This post is part of Women’s Money Week. For the round up of today’s posts on the topic of finding time and increasing productivity, visit the website.
So, I have a slight obsession with the Sweet Pickles series of books. I loved them when I was a kid (this is not a joke. I would spend hours reading them over and over again) and I love them now as an adult. In fact, for this past Christmas, my parents gave me the entire collection as a gift (considering
the fit I threw how upset I was when they told me they had gotten rid of my originals). It’s fun to read them now, with my daughter, and also as an adult, I get a different perspective on the lessons the books teach.
Let’s examine some of the particular lessons in my personal favorite, Rest Rabbit Rest.
Basically, the book is about Rabbit, the town banker who lives by a very strict schedule. So strict, in fact, that he essentially has a meltdown if he is even 30 seconds off from said schedule. His friends try to get him to take some time off by helping him complete his chores for the week but, in typical Rabbit fashion, he even has to make a relaxation schedule (that’s the humorous twist at the end. Sorry. Spoiler alert). However, hidden in the book, there are some great techniques for maximizing your time and increasing productivity:
Have a schedule
Yes, Rabbit’s schedule is a bit ridiculous. It’s impossible to schedule every minute of every day because, well, life happens. We get stuck in traffic. Our kids move slower than we’d like. Doctors run late. We can’t freak out over every delay or we’d all more stressed than is healthy. But the basic idea of a schedule is a good one, particularly if you work from home. It’s good to set office hours and have some sort of plan for the day so you’re not wasting valuable work hours (or staying up until all hours of the night trying to get it done. Not that I know anything about that…).
Even more than that, create a routine or schedule that also involves healthy habits like taking a day off, exercising, spending time with friends and family, even walking the dog. Pencil that stuff in like you would a regular appointment. Try to stick to your schedule the best that you can because if you do, you’ll see your productivity increase tremendously. But don’t forget to be forgiving of yourself if you veer from the schedule. It’s really okay.
I’m not talking multitasking in the realm of talking on the phone, answering an email, and working on a proposal all at once. We all know that engaging in that kind of multitasking is a recipe for disaster. But Rabbit had a great idea. While he was working, he had his friends talk into a tape recorder (the books are from the 70s) and then, later, when he was cooking dinner, he listened to what they had to say. That’s the kind of multitasking I’m referring to.
If you’re finding it hard to read but you spend a lot of time in a car or on a train, listen to an audiobook. If you find that social media eats away at a good part of your day, save the playing around on Pinterest or chatting on Twitter for the times you’re watching television. If you spend a great deal of time at kids’ activities, carry around a notebook or tablet and get some work done while you’re waiting (even if the other parents look at you like you’re crazy. After a while, you get over it. Seriously).
Eliminate the unimportant
The reason that Rabbit doesn’t engage in restful activities until his friends stage an intervention is that he doesn’t see them as important. While we know that to be untrue, the productivity lesson in there is that we need to get rid of activities or obligations that provide no value to us. They are nothing but a time suck and a detractor from those things that we deem important, necessary, and fulfilling.
I’ll give you a personal example. Longtime readers know that my exercise of choice is Zumba. I genuinely love it and it makes me feel good before, during, and after the class. However, there has been a particular class that I have been attending that, really, I don’t enjoy. I love the instructor as a person but her class…eh, not so much. But I kept going because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, even though that time would have been better spent working on things that I desperately need to get done. I was falling behind on important, necessary, and crucial tasks to make someone else happy.
By not going to the class, I’ve been able to regain some of my time and get back on track with a number of to-do items. (Oh, and I’ve replaced the class with swimming, another form of exercise that I find very enjoyable.)
With the demands on our time, it’s easy to feel unproductive (especially if you read some Facebook statuses). But there are people who manage to be highly productive by following what Rabbit teaches us about time management or even having their own methods. I’m not suggesting that you compare yourself to them; just do the best that you can. Because with a little practice, a few adjustments, and a little tweaking, we can all up our productivity.
Readers, how do you manage to increase your productivity or find time to do things that are important to you?