Make it Work Monday: There's no Time to Get Into the Groove

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"How do you sit down to actually work?" is a question I get a lot. When so little time truly belongs to you, and so much depends on you, how do you get into the groove of work?

I found some shortcuts that work for me, although I still need reminders once in a while. It's easy to get bogged down in the setup, or open your laptop and start to scroll. 

Photo: Canva.com

Photo: Canva.com

  1. Find playlists that match your mood. Set them up in your shortcuts. Write “Play my Marketing Mix" or "Play my Spreadsheet Mix” in your planner so you remember. I need energetic tunes on some days and nature sounds on others. Enya works very well for my long stretches of writing or editing time.

Photo: Canva.com

Photo: Canva.com

 

2. Find podcasts that motivate you to work. When I need to research or write a newsletter, I listen to "CI to Eye" by Capacity Interactive. When I need to write and match images to social media posts, I play light talk shows like "Dear Hank and John" or "SyFy Girls." When I need to edit or work on a more thoughtful project, I let the dulcet tones of Neil Gaiman and Ursula K. LeGuin lectures rock me into a rhythm. If your kids are with you, turn it into learning time with "But Why, the podcast for curious kids," "Circle Round" or "Storynory."

Photo: Canva.com

Photo: Canva.com

3. Take your own commute/transition time. Sometimes I need to shower before I can work. Sometimes I just need to get dressed. If I'm lucky and this is a day with a babysitter, then I often walk to get coffee before I work. When you have no commute time, your brain may require a contrived one.

Photo: Canva.com

Photo: Canva.com

4. Use a planner that breaks down every half hour. Initially, this was the only way I wouldn't get frustrated. When I know my time is tightly scheduled and what I need to accomplish is right there in black and white, it's harder to get sidetracked. 

Photo: Canva.com

Photo: Canva.com

5. Schedule a meeting early in your work time. It's harder to delay your work when someone gives you a ring. If you aren't sure that your toddler co-worker will be amenable to a phone or video call, make it a check-in over a text message. I was able to prioritize a lot of my remote work better with a quick morning chat. Extra tip: if you have a work phone call, try to talk to a friend for a few minutes beforehand as a warm-up. It’s not easy to go from poop talk to audience demographics and sound intelligent.

Photo: Canva.com

Photo: Canva.com

6. Set boundaries with housework. You can't ignore your home when you work in it, but you can't allow yourself to procrastinate on your deadlines. An example of boundaries: I have a pile of clean clothes waiting to be folded until I pass some big hurdles this week. I don't have time to fold them yet, but I do take a minute to keep the laundry cycle going so we don't get behind in what's clean. Also, when your workspace is also a playspace, you often need to clear room in order to be comfortable. I merged that cleaning time with my transition/fresh cup of coffee time, and then I couldn't wait to sit down with my planned work for the day.

Photo: Canva.com

Photo: Canva.com

7. Limit your social media. This was hard for me because I work directly in social media, but by using Pages Manager, I don't have to keep a Facebook tab open. By using Hootsuite or another scheduling platform, I won't be sidetracked by Twitter or Instagram feeds. Often a big part of my job is interacting online, but keyword notifications allow me to keep up with relevant uses and topics without losing my own train of thought.

Photo: Canva.com

Photo: Canva.com

8. Motivate yourself with treats after you get milestones. If I need to work after the kids' bedtime, I can't sit down with a glass of wine or I'll get tired too quickly and not finish. But I can sure as heck pour a glass when I'm done. If it was a particularly strong day, or I hit an important deadline, I put a sticker on that day in my planner. It sounds silly, but it's nice to see the sticker on those days when I feel down and need to remember that this can work, it is possible.

Do you have tricks to get into your groove?