Are You Working A 'Second Shift' Each Day?

My love for author and time management researcher Laura Vanderkam runs deep. I’ve read her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and I avidly follow her blog and any articles she writes that pop up on publications like Fast Company and the New York Times.

Laura has stacks more books you should check out and I have no doubt you’ll appreciate her mix of real data and realism. She doesn’t buy into people bemoaning they have no time but also doesn’t want us to fill every second with productivity - pleasure and creating memories are just as important.

The 'Second Shift'

I didn’t realise how long I’d been following Laura until I sat down to write this post. In 2009, Laura introduced me to the concept of the “second shift”:

“Back in 1990, sociologist Arlie Hochschild coined the phrase "second shift" to describe the household labor married women did once they came home from their paying jobs.”

I’m sure many of you can relate - you rush in the door from work with your to-do list for the evening already swirling in your mind - dinner, kids, housework, your side business - whatever it is, it’s crucially important and you’ve got to get going on it as soon as you get in the door.

I talked through this concept with one of my amazing coaching clients recently. Although this work can be seen as important and can make us feel positive about our homes and lives, if we’re running from one shift to the next, there’s not a lot of time for pleasure or down time or even some semblance of calm in our days.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many of us collapse in a heap on the couch or in bed at the end of the night and call that ‘down time’, but how would it feel to enter the second shift feeling rejuvenated and with some fresh motivation?

My evening routine almost always includes rest when I get home and I’d like you to try this out too.

The Challenge

This week, when you get home from your day out or enter the evening in general, I want you to take 30 minutes to 1 hour between your shifts.

Do something that brings you pleasure - read a magazine in the backyard with a glass of wine, do some yoga stretches - whatever it is, do it just for you.

If you have a busy family life that doesn’t allow for much alone time, read stories to your kids, or watch them play in the backyard while you get that wine and magazine time in.

The world won’t end if things run a little bit later each evening and I’m sure the memory of these times will far outweigh the to-do list.

Let me know in the comments below - what will you do between your shifts this week? 

 

The Importance of Single Tasking

Do you ever feel paralysed by the list of errands awaiting you every Saturday morning?

Do you ever look up from your computer at lunchtime and realise, not only have you got nothing done, but you’ve added ten more items to your list?

One technique I’ve become pretty disciplined about over the past year is single tasking.

Fun fact: the word 'priority' is derived from French and Latin terms and the term was ALWAYS used as and intended to be singular.
As in, the plural ‘priorities’ doesn’t actually exist. We’ve just adopted it because apparently you can have more than one 'number-one important must-do thing to do' at once.
Crazy right?

We’ve certainly glorified the idea of multi tasking over past decades and then wonder why we feel frazzled and overwhelmed. We think we’ll get more done by doing three things at a time, but we are mistaken.

So what do can you do?

Pick ONE priority.

It’s singular remember? Pick one task or errand to focus on until it's done.

Leave buffer.

As you’re planning your day and which priority to work on next, try and leave buffer in your schedule.

If you finish early and can have a break, even better.

Hands off technology.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. Trying to regain concentration after reading a SMS or checking Facebook is a challenge you don’t need.

Don’t believe me? Read this to understand your brain on technology and also try playing the game to see how multi tasking is hurting you... 

Reminding yourself throughout the day that priority is a singular term can help keep you grounded. And I’m sure your productivity will increase because of it.

Does single tasking scare you? What’s your number one priority today?