Books, Productivity, Work

How have I been MORE productive during the pandemic??

Okay! Monday is long gone, and I am back on track. Yesterday was much better. 

I got a shower in in the morning, took our daily walk with the boys, successfully managed to help organize another school day, had a conference call with my boss, got all of my work hours in and even got my workout in (Day 12 Lower Body fix plus the lovely 10 minute Abs). Additionally, I had my first real venture out of the house since our “14 day post-travel” isolation ended; I had to mail a package to my sister, who lives in Ireland, so I went to the post office at lunch time. Later in the evening, Ivan and I also went to exercise our right to vote in the WI Primary! 

It was also a beautiful, warm day here, so maybe that helped my mood. Everything felt right in the world again (as right as the world can possibly feel right now, in the middle of a pandemic). 

Now, on to a topic that I have been itching to share with someone, anyone! for a while now. My husband is only very moderately interested in my “productivity” fascination, so he starts to tune me out rather quickly. 😉 

I have noticed the weirdest thing. Since the world stopped here temporarily, my work days have actually been really, really productive! It seems totally counter-intuitive. Everyone is stressed, the kids are home all the time, the world is weird and wacky and full of terrible news. So why on Earth am I somehow cranking out MORE work (or at least, generally more efficient work) than before??? 

My little home office space. It is nothing fancy but it is cozy and private and I love it! 

I have a couple of theories.

1. The rest of my non-work life is quieter. 

I think this is a big factor. Normally, my life is nuts-o. My boys are in (too) many activities, and have daily practices or lessons, oftentimes more than one starting right after school. My husband doesn’t get home until at least 6 pm usually, leaving me on my own for a majority of the running around. I also am team manager of one of their soccer teams, and have been doing a massive volunteer coordinator role for the swim team. (Some of this just needs to get off my plate. I am currently contemplating this whole issue of just being totally over-stretched.) Our weekends are generally bursting at the seams too. With all of that gone, I think I just have a ton of freed up mental energy! 

2. I have nowhere to go, so I have less interruptions in my work day.

Normally, the kids are obviously at school and they are home now. Hence, they are naturally “interrupting” me now in ways they normally don’t. But what I mean here is that I don’t have big chunks of time randomly eating into my work day that I  can’t easily make up. No dentist appointments, no 11 am school “fun run” to go observe, no field trips… Plus, on a normal work day I have to stop working shortly after the kids get home from school (since I need to start driving them places). Now, I have been freely working until 5:30/6 pm or later most days, by choice, since I am getting better chunks of work time in the afternoons. All I really *have* to do is help them with school and work. 

3. I am finally getting better at utilizing some of the tips and tricks I have been learning for the past 4 years!

I have been reading and studying productivity and time management for several years now. There are countless tips and hacks out there, and many are really great! There’s nothing I love more than learning new ideas of how to boost my productivity. I still seem to struggle many days with just feeling focused and centered. I always get my work done, eventually- even if I have to work on the weekends or evenings, or if the day didn’t go smoothly. My productivity is GOOD. But, there is a difference between getting it done and feeling like a ping-pong ball all day, and getting it done feeling focused and relaxed and in control. Like I dominated the day, and not the other way around. 

An app I love!! 

I want to share one thing that has been really helpful for me lately. I am typically not really big into “apps” on the whole. But one app that I have been seriously loving is the Forest app. Forest app 

The gist of it is that you “plant a (virtual) tree” which then sets a timer for however long you select. I usually try to work in 60 minute focused blocks. You can also choose to turn on white noise sounds- mine plays lovely rain sounds. During this timed block, your little tree will grow. If, however, you open your phone to go to Instagram, or Facebook, or to check your email (exiting the app), you KILL YOUR TREE!! Seriously, this is quite devastating when it occurs. Instead of a nice green tree, you end up with a sad, sad brown twiggy thing. It is crazy how badly I don’t want to kill my trees! I also have been putting my phone in airplane mode during these blocks so I don’t even hear texts or any dings which just increase the temptation. 

I learned about this app from Nir Eyal’s book Indistractible, which I received as a Christmas gift from my Mom. The book had tons of awesome nuggets of wisdom relating to how to stay focused and become someone who is “indistractible”. 

Some of my favorite tips from the book are:

  • “Being indistractible means striving to do what you say you will” (This was I think the #1 take away for me from the book! Like a paradigm shift when I thought about it that way).

  • “The root cause of distraction is to escape discomfort” ( I find this very true; if I get bored, I almost feel an itch to do anything besides what I am supposed to be doing)

  • “To master distraction, we must learn to deal with discomfort” (Master boredom= master discomfort= master the urge to google how old Jennifer Lopez is and why she looks so dang good still)

  • “Our perception of who we are changes what we do”(He gives examples of how we need to develop the identity that we are indistractible people. He references a study that showed that people who are asked if they are “voters” are dramatically more likely to vote than people who are simply asked “if they would vote”. I think this is fascinating! I have been actively working on identifying as someone who simply does not get distracted while working.)

I really enjoyed this book and can definitely see myself re-reading it sometime in the future. I totally geek out on this kind of stuff though!! 🙂 

Daily Gratitude:
I am grateful that I live in a quiet neighborhood where my family can go on walks! We have little traffic and also live near a nice big park with beautiful birds and paths to walk on. This is something I appreciate daily! 

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