Working while pregnant can be a challenge. Learn practical tips to keep up at work, be productive and feel less overwhelmed even when you’re pregnant.
Brown eyes, dark hair… you’re picturing how your son will look once you finally get to meet him. Later, you’ll read those reviews on strollers you’ve been meaning to research. Which reminds you to pick out a few color options for the nursery.
Sounds fun, except… you’re at work. The Excel sheet you were working on is still glaring at you. Instead of pie charts, you’re looking at gender prediction charts and reading which fish is safe to eat.
Even if you love your job, pregnancy is on your mind. You can’t focus. You feel your productivity sliding. And it doesn’t help you’re uncomfortable from the general fatigue of being pregnant.
You know you need to get a grip, but how can you keep up at work when you’re always distracted?
How to keep up with working while pregnant
With so many distractions these days, staying focused is getting harder than ever. Social media, email, coworkers dropping by… even the regular worker struggles with concentration. Add to that a pregnancy that takes your attention away, and it can be hard to keep up at work.
What are a few ways you can bring focus into your work, even if you’re pregnant?
Schedule your day, including downtime
Downtime and social media aren’t the evils of the world. I’m not proposing you stay away completely from them. They have their place in our lives, but only when we define boundaries around them.
Try this: schedule your day, including downtime. Write exactly what you plan to do during your work hours, from lunch breaks to meetings. Then, schedule your downtime for researching strollers and making doctor’s appointments. Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, says:
Schedule in advance when you’ll use the Internet, and then avoid it altogether outside these times. I suggest that you keep a notepad near your computer at work. On this pad, record the time you’re allowed to use the Internet. Until you arrive at that time, absolutely no network connectivity is allowed—no matter how tempting.
Scheduling downtime makes the rest of your day more productive. You’d be surprised how much time you waste when you’re juggling work with your personal life. Instead, when you’re working, work. Then go crazy finding those paint chip colors during the time you’ve given yourself.
Set reminders on your calendar.
Many digital calendars sync with other programs to remind you of your tasks. If you accepted a meeting with a coworker, set your calendar so it adds that meeting for you. Better yet, set it so it sends you reminders long before as well as close to when the meeting starts.
Know your most productive times.
Did you know willpower is finite? The way we talk about willpower, you’d think it has more to do with our personality or our motivation. Researchers are finding that willpower depletes throughout the day. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “Well, I give up on my diet—give me that banana split sundae for breakfast.”
We all have our productive times, and it’s usually in the mornings. I was lucky: my old work schedule meant I was in the office at 7am. I was able to crank out so much work before anyone else came in compared to the rest of my day.
Then, use your productive times to do your most challenging projects. You’ll resist distractions for your important tasks when your willpower is fully loaded.
Give yourself deadlines.
I’m not a fan of last-minute projects. These rush projects are more likely to be poor quality with tons of mistakes. But I am a fan of deadlines, particularly challenging ones that push you to get things done.
Imagine you had to write a ten-page report, and you had three weeks to do it. You’ll probably waste time drawing it out longer than it needs to be. But what if you gave yourself two days to draft, write and polish the report?
Sometimes, more time isn’t a good idea. Parkinson’s law states:
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
You’ll push yourself to get things done when you know you only have a limited to complete them. Even if you don’t have a set deadline for a project, make one for yourself. If the deadline is too far in the future, break it up piece by piece so you have regular deadlines.
Set a challenging but realistic deadline to push yourself to get it done.
Some moms even add self-imposed deadlines by taking a day off before they need to finish a project. Having Friday off is enough of a push for them to finish their tasks in four days instead of five.
Recharge with stretch breaks.
As I’m sure you know by now, pregnancy comes with its own challenges. Whether you’re slugging through the first trimester or nearing the end, it’s tough to work and be pregnant.
Use your breaks to recharge. You’re already getting up many times to use the restroom or grab some water. This time, make it purposeful. Concentrate hard when you’re at your desk, then use those breaks for your body and mind. Gather your focus, stretch your body, and steer yourself back to your projects when you’re ready.
Plan for the next day.
Having a plan is key when you want to keep up at work. Before you dash out at the end of the day, spend the last 15 minutes writing your tasks for tomorrow. Combine this task with time blocking your calendar. Write any meetings you need to attend and the important tasks you should do first.
When you come in the next morning, you won’t waste time wondering what to do. You’ll already have a plan in place. Most important, you’ll know where in your day your most important work sits.
Then, outline every to-do list, placing time limits on each one. And decide whether these tasks are even important or if you even need to go to those meetings (would a quick one-on-one recap work better?). Taking these extra steps now will avoid wasted time reviewing them the next day.
Staying focused at work can be challenging even for the regular worker. Add pregnancy to the mix, and it’s no wonder many moms find it hard to keep up at work. But by practicing the tips above, you’ll avoid wasting time and remain productive.
Even as you’re daydreaming out the window about your baby’s eye color.
What else should you do during your pregnancy? Download my FREE 31-page Baby Prep Workbook for tips and worksheets to help you prepare for your baby’s arrival:
Get more tips:
- The Ultimate Mom to Be Guide: Everything I Wish Someone Had Told Me when I Was Pregnant
- How to Transition Back to Work after Maternity Leave
- Surviving the First Trimester when You Have No Idea Where to Start
- Essential Things You Need After Giving Birth
- 9 Things to Do Before the Baby Is Born
Tell me in the comments: What have been your biggest struggles with balancing work and pregnancy?
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