The last four years have been, in many ways, a blissful—and yet extremely challenging—blur. At home, I’ve been learning to be a mom. I was pregnant, then nursing. I was changing diapers, putting babies down for naps, kissing noses, coloring, reading books, playing make-believe. I’ve also been healing from a challenging birth, holding little fingers before procedures, making ER visits, calming a toddler after a seizure, and caring for my husbands post-bike-crash injuries and broken bones.
The fog has come and gone—the overlay of parenting on my life—but recently, I feel like it’s started to mercifully lift a bit, to give me breathing space to be able to focus on the thing that’s gotten shoved aside: me.
Work and parenting often gets the priority over self-development, enjoyment, or rest. It’s true that I’ve found time to do things like train for several half marathons and one full marathon, pitch and get selected for TEDx, and co-create an incredible professional retreat to take place this year. But I keep wondering, What more could I accomplish if . . .
. . . I was getting enough sleep
. . . I was waking up early
. . . I was exercising one hour, five to six days a week
. . . I was eating more fruits and vegetables and mostly eliminating carbs, sugar, and caffeine
. . . I got a system down for managing my social media life
. . . I amplified my engagement and productivity—basically, get more done in less time with even better results than I’m getting now
. . . I could continue to develop my expertise without dedicating hours of extra time every day
. . . I could be more present as a mom and wife
. . . I had time to spend with my friends every week
In my life, a red flag is “I wish I could.” There is no space for wishing—there is only room for doing. I was finding myself saying, “I wish I could get up early” and “I really want to exercise an hour a day.”
In the past, it was easy (and, honestly, probably realistic) to say, “Oh, I can’t do that. My kids aren’t sleeping, and I have no free time.”
Now, I don’t have that excuse anymore. The fog has lifted (ish). It’s time to take control of my schedule, and the best way I know how is a productivity detox. You could call it a self-discipline detox, or even a lifestyle detox.
To be clear, I’m not seeking productivity in the purely business sense. I want to be a more productive mom, which means I’m full of energy, patience, and plenty of fun. I want to be a more productive individual, which means I’m getting the exercise I need to be the best version of myself, eating a diet that gives me the nutrition my body craves, and getting enough quiet, creative space to artistically thrive. I want to be a more productive wife, meaning I have the mental bandwidth to have good conversations with my husband, and the energy to take on more around the house to lessen his load (he’s a stay-at-home dad, aka the hardest job in the world). I want to be a more productive daughter, sister, friend, and mentor, which means I am engaged and available to spend important time connecting with the people in my life.
And yes, I want to be a more productive business owner, serving my clients even better than I have been, being laser focused in everything I do, limiting inefficiencies and distractions to get more work done, in less time, at higher quality.
While I’ve been working on all of these aspects of my life for many years, none have reached where I want them to go—and probably never will, because self-development is a lifelong quest. But the fog has lifted, and I’m ready to get even more intentional about how I go about becoming the person I’m intended to become.
That quest, for me, is being kick-started with a 30-Day Productivity Detox. Here’s what it looks like:
My daily schedule
Awake by 6:30
45–60 minutes of exercise
5–15 minutes of journaling
Focused work until about 6 p.m. (with several walking breaks and a healthy lunch)
5 minutes planning the next day’s work schedule
1.5 hours of time with my kids (dinner, getting ready for bed)
1–2 hours of putting my son to bed (this is the most challenging part of my day right now, and something my husband and I work together on)
Reading or time with my husband
In bed by 10:15
Television and movies (some exceptions for when I’m on the bicycle trainer or enjoying a show with my husband)
Unplanned social media (i. e., I’m being intentional about when and how I engage on social media)
Obsessive smartphone checking (I put my phone in airplane mode for chunks of the day)
I keep modifying this list. Now that I’m about a week in, I’m learning where my challenges are (getting up on time, for example, has been tough—I was woken up about eight times last night), but I’m determined to develop a great, efficient, productive schedule.
As I continue to refine my productivity detox, I’d love to know: What are your top productivity tips? What’s one thing you do every day that makes your life or work better? Please share in the comments, or let me know on Facebook or Twitter.
Even better? Join me. Happiness loves company, and I’d love to share our successes. If you’re in, let me know in the comments or with the hashtag #productivitydetox.
Here’s to a productive life!