If there is one thing I’ve learned about being a work at home mom, it’s that when I sit down to work that will be the exact time some task would pop up. Be it my toddler wanting attention, extra chores, or an unexpected errand. Trying to get more work done in the day was almost impossible.
I researched and looked at every single way I could get more work done in the day. I tried time blocking. Working through nap time was impossible when Lucas basically decided to stop taking naps. I tried to do lists and countless other special techniques.
The problem was never actually getting everything done. The problem I had was being interrupted whenever I was in the middle of doing something. It’d be right in the middle of writing a blog post that my son would suddenly wake up from his nap. The worst was when I was trying the solve a math problem for a design I was working on and my son would want me to give him access to his tablet,
right that second. Toddlers have no chill.
So how did I solve this problem? I lowered my expectations.
Why I Decided to Lower My Own Expectations
I would start every single day with these high expectations for work I was going to complete that day. Needless to say by the end of the day I was feeling extremely bummed when that work was not completed. Even down right depressed when that work wasn’t even started.
I tried to do lists, time blocking, schedules, and anything else I could try. They all still left me with these ridiculously high expectations and eventual disappointment when the tasks were not completed.
I decided to dig deep into the situation to try another way to solve this problem. That’s when I realized I was failing because I was putting expectations on myself that were too high. So I started lowering my expectations.
Sure enough, as soon as I started lowering my expectations I was getting more work done. I found I was working with the day instead of against a clock. Suddenly my productivity sky rocketed. I was accomplishing all the tasks I used to schedule and then some.
Check out my post 3 Steps to Setting Goals You Can Reach.
Getting More Done
Instead of being aggravated about being interrupted during my tasks I started welcoming them as breaks in my day. I found myself more productive and clear headed with my tasks as well.
Taking care of interruptions throughout the day instead of trying to ignore them or push them off meant I could stop, handle things, and then continue my work with a clear head. The clear head meant I could focus entirely on the task at hand.
I oftentimes start work in the morning and complete it early enough that I squeeze in additional work. However, there are days that I get next to nothing accomplished.
On the days when I don’t accomplish much I no longer feel disappointment in myself. Mostly because I have days when I accomplish more than what I intended.
Finally, because I no longer feel disappointment about my lack of accomplishments, I am not distracted with more work being added from the previous day’s to do list. I get more work done just by scheduling less work to do.
Check out my post 5 Steps to Get Control of Your Paperwork.
How To Lower Your Own Expectations
Throw away the To Do List. If you must have a list create a to accomplish this week list and then only put 3 items on it. Limiting your work will go a long way to helping you get in the habit of lowering your expectations.
Try taking a break and only focusing on the things that cause those disruptions in your day. So if you are a parent and your toddler keeps interrupting your work or chores spend a few days focusing on solely being available for their needs.
Once you are in the habit of letting the interruptions be the main to do of each day you can start putting in work in between those interruptions.
Finally, create a designated work time. For me that work time is usually first thing in the morning while I’m drinking my coffee, I’ll get 2 hours of uninterrupted writing time. If my toddler goes to bed on time I usually get another 2 hours in the evening.
All my other tasks that don’t need 100% of my attention can be done throughout the day in between play time, cooking time, and cleaning time.
Check out my post How to Occupy Your Toddler So You Can Get Work Done.
The Most Difficult Part
The hardest part about lowering expectations to get more work done is realizing just how harmful expectations are. Unrealistic or high expectations are harmful to your mental health, productivity, and your relationships.
By setting expectations on yourself you may also start setting expectations on others to help you. When they don’t follow through on those expectations you may start feeling animosity towards them. Therefore, harming your relationship.
Setting expectations on yourself and not completing the tasks will leave you feeling like you somehow failed. This can cause depression and self doubt. Both are detrimental to maintaining a healthy state of mind.
Finally, how often have you had a giant list of to dos and ended up binge watching Netflix all day because you felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you had to get done. Setting high expectations for the day can kill productivity like nothing else.
By lowering expectations, not placing expectations on your days, or minimizing your to do lists you are setting yourself up for better success. So get out of your own mind and stop placing such high expectations on your day to day life.
Check out my post How To Stop Favor Asking When You Work From Home.
I’m not saying that lowering your expectations works for absolutely everyone. However, if you have tried everything to stay on track with your day and nothing has worked, lowering your expectations might.
You can also try mixing different strategies to come up with one that works for you. My mix ended up being part time blocking part lowering expectations. Yours could be lowering expectations and to do lists. Any number of combinations of techniques could work.
Check out my post The Morning Routine of A Work At Home Mom.
What techniques have you used to get more work done? Leave a comment below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your productivity boards.