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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Productivity on Tiny Amounts of Sleep

Sometimes work takes over our lives -- or our lives take over work -- and we're left with less time to sleep than we would prefer. This article from Modern Mom has a few great tips on how to stay energized and productive when those situations arise. While this article focuses directly on transitioning back to work after having a baby, we all have nights where we get less than the ideal amount of sleep for a variety of reasons, especially when owning your own business.

What? Maternity leave over already? How did that happen?

Enough with the denial time to get back to work. We know you're still getting a mere four or five hours of interrupted sleep per night, so how does a Modern Mom cope with the inhumanity?

#1 Use breaks WISELY

If you are fortunate enough to have a private office with a door, shut it and grab 15 minute catnaps every few hours. Even though they're short, they help tremendously. If you don't have privacy, take mental breaks by going for a leisurely walk. Note: this is also a good tip while pregnant on the job.

#2 Eat well

We know you're frantic, but without trying to sound like your mother - you MUST eat properly to maintain energy. Diet Cokes and pizza on the run won't cut it. Stock up on healthful, energizing snacks that you can stash in your desk like almonds, yogurt, Luna Bars and fruit.

#3 Exercise

Yes, that's right. How can you manage to fit time in for exercise while trying to work and be with the kids at home as much as possible, you ask? We understand that it may seem impossible so here are some suggestions:

- If you're up at 6am with baby anyhow, why not strap her into the Baby Bjorn and go for a brisk walk?

- Try some simple yoga poses in the morning upon rising or at night before bed

- Walk and take stairs whenever possible. Sounds gratuitous, but think about it how many times have you jumped in your car to mail a letter when a mailbox is just two blocks away? And you KNOW you take the elevator without even considering the stairs. Admit it.

In addition to the above, remember that the sleepless nights will come to an end someday. In the meantime, work out a schedule with your partner for some downtime at the end of the day at home and during sleep hours. Silly as it sounds, in our household we have schedules for baths and for "night duty" so that each of us get a few good nights of sleep a week.

Some things that help me get through my week are making sure my fridge is well stocked for the week ahead by planning ahead and grocery shopping on the weekends. I also try to fit in a few key Pilates moves before bed just to stretch, and if I have to, I've been known to do lunges while brushing my teeth if that's the only chance for exercise I get during the day.

Running your own business and balancing work and life is never an easy task, no matter what your situation is. Taking care of yourself and your body can help you come out ahead each and every time, even if that means taking care of yourself in one area (eating healthy) when you are lacking in another (amount of sleep).