA flares. I tend to feel the worst on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so to preemptively squash downtime from sickness, I celebrate Wellness Wednesday as often as I can by taking a few hours off in the afternoon for self-care. Usually, it’s a nap. Sometimes I watch a movie on Netflix or indulge in a making a new recipe.
And when things don’t go as scheduled, I’ll never be upset for working late or on a Sunday afternoon because I took time out of my day to cuddle with the pups or share breakfast with the hubby. I cherish those moments, and they make working longer hours worth it.
Productive? Yes. Because those scheduled breaks fuel my emotional happiness, which carries forward in my work. I’m going to start scheduling dog cuddles and snack breaks on my Google Calendar.
2. Say ‘No.’ more often.
I actually like my career, so when I’m offered writing projects that fit my interests or allow me to learn something new, I’m thrilled. But sometimes I simply can’t fit it all into my work day, week or month.
I’m actively initiating conversations about deadline flexibility, turning down low-value projects and not taking on as many things overall so that I can ultimately boost my productivity. I’m evaluating the financial and happiness values of each opportunity, and pursuing the ones that bring me the most joy, while ensuring I can pay the bills.
3. Listen to intuition and act on it.
I’ve read maybe three articles in the past week about scheduling a stopping time when you’re self-employed. I nod and think that’s a great productivity tip, so you have better work-life balance and get the rest you need to be vibrant for your next work day.
But, as a writer, that doesn’t always work for me. Sometimes inspiration strikes at 5am or 8pm. I’m going to hit the keyboard when it makes sense for me. So, my productivity shift is to listen to my intuition and work when I’m scheduled to work and the words are flowing, but also when I really want to get something out of my head on onto (virtual) paper.
For those who worry that I’m working all the time, these bursts of creative freedom open up spots during my scheduled work day, since the work was spontaneously already completed. So, it all works out as long as I tackle things far enough in advance.
Fun fact: The first 900 words of this post’s initial draft flew out after seeing a Tweet about productivity. My brain lit up. I knew my take on productivity would be inspiring for me and my readers, and here we go. I’m supposed to be tackling some edits to another article right now, but that task will shift to later in the day, when I was scheduled to draft this.
So this post is my accountability partner. As I share it out on social media with my friends, I’ll comment on where I’m at with making these changes. Wins or fails. I’m all about transparency and being realistic about the daily life of being a small business owner.
Want to stay in touch? I’m on Facebook and Twitter daily. I post new articles here each Thursday.
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Enjoy your day!