2020 was the year I went from being a mum of one to a mum of two. It was also the year I relaunched my health coaching practice when my son was 5 months old.
What became really apparent to me becoming a mum of two is that the things that worked for me before, I now had to come up with new ways to tackle them.
For example, preparing home-cooked meals was challenging when I was sleep-deprived nursing a newborn and juggling activities for an active preschooler.
With all the mayhem that was going on in 2020, I was dealing with my own inner chaos at home, which I needed to find solutions so that I could be my best self for my kids but also for my coaching clients who were challenged with the stress of Covid-19.
An area that was causing me stress was having a cluttered home. It felt my environment was a reflection of my environment inside my brain.
As I began my decluttering journey, it naturally overflowed into my work, and I discovered how the following decluttering hacks can also be to used in our work-life for a more productive and successful day.
Hack 1 – Complete the Cycle
When it comes to doing the laundry, I would put the load on, hang it out to dry or use the dryer, but I was terrible at putting the clothes away.
Eventually, our spare bedroom where the clothes would pile up became the walk-in wardrobe.
Completing the cycle is the idea that you don’t start a task unless you have intended to complete it. So I wouldn’t put a new load on until I completed the cycle of the load prior, which meant the clothes had to be put away first.
This can be applied to when we sit down to work.
When we are laser-focused to work on a task from start to finish, we become more productive.
There’s this myth that humans, particularly women, are great multi-taskers. However, studies show that although we can multi-task, it’s not an efficient use of our time.
The action of switching between tasks is taxing for our brain, and it reduces our attention span (motivation).
One strategy I like to employ is having a hit list. For me, this is stored in my Google Keep Notes of all the things I need to do for the day. If there is a big task, I break them up into smaller tasks that take up between 30 minutes up to an hour at a time.
I set a timer, and I tackle that task without any distractions.
I find this particularly useful for checking and responding to emails. Instead of checking my emails throughout the day, I have set up three to four blocks of time during the day that I check my emails. If it is something I can action immediately, it gets done. If it’s something that will take 30 minutes, then I schedule it in my diary so I can do it and complete the cycle at a more appropriate time.
Hack 2 – Magic 15
The magic 15 is basically using a timer on your phone to tackle a task. I prefer to use a Kitchen Timer rather than a timer on my phone. Because I work from home, I try to limit as much time away from my phone when my kids are around.
Sometimes when I walk into a room, I feel overwhelmed at the sight of the mess, but then I remember about the magic 15. I call it the magic 15 because it’s amazing what you can do to transform a space and your mindset in 15 minutes.
The magic 15 can be any number of minutes you like, but 15 seems short enough to motivate you into action but not long enough that you feel it’s a burden.
Using the Magic 15 can be a great hack to use when completing tasks that can be time-consuming – for example, you need to write up some content for social media or a blog post.
In the past, I would glance at my clock on the computer every now and then. However, I found that this was more of a distraction because I was always thinking about the clock.
But when I started using the timer, I could set and forget.
The benefit of using a timer is you can monitor how much time you are taking to complete certain tasks – especially if their non-income generating activities – and challenge yourself to become faster and more efficient.
Hack 3 – Taking Inventory
Taking inventory sounds very boring but hear me out. Other than the laundry, the other area of my home life that was a source of stress was cooking at home.
I’ve always been someone who loves to try new recipes and experiment in the kitchen. That resulted in an excess of food stored in the pantry and food in the fridge destined to go to waste.
There were days I would look into my fridge and pantry and say, “There is no food to eat,” but there was. It’s just I wasn’t motivated to cook with so much stuff that didn’t go together.
The issue was, in the season of life I’m in, getting experimental with my cooking was more of a burden rather than a joy.
So taking inventory meant going through my fridge and pantry sorting through what I was going to keep and throw out.
Once I knew the current state of my inventory, I was then able to create two weekly meal plans that I would rotate.
That meant, I knew exactly what I needed to have stocked in my fridge and pantry at all times.
Not only did this stop me wasting food and help me save money but having a plan helped me relieve the stress of what’s for dinner so I could focus on more important things.
This can be applied to our work.
We may have a million things that we need to do, but when we sit down to start the day, we might not know where to start.
That’s because you need to take inventory of where you are right now. This could be understanding your business metrics so you can work our your income plan for 2021.
The attraction to declutter and to have a minimalist approach to not only my physical office environment but to also use the same principles on how I operate my business has helped me feel more productive.
I’ve become more intentional with my time as I have two kids to care for while running my business from home.
I would like to hear what decluttering hacks you’ve adopted in your work in the comments below.