Jill Levenhagen stock photography
My sweet little 4 year old daughter has a new way to express
her missing me when we are apart. She tells me that sometimes when she is at
school she gets an “I miss mommy bug” in her tummy. Well, break my heart why
don’t ya! We lay in bed in the evenings and cuddle and kiss to make those “bugs”
go away. I shut my computer at night to read her stories and pick out her
clothes for the next day. She’s my life.
wanna” bug; or the “you can’t make me” bug. I’ve found I live my life in the
tension between my need for productivity, efficiency, and accomplishment, and
my even greater need for a nap and a moment of not being talked to or pawed at.
do not. I barely make it out the house each morning fully dressed. If you’re
looking for house cleaning tips, you’ve got the wrong girl here. I’m simply
living for the day when I can hire someone to clean for me. Pure bliss.
fact have real, helpful tips to share here. While I struggle in the homemaking
department (my husband says I’m a professional dirty dish maker), I’ve figured
out some keys to managing my always chaotic work life with relative ease.
just plain missing important emails? Do you put off making decisions? Do you miss deadlines? Are you often late? Are you lacking boundaries between personal and work life
(this may be less clear to you and more to your coworkers)? Is your desk and
office a cluttered mess?
those productivity pits, then let’s chat…
over the years who lack even basic control over their email inboxes. This is a
critical error for anyone in any field since email is the number one communication
method for most business.
cannot deal. I’ve clearly given up. There is no hope. But my professional email
accounts? Totally different story there, folks.
- Maintain a clean inbox – When emails build up in
your inbox, you’re asking for trouble. My warning light goes off in my head
when I can scroll in my inbox. That means that there are more than a handful of
emails there and they’ve built up to the point that I must now use the
scrolling function to look through my inbox. Don’t let emails just collect in
the inbox. Let your inbox be for current emails for which you are working on
- Use folders – Any decent email management system
(I use Outlook and love it) will allow you to create folders for your own
specific needs. When I am finished with an email from my inbox (in other words,
I have dealt with that email, responded to it, and am now done with it) I move
it to an appropriate folder to be stored in case I need to refer back to it.
- Delete your crap – How hard is it to empty your
email accounts trash and why do I even have to say this?
- Check your stupid email – Read them. Do not file
unread or unreturned emails into folders. That is where important emails go to
die. Leave your un-answered emails in your inbox to mock you until you get the
- End the insanity (spam and email offers) – It is
a big no-no to use your professional email addresses for personal junk mail.
Don’t do it. Set up a junk email account and give that address to whoever wants
it. That junk email is for your Panera card, your Starbucks gold points, your
airline miles offers, and the daily sale emails from your favorite stores. Give
everyone and their mama your junk email address, but protect your professional
email account. Also be sure to use a good spam filter.
2. Write it Down
whole work thing right. The type of
list you keep is a matter of personal preference and work style, but the need
to have a list is universal… unless you never forget anything ever and do
everything perfectly all the time in which case I don’t know why you’re reading
- Pen and paper – I used to love to type my to-do’s
on Monday morning, print it out, then mark items off with a Sharpie marker
throughout the week. I left space on the page to write in additions as needed.
This worked really well for me. The feeling of crossing off a task with a black
marker is oddly exhilarating.
- Notes on your phone – I use my notes in my
iPhone for all personal notes. My income and expenses for the month are tracked
this way (high-tech, I know). I keep notes for blogging, shopping, and general
to-do’s. This method is handy because I don’t need yet another app to manage
these notes and I always have my phone with me. Just be sure that your notes
are being backed up so you don’t lose info if you ever lose your phone or
upgrade. (been there, done that)
- Online programs – At work I use Asana and I love
it! Other programs people like are Evernote, Wunderlist, Google Keep, and
others. Many of these and similar programs also come with an app for easy
management on the go.
call-the-hoarders-police-we-have-a-crisis messy. I’m not perfect… I make messes
and I never want to clean them. I want everything to be neat and perfect, but I
also hate the process of making it that way. Whatevs. It has to be done.
long since forgotten, missing receipts, and unfiled documents.
walk around, get a cold (or hot) beverage, and then spend 15 minutes cleansing
the pigsty you call and office and gently corralling dust bunnies into the
hours. Can Not. Our brains will betray us. Our bodies will become worn out and belligerent
like sleepy two year olds.
reading material for days on the topic of frequent breaks and the connection to
productivity. We need to rest and
renew. A walk around the office, a watercooler conversation with coworkers, a
lunch break, a coffee break, even running an errand for a change of scenery…
these are all great ways to rest your brain and boost your work output during
take a morning off work so I can perform the simple, but important to me, task
of taking my daughter to preschool. I smash my full-time work week into 4 days
so I can have most Fridays-Sundays with my family. But when at work, we have
phones… only. We almost always communicate via less intrusive text message during the
work day. In the case of an emergency if I can’t be reached on my cell phone, my
family can call my office. This has never happened, thank God. I never call my
husband on his office line. The receptionist at his office is not his personal
answering service. On rare occasions we visit each other at work. Once or
twice my husband and I each have had to bring our daughter to our work for a
while because… well, that’s life! We are just careful to place priority on our
work while we are on the clock and not on a bunch of un-critical phone calls
life. We look ahead on our calendars and pinpoint just a few important family
events in a year that are non-negotiable. This year it is Christmas,
Thanksgiving, and our daughters first ever dance recital. We will bend heaven
and earth to be present for these days. With proper communication and planning
far in advance, these types of important days should always be respected by
your employer. If your employer doesn’t recognize your right to basic personal and
family boundaries, you need to move on. Money and accomplishment are worthless
trash if you don’t know your own children.
you will have to work on holidays and may have little control over your
schedule. But usually with experience and seniority you can move from paying
your dues to a more reasonable schedule.
profit and momentum.
with the team, do not leave the table until you have a plan and all players are
clear on their specific area of responsibility to the tasks. If you are your team, then do the same with
- Event schedule
- White board for mapping tasks, ideas, and goals
- Pen and paper or a computer for notes
- Computer for quick research
- The budget
- A list of goals to be accomplished by the end of
your planning session – go over these goals before you finish to be sure you’ve
met them all.
energy level you have?
questions later. That habit landed me in numerous stupidly busy seasons that
were too much for any one person to balance well. On the one hand, we have
stuff to do and sometimes we just have to make ourselves crazy for a season to
make things happen. Then we kick back and take it easy for a season. This is
normal. Welcome to life. Without busy times your many skills can atrophy and
you’ll appreciate the quieter times less. But on the other hand we have got to
stop piling on the projects like pancakes on a platter at an eating
competition. It’s just dumb. When you’re gearing up for a big event, have a key
staff member about to have a baby, are in the dreaded budget or audit month,
already have a pile of work to do that you’re behind on, are trying to hire new
staff… this is a bad time to say “hey, I have an idea! Let’s do [here insert
huge project that will give you/your staff heartburn]!” EERRR! Wrong answer!
months when you’ve thought it through and scheduled time for you and your team
to work on the idea during a less busy season.
wants to work for the dreamer and their family probably wants to slap them.
Dream big then execute wisely.