Expectations can kill productivity faster than I can spend money in the Target clearance section. My number 1 productivity tip for home based entrepreneurs is to kill all your expectations for the day.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about being a work at home mom, it’s that when I sit down to work that will be the exact time some task would pop up. Be it my toddler wanting attention, extra chores, or an unexpected errand. Trying to get more work done in the day was almost impossible.
I researched and looked at every single way I could get more work done in the day. I tried time blocking. Working through nap time was impossible when L basically decided to stop taking naps. I tried to do lists and countless other special techniques.
I learned a lot and found success with some of the tactics but there was one thing that drastically changed my productivity.
I lowered my expectations for the day. Instead of completely pack my days and weeks with things that needed to get done I started limiting what I would do.
A surprising thing started happening when I lowered my expectations for the amount of work I’d get done in a day. I started getting more and more work done.
The Productivity Tip No One Talks About
I used to create these detailed to do lists – days in advance – filled with all these tasks I’d get completed. Everything from cleaning to work would get planned out in detail and none of it was getting done.
Why? Because toddlers have zero chill. My son wanted to play. The TV would be distracting. Something would get spilled and I’d need to clean it.
My to do list was packed with so much work and every single day something else was taking priority over my work getting done. I was failing because while I was taking care of L and his needs my head was consistently on my to do list and the 10,000 things I needed to complete that day.
I felt like a horrible mother and I felt like I was failing at my business.
I decided to dig deep into the situation to try another way to solve this problem. It wasn’t that I was failing, it’s that my expectations over my work was just too high. So I started lowering my expectations.
Sure enough, as soon as I started lowering my expectations I was getting more work done. I found I was working with the day instead of against a clock. Suddenly my productivity sky rocketed. I was accomplishing all the tasks I used to schedule and then some.
Check out my post 3 Steps to Setting Goals You Can Reach.
Instead of being aggravated about being interrupted during my tasks I started welcoming them as breaks in my day. I found myself more productive and clear headed with my tasks as well.
Taking care of interruptions throughout the day instead of trying to ignore them or push them off meant I could stop, handle things, and then continue my work with a clear head. The clear head meant I could focus entirely on the task at hand.
I oftentimes start work in the morning and complete it early enough that I squeeze in additional work. However, there are days that I get next to nothing accomplished.
On the days when I don’t accomplish much I no longer feel disappointment in myself. Mostly because I have days when I accomplish more than what I intended.
Finally, because I no longer feel disappointment about my lack of accomplishments, I am not distracted with more work being added from the previous day’s to do list. I get more work done just by scheduling less work to do.
Check out my post 5 Steps to Get Control of Your Paperwork.
Productivity In Business
Throw away the to do list. If you must have a list create a to accomplish this week list and then only put 3 big items on it. Limiting your work will go a long way to helping you get in the habit of lowering your expectations.
Try taking a break and only focusing on the things that cause those disruptions in your day. So if you are a parent and your toddler keeps interrupting your work or chores spend a few days focusing on solely being available for their needs.
Once you are in the habit of letting the interruptions be the main to do of each day you can start putting in work in between those interruptions.
Finally, create a designated work time. For me that work time is usually first thing in the morning while I’m drinking my coffee, I’ll get a few hours of uninterrupted writing time. If my toddler goes to bed on time I usually get another 2 hours in the evening.
All my other tasks that don’t need 100% of my attention can be done throughout the day in between play time, cooking time, and cleaning time.
Check out my post How to Occupy Your Toddler So You Can Get Work Done.
The Most Difficult Part
The hardest part about lowering expectations to get more work done is realizing just how harmful expectations are. Unrealistic or high expectations are harmful to your mental health, productivity, and your relationships.
By setting expectations on yourself you may also start setting expectations on others to help you. When they don’t follow through on those expectations you may start feeling animosity towards them. Therefore, harming your relationship.
Setting expectations on yourself and not completing the tasks can also make you feel as though you’re spending the entire week playing catch up.
Finally, how often have you had a giant list of to dos and ended up binge watching Netflix all day because you felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you had to get done. Setting high expectations for the day kills productivity.
By lowering expectations, not placing expectations on your days, or minimizing your to do lists you are setting yourself up for better success. So get out of your own mind and stop placing such high expectations on your day to day life.
Check out my post How To Stop Favor Asking When You Work From Home.
How To Be Productive Everyday
I’m not saying that lowering your expectations works for absolutely everyone. However, if you have tried everything to stay on track with your day and nothing has worked, lowering your expectations might.
Furthermore, if your expectations start out low and your get more than anticipated done you are going to feel really great about all you got accomplished. It’s always better to set yourself up for productivity success than productivity failure.
You can also try mixing different strategies to come up with one that works for you. My mix ended up being part time blocking, part lowering expectations. Yours could be lowering expectations and to do lists. Any number of combinations of techniques could work.
Check out my post The Morning Routine of A Work At Home Mom.
What techniques have you used to get more work done? Leave a comment below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your productivity boards.