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Productivity Tips for When You’re in Survival Mode

A few years ago, I read on a blog about what this mom called “survival mode.” It’s the acknowledgment that some seasons of our lives are focused on minimum responsibilities of survival such as food, clothing, paying the bills, etc. The first few weeks of postpartum can be such a time. My newborn is now a month old. She’s such a sweetheart but sometimes when the day gets long and the nerves wear thin, I have to remind myself that she is just a baby and that I am still in my fourth trimester. Not only is it “okay” to slow down, but it’s also very healthy to do so.

I have recovered amazingly well for as bad as I felt that first week after birth. I’m so thankful that even my energy and moods are much better and more stable than it was with my last two. I attribute that to more balanced blood sugar, better gut health, better sleep quality, and a baby that sleeps most of the night! (If you struggle with poor sleep, energy, mood, or sugar and carb cravings, I recommend this supplement system).

That said, I had a rough day this week that had me in tears, feeling like a bad mom, wife, and human. I’m thankful for the tools I’ve learned the last few years to not only help me recover from an emotional day but also get motivated and productive again.

Today, I want to talk about how we can be most productive while in these times of “just surviving.” Whether you are like me and have just had a baby or you are simply burned out and need a period of rest and recharge, it can be helpful to have some time management skills to help this season feel less chaotic and stressful.

Capitalize on Productive Moments

Start by being aware of what time of day you are most productive. This can be done intuitively by just checking in with yourself frequently, or methodically by tracking how you feel each hour. You are looking at three things:

  1. Energy
  2. Motivation
  3. Focus

Different tasks are better suited for different levels. For example, writing, responding to emails, homeschooling, and other sedentary but mental tasks can be done when motivation and focus are high, but physical energy is low. House cleaning, running errands, and working out should be done when energy and motivation are highest. Sorting or folding laundry, reading with your kids, and other restful activities can be reserved for low productive hours.

Prioritize rest

During seasons that call for more rest, it’s important not to ignore what our body and mind need. When we protect our time of rest and sleep, we can be more productive overall. It’s also important to remember that this is just a season, whether short (a day or two) or long (1-3 months).

Nighttime

Adult women need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep, but during times of physical stress or recovery we should realize we may need more than we typically do (9-10 hours)

Better sleep

Quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to sleep. Practice good sleep habits to ensure you wake up more rested and ready to go.

  1. Limit screen time in the evenings
  2. Don’t eat before bed
  3. Create a restful bedtime routine
  4. Naturally boost melatonin by improving your gut health
  5. Don’t overuse melatonin supplements (1-3 mg is enough)
  6. Use botanicals like chamomile, peppermint, lavender, lemon balm, and passionflower.
  7. Avoid caffeine after lunch
Midday

While learning how to nourish my thyroid and adrenals, I have learned the value of taking time in the middle of the day to stop and check in with yourself. It doesn’t have to be hours of meditation. It can be as simple as:

  • Deep breathing for 5 breaths or 5 minutes. I use this app.
  • Enjoying a mindful lunch. You may not be able to eliminate all distractions, but you can put down the phone and not think about work for a few minutes.
  • Read a short devotional and pray
  • Coffee or tea break
  • Feet up the wall
  • A few stretches, such as neck, shoulders, and back

Pomodoro Timers

This time technique has saved me more than once. I can do anything for 15-20 minutes. The Pomodoro technique uses that idea to maximize productivity.

The typical pomodoro session looks like this:

  1. 25 minutes working
  2. 5 minute break
  3. 25 minutes working
  4. 5 minute break
  5. 25 minutes working
  6. 5 municipal break
  7. 25 minutes working
  8. 30 minute break

It can be modified to meet your energy levels or your little one’s needs. I’ve even done an inversed version working on a task for 5 minutes at a time and caring for a baby, taking a shower, eating, etc the other 25 minutes.

This method also uses the regular breaks as motivation to stay focused. We are less likely to stop what we are doing to pick up our phone if we know we can do just that if a few short minutes. I also use my “rest” increments to prep a quick snack or drink, because, breastfeeding.

Disclaimer

We all have different experiences, ideas about postpartum, and opinions in general. This post is based on my experiences and opinions. The few years that I struggled with serious energy and sleep issues, then the time I suffered with PPD has given me compassion for those in similar situations, but I also want to help shine a light from the other end of the tunnel. If you are in a dark place right now, whether emotionally or physically (the two often go hand in hand), don’t stay there! Fight. Pray. Ask for help. Don’t give up!

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