I receive a wide array of questions on Instagram and I’ve always considered creating a little web series in response to all of these amazing inquiries, but now that IG recently created the new “Ask Me Anything” prompt, I felt inspired to compile and answer your questions in a more public sphere. Here is the first grouping of responses that I finally sat down to ruminate on. A Lot of these questions revolve around productivity, daily routines, work inspiration and project management. It was so fun to go through these. I would love to hear what other questions you have in the comments below!
I’m doing a really bad job at this right now. I’m currently reading “The One Thing” in an attempt to simplify my goals both at home and at work.
Typically, I wake up at 7 am. My morning routine is really dictated by my kids right now. We have a 7-month-old and 24-month-old, so if either one of them is up during the night, I sleep until they wake up.
7-8 am: We eat breakfast together, listen to the news, and get ready for our nanny to arrive. My bag is usually packed the night before, so I throw on some powder, lipstick, and mascara and head out the door.
8-8:30 am: Podcast and me time on the way to work. I purposely make my commute a little longer so I can finish one podcast on the way to work. I drive through Starbucks and listen to a business-related episode from any one of my go-tos: HBR Idea Cast, HIBT, Masters of Scale, or Goal Digger.
8:30 am-4:45 pm: Work time.
5-7 pm: Dinner, baths, and play time! Our kids go down pretty consistently at 7 pm.
7-8 pm: Cleaning up, organizing, putting toys and laundry away, catch up with Joe.
8-10 pm: Netflix and chill.
10 pm-2am: Depending on my workload, I crack my computer open again and put a few hours against whatever big projects I’m tackling that week.
I organize my weeks so meetings are on M-T and the rest of the week can be used for big projects. This way I can keep trucking towards longterm goals while keeping the smaller administrative tasks from turning into big projects themselves. I tend to overestimate how long it takes to do the thing I don’t want to do and underestimate the time it takes to do the stuff I want to do.
I use G-Cal for all appointments and paper pads to plan our my weekly tasks. For me, I need both a digital and paper system!
I work on whatever feels good. If nothing feels good, I go for a drive, read a good book, or put myself in a place where I feel safe. Most often this is a sign my anxiety is about to get worse, so I take those “frozen” moments as a warning sign. Usually burn out is around the corner.
I’m really honest with how I’m feeling each day. If I’m in a rut, I can’t always use willpower to rip me from it. You have to ride the wave. Once you accept the fact you have to experience your feelings in order to move on from them, it makes it easier to stop anxiety from compounding on top of itself.
You’ve got to give yourself a little grace. When I was pregnant, I didn’t treat my ADHD with medication, so I really had to rely on healthy sleep and eating habits to keep my brain sharp(ish). I focused on projects I really wanted to get done, so I threw myself into product development. There were aspects of our business that suffered and I don’t think I was a very good leader when I was pregnant.
Right now we feel like we are done. But never say never…
I write down all the reasons I’m stressed, no matter how silly. Then I write down what would have to happen today, next week, next month for them to become a reality. Most often this shows me how irrational my fears are. It doesn’t make the emotional any less important, but at least you know they’re only fears, not something you are actually dealing with.
And if what is giving me anxiety is a REAL problem, I write down the ways I could make it better. If I do just one of those things, the anxiety lessens a bit.
I think about the freedom I want for my family in the future and the people who’s lives I want to help make better.
I’m either listening to T-Swift or classical music right now.
I like to think about productivity in terms of distance running. Some people are built for sprints, others for long sprints (me), and some for marathons. If you know how your energy usually flows when working on a big project, you can schedule your days, weeks, and months around just that.
When I have a really intense week of working 10-14 hour days, I take the ENTIRE weekend off. Like, I don’t talk to anyone, my phone is turned off, etc.
Basecamp has CHANGED my life. All of my businesses run on Basecamp and Joe and I even manage our household tasks with the platform.
I work during the same hours, usually at night, after all our chores are done. If you office out of your home, you might want to consider doing “time batching” which allows for you to get all of your home-related to-dos out of the way before settling into work. It also helps to have a designated space and a backup coffeeshop or co-working space to retreat to when you need a change of scenery.
If I can’t get excited or in the zone about something in 10 minutes, I look for a task that I can easily complete to get that little high you get from crossing an item off your to-do list. Sometimes it’s organizing my junk drawer. If I’m feeling really uninspired, I listen to a podcast or rewatch a movie that made me feel inspired.
Meetings in the first half of the week with lots of open time to focus on bigger projects. I also avoid multitasking at all costs. I turn off text notifications and all things email related.
I set a timer for 10 minutes. If I’m not in the zone by the time that timer goes off, I get to move on to something else.
This one is hard. I remind myself that work is a huge part of who I am as a person, and by investing in that part of my life, I set an example for my kids that shows people are multifaceted and that “mom” is one of many hats I wear. I truly believe I’m a better mother because I’m able to step away from time to time. I used to shame myself for this fact, but it is who I am. It would be a disservice to my kids to pretend otherwise.
– Ask yourself if you got enough sleep.
– Ask yourself if you’ve had time to recharge.
– Ask yourself if you’ve been taking care of yourself physically.
If your answer is no to any of those questions, taking care of yourself becomes priority #1. If I can’t leave the office to get headspace or I have deadlines I can’t move, I remind myself that as soon as I finish, I get to put myself first.
It seems counterproductive, but when I take the time to identify WHY I’m feeling unmotivated, it takes away the pressure to power through or that there’s something wrong with me. You’re not unproductive because you are BAD, you are unproductive because you’re not 100% yourself.
Basecamp — We communicate and create to-do lists for each project in Basecamp. We are able to track our projects and assign each other tasks with all the information stored in one place.
Airtable — Our entire business is run on airtable, which means all our important information is at our fingertips at all times. Makes it easy to file away ideas and collaborate on projects.
Alexa’s timer app — I use timers to get started and stay focused on one task.
Leap Second — Organizes photos and videos by date and stores highlights for compilation videos.
ALPACA — Helps make it easy to delete photos you don’t need.
I use time blocking at work and at home!
Daily tasks: light cleaning and organizing what is out of place.
Weekly tasks: laundry, bill paying, scheduling appointments, social plans.
We used to try and fit weekly tasks in without structure and we never felt on top of things. We also delegate. I pay bills and organize our paperwork and Joe keeps our social lives and schedule in order. We do our own laundry and our nanny does the kids’ laundry.
We also have a cleaning service that comes to our house twice a week.
Decide what you CAN do, not what you should do. I truly believe done is better than perfect. You learn from missteps and most often the “right” step reveals itself once you have a better idea what is or isn’t possible.
BY Kate Arends - July 27, 2018
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
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