Get Stuff Done

It’s a challenge… staying focused and getting tasks finished in a timely manner. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming when you’re looking at a giant to-do list and wondering how you’re going to get it all done. As the great Tina Fey pointed out, confident women get stuff done folks. Productivity is measured in the efficiency of output. The more efficient you are at tasks the more productive you are. How you manage your space and your time and your confidence directly influences your ability to get things accomplished. I love what Tina Fey says about the confidence to contribute your thoughts and ideas, “Always make sure you’re adding to the discussion.” Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. If you wait until you’ve “perfected” yourself you’ll never make any real contribution.

We’re all works in progress. Believe in your ability to make it happen! Side note: if you have been wishing you could get some help with a dream you want to turn into a reality, look into a small business loan. Companies like Kabbage, based in Atlanta, Georgia, fund businesses that find it difficult to get funding from traditional banks. Forbes listed Kabbage as one of America’s Most Promising Companies. With that said, I wanted to take a minute today to share with you what I feel are 5 essentials for productivity.

  1. First, make sure that you set yourself up for success by being prepared (yes I was a Girl Scout). Do your research, know your job, be the best you can be for the task at hand. For me, this means being sure that I’m up to date on any changes to our system or processing and making sure that my files are in order. I’m constantly bettering myself and I believe this contributes to my efficiency. If you don’t know what you’re doing, how can you possibly do it well? Take time for continuing education and improvement. Be sure that you are “sharpening the saw.”
  2. Second, set up your workstation (wherever that is) for optimum efficiency by having everything clean, sorted, and in its place. My workplace had a consultant come in and evaluate our workstations to help us determine how we should be sitting and where our monitors and keyboard and mouse should be located for optimal ergonomics. I am a shorty so my seat sits closer to the ground, therefore I utilize a keyboard tray to keep my arms and wrists at the correct angle. I know many people who work from home and set up their laptop on their laps. This is terrible for your back and neck. Do your research to see how you should set up your environment to achieve optimum ergonomics and watch your productivity level increase!
  3. Next, utilize background noise to limit distractions. I know this might sound counter-intuitive but it works. Although high levels of noise can impair your creativity, low levels actually help you concentrate. The same way that white noise can help folks sleep, the same can be said for helping you stay focused while awake. For me, I like to play a low level of background noise in the form of music. The key is to be sure the volume is low… not too loud to distract but enough to blend in the background and drown out the random noises that interrupt your concentration. Create a Pandora or Spotify station of relaxing classical music or choose a playlist of singer/songwriters that can just fade into the background. You’ll be amazed at how a little background noise can help you become more efficient.
  4. Then, take frequent breaks! Don’t get so caught up in your work that hours have gone by and you haven’t gotten up from your desk. I’m the worst at this. I know that I perform better when I take breaks to stretch and walk around. Even if you cannot make the time to physically walk away from the task at hand be sure to give yourself a mental break. Take five minutes and cruise Facebook (just don’t get lost and forget to come back to your task). If you have to, set a timer to remind you when the break is over and when you need to get back to work. Frequent mental (and physical when possible) breaks help you to remain better focused and to complete the task in an efficient and timely manner. It may seem counter-productive to take time away from the task but research has shown it’s the best thing you can do.
  5. Finally, reward yourself for a job well done. When you have a clear finish line and a clear reward you’re more likely to stick to the task and see it through completion. Keep track of your to-do list and check off the items as they’re completed. A big line drawn through the task can be reward in itself. If you need more motivation be sure to set yourself up for success by utilizing appropriate rewards such as scheduling a lunch date to celebrate the completion of an important goal. I bring lunch from home each day and try hard not to spend money on lunch during the week, however, when I know that I have a challenging task to complete I’ll schedule a lunch date with a friend so I have that to look forward to when I’m finished. It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments.

So, what about you? What do you do to stay focused and to maximize your productivity? Let me know your thoughts and feel free to share this information if you found it useful. If you need more inspiration, set yourself up for success with this post I wrote a few years ago. Make it a great day!

MissCaron

A Working Mom (Outside The Home)

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole work-life balance and the idea that working outside the home can actually be a good thing for me and my future offspring. I read an article recently about children from households where the mother worked outside the home (no matter the total hours) and the impact that has on their future.

Women whose moms worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time, according to research by Kathleen McGinn and colleagues.

This is encouraging news! I believe that showing children that women can be successful outside the home helps them believe that they, too, can be successful outside the home. Not to say that being a SAHM is a bad thing, just that women who work outside the home shouldn’t feel like they are doing their children a disservice.

“In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes. Having a working mother didn’t influence the careers of sons, which researchers said was unsurprising because men were generally expected to work — but sons of working mothers did spend more time on child care and housework.” (NY Times)

This new study is part of a shift away from focusing on whether working mothers put their children at a disadvantage and toward a richer understanding of the relationship between work and family. I especially like the note about how sons of working mothers took on greater responsibilities around the home. This demonstrates that so much of how we are as adults is shaped by our experiences as children. Children who grow up with a father who takes a more active role in the child-rearing and housework influence their children by modeling more egalitarian behavior.

“There’s a lot of parental guilt about having both parents working outside the home,” McGinn says. “But what this research says to us is that not only are you helping your family economically—and helping yourself professionally and emotionally if you have a job you love—but you’re also helping your kids. So I think for both mothers and for fathers, working both inside and outside the home gives your kids a signal that contributions at home and at work are equally valuable, for both men and women. In short, it’s good for your kids.”

My mother both worked full-time when I was little and was a SAHM for a season when my sisters were born. She went back to work full-time when my sisters were in Elementary School. My step-father never took an active role around the house (unless you include repairs and outside work) and I vividly remember my mother being solely responsible for many of the domestic chores.

Craig is the main cook in our house and he’s very good about taking out the trash and doing home maintenance. I tend to be the one who does the dishes, and laundry, and indoor cleaning. I feel like we split our duties rather evenly. So, I’d love to know about you! Did you have a mom who worked outside the home? Did you have a father who took a more active role in the housework? How are your duties now as an adult? Please share! 🙂

The Heart

NeedToBreathe is one of my favorite bands right now. Just about every song speaks to me in some way. I love the style of the music and the lyrics have so much depth. If there’s ever a time when I’m needing a “pick-me-up” I will put on one of their songs.

Today I’m sharing with you their song, The Heart. The band NeedToBreathe are from South Carolina and their banjo and mandolin playing just make me tap my foot along with the music and I love it. The song Brother just moves me like no other. I can play it over and over. And Multiplied makes me just drop to my knees. So. Good. Plus, their entire new album is just fantastic. Check out Rivers In The Wasteland. You won’t be disappointed.

by NeedToBreathe

“Got’sta make hay when the sun is shinin’
Can’t waste time when it comes time to dance”

No Soda No More

SAD FACE!

2015 is the year of no soda for me. Even if I only ever had one soda a week when out at a restaurant it still will save me around $100 this year. Which I will promptly spend on a relaxing (and much needed) massage. I’m not even doing this for the financial aspect, although I know that’s a powerful motivator. I have read that sodas aren’t good when pregnant and since I’m already just an occasional drinker I figured I’d just go ahead and give them up entirely.

We already don’t keep sodas in the house so I rarely have them to begin with, however, every once in a while I like to have an ice cold Coca Cola Classic fountain drink when I’m out at a restaurant. There’s nothing better than an ice cold Coke. So, needless to say, I’m missing it.

One of the main reasons they say to avoid soda (especially diet soda) is that people who drink them don’t drink enough water. Soft drinks tend to take the place of water in the average person’s diet. “”Individuals who drink a lot of soft drinks aren’t going to drink as much nutritious liquid as others,” says Bess Dawson-Hughes, M.D.

With all that said, I’m still drinking coffee every morning and there’s the caffeine that I need to be weary of so I’m not completely out of the woods. I have been soda-free since the first of January and it’s May now so I’d say I’m doing pretty well. It’s not easy but it’s good to know that I’m setting myself up for the best possible success when we start trying to get pregnant.

I can’t stand the taste of artificial sweeteners so I’ve always been a full test Coca Cola Classic kinda girl. Every once in a while I’d partake in a Dr Pepper or Root Beer but we never really had sodas growing up so I’m thankful it wasn’t a terrible habit to break. So, what about you? Are you a soda drinker? Full test or unleaded?

Monday Catch Up

Wassup!?! Long time, I know. A lot has been happening and I’ve been so hesitant about sharing my personal life on this blog. I’ve written about it before (herehere, and here). In addition to both my father and step-father passing away last fall, my great aunt passed away a few days ago and another great aunt of mine isn’t doing well.

On top of the family stress, my husband is working on his Certified Financial Planner license which requires him to be in class on Friday and Saturday for four weeks with only two weeks off in-between modules. He started the program in January and will be finished in November. This, plus tax season, meant that we’ve been feeling stretched thin.

Really though, I think the main thing holding me back has been my fear of allowing myself to get personal and ultimately the fear of rejection. So, here I am… trying once again to move past the fear.

As I mentioned in my New Year – New Goals post one of the goals was for more healthy living. Y’all know that I’m pretty healthy overall. I make good choices when it comes to my food intake and my exercise but I definitely could do better.

So, here is where I am today… contemplating what I want from my life, what I want from my blog, what I want for the future… where am I headed and do I even want to go there?

How about a goals update?

  1. Focus on Christ – Better but not what it could be. Busy is not an excuse. I really need to get back into the habit of daily reading. I’m working on this. Gotta make time for what’s most important.
  2. Nurture Relationships – I’ve been making this a priority. Craig and I have so little free time right now and I feel silly booking out weeks in advance but I’m making it happen! Gotta make time for my relationships.
  3. Healthy Living – I’ve been off and on with Pure Barre. It’s great but I don’t feel like I get the instruction I need and I find I’m injuring myself. My joints just need extra careful maneuvering and I don’t feel like I’m getting the instruction/ attention I need/ deserve. I’m going to start running on the treadmill again after work and working out at home as often as possible. At least it’s free (Pure Barre is ridiculously expensive). I’m taking prenatals (yay) and not drinking soda (ugh) so at least I’m keeping up with the other stuff.
  4. Better my Budget – Craig and I have really been reigning in the spending. I feel like now that we’ve accomplished the major renovations on the house we can just squirrel away the money until the little one comes.
  5. Personal Development – Well, I definitely did not re-enroll in graduate school (darn that GRE) but I contemplated it once again. I know I really don’t have time but I don’t have time to waste either. I really am thinking about just taking the dang GRE as soon as possible and applying with whatever score I have just to get the ball rolling. I’m so close to my master’s that it just makes sense to try and squeeze it in. I’m still spending way too much time on Facebook and I haven’t picked Fluenz back up but I am trying to do more reading and less surfing the internet. Progress? Hopefully.

Are you up to date? Almost. Next month I get my IUD removed. It’s for real happening. We’re really going to try and get pregnant. As of next month there’s no turning back. I’m both excited and petrified. I have grown so accustomed to doing life my own way that I’m super scared of what it will mean to be responsible for another human being. I can’t even. I’m so close to throwing in the towel and staying childless… but then I see those Publix commercials and my emotional side takes over and I feel super strong about procreating asap.

I’m sure I’m not alone in my fears and excitement and conflicted nature. I’m hoping to share with you more. I’m hoping to move past my fear and to be honest with you. Maybe someone out there has the same concerns? Maybe this little bit of sharing will help someone? Who knows? I do know that I’ll be back in a few days with some more thoughts so stick around! 🙂