Lately, I have been noticing a fluctuation in my productivity levels. Instead of fighting it, I began to try to understand it and work on it with a pinch of self-compassion and self-care. This month has been particularly challenging because I am in a career transition and I needed to meet both existing commitments and prepare for a new chapter at the same time.
The simultaneous demands did require me to consolidate my entire life management system into a combination of a few technology tools: Cloud Storage for PARA system folder, Notion personal knowledge management system, and Monday boards for project tracking.
The Side Effect Setback of the Covid-19 Vaccine
I am immensely grateful for this privilege to have the first vaccine shot. It’s not very easy to get vaccinated on this side of the world after all.
But it wreaked absolute havoc on my tasks!
I spent a good 48 hours of my life paralyzed with panic. Immediately after the shot, I felt my muscles ache. I took two paracetamol tablets but the effects were still dramatic. I am amazed at the stamina of the frontliners like this nurse who jabbed my arm. She even had to manually write my address before administering my AstraZeneca vaccine in the sweltering suburban heat:
I started this week on a backlog because the stuff I earmarked to do early this week had been eaten up by my need to REST and RECOVER from the first vaccine shot. By Wednesday, I was frantic but somehow a few little late nights of sleep caught me up. (I promise to reset back to normal circadian rhythms by weekend though.)
In each day I was supposed to get 3-5 things done. After my bed rest, I was only able to manage half. But I did not beat myself up. I did the minimum that I was able to accomplish and adjusted the rest. You cannot overplan or control every detail. In my daily planner now, I have two columns in each day. The first column is my ideal task list for each time slot. In the second column, I put the ACTUAL tasks that transpired. I now begin to have a clearer picture of when I am actually wasting time and when my body is begging for me to take a break.
Take. A. Deep. Breath.
I just pause when I get overwhelmed. I take a deep breath. I step out for fresh air. I am also able to use some physical movement to shake things off literally. A walk can do wonders. I don’t do this enough but I intend to do so more often as a grounding exercise in between tasks.
Priming Myself with Focusmate Sessions
When I feel like I can’t do anything, I use my Focusmate account. I book an appointment to productivity within the next 24 hours and just commit to one thing at a time. That’s it. I just go for one session and then it just snowballs into good momentum.
Each session in Focusmate lasts for 50 minutes and you are paired with a complete stranger (unless you share your invite link and a friend books you for that 50-minute slot) to accomplish your goal for that 50 minute productivity sprint. The short time commitment is a pattern interrupt to the paralysis of having too many tasks. I end up doing around 6-7 FM sessions on best days. Some days, I only get to do 1 but the critical task for that day is addressed by that 50-minute window. And for those bad days, I still got something done.
Automations and Delegations: A Strategic Way of Extending One’s Self
I am new to this aspect but I am also learning to delegate things that I am not particularly good at or stuff that takes too much time. I will probably write more about this once I have refined my system of using some automations on my life management.
The Daily Anchoring Checklist
It’s easy to lose the forest for the trees. I have a high level overview of my dreams in life and then I have a daily checklist that does a tiny thing on the micro-level that helps achieve that goal. I just check this at the beginning and end of my day and I celebrate my wins when I am able to do most of it. There are busy days but at least I have this to keep me in check.
Trust the Process. Just Keep Showing Up!
Need I say more? :)