6 Ways That Have Helped Me Be More Effective
I’d like to go ahead and say that I will probably regret writing this one day. One day, at the end of my days, I will realize a lot more than I do already. Not only will the following words have no relevance, but my future experiences will change the way I look at work and life. Even as I revise this small piece of written advice, I ruminate over Number 6: Delegate (as you will soon read more about).
As a child, I always wondered why more women were not the CEOs and COOs in the workforce. Both of my parents worked and eventually, with the price of daycare steadily on the rise, they decided that one of them should stay home. My father, although an attentive dad, made more money so my mother, a woman with an aptitude to do any job, stayed home to watch us. In those days this kind of role taking was more common than the other way around.
As an adult watching women work is close to watching magic happen. So much gets done with little to no sleep and barely a whisper of complaint. Between organizing their own schedules and those around them they are still able to juggle their daily social needs. I imagine the reasons women don’t openly run the world is that it’s hard to fight back an oppressive force and run a business considering they didn’t even have the right to vote until the 1900s in Canada. All this along with childbearing needs, a woman’s work never ends.
Added to the list of tasks, it has been found that women have the additional burden of emotional labour in heterosexual relationships. (As if 40+ hour work weeks weren’t enough.) We’ve read a few articles explaining emotional labour and how, strangely but not uniquely, it is imparted on women in heterosexual relationships. Keep in mind that in any relationship there could be one side that gives a little more than receives. It’s hard to pinpoint how or when, but in our modern society women have become the planners and organizers of the tribe’s workings. And again, it’s magical.
Recently, I’ve noticed a greater shift of women getting into business and still balancing their lifestyles. All too often, I begin to see the signs of burnout from those around me. To all my fellow female hustlers out there, my divas, keep on inspiring one another.
When you’re on the hustle and trying to live your best life, there seldom seems to be enough time in the day. As a business owner and creative, there are many days I barely find time to eat. A few days into my unintentional intermittent fasting, my body and mind crash. Life did not prepare our generation for this.
Between working 60-85 hours a week, (believe you me, I don’t think that there should be a badge of honour for that. It’s insane and shouldn’t be legal to say the least) and running a few passion projects on the side, the biggest challenge has been to squeeze as much juice out of the day as possible. I’ve looked up a few productivity hacks that I use personally (or at least try to use) to help give a jolt to others who are on the hustle, but also starting to feel the effects of burnout. I am not an expert in this field, but I have been on the hustle since I was a pre-teen and have experienced a series of crashes in my lifetime. In the past 20 plus years, these are the things I have learned and am still trying to master.
Too many times many young entrepreneurs and creatives feel like they have to keep axing away to make progress. The fact that you swung the axe is progress enough. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Beyoncé. These empires took time. Be ambitious, but also realistic with your goals. Press snooze once or twice. Give yourself a day to relax and disconnect. Give yourself at least 5-minutes a day to organize your thoughts, reflect and muse at life. Then jump right back in. You don’t need to be working and creating all the time to be productive. Give yourself permission to disconnect for a minute, for the love of your soul. If someone is harping on you at work, politely tell them “no”. It’s important to share that there are also creative benefits to task-switching, so taking a break now and then in your routine can be just as important.
I use this strategy all the time. The biggest challenge to this strategy is conjuring up the much needed motivation to actually commence said regime. Time-Blocking is when you allot a certain part of the day to execute a task. For example, 12pm to 1pm: Write for TIP!
For many years I used to make lists of tasks and sadly watch as that list was never completed. Through my years at school and working full-time, I learned that I had to actually a set time to complete anything. It’s more of a schedule than a list. Having a schedule means you won’t wait until later that day to write, do yoga, eat, etc. You have an exact time of when to do something. Not only will you get it done, maybe with only 50% effort, but it conditions you to be disciplined. And as much as I love chaos, discipline helps get shit done.
It’s also worth it to mention the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a way to manage your time into shorter chunks in order to increase your productivity. For every 25-minutes of work, take a 3-5 minute break. Repeat this 4 times and then take a 15-30 minute break. Do this until your task or work day is complete.
Eat. Sleep. Drink Water.
You’d think this would be common sense, but it isn’t when you are being pulled in every direction. We are all inspired by the human spirit, however we live in these mortal bodies. For this reason, you need to eat well, sleep well and drink water. Personally, I have foregone each of these things in the past and paid dearly for it. There is no reward for sacrificing your health so try to prioritize it as best as you can. Thankfully, technology can help us in this respect. There are a mountain of apps out there to help you eat properly, drink water and track your sleep patterns. I couldn’t urge this more. I may not practise it enough myself, but I believe the most important aspect of your business is investing in yourself.
Bullet Journaling (Journaling in General).
Journaling is a great way to organize your tasks and reflect on all that you have accomplished, physically and mentally. Although I have never officially tried Bullet Journaling, my agenda looks similar in a much more chaotic stream of tasks and pictograms. I find the process of creating the Bullet Journal too lengthy. (Again, it’s hard to find time to eat, let alone create this beautiful book that tracks your list of things to do.) I opted for something that is a mix between Time-Blocking, schedules, pictures and pieces of random paper with motivational musings written on them. Whatever works, but keep track of it. One day you will look back to your first entry, a rough draft of the design of your site, your vision, and you will laugh, giggle or cry tears of joy at how far you have come.
Prioritize Your Tasks.
There are things that need to get done, things that should get done and things that you would like to get done. It’s important to differentiate between these things. For a long time, I was taught the difference between my needs and wants. Simply knowing the difference between them has allowed me to focus my energy onto my needs and sometimes take ownership of splurging on a ‘want’. There’s nothing wrong with foregoing a need for a want as long as you know that you have made that choice and there are consequences. If you choose a new jacket over paying your bills, at least you know the culprit for when your phone gets cut off. I also understand those who are in the position to only focus on their needs and don’t have the luxury of even thinking about wants. I’ve been there and it’s stressful. My advice would be to stop looking at what other people have and watching other people get what they want. The world wasn’t created to be fair, but you have been given one life so focus on your shit. Fulfill your needs, your wants will come later.
Once you get to a certain point, let go and let others do some of the tasks for you. It’s hard to let others take over your baby or project. You have put in so much time and effort to make something truly remarkable. Someone could easily come along and let it all crumble. I get that. The truth is, you aren’t capable to function as a human being 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You need a break, you need to sleep, you need to let go of control and let things get done. Also, the harsh truth is it won’t be to your standards. Someone working for you probably doesn’t have the same vision as you have, but you physically cannot go on working. For the sake of your friends and family, take small breaks when you can, even if it means less money for you.
To be honest, one day I hope we live in a society that doesn’t put so much value on stuff and things. One day, I hope we live in a more peaceful, sustainable world that is secure, free and equal, where no one will have to hustle to the brink of emotional or mental exhaustion. I hope we live in a world that would provide for its citizens so that we could create, innovate and build. Until that day a girl’s gotta hustle and these are a few ways that have helped me.
Some further reading for my fellow hustlers: