How to be smart with your time and protect what you love
What you 'can' and 'should' do in a day aren't always the same
Has anyone else noticed that, as the world starts to open up, a mist of anxiety descends and our days seems to become less and less efficient? Now, I’m not talking about schools opening their doors, as let’s face it, you could not have breathed the word ‘efficiency’ as you tried to achieve the impossible with homeschooling.
I’m referring to the offer of a walk or shopping trip in the daytime? The invite to supper (if anyone has been lucky enough to get a table anywhere!) which has you up from your desk at 5’ish?
It might just be me, but I’m starting to develop a theory where I believe we might have become too efficient during lockdown and have lost the notion that life needs to be about the downtimes too. Let me explain…
If I think back to 2019 in the world we now refer to as ‘the old normal’, I knew I worked hard but by very nature of being in a full office of people, meetings in town, podcast records a car journey away, commuting, pubs being open for a cheeky glass of wine after work and weekends being distinctly different to the rest of the week. There was more time in the day or week, which was different to what we’ve got used to thanks to over a year of lockdowns – the new normal.
Back then, if we needed to get our heads down for some quiet time we’d schedule a ‘working from home day’. A full 8 hours of time where we weren’t interrupted by colleagues which would allow us to get some of our best work done but these were the exception not the rule because, as a fast paced and creative team it was generally easier to have us all in one space where we could shout ideas and make things happen together. I now look back and I can’t quite figure out how we managed to get done, what we did with all of that noise! That’s how much things have changed for me.
If I think about the last 14 months, my day (I just deleted calling it my ‘working day’ as my day is a beautiful blend of all I love) starts at 6am (ish!) and it can be a run that starts it (now that I am an athlete!) or a dog walk. It also can be head down to write this article! I will then go and grab brekkie where I’ll chat to the boys and get Harry ready for school. Then it’s time for me to don a headband and some days that means ‘camera ready’ which takes time as I’m not 20 yrs old anymore. At the same time I’ll be happily answering messages from the team or others as everyone starts to wake up to their objectives ahead. I’d now say that within my day I’ll achieve probably double, if not definitely a third, more than I did in 2019, because every day is a ‘working from home’ day. I can shut my door and pour myself into whatever is on my plate with little interruption.
The day will come to a close, not from someone asking if they want to walk home together or have a cheeky tipple, it doesn’t have that rhythm anymore. I’d say it hasn’t had a distinct beginning, middle and end as it used to in what feels like forever. There are things that happen in the evening like Frank calling us for supper (I’m very lucky he cooks and they’re lucky I don’t!) which creates some closure, but I’d say, thanks to the calmness of being in slippers all day and with tea and biscuits always at the ready, the finishing off of things after we’ve eaten doesn’t seem strange. This pattern I’m talking about doesn’t stop because it’s Saturday, thanks to our days merging into each other and with not much else to do, I’d find myself working a 6 day week as above and not really feeling more tired than usual or odd about the amount being worked.
So no wonder my output has skyrocketed! I’m working more intensely with little interruption and ultimately more efficiently. There’s not been any social life or colleagues asking if you’d like a cuppa for over a year. The business has started now to be built, thanks to my work Holly & Co and I’m sure your businesses are morphing and growing at what can feel like warp speed on this bedrock of efficiency.
I’m not panicking (just yet) because I think the smartest thing I can do now is to blend the different ways we’ve worked together.
‘I’d now say that within my day I’ll achieve probably double, if not definitely a third, more than I did in 2019, because every day is a ‘working from home’ day. I can shut my door and pour myself into whatever is on my plate with little interruption.’
For starters, I don’t want to lose the efficiency and the amount I get done from having many ‘working from home’ days and so this will mean we’ll use the office very differently. Maybe certain teams will have the office on certain days and we only all get together one day a week. But I am going to schedule social events regularly, into the diary, in order to force the ‘output’ to come down by a few percent each month. I’m not going to go ‘all out’ in going ‘out out’ lots as this will panic me, but I’ve made a commitment to plan ahead and work on myself in understanding that my downtime fuels my uptime!
I’m going to mix 2019 with 2020 to create the perfect way forward for 2021!