I’d love to share 4 changes I made in my life in 2018 that have made a big difference for me. As we all are, I am a work in progress, and these changes have been made GRADUALLY, adding one at a time over the first six or so weeks of the year.

The goals for changes for me we’re pretty generic: boost productivity when I’m working, be more present with my family when I’m not, and better distinguish these two roles. Near the end of 2017 I became painfully aware that I had built a fast-growing, highly engaging business. If I didn’t rein in the growth and opportunity quickly, it was on a path to develop a soul and start taking mine. I was an unintentional Frankenstein.

One of the first things I did to accomplish my goals was to buy myself a watch. I knew that step one for increasing productivity was not having my cell phone in one hand all the time, and what is the number one excuse of the phone-addicted? “I use it to tell time!” No more. I even found a watch with a big gold bee on the face. It was kismet.

Next, I needed to make the afore-mentioned cell phone work for ME, instead of me working for it. First, I turned off the feature on Etsy that sends me an email whenever a customer sent me a conversation. With the opportunity to work every day, there’s no reason why I needed to monitor convos at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday. Then, I set Gmail to stop syncing emails to my phone. Yes – CRAZY. But I was tired of the way I allowed emails to bogart my time with my family, and other projects I was working on. And I can’t be trusted to simply NOT answer an email immediately: it’s just not in me. I’m not a cardiologist or an OB/GYN monitoring life-threatening conditions or deathly ill patients. I sell embroidery designs; anything that needs to be answered can wait until I am sitting at my computer and ready to focus on the problems at hand.

This purposeful communication has had an unintended benefit: customers no longer get the rushed, answering-emails-on-the-go Melissa. They no longer get the possibly-grouchy-from-dealing-with-personal-issues-right-now response.

Finally – and this was the hardest – I started going to bed before 10 p.m. and waking up with my alarm at 6:30 a.m. You may not understand how hard this is for me – I am NOT a morning person in any way, shape, or form. I’ve always hated waking up early. But I’m finally mature enough to realize that ten minutes of being grouchy in the morning is worth the feeling of accomplishment I get when I’ve completed several tasks – personal or business – before even my children are awake. Seriously I used to work so late into the night, then sleep until 9 a.m. (husband woke up with the kids), and feel like half the day was gone by the time I was out of bed, dressed, and coherent to start projects. And it was!

Now I get into bed before 10, asleep by 11, and I wake up with my alarm at 6:30. I grab a soda or coffee or juice and a small snack and go down to my basement office. I have just enough time to complete an embroidery job, digitizing project, ship some packages.. for about an hour. When I come back upstairs, the boys are up and getting their bearings about them. I help with breakfast and then go put on my clothes for the day, brush teeth, etc. I’m ready for my day and I’ve already accomplished several tasks! All before 8 a.m.

These are some ways that I’m experiencing a boost in my productivity and even my attitude. Have you made any changes lately to your routine?