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9 Tips for Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave

9 Tips for Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave

If you’re like many new moms preparing to go back to work, you might find yourself exhausted, overwhelmed and facing a lot of uncertainty. Obviously child care is on the top of the list, and it’s critical for getting back to work. But what else should you be thinking about? Look no further than this list to set you up for success as you transition back into work.

1. Do a dry run…or two or three

If you go the nanny route, have them come to your house for a few trial runs and leave your house while they are there. The first time you leave your child will likely be emotional, so it’s best if this doesn’t also coincide with the equally emotional first day back in the office. Practice (and time) your morning routine, so you know how long you need on a typical morning. By having a few trial runs with your nanny you can also see what else they might be able to help with, like the laundry, preparing meals or even some light housekeeping.

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2. Make time for self-care

Remember to put your oxygen mask on first. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will be in no shape to take care of others or handle your workload. Incorporate acts of self care into your schedule before you go back to work to get into the habit of taking care of yourself. If you’re running low on ideas for self-care, check out the 20+ recommendations in this short video: Burnout Prevention Guide.

3. Practice mindfulness

Realize that it is going to be emotional and maybe even painful the first time you leave your little one. Practice mindfulness by embracing those feelings and feeling them fully without judgment. And then remember these powerful feelings are just signs of how much you love your little one. If you need help starting a mindfulness practice but are short on time (what new mom isn’t?!), try this Meditation Challenge that teaches you to meditate in only five minutes per day.

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4. Determine (or refresh!) your values

When we’re facing transitions, the uncertainty can often be overwhelming and we forget why we do the things we do. Whenever we’re at a crossroads, it can be helpful to examine our values so we can connect what we do with why we’re doing it. If you want help determining your values, this exercise will help you gain clarity on what’s most important to you–and in less than 10 minutes. If you’re feeling frustrated and notice your inner critic getting loud, remember that working mom is not synonymous with “bad mom” and that you can be both a wonderful mother and a working mom.

5. Get support and ask for what you need

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask other moms how they do it. Many of the overachieving women that I coach find it tremendously hard to ask for help and have created a strong identity around being self-sufficient. Learning to soften the need to “do it all” will help you transition back into work, and make your life easier. I often tell my coaching clients to remember that it’s not weakness to ask for help, it’s a sign of strength. When you’re struggling, it’s helpful to remember how good it feels to help someone else, and you can share that positive energy by allowing others to support you.

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6. Practicing saying no…without the guilt

Ahh, the art of saying no. I was just speaking at the Watermark Conference for Women, and being able to say an effective no was brought up multiple times as a critical skill for working moms. If you have trouble saying no, it’s helpful to start practicing with saying no to small things before tackling the big stuff. You will want to be firm with your no, because otherwise you’ll end up drawing out the process and wasting additional time and energy. It can often feel more natural to say no with an appreciation sandwich (example: I appreciate you reaching out and getting in touch, but I’m unable to help with the bake sale at school next month. Thank you for leading the charge–I appreciate your dedication to the school!) so you are both firm and compassionate. Check out this video for more tips on how to say no without feeling guilty.

7. Prioritize sleep

I can’t help but include this tip even though it probably seems both obvious and impossible at the same time. So here it goes: even if it means letting your partner do a night feeding, or having dirty dishes in the sink, or letting the bed go unmade, do whatever you can to protect your sleep. I highly recommend investing in an eye mask and earplugs so that when you do sleep, you get the highest quality sleep possible. One of the biggest disruptors (besides night feedings!) to our sleep are our phones. The extra time spent checking Facebook and then Instagram and then rechecking Facebook before bed not only pushes back our bedtime, but staring at a screen also disrupts the production of melatonin and messes with our sleep cycles. Confession: I’m powerless over my phone, so in order to actually put this tip into practice I had to buy an alarm clock and move my phone and charger into the kitchen so it wouldn’t tempt me. Consider making a similar adjustment if you’re finding it difficult to turn off the phone at night.

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8. Plan and delegate

Setting clear expectations with your partner about responsibilities at home is important in any marriage, but especially a marriage with children. Can’t seem to convince your husband to do more around the house? Try sending him this study that shows that couples have more sex when household chores are shared. Another power tip for working moms is to do meal planning every Sunday night. This will help save yourself the hassle of figuring out what you’re going to have for dinner while your stomach grumbles.

9. Pay it forward

If there isn’t a moms group at your company, start one. Talk to HR about how they can improve their policies and how they can better reintegrate moms post-maternity leave. If the HR team is hesitant, you can send them this study that shows that having great parental leave policies is a key way to attract and retain top talent.

The transition back to work after having a baby can be a rocky one, but hopefully with these tips in hand you will be better prepared for what lies ahead.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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