One of the hardest things to deal with during a pandemic, working from home, kids schooling from home, and regular daily life, is how to be more productive. We want to keep on top of things, and a brand-new year seems like a good place to start. While it is a fantastic place to start, we need to know how to start before being successful. Here are a few tips we have gathered to help you become more productive this year.
One of the hardest parts of being more productive is scheduling our time and prioritizing the order of tasks. One great way to get better at this is being intentional about it. Each day make a list of things you must do. Next, number the list in order of importance. Finally, rank the list (use letters this time or number on the other side of the list) in order of urgency. Complete the most urgent essential tasks first and leave the least important/ urgent tasks for last. You may find that some of those tasks are not valuable uses of your time, and you can skip them altogether. You may also find that you can get more done by knowing which deadlines are most important to meet.
Use a Planner
This one sounds so simple, and with 2020 canceling many plans, it may sound useless. On the contrary, I used three different planners last year. I needed one for work tasks, one for family activities (Doctor’s appointments didn’t stop), and one in my purse when I was out needed to make a note. They are also good places to write school deadlines for children with projects, major tests, and other assignments they need to complete over time.
Don’t Try to Multitask
Experts have found that most people do not multitask as well as they think they do. If they focused on one task at a time, they would often finish earlier than trying to juggle two or three. Exceptions do occur, but for the most part, this is true. However, if you are now helping your children with school at home and working from home, you might find that you have to juggle some responsibilities. Minimize the habit of multitasking when possible.
Delegate or Ask for Help
This tip could be split into two if necessary. You can delegate responsibilities to others when necessary. If you are married or in a committed relationship, ask your partner to do some of the things that are difficult to get to in your day. Children can also be pulled into this tip. Children can load and unload clothes washers, dryers, and dishwashers from a young age; they can also take out the trash, sweep or mop the floor, and clean their spaces. When these things are difficult for your child to do due to size or ability, they can still assist you while you do it to learn the skill, in most cases. Don’t be afraid to tell your family you need them to pitch in and help. If you need to, go to extended family and ask for help too. Ask someone to babysit so you can get things done once a week. You are not an island. Ask for help and dole out responsibilities.
If most of your “to do” list is not for you, start saying no. You do not have to be everything for everyone. It’s great that you want to help, but you cannot do everything. If you do say yes, make sure that it is not going to infringe on your personal life. The world will not end if you do not chair the family life committee at church. Someone else can step in and do it.
Eating balanced meals, exercising, and getting sufficient rest will do wonders for your energy. You can use those planners we mentioned above to plan meals and exercises. You can even take walks with the kids or walk around the yard while they play. It does not have to be a formal routine. Thirty minutes of activity a day can change your energy levels tremendously.
Be Realistic with Time Estimates
One of the worst things you can do is underestimate how long a task will take. You will feel behind for the rest of the day. You may even get flustered and start making mistakes. Overestimate the time tasks take if you have trouble deciding. If you know that you can get a task done in an hour, estimate ninety minutes, and block your time off using that estimate. This overestimation will do two things for you, typically. It will allow for unforeseen interruptions and not put you behind, but it may also free up time to deal with seemingly minor tasks you may have been putting off. You finish early and can squeeze in a phone call or email you have not done.
There are hundreds of tips to make your year more productive, but you have to commit to them. You also have to know what is hindering your own production. Are you multitasking when you should not? Are you forgetting certain tasks? Do you fail to prioritize? Once you know what your challenge is specifically, you can learn to overcome it a little more. You can use any or all of these tips, but make sure that you prioritize yourself and your family over all other tasks. Everything else can wait.