Hi friends! Happy Thursday. Hope you are having a terrific week.
The little babe + I have only left bed in the past day and a half to go to the doctor and grab a smoothie on the way home. Last night was a rough one complete with: fever, chills, cough, + a draining nose. It seems like we are feeling a bit better today, but we had to go into the OB and get tested to see if it is the flu..results are pending. Drew is sick too, but at work. I had to cancel on some of my favorite things (eyebrow wax, church group, dinner with friends), but I’m thankful that I listened to my body + we’re resting to get better. I just hope the little babe that is snug in my belly is feeling better than momma 😉
Today I wanted to blog about a few topics that center around utilizing your time better in order to decrease stress + increase productivity. These strategies will work well at work + outside of work. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’m a huge supporter of living a balanced life + in no way does this post mean to fill all of your off days or weekends to the brim. There are just things we all need to get done to make our lives run smoother + hopefully today you can pick up a couple strategies to do that.
A lot of us utilize to-do lists and many times we check off the easiest tasks first. This way you do feel like you are accomplishing something. The trouble with this strategy is you might stop short of getting the most important things done. Those unfinished tasks can add stress as we roll them over into the next day or week. Instead as my sister Krystle (read her interview here) pointed out a better strategy can be to do the bigger ticket items first. Overtime, she has learned to prioritize the bigger and more time demanding items first and that lessens her stress load and sets her up for success finishing the rest of the tasks. It kind of works as a domino effect if you tackle your to-do list from big to small.
In my nursing career, this is something we have to practice to keep our patients safe and well cared for. In fact, this is why the beginning of your nursing career or a change in nursing jobs can be stressful because you need practice at prioritizing + organizing your shift.
It did get me thinking though: on my off days or on days that I focus on blog posts, do I utilize this strategy? As an adult, even on days off of work there are plenty of things that we need to accomplish to make our lives run smoother. Including but not limited to paying the bills, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, making meals, attending our appointments, taking care of the yard, caring for children, etc. etc. A lot of times I start with the easy tasks because they are less annoying. Moving forward, I want to focus on tackling the bigger ticket items first.
In Leave Better Than Found, Taylor talked about the concept of time chunking. Essentially, this means that you set aside blocks of time in your schedule for specific tasks.
This strategy got me through my accelerated nursing program. I set a timer for 50 minutes. During that time I didn’t allow myself to be distracted by my phone, social media, or TV. I focused and pushed myself through it because I knew a break was coming up. When it went off, I would set the timer for 10 minutes. I could use this 10 minutes however I saw fit. Typically grabbing a drink, snack, the bathroom, pursing social media, texting people back, etc. When it went off, I dove into the next 50 minutes of productivity.
This strategy worked so well for me. I also did the items that needed the most focus and mental energy in the morning time chunks. I would use the morning time chunks for the assigned reading for the day. I knew that after I took my longer break for lunch, I didn’t have the same focus. I saved task oriented things for that time. Items that needed to get finished and were due. This helped keep me on track.
Now, I’ll utilize this strategy on a day off of work when I need to get things done. Examples of time chunks I would do now include: catching up on emails, writing a blog, working out, cleaning the house, researching/reading. If you work in the business sector, this strategy may be good for you to try!
Say No to Multitasking
We glorify multitasking in our hustle + bustle society, especially women. The trouble is that our brains do not work well this way. It lowers both our work quality and our work efficiency, all the while the person doing it feels like they are getting more done. Huge challenges that we face: the immediacy in which we respond to text messages and email. If you are stopping your work task at hand every time your phone lights up with a notification or responding to each email that comes into your inbox, you are not being as focused or efficient as you could be. A fix? This article entitled Multitasking Is Killing Your Brain suggests that you limit yourself to checking email 3x a day at a set time. You should set additional limits on how often you check your phone.
Another downside to the multitasking phenomenon: “Multitasking has also been found to increase production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Having our brain constantly shift gears pumps up stress and tires us out, leaving us feeling mentally exhausted (even when the work day has barely begun).” -Larry Kim. If you missed the blog that was all about reducing stress, check it out here.
I love figuring out ways that I can improve to make my life less stressful. I’m the one that’s always reading a book or watching a TED talk if I think it might help me or you guys. I hope you found some value in these suggestions + let me know if you have any to add to the list!