Feeling time poor? It’s time to re-think the way you do things.

by | Dec 4, 2018 | Leadership & Personal Development

A few weeks ago I attended a Mothers Meeting on productivity, managing time and getting sh*t done. Jenny Scott, founder of Mothers Meetings, collaborated with Build+Become, non-fiction book publishers and invited Catherine Blyth, writer, editor and broadcaster, to talk about her latest book “Enjoy Time” in the Build + Become series.

Before I share some of the tops tips shared by Catherine, I wanted to explore the idea of time and productivity.

“Busy is not the same as productive”

Emma Gannon said “Busy is not the same as productive.” https://twitter.com/emmagannon/status/1031568788330872834

This really resonates with me. Perhaps it’s the fact that I feel (especially since becoming a mum) I’m never not busy, and yet somehow I find myself at the end of each day, feeling like I’ve achieved sweet FA. Or, perhaps it’s the fact that I’m constantly saying how much I have to do like it’s a never ending list of impossible to complete tasks, when in fact if I just had a few hours to myself, I could tick everything off my list and find myself sat on the sofa twiddling my thumbs wondering what to do with all my spare time? (Yeah right!)

Whatever the reason,I feel we put far too much emphasis on being “busy” as if it were a badge of honour we should be proud of. Or alternatively, as if it’s something we fall victim to. When I ask myself why I feel stressed or why I’m “too busy” to get anything done, it is clear that what it boils down to (99% of the time), is productivity. I struggle to make the most of the time I do have, when I have it. I’m sure many people reading this will be able to relate, especially if you’re self employed and manage your own working day schedule.

I believe it is about identifying how you work best, when you are most productive and then working to your own rhythm.

Which one are you?

Emma Gannon in her book “The Multi-Hyphen method” explores “the Lark and Owl theory” by Michael Smolensky and Lynne Lamber. Which is the idea that depending on our body clock, there are those who are early risers – ‘the larks’, and then those who are more evening people – ‘the night owls’. Depending on which category you fall into, will determine whether you are more productive in the morning or evening.

When you work for yourself it’s important to establish which part of the day works best for you. Setting aside time when you are your most productive is key to success, especially if you’re a serial procrastinator (like me!). This can be a struggle to fine tune, especially if you go from 9-5 to entrepreneur. Because of the way we are conditioned, it can be hard to listen and embrace your own work schedule, especially when the world tells you that 9-5 is the only way.

I am someone who works well under time pressure, in other words, I’ll do something last minute because I know I have to. This is my very own productivity hack, although I wouldn’t advise it for a stress-free work methodology. Planning ahead and allocating time to tasks is something I have always struggled with. It takes skill, will power and practice. I’m working on it!

That said, I know I prefer working in the morning, and usually well in advance. I overthink things, (a lot!) so I use time as an opportunity to mull things over, work it all out in my head before I put thoughts to paper, for example. This also means I can enjoy the process, knowing I have put thought into it and I am not in a rush to execute. So planning ahead and being organised is key to my success and happiness.

How does having a baby affect productivity?

I have noticed, since having Bodhi, I’ve never been more productive. Perhaps it’s because I’m under more pressure to get things done in an even smaller time frame, or perhaps my priorities have changed and there’s a lot more at stake if I f*ck it up. I’m sure both have a part to play.

However, I still struggle with distractions and having a baby to look after makes it increasingly difficult to get anything done in specific time slots. So this event came at the perfect time. Catherine talked us through not only how to be more productive with our time, but how to enjoy it.

Here are my takeaways from the event:

We live in a world without limits

Because of this, we need to set our own. Whether it’s screen time, socialising or any other distractions, it’s important we set ourselves limits so that we remain in control of what we do and how long we do it for.

Be accountable

Own what you need to do. Whatever the task, be it admin, calling your mum, posting that card or answering an email, be responsible for whatever it is you need to do and get it done.

Social media

Social media is a huge distraction and I think we can all agree on that. But there is a simple solution, and it really is simple! Turn your phone off when you need to get something done. Need your phone? Remove your apps from your home page, hide them in a folder maybe and make sure it’s not in clear view. Another great tip is turn off your notifications, they’re just an unnecessary distraction.

Egg timer

I like this one. Catherine suggested using an egg timer (you can use an app on your phone) for specific tasks. Set yourself a realistic time slot to complete a task in. Then if you find yourself being distracted or perhaps your mind wandering, you can see how long it’s been and perhaps can realign your thoughts to the task in hand knowing you have some time left to get it done. Equally it’s a great way of tracking when something is taking you a lot longer than you initially anticipated.

Sleep on it

We can all over think things. Whether it’s work we have to finish or an email we need to write. If you’re unsure about something, sleep on it. Come morning, things always seem clearer in our minds.

Do I want this?

Sometimes you need to take a step back and ask yourself, “do I want to do this? By asking yourself if you want something, you can then establish if it’s worth your time and energy.

Define boundaries

If you said yes to everything, you’d be exhausted, miserable which would probably lead to a burn-out. Define boundaries in your life, be it tasks you take on, or people you spend time with.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you have any time/productivity tips to share of your own? Let me know:)

You can buy Catherine’s book here.


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