The Productivity Hangup You Probably Have Too

lady drinksA few weeks ago I was invited to a dinner party to celebrate my book Listful Thinking.  My friend and colleague Joya Dass runs a women’s networking group called LadyDrinks and hosted the event.  

So I was thrilled when she asked me to recreate the magic with an afternoon tea theme in Princeton, NJ.  (You know how much I love tea if you read this blog regularly! So I was all in on this.)

Most of the women at the tea were professional moms who juggle careers in industries ranging from technology to medicine. They all had one question – “How can you balance everything?”

It’s not easy, I struggle with this too and it’s only me and my husband at this point!  

One of the pitfalls and mindset issues I noticed coming up time and time again as we went around the room chatting was the idea of setting boundaries. I think mothers who work outside of the home tend to feel guilty about not spending enough time with their families. And then they feel guilty about not working enough when they are with their families.  That’s a recipe for overwhelm and disaster.  

Taking time for yourself is super important for your productivity and for your sanity.  Here’s the fix: boundaries. 

Here are some ways to set boundaries:

lady drinks 2Say No – Do you have a hard time saying no when someone asks you for a favor or sends you an invitation to get together?

You’re not alone. I do too. I totally understand — sometimes you just suck it up and give your precious time away. But next time someone asks you to do something, consider these questions:

  1. Do I want to do this — truly?
  2. What do I gain out of doing this task/attending this function?
  3. What has this person done for me lately?
  4. What else will I do with my time if I don’t do this?

Saying no typically feels awkward and definitely takes practice. Once you overcome your fear, you’ll realize how easy it is!  

“No, I’m sorry I can’t make it.” — That’s all you need to say — you don’t need to give an explanation.  That way, you can make more time for important tasks, obligations, and most importantly – yourself!

lady drinks 3Pause before you jump – When you have an important task to do, it’s tempting to jump right in before you’ve even thought about it. But this ‘go-getter’ attitude can be what’s hindering your productivity. By taking 5 minutes to quickly jot down a plan or brainstorm different ways of tackling the task, you can save yourself a lot of time in the long run.

So instead of just doing what someone asked of you right then and there.  Pause.  Write it down on your to-do list and inform the person that you’ll get to that task when you’re finished with something more pressing now.  

Don’t answer your phone –  Only answer if it’s absolutely necessary.  I started doing this years ago and it’s changed my workflow.  

Here’s the rule:  If the person calling can give you information about the task you’re working on or you have an appointment for that call — you pick it up.  

lady drinks 4Otherwise — it’s not high priority and can wait.

Use discipline when returning the call.  When you insist on an appointment before you answer a call it let’s people know that your time is valuable.

Take some time for yourself – It’s easy to say you’re too busy to look after yourself and it’s one of the first things out the window when you’re in a rush. But even the smallest amount of time can really help you. Ten minutes makes a tremendous difference.  You can definitely take 10 minutes out for yourself.  

Treat your ‘me time’ appointment in the same way you would a doctor’s appointment, or lunch with a friend. Because you are just as important as anybody else!

How do you set boundaries?

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