If you’re someone who only feels accomplished when you get to check things off your list, have I got some good news for you.
By the time this scene of working-and-schooling-from-home had become my new normal, I found myself more productive than ever. I wrote more consistently. I created more content. I did more business planning. I became been more organized, more intentional, and more satisfied with my life as a professional writer.
Here’s how I did it.
Like so many of you who felt frustrated during the uncertainty of a global pandemic, I’m a planner. The bigger the event or the more complex the project, the better.
But when I was trying to work full time and manage home schooling, I didn’t have time to sit and plan all day. At any given moment, I was bouncing back and forth from my preschooler’s rice table to my second grader’s reading assignment. Then back to my preschooler’s coloring sheets and over to my second grader’s word problems. And back and forth we went. All day long, while my laptop sat closed. And for a while, my planning fell by the wayside.
Until I planned how to plan. I know. Crazy type-A meta. But stick with me. Because it seriously started to work.
I broke down all of those big, exciting tasks into a series of small, manageable tasks, any of which could be accomplished in no more than 15 minutes. I created a list of tasks (itself an under-15-minutes task!) that I drew from quickly whenever the rice table was enough of a distraction or the book was good enough to keep the second grader entertained. I chose one task from the list that spoke to me creatively at that particular moment, and I went for it. I didn't wonder about where to start. I didn't stress if I wasn't able to finish it. I certainly didn't worry about perfection. I just went for it.
And every time I had a free moment to do this, it would allow me to add other small, manageable tasks for the bucket. If I had time to check off "begin blog post" in one five-minute window, then I could add “finish blog post” to my ongoing list. Later, I could add “edit blog post” and “post blog post” and eventually “create Instagram caption for blog post.” Before the pandemic, I would only have started down this road if I had time to finish it all. Now, even years removed from that crazy lifestyle, I still break down my tasks into the smallest nuggets possible.
All this type-A list-making is keeping this worrywart as productive as ever, even with that pesky pandemic (mostly) in the rear-view.
In the coming weeks--maybe months--I wish for you and whatever it is you're creating newfound productivity and a sense of real accomplishment at the end of every day, even if it's just ten minutes at a time.
I’d love to hear how you make your time best work for you! Share your best tips and tricks in the comments below.