In 2023, my life took a bit of a turn as my husband and I separated. I had been a stay-at-home mom for more than seven years and had not financially added to our income in any way. I homeschooled our children and made sure our home ran smoothly. So, when I was faced with the need to work to provide for myself and my children, I had to buckle down and do some hard things, especially mentally, as I needed to adjust my mindset and how I spent my time.
I’ve always been the kind of person that does the next right thing. No matter how difficult, I will find a way because it’s what needs to be done. I quickly realized how heavy a load single and working moms carry. My days became unorganized very fast. I was terrible at prioritizing, and the further I got behind, the more I wanted to procrastinate.
I had to buckle down and get organized so that I didn’t continuously experience burnout. I talked to some friends, did some research, and found a few things that I now do habitually to help me stay focused on my goals.
1. Spend less time on social media.
I downloaded the Screentime app which helps keep me from mindlessly scrolling social media first thing in the morning (or last thing at night). The app is designed to help parents monitor their children’s smartphones but works great to monitor your own. It is free for basic app monitoring. Another great option is setting up the parental controls on your phone and setting times allowed for specific apps.
2. Limit time spent checking emails.
In my anxiety to be on top of everything, I was checking email way too often and it was putting me behind on other important things. Once I designated time to answer work-related emails, my day ran smoother. (I usually check and respond to emails around 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) This helped my productivity in that it would allow me to not answer each little email as it came in, no matter how unimportant it was.
3. Add apps that help declutter.
If you’re anything like me, seeing an inbox full of emails–especially ones you don’t want or need–is stressful and overstimulating. The first thing I would do when I opened my email every day was go through and delete unwanted messages. Then a good friend told me about Unroll.Me. Unroll.Me is an app that helps you manage your cluttered email inbox by unsubscribing you from all those annoying subscription emails. It clears my virtual workspace allowing for more focused productivity.
4. Write down your goals.
I started writing out my goals and reasons why I work and placed them in a visible spot by my workspace next to a picture of my kids. Reminding myself daily why I do what I do helps keep me focused and on track. Even leaving affirmations on my mirror written in lipstick or taped to the steering wheel of my car helps boost my mood and encourages me to continue my hard work.
A couple of questions to ask yourself when finding ways to improve your productivity and get your mind in the game:
–In what ways do I usually procrastinate?
–What can you put in place to keep from procrastinating?
Bringing in an outside perspective from a friend or partner can be so helpful when trying to reprioritize your life. I remind myself that every step I take today (no matter how difficult) is one step closer to a better future for me and my children.