First I want to preface this post with a quote I saw on the Girlboss Instagram that says,”your worth is not measured by your productivity.” I really love listening to different ways to make the most out of my day but a lot of us in this day of age are caught up with being the most efficient, productive, hardest working, savviest person we can be and although I want to be the best version of myself, sometimes that means family takes up more of my time because it’s important to me.
That being said, productivity is about using your day efficiently so we can make time for other things. When I am at work, I want to leave feeling like I finished the things I wanted to get done. Otherwise I feel stressed, have trouble sleeping, and will not feel like myself. That’s not a happy way to live, so if I have limited time in my day I want to use to wisely.
So, in the spirit of feeling productive, I have compiled a few tricks and tools I live by that have made me work effectively and do more in less time.
How to Be More Productive
Go To Bed Early… And Be Prepared
Getting enough sleep is something most of us know is good for us, but we don’t always do it. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen and that’s ok. BUT if you turn your want to go to bed early, say 9pm, into a habit it will be something you actually do. For example, I put Diego to bed at 8pm at the latest every night and turn my phone on airplane mode at 7:30pm–no excuses. This has been a huge habit change that has made going to bed so much easier.
But wait, what about the “prepared” part? Before I turn my phone on airplane mode, I make sure to check my calendar to see what I have planned the next day. That way, I never wake up feeling disoriented or caught off guard, but can rest easy with an expectation for the day ahead.
Then, I recommend giving yourself 30 minutes to take care of your nighttime skincare routine, meditate (I love the headspace app), think of some things you’re grateful for, and get ready for bed. I force myself to think about the positive things in my life before I go to bed. I know it sounds vague but it really works!
Have a Morning Routine
Mornings set the tone for your day. You have to figure out what works for you and makes you feel the best in the mornings, whether that’s getting up at a certain time, doing a morning workout, having cup of coffee, walking the dog, or whatever little things that make you happy. Doing this first thing in the morning WILL make you more productive! Here is my morning routine:
3:45am: Wake up and meditate for 10 minutes on my Headspace app
4:00am: Shower and get ready for the day, If I can that day I will do 20-30 on my Peloton Bike or a 15 minute workout video.
5:00am: Answer my most important emails and work creatively whether that means coming up with new blog post ideas, new projects, new goals for Bloguettes, etc.
7:00am: Diego wakes up and I play with him
8:00am: Have my morning smoothie, I always have a smoothie for breakfast with protein, greens, fiber and fat and it keeps me full until lunch (find my smoothie recipes here)
9:00am: Start my day at the office!
This is just what I have found works for me! Take it with a grain of salt, but I have found myself to be most productive and creative in the early hours of the morning when I can’t get distracted. Also I have discovered that by following this routine, even though it was hard to get used to it in the beginning, I already feel accomplished and less stressed before I even get to the office.
Keep Your Task List Concise & Prioritized
This is a tip I learned from entrepreneur and New York Times Best-Selling Author, Tim Ferris. A majority of the habits that I have incorporated into my lifestyle I get from listening to podcasts or reading books. You don’t have to come up with all these things–you can hear other successful people and find out how you can customize what has worked for them to work for you.
I used to make to-do lists that could wrap around for miles and I felt that I was being productive because I was writing it all down… WRONG. Rather, I was just building anxiety seeing a daunting list of a million tasks there is no way I could finish all in one day.
The smarter way to do it is:
- Keep your task list NO longer than 5 tasks at a time
- Prioritize the list with the most time sensitive important tasks at the very top
- Work on one task at a time
- Make your task list realistic and achievable
There are so many studies that prove multitasking does not mean you are being more efficient. Our brains are not powered to do so many things at once and the more we try to do, the slower we actually are. Hopping from task to task makes it hard for our brains to reconnect the thoughts for each task.
Tip: Try only keeping tabs open you are using for that ONE current task. Close your calendar, Gmail, etc. and focus on the one task. This one is really hard for me! I am the queen of tabs.
Don’t Let Emails Consume You
This one has been HUGE for me. If I allowed myself, I could do nothing but emails all day long. But guess what, it would really get me nowhere! People can wait, so respond to the urgent ones early in the morning then focus on your task list.
After responding to the most important few, use apps and tools that sort out your inbox for the rest. An app I really love is called DragApp or Sortd. They separate your emails into “To-Do” “Doing” and “Done”.
This has made my life so much easier, and I will never use regular Gmail again! Cutting time in half for the time you spend on emails will allow you to work on the other to-do’s.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
It sounds scary but scheduling everything just gives you peace of mind and limits forgetting things. It makes your schedule more realistic and encourages you to stick to the allotted time. Even scheduling time to take breaks, workout, or check your emails will stop you from bouncing all over the place. I now have to schedule taking Diego to school so I make sure to manage my time correctly and have enough time to take him without feeling rushed (insert crying emoji here, he is getting so big!)
I schedule on Google calendar because it allows you to invite attendees via email, put it on their calendar, and color code. Another app that I LOVE is Calendly. If your work involves constantly scheduling meetings and calls and you don’t use Calendly, I highly highly suggest you start using it.
Instead of emailing back and forth wasting hours finding a time to schedule a phone call, meeting or Skype, you can integrate Calendly with your calendar and send your Calendly link and the recipient can schedule a time you have available. It automatically goes into both of your calendars, it’s so easy.
Be aware of how you’re feeling and what you need. A very important part of being productive is taking breaks. In every book that I have read about highly successful people, they mention that they time bunch their tasks and take small breaks in between. There is only a certain amount of time you can efficiently focus on one thing at a time before your brain starts to lag.
If I find myself spending too much time on one task and feeling “stuck,” I take my dog for a walk around the block. That 5 minutes of fresh air, movement, and no pressure lets me re-group and come back with a clear mind.
Eat Healthy & Hydrate
Take care of yourself!!! I cannot stress this enough. When I eat healthy I genuinely feel better and WORK BETTER. It is crazy how much energy I have from my green smoothies in with morning with a scoop of matcha and MCT oil. It’s not a caffeine jittery feeling, just a “not tired by 3pm” feeling, which is huge!
Drinking enough water makes a big difference in energy too. I strive to finish two 1.5 liter bottles by 7pm and it makes it easier to keep track of than counting ounces.
Limit Your Social Media Time
If you are in your twenties or thirties like me, social media probably plays a big role in your life. Before you know it you have spent 30 minutes on Instagram looking at amazing new products and clothes you now want to buy (sound familiar?)! It happens to me all the time! Those 30 minutes could have been used for something else, don’t you agree? Sooo here are my recommendations when it comes to using social media:
- Limit your time and stick to it. Spend 10 minutes on Instagram to get inspired, and 10 minutes on Facebook or Twitter to catch up on news.
- Use it with a purpose. Before you get on any platform, think about what you want to get out of that time: engage with your community, inspiration, ideas, catch up with friends, network, etc. If you start with a purpose you will be able to remain focused, finish your task and go back to your life.
- If you use social media for your business, make sure to schedule and plan as much as possible so you are not consumed by it all day.
I hope all of these tips were helpful for you guys! Like I said, I am constantly listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and reading and I am always getting inspired by what others are doing, learning from them, and trying to figure out how can I be better and feel better!
Let me know if you have any other productivity recommendations in the comments below, I would love to hear them!