I saw a meme the other day that I thought was hilarious. It said, “I wish I was as tired as I thought I was before I had a baby.” It’s funny, but so true! Looking back on my pre-Daphne days, I can’t believe I actually thought I was tired or busy back then.
I would take that meme a step further and say, “I wish I was as productive as I thought I was before I had a baby.” I am surprised with how much more I am able to get done in a day now. I actually feel like I gained extra hours. I wish I knew then what I know now about productivity and time management.
If I could go back in time to my college freshman self, what would I tell her about productivity and time management? I’d probably say it’s not too hard to incorporate a few changes, such as the below, and see big results.
Limit the idle social media scrolling time. This is a suggestion I actually did try in college, and I saw a positive change in my productivity almost immediately. It was becoming way too easy to put off homework and essays and scroll through my Facebook feed. When I started to realize how distracting Facebook was, I deleted my account, and I was off of Facebook for almost 5 years! When I moved three hours away from home in 2016, I reinstated it to keep in touch with family and friends. After my lengthy break, though, I feel like I have a much better sense of “scroll self-control.” I believe that mindlessly consuming too much social media can take a toll on your productivity and waste time. It’s ok to follow your favorite accounts, but just be mindful of how many hours you’re spending reading and scrolling.
Set alarms and switch gears. I have a really hard time with this. My brain isn’t naturally programmed to switch gears. I prefer to have long stretches of uninterrupted time to work on a single project, which I realize is pretty unrealistic, especially as a working mom. Instead of dedicating hours on end to a single thing, I now set an alarm (sometimes it’s just a mental one) for a specific period of time. At the end of the time period, I drop the task and start something else. When I revisit the project later, sometimes I see it in a new way, and the break can give me a fresh perspective.
Keep a routine. I learned from my daughter that routines are important; she depends on them for structure and comfort. I am naturally inclined to “go with the flow” and see where the day takes me. Although this is generally a good quality, and it can be a lot of fun, it’s not all that great for productivity. Success is built upon what you do regularly, not what you feel like doing from one day to the next. Make a general plan for your days and really stick with it, even if you don’t want to. To make your routine less daunting, pick 3 important things to accomplish each day. Once everything is done, you’ll be so glad you stuck to your schedule.
Spend 30 minutes a day developing a skill. Most of us can spare 30 minutes, right? I try to do some writing on my lunch break. Some people meditate, play an instrument, listen to a foreign language lesson, or read a book. Whatever you choose, make an effort to set aside 30 minutes a day devoted to the skill. You’d be surprised at how effective even 30 minutes of daily dedicated time can be.
Productivity doesn’t always come naturally. I’m definitely more of a “type B” personality and I prefer to do what I want when I feel like doing it. I’ve learned, though, that the people who work hard consistently are the ones who really get things done and accomplish their goals. I want to be a person like that, and I have made great strides at reaching this goal.