Time Management Strategies for Work-Life Balance, Part II

Work-Life Balance for Birth Doulas - Energy - InspiredBirthPro.comIn Part I, I asked you to determine how much time you need to complete your work, while giving priority to your family and what's important to you. Today I want to talk about energy. The energy you have and the way you expend it affects how effective you are at managing your time. Here is an exercise you can do to explore how your energy level affects your productivity.

Exercise – How does the time of day affect your energy?

  • On a sheet of paper, draw 3 vertical lines down the sheet.
  • Write one of the following words in each column – Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Late Night.
  • Draw a horizontal line across the middle of the sheet.
  • In the first row, write "…is the best time for me to -"
  • In the second row, write "…is the worst time for me to -"
  • Now ask yourself – "Morning is the best time for me to-" and write down those activities in the first row of the Morning column.
  • Explore each time of day and write down the activities that are best suited for you during those times.
  • Next, ask yourself – "Morning is the worst time for me to-" and write down the activities in the second row of the Morning column.
  • Do the same for the other times of day.

If you are unsure what your best times are, I stumbled across a helpful tool on one of my favorite productivity sites, Productive Flourishing. Charlie Gilkey has a downloadable Productivity Heatmap that helps you to chart how productive you are during each hour of the day. Select a few colors to represent different energy levels (refer to Charlie's blog to see how he used colors on his chart). For 2-3 days, use a fresh chart and during each hour, decide where your energy level is at and fill in that portion of the pie chart with the appropriate color. When you're done with this experiment, see if the hours you thought were your most productive are the ones colored as such on your charts.

Take a look at the chart(s) you've created and think about the following questions:

  • Did your answers surprise you?
  • Are you currently doing certain activities at your worst time of day?
  • How can you change your schedule this week to take advantage of your high energy periods?
  • What activities can you do when your energy is not so high?

I recently re-examined my productivity levels because my routine and life situation has changed somewhat. I've been frustrated because I can't seem to fit everything into my day and take care of my family as well as I'd like. I discovered that I like to do my personal self-care activities earlier in the morning. In the late morning before lunch, my brain is percolating with my to-do list and numbers, so it's the time I do my brain dump into my to-do list, any financial tasks, and I work through the simple tasks that don't need a lot of concentration. I discovered what my problem was when I realized that my best time for doing tasks that need the highest level of concentration falls in the early afternoon, which, unfortunately, is the time when I am often on the road taking my kids places. My other high-concentration time period is in the evening, which is tough because it's when the family is home and dinner needs to be made.

Now that I know this, I am working on creating a block schedule to take advantage of my best productivity times. I won't be able to change some of the kids' activities, but I can make sure appointments or errands are in the morning, and I'll need to make sure I have dinner planned for the afternoons/evenings I am working. It's a work in progress, but I feel better now, knowing where shifts need to occur.

What did you learn about your most productive times of your day? Have you made a plan to change your work day, and do you feel like you can free up some time by shifting your schedule? Share your discoveries with other birth professionals in the Inspired Birth Pros Facebook Group.

Photo Credit: TuTuWoN via Flickr

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