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3 Tips for Maintaining Productivity in Stressful Times

The reality is our lives sometimes feel like they’re running us, instead of us LIVING them – you know what I mean? Right now, I’m in one of those seasons. We are in the process of transition, while still living out the daily grind. While I scaled back my workload for Jan & Feb in preparation for the move and life adjustments, it’s still tax prep time, I have blogging and other editing to try to keep up with, and of course my sweet boy to take care of and entertain….not to even mention the fact that I should be starting to pack and still attempting to keep the house in acceptable order. Honestly, it’s a lot. And most days I don’t get everything done that I wanted to. I rely on coffee (too much), and get distracted by just wanting to relax when Llewyn goes down for the evening. It’s hard to find a work/life balance in the stressful and overwhelming seasons of life. BUT. I’m finding that there are some things that help, regardless of the type of work you’re trying to get done. Whether it’s running your business, or just trying to keep up with your home, or simply hold onto the last shred of your sanity. If it’s a particularly busy or stressful time, these three tips are as important as EVER.

1 – MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

I know this might seem counterproductive or even just non-essential. But it is vital that in the midst of craziness or life circumstances that you can’t control, you still set aside time to clear your head and your heart. For me, this is first thing in the morning after I stumble downstairs and get the coffee going. I kick my feet up onto the ottoman, open my current devotional reading and commit to at least 30 minutes of reading/prayer/journaling while I get my first dose of caffeine for the day. These precious minutes to myself help me get my heart and mind ready for the day. Ready to take on whatever tasks are ahead, ready to get my son up with joy and energy (even if I’m still sleepy), ready to feel encouraged about my life even if there are current challenges. It’s tempting to skip this margin in your life when things get crazy, but I’m telling you, it’s so valuable. In addition, I’ve gotten back to working out a couple times a week and that is an added element of “me” time that I was desperately missing.

2 – STAY GRATEFUL

As part of my morning quiet time, I make a point to focus on at least a few things I’m grateful for. While it might not seem like this is directly related to productivity, I actually think that we can live out our minutes and hours so much more successfully and efficiently when our hearts and minds aren’t distracted by what we’re unhappy about or discontent over. Instead, if we make an intentional effort to focus on what we ARE grateful for, what IS going right, how much we are BLESSED by and with, it helps us approach our tasks with more fervor and clarity because we see the gift that they are.

3 – MAKE A TOP 3

I believe it was from Justin & Mary that I remember first reading about listing your top 3 items to “Win the day”. I’ve read a similar concept in a few other places and it really is SO helpful. As a list-making person, I used to get WAY too idealistic with all I would write down and then I’d get confused as to which items I should actually focus on, and then I’d end up with a bunch of unfinished tasks. With the mindset that you can narrow down your day to the three most important items and that by doing those you can call the day a success, it makes every day feel attainable, somehow. Some days my items are simply, “Answer emails, get groceries, write one blog post” and that might not seem like much at all. But when I can look back and realize I did the three most pressing things – and in many cases quite a bit above and BEYOND that – it makes me feel encouraged, which in turn continues to fuel my productivity.

I know these aren’t revolutionary ideas, and I know you’ve likely heard them all before. But sometimes in the midst of our life craziness we can feel like we’re drowning and don’t know how to start treading water, and eventually actually swim again. I hope this can be an encouragement to anyone who might be feeling like they don’t know where to start to get back to where they want to be. Truly, it’s small changes, one day at a time. I don’t succeed everyday, and right now it honestly feels nuts. But one day at a time, with grace and a little intentional focus, I’m making it and you will, too!

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