Uughhh! How frustrating is it to feel like you have BUTTLOADS of things to do, but have no desire to even get off the couch?!
Or, even worse? You have drive and ambition to get-all-the-things done… but you just lost 2 hours of your day and you don’t know what happened?
We’ve GOT to stop the time sucks if we want to reach our dreams! Here are 10 tips to help you to be more productive, stop the time-sucks, and massively achieve all of those dreams.
What fires you up? Where do you see yourself in a year? What about in five years?
Are you doing anything to make sure you get there?
NOBODY wants to live through their life just to get to the next day. But, so many of us actually doing just that!
But, I think we are all capable of achieving much more in our lifetime than waking up, going to work, cleaning our home, watching t.v. and then going to bed….. Just to do it all again tomorrow!
We have to stop the cycle!
The first step to breaking the cycle is to visualize your goals. Think about it so hard that you can smell it, taste it, and touch it and even hear it!
Thinking about taking a trip to Italy next year? Look around the Colosseum, taste the wine, listen to the laughter in the cafes.
Got it planted firmly in your head? Good!
Break down the steps needed to reach that goal.
- Save $10,000 to go on trip
- Get a second job to save money
- Get a passport
- Plan itinerary
Now, break down those steps even farther and put an actionable task on today’s to-do list – and put it at the TOP.
- Fill out a job application at Target
Start every day with the most important task that pushes you toward your dream– if you don’t do anything else, you are at least one step closer to your goals.
Create a schedule
My most productive days happen when I create a schedule. Though, ironically, my schedule typically doesn’t go according to plan. I usually fall off the wayside very easily.
However, even though my day doesn’t happen as I plan, I still usually get MUCH more work done than if I never created a plan in the first place!
I have heard a lot of people like to create their schedule the night before because they can hit the ground running in the morning.
However, I am super impulsive, so I like to make my schedule first thing in the morning. I find that when I make my schedule the night before I may have different intentions by the time I get started working the next morning.
If I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head, I will quickly jot down those tasks throughout the day, and then determine what I want to put on my schedule in the morning.
To make sure I am working toward my dreams and goals, I like to put at least one task that will help move the needle to achieve my long-term goals.
Knowing that I only have 24 hours in a day, I like to weigh the importance of tasks on my to-do list make room for my long-term goals.
Intentional living isn’t just surviving the day-to-day tasks of running my home and business, but it is working toward living the life we envision for ourselves.
Here is a worksheet you can use to quickly assess your tasks for the day and schedule out everything that you need to do.
Plan to your day with your most productive times in mind
You will find your best focus times to be when you have the most energy, so you will have the best quality work and complete your tasks quicker during these times.
Think about it: Would you rather spend 20% of your energy to get 80% of your work completed, or spend 80% of your energy getting 20% of your work completed?
I find that if I get 8 hours of sleep, my most productive time of the day is before 11 am. I may get a second wind around 2pm.
Knowing this, I plan my tasks that require the most focus in the morning, non-thinking tasks between 11 and 2, and medium-to-high focus tasks in the late afternoon.
It’s really hard to stay focused and motivated if you are in a funk (low energy time) so a 5 minute task could easily turn into 45 minutes of floundering if you don’t plan it for the appropriate time of your day.
Some people work better in the morning, and some in the evening, so you will want to pay attention to your energy levels to see when your most productive times for working are.
I like to work using the pomodoro technique. The pomodoro method is working in short 25 minute sprints with 5 minutes of rest in between. After 4- 25 minute sprints you can take a 20-30 minute break.
The pomodoro method really works for me because it is really easy to get distracted by things, but if you tell yourself that you are going to work hard for 25 minutes with no distractions, it is much easier to stay focused.
I like to use tomato-timer to time my work and break sessions. I really like this website because I can adjust the timer if I need to do a longer break. You can use it on your computer, or even download the app on your phone!
Whenever I am really struggling with motivation or focus I just tell myself to work through 1 Pomodoro session.
I am always really amazing how much I can get done in 25 minutes! And, when I complete the first 25 minute block, it’s even easier to convince myself to do another block.
I have even cleaned the house through pomodoros when I was feeling depressed and just wanted to be lazy and cozy on the couch. It’s easier to tell yourself that it’s only 25 minutes of cleaning and then you can be cozy again!
Focus on one task at a time
Do you find yourself flitting between tasks as you think of them? I am soooo guilty of this habit.
Despite what anyone tells you, nobody is great at multitasking.
Every time you divert from your main task you will have to spend additional time to refocus back onto the original task. So, it will actually take way longer to finally complete that task.
Does this sound familiar to you?
You sit down to pay bills, and about 5 minutes in you have a fleeting thought to check to see if you ever responded to the email from Bob last week.
Not wanting to forget to email him, you go and do that now. Next thing you know, 25 minutes have past and you have been going through your inbox, or you have found yourself on Facebook, not even sure how you got there!
Now, you finally get back to paying bills, but you can’t remember if you included a check, or if you only signed off on that form that was required. *Sigh….
So now, you need to open up the envelope, confirm that everything IS in there, and now you have to go through MORE work to address a new envelope.
What a frenzy! My anxiety just exploded from this very hypothetical situation!
To combat multitasking I write down those random thoughts as they pop up in my head, so that I can review them at a later time.
Taking 1 second to write “emailed Bob regarding next year’s vacation?” didn’t take any distraction away from my paying the bills, allowing me to check that task off my list quickly, and move on to my next task of the day.
Limit your distractions
What are your typical distraction culprits?
Figure out what is distracting you and LOCK. THAT. SHIT. DOWN.
Facebook, Pinterest, and email are my NEMESIS!
And, even though I tend to keep YouTube and podcasts running in the background while I work on non-thinking tasks, I really should add it to my culprit list too because it makes it hard to shift into thinking-tasks and I end up wasting time waiting to finish the episode before I can continue on to my thinking-task.
Here are a couple of things you can do to limit your distractions on your phone.
- Hide your phone
- Place it across the room
- Install a do not disturb app
- Remove social media apps from your phone
What can you do to avoid distractions when on the computer?
I am queen of the fifty million open tabs club. It is not uncommon for me to have multiple windows open with a ton of tabs. All very important, of course!
You can imagine that I am often flustered when I am trying to locate the particular tab I need when I need to switch between two or three websites for a task.
It’s sooo frustrating! But, old habits are hard to break.
Here are some options that you can try if you are like me and love those tabs:
Google Chrome has an extension that you can install called One Tab. I have not used it yet, but I have heard really good things about it.
One Tab allows you to open and close a series of tabs with one click, so you can work with minimal tabs to limit distractions.
I have heard someone say that she creates different series of tabs for each phase of work she is doing so that it navigates her through her day and keeps her on task.
Different computer profiles
Alternatively, you can create one computer profile for work, and one profile for relaxation time.
When you are “working” you know you can’t open particular websites on that profile. You may even be able to block the websites for that profile if you really need that structure set up.
Then, when you are done working you can use the profile to look at your social media accounts, watch videos or read blogs.
All right, Rockstar, this one is a big one. You’ve got to hold yourself accountable and stop giving yourself excuses.
If you told yourself you are going to exercise at 6am but you don’t want to do it, DO it anyway!
Every time you give yourself an excuse why you don’t want to (or can’t) do something you are going to feel guilty about not doing it, make yourself feel like crap, and then ultimately fail anyway!
You need to create systems in a way that works best for you.
These systems can be as simple or complex as you need, but they need to work for you and your lifestyle.
You can use a home management binder and organize many areas of your home in one binder, or you can use a simple daily checklist so that you can start working with focus.
Stop reinventing the wheel, with one quick glance you will know what you need to do today. You will no longer waste your brain power trying to remember tasks that need to be done, or feel guilty for putting things off.
Here is a simple to-do list that you can download and get started creating systems to make your life easier to maintain:
Know your Why
Nobody wants to live through their life just to work on their to-do list.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the little things you have to do everyday. But, if you can see that it is part of the bigger picture, it is much easier to work through your tasks.
Ask yourself: What is the reason you put that task on your to-do list?
How does doing this task affect your life, your family, your future?
There is usually a reason beyond “it just needs to get done”, or “it is written on my list so I have to do it”.
Here are some of my whys:
- I keep my home clean because I want to have friends and family over at a moment’s notice and not be embarrassed of any messes.
- I need to pay bills today because I want to get out of debt and travel the world.
- I work on my business so that I can be financially independent, and show myself that I can do hard things.
You may want to write down some of your why’s so that you can look at them whenever you find yourself struggling to get things done.
Just do it!
The final and best tip that I can ever give on productivity is to just do it. Get off your butt and do the dang thing!
Here’s your homework for today:
Pick one thing for this list that you will try TODAY to boost your productivity, and kick butt on all those goals you have in life!
All right, girl, you’ve got this! Go blow your to-do list out of the water!