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Changing Focus

Author: Becky Sappor

You might remember a couple of my previous posts from earlier in the year where I waffled on about my inability to keep on top of the housework and how I’d lost my motivation to work out after getting off to a good start with yoganuary in January. I’m here to update you on how I’m getting on and guys, I have cracked the secret to getting my mojo back. Changing focus. Scrapping multi-tasking. Giving everything it’s own time.

I’d had a bit of a rough couple of weeks. Sleep deprivation getting on top of me and generally feeling a bit useless that I wasn’t getting anywhere with well, anything and feeling stressed that my workload was really starting to pile up and I couldn’t focus on anything. I have a couple of businesses and I was constantly checking email… Constantly. And I’d be reading one email whilst working on another project and then stressing over the email I’d read and not able to put it to the back of my mind until I’d actioned it. It was all a big mess.

So I decided to make a plan. Why was I trying to do a million things at once and being super unproductive? Meaning I was having to work more (and later) evenings to be on top of everything and meanwhile, the housework still wasn’t getting done and my energy was plummeting.

So one Sunday I decided to make a change. I sat down with a pad and paper and I made a plan. It would consist of me figuring out what I needed to do each day and setting a time for each of those activities. I’m very lucky being self-employed in that I can write my own schedule. And it has made such a huge difference. I am three weeks into my new routine now and I feel so much better. I have become way more productive and although the sleep deprivation is still killer, I am starting to feel glimmers of having more energy and my usual 3 o’clock slump isn’t as savage as it was.

So what does it look like? A little something like this:

8:30am – 9am – Drop boys at school/nursery
9:15am – Gym
10:30am – Housework (bathrooms)
11:00am – Work (business 1)
3:30pm – Work (business 2)
5:00pm – Collect boys
8:00pm – Work (whichever business needs more time)

8:30 – 9am – Drop boys at school/nursery
9:15am – Gym
10:30am – Housework (bedrooms)
11:00am – Work (business 1)
3:00pm – Break
3:15pm – Collect Leo
8:00pm – Work (business 2)

I have a day off on a Wednesday which I spend with my little one and then Thursday looks very similar to Tuesday (although in terms of working out I swim when Leo has his swimming lesson. I figured I was sat there for half an hour twiddling my thumbs when now I’m getting a good 20 minute workout and more importantly a lovely ten minutes in the sauna) and then Friday is a day off. I’m picking up the odd few hours of work at the weekends as I’m now dedicating some work time to, wait for it… Myself! But I’m happy with that to be feeling better and less stressed. I’ve also left myself the option to go to the gym over the weekend too if I need a little ‘time out’.

This simple act of giving everything it’s own time allocation has really changed everything. Lots of you recommended that I look at The Organised Mum Method when it came to housework and so I have adopted her half an hour a day rule. It is working so well. So thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.

How are you getting on with your work life balance? Do you tend to try and multi-task too often and then end up getting nothing done? Or do you have a routine that works for you?

Author: Becky Sappor

17 thoughts on “Changing Focus

  1. This looks great, and a good mix of work and you time. I’m always multitasking but it stresses me out. I will try focusing better at work today and see how it goes! My main struggle is logistics as I work FT + husband does shift work so every day is different every week. We have a mix of childcare for the little one – either nursery, husband when he’s off work or my mum. I feel like I need to make exercise a priority as I never seem to fit it in. I’m also chronically sleep deprived which doesn’t help so I depend on coffee and sugar to get through the day. My 2 are the same ages as yours and the impact of no sleep from my little one is getting worse and worse. I feel about 100! Am debating going down to 4 days at work to get more balance but we’re saving for house renovations so we need the money. I did get a cleaner though – that has helped enormously! I think the early years are always hard to find a balance but you sound in a much better place than me!

    1. Yes Abi see how you get on today! I can’t imagine working full time and having to fit everything ‘else’ in as well. Do you have a gym by your work that you could use on a lunch time perhaps? There’s bound to be some sort of class around that time of day maybe?

      The sugar addiction is still very real over here too. I really feel your pain. It’s so important to try and get some time out to yourself. I sent my husband to his mom’s last weekend with the boys, I booked a massage and got into bed at half 7! I felt SO much better when I woke on Sunday morning. Don’t get me wrong, I felt horrendous on Monday after a night of no sleep on the sunday but just knowing I;d had that time and space to really rest at the weekend made me feel a lot better. I hope you can find some balance soon and make some time for yourself. xx

  2. I do design work which needs lots of uninterrupted thinking time. My worst distraction at work was emails coming in, I would see the notification pop up. At best the tittle would distract me from my current line of thinking and worst I would get annoyed. I’ve changed the settings to be a task bar notification, I know I have mail but no idea what it is. If it is urgent they should be phoning me!

    Phone notifications in the evening are my current mission, mostly trying to get the other half to switch them off/receive them periodically.

    1. YES Jenny. This is such a good idea. I have (partially) listened to The 4 Hour Work Week (Tim Ferriss) in the past and he talks about assigning certain times of the day to emails and that is it. So you don’t have any notifications at all. You, for example, check and respond between 9 and 10 and 4 and 5 – anything major and your phone should be ringing. I hope it’s helped you to ocus a bit more. It’s something I should absolutely adopt x

      1. A small envelope next to the time comes up and that is all (File-Options-Mail, if you don’t know where to find it). I have a double screen set up and outlook is always open but often a drawing or other document is open in front of it. I look at them at the start and end of the day and either side of lunch.

        I get copied into project emails that don’t require me to do anything but need to know it is being discussed, so I read them in a block in one go and normally it is sorted without me having to worry about it.

        I was sent on Graduate courses a few years ago where focusing and not getting disturbed was a topic along with communication techniques.

  3. I’ve been reading a lot of things like this recently, about the fact that we’re actually rubbish at multi-tasking, and we’re better off scheduling our time so that we can be more focused on the one thing… and it’s starting to make a lot of sense to me.

    I think I might need to get on top of the organised mum method when it comes to housework too – at the moment we just about keep on top of the kitchen and the washing up, my husband does a run around with the hoover every once in a while, and we try to keep on top of tidying the living room, but everything else gets done whenever we can get round to it/be bothered/absolutely have to.

    1. Rebecca I have honestly found that half an hour stint a day has really changed how I feel about the house. Mondays I do bathrooms, Tuesdays I do bedrooms, Wednesday do the lounge, Thursday I do the hallway (and the dreaded stair pile!) and the kitchen floor and Friday I do nothing. I figure the kitchen is always being done – it’s my least favourite room in the house because of the constant need to clean/tidy it. If there’s a part of it that can’t be done in that half hour then tough – but it’s amazing what you can do in 30 minutes if you crack on. x

  4. Single tasking + focus = mindfulness, or at least that’s how I see it. It’s a far more productive and less stressful way to deal with anything in life. Good luck with sticking to your plan!

  5. Oh I wish I could do this! Sadly work at the minute involves physically being there from 7-7, leaving the house at 6 and being back at 8. Would absolutely love to read a post from people who work 60 hours plus a week, but remain organised. I constantly feel as though I’m just not doing anything well enough!

    1. That sounds so intense Anne! I hope you are managing to find some time for yourself amidst all those hours xx

    2. I don’t work a 60 hour week, but I do work full time, we have a pre schooler, and my husband works full time as a trainee teacher, so is also doing a pgce part time… and is currently recovering from knee surgery and applying for a job for next year so isn’t much help at the moment!!! My current motto is “you can do anything but not everything” and so at the moment I am just trying to do “enough” … the me time is what has fallen to the bottom of the list at the moment though!!!! I love the idea of the organised mum method, but just can’t make it work with a full time job.
      I do try and follow one of her pearls of wisdom though which is to be your future friend … ie doing things now to make life easier in the future… so I’ve been at a meeting in London today and came home shattered and later than usual but forced myself to clean up after dinner and get things ready for the morning so I’m not in a big rush and I feel better knowing it’s done!!!
      I also meal plan and batch cook to make dinners easier, keep a box of presents for children’s parties ready to go (and buy them on special offer, so also save money) and buy greetings cards in batches months ahead so they’re all ready to go too (although this probably makes me more annoyed if I fail to post them and they’re sitting in a drawer!!)
      Just a few random things that might help a little bit!!! Am now thinking of things that will help us stay organised when my daughter starts school in September!!!

  6. Being quite disciplined with time is the most effective method, in my opinion. Otherwise the day can just slip away without specific things being covered or achieved. Easier said than done sometimes, but with so much to do and trying to achieve a good work / home life balance, structure certainly helps. It’s interesting to hear other experiences on this blog, thanks.

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