There was a point in time when I longed to be busy. When I could think of nothing more than wanting to say “let me check my calendar.”
Then I got divorced and became a single mother, in addition to taking 18+ credit hours a semester, working two jobs and an internship. My once empty calendar was now filled with multiple weekly doctor appointments, long term hospitalizations, papers, quizzes, exams, National Boards, study groups, practicums, field trips and playdates.
With the life load that I had (and have) my loved ones often ask, “how in the world do you find time for yourself, better yet others?” It wasn’t until this week that I discovered the answered.
By being productive, not busy.
I never quite understood the difference until I began blogging and became conscious of my weekly goals and plans since I am now sharing them with everyone.
There’s a common misconception (especially in America) that if your planner isn’t packed to capacity, filled with to-do’s, you’re not being a productive citizen. Well, I beg to differ.
Being busy, is frantic and unorganized. Productive is being well, planned and strategic. The deux terms are not synonymous. A busy person can have cinquante things on their to-do list but only accomplish un task because they lack proper planning.
I am often side-eyed because of my quasi-European approach to life and work. Just because I’m not pulling my locs, constantly stressed about deadlines and meetings and I actually sit to enjoy a cappuccino vs. always on the go, doesn’t mean that I am not concerned or consumed.
I plan, therefore I am (mostly) prepared.
Preparing (for the most part) alleviates those heart racing anxiety inducing rushed feelings because you have taken time to develop a plan. Many people think that I am absolutely insane, for spending time during the weekend to prepare for the week. If planned and executed properly, only a few hours of your weekend will be spent preparing, resulting in countless hours being spared during the week.
There are vingt quatre hours in un jour. You must decide how you plan to use them.
My beloved grand-mere always said “you make time for the things you want to make time for.” That is by far one of the most cherished and accurate quotes of hers next to “it’s only acceptable for two kinds of women to carry one-dollar bills. Waitresses and _______” (well, take a wild guess!)
With my little lads school year coming to an end, I will now have two “extra” hours a day (I don’t have to wake up as early to get him to school.) Instead of sleeping in, I’ve decided to use that time to take an INTENSE wine certification course with my; TED talk giving, magazine cover gracing, #lifegoals, YAY-partner in life, mentor, sister-from-another-mister (also known as Valerie), in conjunction to increasing my language courses.
To get you started, or to revamp your current planning methods, here are my cinq tips to become more productive, instantly:
Un. Write it down
I am extremely biased when it comes to this because I LIVE for my planner. Whether its written, texted on your phone, or spoken via your smartwatch have VISIBLE realistic, time-oriented goals. Also, make note of any additional resources that are needed and prepare for that as well. If you know deux-jours ahead that you’ll need the neighbor to get your kid(s) off of the bus due to a late meeting, ask in advance. Not everything can be planned, but plan for what you can. Waiting until the very last moment not only causes self induced stress but it inconveniences others. Which is not tres chic!
I am not a fan of multi-talking. I’ll go so far as to say je deteste ça. But currently, it is nearly impossible to make it to a deux interview if you say you weren’t born to multi-task. Not to be disillusioned, I am GREAT at multi-tasking (for any future hiring officials reading <insert winking emoji>) je préfère pas trop.
Duo-tasking is what I prefer. While ironing clothes for the week, I pass time doing this mundane task by listening to a podcast or surprising a loved one with a phone call vs. a text. Since ironing doesn’t require much thought and minimum physical effort duo-tasking will be a breeze.
Trois. Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Today, Not Sunday
As if Sunday’s aren’t dreaded enough, saving all of your chores for the last free day makes it unbearable. Spread the load. Last Friday on IG I shared my new functional Friday outlook. From now on, I will stop viewing Friday as the end of the week thus giving myself permission to slack off. Friday after enjoying much needed relaxation time once arriving home from work, I washed clothes. Seeing as though I’m not physically doing anything but pressing a button, that was one less thing I had to do on Sunday.
Saturday morning, après avoir profité un cappuccino but just before meeting my love bug Tracie H at Louis Vuitton, I put away the clothes I washed the previous night. When my lad and I returned home from a marvelous day on the town I took vingt mins out of my evening to select our outfits for the week. Sunday, as I listened to a new podcast, I ironed. By staggering my pending weekly needs throughout the weekend, I was completely prepared for the week by 10am on Sunday.
There have been times that I have started arguments with my husband so we would both lose our appetite and just go to sleep.
Quatre. Know when to give up
This may come as a surprise, but it is a reality. We are only human, there are only vingt-quatre hours dans un jour and sometimes you just won’t feel like doing what you wrote on your list. I am not superwoman, as much I as I try to be. There have been times that I have started arguments with my husband so we would both lose our appetite and just go to sleep. Yes, I have stooped that low. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
You are NOT a bad spouse or parent if your family does not have a four-course meal for dinner. Perhaps, I’m the only person that puts that much pressure on themselves. Nonetheless, there is nothing wrong with ordering in. If ordering takeout is not in your budget, having a simple grilled cheese sandwich and soup for dinner is totally fine and delish. I recently started outsourcing grocery shopping. Not only does having our groceries delivered save time, it has also reduced our grocery expenses. It’s hard to stray away from your grocery list when you enter the specific items you are in need of vs. roaming the aisle being tempted by Cantonese duck fat.
Lastly, If you are fortunate enough to have (trusted) family and friends that offer to babysit your kids for you or come and help around the house. LET THEM. Don’t be a hero. I’ve always turned down offers from my dearest cousin Phylicia. Now I am PRAYING that she asks to keep this little man of ours. No pressure of course <insert pinocchio emoji.>
Time management and productivity may not be innate or always easy, but I can assure you that with time and practice it does get easier.
Below are two extremely helpful outsources that I use to help me remain my most productive self.
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Do you feel pressured to appear busy?
What are some methods you use to stay on track or to become more productive?
Your comments are TRULY appreciated! Don’t forget to check “notify me of new comments via email.”
Ciao for now 💋