Pandemic productivity

In preparation for being on the Best of Both Worlds podcast, I did a lot of thinking. Ok so I probably over prepared! But anyway, the result is that I did produce quite a helpful list of things I had learnt or rediscovered about the ways that I work, so I have shared these below. In hindsight this is clearing too much for a 30 minute podcast, maybe over thinking things is something else that I have “learnt”!

Making Paul Klee inspired art (I don’t *think* smallest child is picking her nose here….)
  1. Clear expectations and boundaries – we set up a working/childcare pattern early on – over the first weekend of lockdown and communicated it.  I know others who have done this. Works *most* of the time! Being clear on work boundaries was also really important, although I am less good at this at times.  Not all meetings are the same so I do my directorate meetings on my “non work” time and the children are involved, more relaxed and informal and keeps them to 30 minutes, also I hope sets an example of working parenthood!
  2. Importance of transitions – I miss my commute! Or should I say the commute transition, as it is a transition, preparation and thinking time. I’ve tried to plan things to handle moving from meetings into childcare and vice versa, scheduling hold times and end of day planning. I had a very difficult meeting then had to go straight into a fraught childcare situation – so I now try to put in “buffers”. I am very much the “The 1 more thing mentality” so really have had to stop doing this!
  3. Making a to do list the night before – I didn’t do this so much before but this has been hugely important, especially with morning focus and will definitely carry on with this. I’ve found that I actually enjoy working in one place as this also enables me to do this easily, I didn’t really have that in the “Before” world as I was often away from my desk and the days were so varied in terms of location
  4. Attempting to achieve focus. In the early days it was very hard, so much going on personally and professionally. Attempting to adapt to everything, workload and online shopping etc etc!.  Getting up early and cracking on for a couple of hours has really helped and I’ve got into a morning routine now. I tried a few things but getting up, meditating, then working for 1-2 hours is the best approach for me. This then means I can be more focused with the children later.
  5. Sharing sharing sharing jobs with partner and being open and honest about commitments – I have let go of many things! And also let other people do things -both in terms of delegating in work but also at home. Does not need to be me that does everything! And probably let me “standards” slip in terms of clutter etc. Decided I will take a week off work then this is “over” and sort the house as that will make me happy!
  6. Your own time/time off  – ensuring that I do something for me every day – at least 1 thing, usually more.  So yoga, meditation, sitting in sun whilst kids play etc.  Think having kids has enabled that as you have to close the laptop at times. As I said above I have played around with different times to do this but decided early hours better to get some work done, mentally I can let go more easily if I am then with the kids.  And can do yoga etc when they are around.  Even 30 minutes later in the evening helps.  I took an afternoon off and sat upstairs and read – bliss. I have found I need some time when I am accountable to no-one except myself.
  7. Difference between this and working at home  – initially I thought would have loads of time ha ha but then realised for a lot of people all boundaries have gone so some people expected you to be always on and available, hence the point above about working times. It has been hard to block out times for focused work when you have childcare too so that is again why the mornings have been so important for getting other things done as I can literally be in meetings all during my “work” hours.
  8. Importance of remembering own goals/CPD etc – and these are part of my priorities. There are times when I feel on the treadmill of almost attempting to get everything done and guilty if I did anything else, particularly with the insane amounts of email. Then I realised this was not helping me feel like I was achieving, so now ensured that I have factored in personal development time, reading etc as this helps me do my job better!
  9. Being clear on priorities – both immediate and longer term. I have got these on a post-it next to my laptop so I can remember them! I have not really ever done that before so again being in one location helps to remind me of this. Of course this doesn’t mean I can’t do things in the “everything else” category but just got to remember how this relates to bigger picture. Saying “no” to things – again I like to be helpful but I have let things slip that I literally cannot get to or can wait. And I have (just about!) accepted that!
  10. How I work -conversations and small chats, are often “lost” online. Almost felt a period of mourning for this, but then other things and relationships have developed in a positive way. I also realised that I was scheduling more meetings to have those informal chats so have now got into more of a rhythm with that and keeping meetings shorter. Although I do miss office “banter”.
  11. Understanding the flow of the week – Not all weeks are the same even though it may feel like it but there are differences. As I said, I tried different patterns to work early on, then realised that there is a flow to the week – now I am working every day it took a while to realise this. So Mondays/Fridays usually quieter – good time for CPD or to take time off, as I feel like I get less behind. Also I need to factor in time later in the week do to the work arising from meetings. And I have a “hold” slot for “the unexpected” – you can plan for the unexpected ha ha.
  12. Building relationships  – I definitely have had to delegate more and rely on colleagues more. The upside is that that has built relationships in different ways and given colleagues opportunities so is generally more positive.  I have had to be clear about when I can commit – again sometimes I find this challenging as I want to say “yes” and things are moving so fast.
  13. This will pass! Making lists with the kids of things to do after Covid-19 and also what we can do now for summer fun (that should be another post!). Making lists of work objectives and reminding yourself what is “on hold” or what you can do.  Quite hard to know what this looks like in work terms yet but have a list of things to come back to.
  14. Lowering expectations  – when started out we had loads of things we thought we could achieve and then realised that we didn’t have to! Put things on hold, been more serendipitous, become more child-led with “home learning”. This has been beneficial for everyone.
  15. Meditation! Definitely helped and yoga. Meditation was on my covid-19 list of things to learn and I did it, yay, now try to meditate at least once a day as part of my morning routine and sometimes twice as a transition into work or as a break.
  16. Home learning  – I have posted on this too. relaxed on this massively! 13 yo is learning self organisation and plans her own time.  8 year olds do very little.  I want them to enjoy this period as we are so fortunate and so much of their lives will be structured later on. This feels like an oasis of opportunity for them to play and seek out their own entertainment – also helps with work and me time too! I know that we need to remember and be grateful.
  17. Partner time  – limited! I think we have barely spent 5 minutes alone in 14 weeks (ok slight exaggeration but!) There have been small things, drinks outside in sun for a few moments. Or coffee or lunch together. Date nights every few weeks when the kids have a movie and we usually have an argument then watch something together!

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