How to have a productive day

I have been thinking about the content for this blog and thought I would start with how I start my day. During the first lockdown, I was pregnant with my daughter. Days started to merge into one and working from home as a teacher of my fantastic Year 1 class, creating learning packs, marking and setting work from home was a difficult adjustment. But we were all in it together and we made it work. Working through the kinks together and making adjustments to my daily routine really helped me not to fall into a lull.

I woke up promptly at 7:30am (sometimes the alarm got snoozed, but who doesn’t snooze once in a while?) and opened up my notebook to make a daily to-do list. My mind would be so full if I didn’t have a pen and paper to write things down. To my fellow list writers out there, I am sure that you have felt the pure satisfaction of crossing jobs off of a list (even to the point where I finish a job and realise that it wasn’t on the list… so I add it on just to do a squiggly line right through it!). I even found through the Summer when my husband and I would create to do lists to organise the house, that he got very grumpy if I crossed off a job that he had done! But I will tell you more about our home organisation and preparing for baby girl’s arrival in another post.

Whether it is a work day or the weekend, I always write down what I want to achieve. Making the lists makes me do the job. Like some sort of miracle, that little line forces me to just finish the job. Organise your jobs to do into categories. Even breaking down housework into the specific jobs for each room.

I give myself a time schedule which helps me not spend too much time on one task. I suppose it was like having a regular school day, cut into blocks of time. In the beginning, working from home was long and taxing as I didn’t make time for myself and would feel guilty if I took a break to make a quick cup of tea. I started scheduling my day and purposefully timed in breaks to make a snack, a drink or even to watch a quick YouTube video. This improved my well-being and attitude to my work greatly, as I began to enjoy some well deserved me time during my working day. Even moving my laptop to a table and not working in my living room or bedroom allowed me to switch off once I closed my laptop. My husband and I decided against creating a home office, and as we knew that I would be taking my maternity leave later in the year.

Another tip is to sort jobs by priority. I think we actually titled them ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ jobs. This began really during the Summer holidays, when I thought that I wasn’t going back to work in the new school year due to the pandemic. You can read more about this in my other post here. Pregnancy comes with lots of appointments, check-ups and during the current pandemic, lots of phone calls and the odd video call. So blocking these into a weekly planner was useful, but more often than not I would use my phone calendar to jot in appointments and other things to remember. More recently, I have moved to using Google Calendar, so my husband and I can link calendars. This has worked really well so far and I would recommend this if you have a busy lifestyle and love a bit of colour coding.

So if you want to feel more productive, my top tips would be to block out times in your day to complete jobs, run errands and take breaks. Wake up at a regular time and try to get your body into a steady routine. If you’re having to work from home, set up a space away from the areas that you relax, as you will be able to ‘close the door’ on work and enjoy your evening. Use some form of visual calendar, whether this is an app version on a phone or tablet, or a paper calendar (we have both) to plan out your week and see what events are coming up. I found this especially good for birthday reminders so that we have time to buy and send gifts and cards. (Side note, if you don’t have Amazon Prime yet, you need it – it’s amazing). I hope that you can make some of these small adjustments in your daily routine, let me know if they help or if you have any questions you can contact me on enquiries@daytodayfamily.com.

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