The Busier, the More Productive

Have you ever noticed that when you’re busier, you’re more productive? That is definitely the case for me. Right now my days are packed. I get up at 5:30am and am out the door by 6:15am at the latest. At school I have a list of tasks to complete in the 20 minutes before my zero period kids arrive and then another set of tasks to complete in the 10 minute break before first period. Then I teach straight through until 12:07pm and by 12:17pm I am in the car on my way to pick up Monito. Sometimes I try to squeeze in a quick errand (like today I grabbed wart remover at CVS–I know, gross) on my way to my in-laws. I’m always there by 1:15pm and I’m home with Monito by 1:45pm. After a diaper change and bottle he goes down for a nap and I have 90 minutes to eat lunch and do whatever else I need to get done. I keep a running list of To Do’s in my reminder app and if I’m not working out during Monito’s nap, I immediately open it and get to work. That 90 minutes is so precious, I absolutely can’t squander it and the knowledge that there is just no other time to get these things done makes me use that time very wisely.

Monito is usually up by 3:40. I try to give him at least 10 minutes of my undivided attention before I keep working on chores or quickly run an errand before walking to pick up Osita (she really loves when we walk home so I’m trying to do that now, while the weather is still warm(ish) and the days are still long). Little brother and I arrive at her school around 5pm, right when they are coming off the playground (if I get there earlier she doesn’t want to leave) and we head home, munching on snacks while we walk. We take our time trekking back and we don’t get to the house until around 6pm most nights. The three of us hang out for 15 minutes and let Monito burn off some energy crawling around/wreaking havoc/tearing through the house before I put him to bed. By 6:45pm I’m making Osita dinner, which she takes 30 some odd minutes to eat (ah mealtimes, always a power struggle). By 7:15pm we’re having “Osita Time” (more on this soon) and then it’s bedtime for bonzos. Of course bedtime takes at least an hour so I’m not out of her room until 8:30pm most nights and I’ll be back in there intermittently until at least 9:30pm which means I don’t get much done in the following hour. By 9:30 I’m already puttering around the house getting things ready before bedtime and by 10:30pm my head has hit the pillow and the lights are out.

I definitely have less time right now than I ever have before and yet I’m getting more (of the things that I absolutely have to do) done than I usually do. Knowing my time is extremely limited and feeling the pressure to honor commitments means that I don’t waste a minute of the time to do my things. I’ve actually managed to stay on top of a few on going, unrelated projects right now, and I’m pretty impressed with the fact that I haven’t let any balls drop, at least not yet.

Of course this also means that the things I used to do during those off hours are getting swept aside (ahem, blog writing, reading and commenting). I basically have to think ahead, at the beginning of the week, about what I want to write and then schedule it in somewhere or it won’t get done. (I still haven’t figured out when to read or comment on blogs, but I will I promise.) I’m only writing this post now because I’ve pushed back a copyediting assignment until tomorrow (probably not the best call, but it’s been made).

As of today, I’m making this new schedule work but I wonder how long I can keep this up. If I were ever to have an unproductive day (or god forbid get sick) the whole house of cards would come tumbling down and already aspects of my life are suffering: my house is a disaster zone, I’m perpetually exhausted and my tension headaches are coming back. I keep telling myself that if I keep this up for a few more weeks I can get on top of some things and I’ll have a little more wiggle room but I have the sneaking suspicion that that is not actually the case.

I could worry more about that right now but instead I’m going to marvel at how much I’m getting done and how well my reminder app is keeping me on task during the extremely limited time I do have. I always suspected that I got more done when I had less time, but now I’m certain of it.

How do you handle very busy periods in your life? Do you find you get more done when you have less time?

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