Some weeks, some months life seems to pour on past like it is a liquid that I can’t grab hold of. Our life just spontaneously fills up, often with good things but it leaves me struggling for time to refresh, and overloaded with the stuff of life that has to be done for our family to remain functional. I struggle with the balance of working from home part-time and being a mum. I always seem to have more ideas than I can realistically achieve. I was hopeful that I would be able to find some productivity advice on the internet, hopefully if I can just manage to be more efficient, I will be able to put into action all my ideas. Well I should have known better than to expect the internet to provide productivity advice for real people. People who can jump out of bed after 8 hours of restful sleep and squeeze fresh lemons (for their hot water) while practicing mindfulness definitely inhabit a different planet than I do. As an example of what it is like on the planet I live on, and as a bit of a dig at the idealism available on the internet here are 8 things I did this morning to enhance my productivity.
1) My first priority in the morning and what I consider my first achievement of the day is to get out of bed. Almost all successful people make this the first step of their morning routine. Earlier in my career I did experiment with being productive from bed, but I find that getting out of bed is a much better start for a successful day.
2) Drinking strong coffee, before I am fully awake enhances my mental alertness that has been compromised by being woken by my son any time between 2am and 5 am for a week with unreasonable requests (when is it morning?, did you put out my breakfast?, please tuck me in?). I like the taste and my morning extraction ritual, but also it seems that coffee has several health benefits and my favourite quote comes from Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology who says “Coffee is a complex beverage”. (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/drink-up-health-benefits-of-coffee-are-numerous/)
I like to start the day with a little complexity
3) Being around a hungry child is like trying to function in a tornado so the next step in my morning productivity routine is to help my son get his breakfast.
4) A pleasant environment free of distractions assists my concentration. So as part of my morning routine I clean up any cat vomit that may be in the area. I haven’t seen any studies on the power of feline vomit to distract but I am sure that the multi-sensory assault that results from vomit must rate highly on any distraction measure.
5) As a step related to step 4, check that the 17 year old cat is still alive. Because actually a dead cat on your office chair is more distracting than a pile of vomit, not that I have personal experience of that yet.
6) There are a lot of articles at the moment about the myth of multi-tasking. Actually our brains are unable to multi-task well and end up not doing either task very efficiently. Most mums laugh in the face of this research and know that multi-tasking is an essential survival skill. So I get my brain set up for the day by quickly mixing a green smoothie. This allows me to drink breakfast, make my sons lunch and help with homework all at the same time, and sets my brain up into multi-tasking mode for the challenges ahead.
7) No matter how smart and comfy your pyjamas are, they shouldn’t leave the house, and getting dressed always makes me feel more efficient and business-like. But remember this must occur after number 6 or your efficiency will be lost by having to get re-dressed after you spill green smoothie and lunch ingredients on your clothes.
8) Spend 10 minutes on hold with the District Health Board, and 3 minutes not talking to the right person to cancel your appointment. Although this took 13 minutes, it saves me 2 hours in the long run, cancelling out travel time, waiting time and non-productive appointment time, as the child won’t actually let the ear-nurse anywhere near him.
So often what we read on the internet is very far from the real life that we lead
We need to remain aware of the gap between the somewhat idealistic and unrealistic ideas portrayed on the internet and what is actually realistically achievable for us in the messiness and earthy reality of our lives.
How about you what are your favourite realistic and non-realistic morning productivity tips?