Life happens. We are all set on a routine when we get smacked in the face with a huge life event. Whether planned or unexpected, it’s still challenging to adjust. We may have had intense focus and a productivity system in place beforehand, but it all goes downhill…unless we do something about it.
Life happened for me. I was a happily married woman and a Smom to an 11-year-old daughter when I found out I was expecting my newborn baby girl. I had not been planning to have kids of my own for another three or four years. Therefore, I had to shift my game plan to stay productive while pregnant. Now, I’ve had to shift yet again to care for my newborn, in addition to being the household manager.
Has the shift been seamless? Not at all. Have I been able to stay productive? Sometimes. And, here’s what I’ve learned, that may also be helpful for you.
1. Realize that your priorities may have changed.
This happens. Throughout life, priorities shift based upon personal choices and life circumstances. It’s all part of the adventure. If you are going through a priority shift right now, then embrace it. This funky transition time does not last indefinitely, and you will get back on track. It’s only a matter of time and refocusing.
After having a baby, everything changed from my sleep habits to eating schedule to my work times. It was tough for me to see my priorities changing, as I had always been primarily a work-driven, independent woman before becoming a mom. That has (of course) changed.
So, you realize that your priorities are a bit different now. Time to reprioritize! This is the fun part because you get to examine all the different areas of your life and your value systems. The goal here is to focus on what the most important priorities are for you at this very moment. The others can fall to the bottom of the list until you can get to them.
I like to choose my top five priorities at any given time to focus on. I find that if I try to focus on too many at once, I cannot do well at any of them.
3. Adjust your productivity expectations for yourself.
At times, you will find you can increase your productivity level in certain areas, but at other points, you need to decrease that productivity level. Don’t feel guilty when you need to adjust. Nobody can be 100% productive in all areas of life all the time. It’s part of the pendulum swing of life. Move with it.
I adjusted my productivity expectations for work downward, while I increased my expectations for taking care of my family and newborn upwards. This was a tough adjustment for me to make, but I am already feeling gratified by the results. Who ever said that you could not have your cake and eat it, too? I feel like I’m now getting the best of both worlds with my adjustment.
4. Follow through on your new productivity plan.
It’s easy to make the plan, but it’s tougher to stick with it day-in and day-out. Hold yourself accountable to follow through on your new goals, whether it’s by having an accountability partner, self-management techniques or keeping track of your tasks in a calendar. Everyone’s different.
I’m a highly self-motivated person, so I love the Getting Things Done system for holding myself accountable. When I need a little extra motivation, I enlist the coaching skills of my husband. If ever I need a pep talk, he’s the one I go to.
5. Don’t forget to schedule in some downtime.
This is actually the hardest step for those of us who tend towards workaholism. It’s vital to have some downtime either “scheduled in” or just have blocks of time where you don’t have to do anything in particular. Use these slots to explore your passions, discover a new hobby, read a good book, go to the movies or hang out with friends.
I need to take my own advice here. I don’t like downtime. I like to feel productive at all moments, and downtime feels counterproductive to me. I’ve had to rely on my stepdaughter and hubby to help me with my downtime. They are masters at getting me to disengage and relax.
Your Turn: When life happens for you, how do you adjust and reclaim your productivity? Go ahead and share any tips you might have in the comments section below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.