Productivity is something we all want more of. We want to do more in less time. While there are apps and tools to help you with this, most productivity is generated from the right mindset. So what are some productivity tools to help you get stuff done? Let's dive in.
Planning to be Productive
The key to being productive is knowing what you have to do. Having a planner that you use will help you keep track of important events, tasks and weekly chores. No one can remember everything, so make sure you write down tasks the moment you think of them. This won't only help you remember things better, but it'll also help clear your mind of clutter.
I love using a paper planner to plan my day. I use the Emily Ley Simplified Planner (I have a planner tour below). But on the go, I use my phone and an app called Any.DO. The app lets me write down tasks quickly and set reminders in a couple steps. It also works as a Chrome plugin so you can mark emails as tasks too.
Every morning I look at my Any.Do app and write down all the tasks I want to get done today in my planner. This helps me sort through the most important and decide when they really need to be done.
You don't have to use either of these. Use sticky notes, Evernote, asana, todoist, google calendar, wunderlist, notes in your phone. Whatever works for you and your mind. The important thing is to use the same tools every time. That way you're not looking through 10 different apps to remember that thing you were supposed to do on Tuesday.
To Do Lists
Every day in the morning, before starting you day, make a to-do list. This can be a life saver, and I don't know about you, but there's something satisfying about checking a task off your list. Write the most important tasks at the top and work your way down.
Get the hard stuff out of the way first and your day will seem much more productive. Make sure you include everything in this list; chores, work, homework, meetings, personal stuff.
Having a set list of everything you have to do will make it easier to organize your thoughts and focus on one task at a time. The very first item on my list is something that is due tonight. The lowest items on my list are things that can be done tomorrow or pushed back.
If I don't get something done that day I make sure to use an arrow to show that I moved the task to the next day. I tend to do my hardest task first thing in the morning (I wake up early). That way I have less distractions and more focus. Find the time of day you work most effectively (right when you wake up, at 2am, right after eating, before a nap).
Being productive means you have to focus one on things at a time. This means turning off your phone, getting off social media, and turning off the TV. Anything that can distract you needs to go until you finish a task. The idea of multi-tasking seems so amazing, but it kills productivity. Focus on one thing. That's how our brains are hard-wired.
To do this, I like to use a timer. If I have homework to do, I'll set the timer for an hour and for that full hour only focus on homework. No breaks, no phone, no twitter, just homework. You'll be surprised how quickly you can get stuff done when you sit down and focus on one task at a time.
Know your limits
Sometimes it's easy to commit to a million things at once. I'm guilty of this. Multitasking is not easy, so be careful with how much work you take on. It's okay to say no to joining another club or doing another favor for someone. Saying "no" is a really useful tool that a lot of use are afraid to use.
Make sure you schedule time to be lazy! It's perfectly fine to watch TV so set a time when that's all you have to do. It'll make your free time more enjoyable knowing you have all your other crap done for the day. If you book your schedule full of meetings, writing, school and work, you're going to burn out fast. Plan 30-60 minutes a day to do nothing. Take the time to nap, read, watch TV, waste time on social media. It'll keep you sane and keep you fresh.
A look at my routine
I always love seeing what someone's day looks like. It helps me plan better and use some of their ideas. A couple notes before seeing my schedule and wonder why I haven't gone insane yet...
I have Fridays off of work to do homework, catch up on chores and work on the site. I have all online courses so my evenings are spent "in class" which is why I spend so long working on school work. I also have nothing on Saturdays or Sundays. Sundays are for church and fun and Saturdays are a mixture of working on projects and being lazy.
I love keeping my days full. Here's what a typical Monday looks like in my life:
I wake up, first thing I do is drink a full glass of water & make some tea while reading the Skimm. I write my #1 Goal for the day on my whiteboard. (Related: My #1 Secret to Success) Then I sit in the kitchen, eat some breakfast and read my Bible or work on a study. (Related: How Proverbs 31 fits into my business plan)
I shower, get dressed, dry my hair and do my makeup. I also take the puppy outside to pee. This puppy wakes up earlier than I do. After I'm done getting ready, I check emails, social media and I schedule some tweets for the day. I leave for work by 7:30.
8:00am - 2:00pm
I work at a fulfillment company. I process & fill orders, answer customer service phone calls, emails & chats, and do inventory of our products.
It sounds boring, but I work for family and I actually adore my job. In breaks between work I write blog posts, keep up on emails and check social media. Some days I get done at 2 pm, other days I get done at 10 am. With the extra time, I usually periscope, run errands or work on homework.
I get home, grab the mail, a snack and kick back. If I have a lot of homework or work, I grab a snack and jump right in. Every Friday I record videos during this time (for blog posts and youtube) and every Monday I hop on periscope.
Homework time. Depending on the week I have anywhere from 1 to 4 hours of homework a night. Mondays I like to keep it light, because work is usually busiest on these days. 1-2 hours is about all I can handle.
I cook dinner, check emails & social media and relax while it's cooking. This is also when I update my planner, making sure I got all my assignments done and I know what I need to do for tomorrow. Then I eat at the table* with my fiance and we catch up on our days.
*Notice I said we eat at the table (unless Game of Thrones is on) we use that time to be together and just talk. This is important in a good relationship y'all. If Game of Thrones is on, we don't really need a good chat, because we'll lay in bed talking about the episode for an hour after we watch. Just being real here.
6:30pm - 8:00pm
This is when I work on my site the most. I write posts, schedule social media, network, work on client projects, update my etsy shop and edit/post videos. I find slots of time during the day at work or on days I don't have homework to meet with clients or pre-write content for the weeks ahead.
*This is why I like to PRE-write my content on weekends and breaks. I can schedule social media months ahead of time and prep posts weeks before they'll publish. (Related: How to prep blog posts 3 months ahead of time) It keeps me sane and helps me not rush my process.
8:00pm - 9:30pm
I start to unwind. I wash my face, brush my teeth, tidy the apartment, do a couple chores, get ready for bed. Around 8:30 I'm usually in bed. I read the Bible and pray for a bit then set my alarm and go to sleep. I'm not much a night owl so I go to bed pretty early.
Your day does not have to be this structured to be successful in business, mine isn't even this perfect. Some days work is short and I take a nap instead of working. Some days I wake up an hour earlier to get everything done in time. Having a basic guide to follow can really help you see how much you can take on. If you're like me, doing school, work, and a side hustle, you should know how much can fit into your schedule.