Maximizing productivity

At the beginning of January, I came up with all these goals for myself. (You may have even read my blog post about it!) I finally had a clear cut idea of what I wanted to do, and (some idea of) how to get there. My problem now was about finding time to execute my vision. I'm a stay at home mom, which might sound amazing (and some days it is!) because I get to spend every day with the kiddos. But that also means my time to work on jewelry is limited to nap time. Thankfully my son is in school till 3pm every day, so most of the time I'm just at home with my daughter Lily. I was really productive when she was a baby and napped 2 or 3 times a day. But now that she's down to one nap, my work time has also been reduced.


The funny thing is that having less time has actually forced me to be more efficient and productive. Who knew?! Before having kids, I took a year off from work so that I could focus on jewelry. Did I make a lot of progress on my jewelry? Not really. I ended up spending most days at yoga class and trying to get motivated enough to fire up the torch…and I found that my motivation would wane pretty quickly too, which meant I didn't get much done. I've come to the conclusion that having time does not mean you will accomplish more.

Do I wish I had more work time? Absolutely. And while I cannot change my circumstances, I can change my habits. Here are a couple things that have helped me become a more productive person, and just thought I'd share them with you.

 

Esther Kao Jewelry_blog_maximizingProductivity

I put my phone down during nap time and get to work
I used to get sucked into texts and chats and scrolling on Instagram when the kids were napping. But then I'd get sucked in and lose half an hour to that. So I decided I needed to change that habit. It wasn't helping me. Facebook can wait. Instagram can wait (well, ok I try to post to my Stories, but that's it). Emails and texts too (unless there's an urgent need). So if you don't hear from me during nap time, this is why. I love you, but my work time is also precious. I will get back to you later!

I set weekly goals
It used to take me a long time to get motivated to work on jewelry. I think that is partly because I didn't have a clear picture of what I wanted to accomplish that week. I also used to make unrealistic goals for myself (for example, make 3 rings in a week), and get disappointed that I'd never reach them. Now, I have learned that I am more efficient when I spend time at the beginning of each week planning out what I want to accomplish. I've started logging everything into this little notebook that I call my Creative Log: I write down a) my goals for the week, b) what I actually accomplished, c) things I'm thinking about, as well as d) how much time I've spent
at the bench. And my goals are actionable items, such as 'order supplies,' 'solder prongs on ring,' or 'take pictures of necklace.' They are kind of like a glorified 'to-do' list; they are small but feasible. And because of that, I can actually cross things off my list (and feel good about it!)

And you know what? Setting weekly goals has made a huge difference in social media. I used to get overwhelmed by it all. I'd see all the pretty things that other people were making, and I'd just feel bad about myself. It got to the point where I didn't want to post because I didn't have new work to show. But now that I set weekly goals, I do have measurable things I work on that I can post about. I am excited to share my work in progress and lessons learned from mistakes. And I think perhaps it's more interesting to see the behind the scenes parts than the pretty finished piece. 

I started waking up early
I'm a night owl, so this one was pretty hard. But I was tired of not having enough time to work during the day and no motivation at night. My friend Natalie suggested that I wake up early to work. I cringed. But then I tried it out. I woke up just one hour earlier than usual, and used that time for jewelry. The first few days, I was a zombie. But then it got easier. Now I look forward to it. And that list of weekly goals that I talked about earlier has really come in handy. Because of it, I know exactly what to work on when I wake up.

I hope that this post has been helpful and encouraging to you! And if you have any words of wisdom about being more efficient, I would love to hear them!


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