Do you like being organised? Productive? Efficient?
Or do you find it hard to get anything done, to focus, to gain momentum in your work and your day?
Making friends with time and being productive – while an innate skill for some – can be learned, and learned well. You just need to implement some simple organisational and mindset tools, and you’ll be well on your way.
Here are my tips to help you become more productive:
Each night, work out what you want to do the next morning, or map out the next few days. I love doing this when I have a lot to accomplish in a small period of time. This kind of organising might not work for some people, but it definitely works for me. I remember during the last year of high school, right before the final exams, I would set out the work I would do each morning and night, and stick to it. I’ve kind of kept this up, and it works brilliantly as I can plan ahead and see where I need more time for a certain project, as well as plan time for self-care, exercise and rest. It helps me feel on top of things, even before I’ve started the work.
Use a variety of tools to help you plan
I use a beautiful daily planner, Asana, Evernote and sometimes, some kikki.K note pads. For me, I like to be able to type things out into Evernote (my longer term plans and brainstorming sessions) and I love writing out the day-to-day tasks on paper. Also, kikki.K’s products are just beautiful.
Work out when you do your best work
Is it early in the morning when everyone is asleep? Midday? Late at night? I know I start to feel less productive around 1-3pm so I often don’t set big or important tasks to do around this time (funnily enough, this is ‘Liver’ time in Chinese medicine/Kinesiology, and it rules ‘smooth’ flow, the expression of flexibility, and ‘taking things in stride’… as well as opens into the third eye and is associated with vision and direction, so a nice message from my body that I can be flexible to be more productive and move forwards).
Batch the tasks you don’t love doing
But remember that you don’t have to do yourself. I’m all for outsourcing but there are some tasks you just need to do yourself. Instead of doing them in dribs and drabs, set aside a certain amount of time per day or week to just sit down and do that work first. Yep, do it first… get it out of the way, then get onto the fun stuff!
You can’t work all day, every day. Approval to be gentle with yourself and do less comes from within. The longer my lunch break is, the more productive I am in the afternoon. The more fun my lunch break is (watching a TV show, reading on the couch, lying down on my bed for a bit, going out for lunch, catching up with my mum, sis or a friend) the more joyful my working day becomes.
As I type, I’m sitting in one of my fave tiny cafes in Bondi, and the hum of the coffee machine actually helps me zone out and type.
Sometimes just being in one place all day can make you feel unproductive and then you start procrastinating. I love getting out of the house to do certain work, like writing. I keep a notepad next to me (even in the cafe) with the tasks I want to check off that day, and cross them out as I go. It’s super satisfying!
Write out your Stop Doing List
And then make a commitment to stop doing the tasks that drain you, the activities that hold you back and the arrangements you don’t want to be making.
Reframe your thinking
Being busy is no longer a badge of honour. It’s a sign you’re on the fast track to burn-out. Working less hours means you’re more productive in the hours you do work, and that means more productivity and less pain.
Outsource the tasks you don’t enjoy doing to make space for the things you love doing. If that means you hire a cleaner once a week so you can take the morning off in a cafe, do it.
Put yourself first
Being too busy means you come last, and that can’t last forever my friend. Give yourself permission to slow down and indulge in some self care. You can read about my self-care strategy here. Some of your best ideas will come in the spaces between your actual ‘work’, so give yourself the space to let them come to you.
Say no to 3 things every day
It will change your life. You don’t need to say yes to everything, and in fact… remember that each time you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to something else. For me, when I know I have a lot of work to get through, I can’t be making plans to be out for breakfast, or meet someone for tea, or spread myself too thin.
Sometimes I block out time in my calendar just to write and do nothing else (except yoga and coffee) and it’s heavenly.
You get to decide when you work, what you do, and how much you do, and constantly saying yes to everyone and everything else means you’re not really backing yourself and respecting the work you do.
… from social media, close your email and put your email auto reply on, turn your phone on silent… basically remove distractions.
Be ok with where you are, today, now, this moment, this second, this breath. Sometimes we feel unproductive when we are actually just zooming ahead and wishing more was happening. You just need to take one step in front of the other, even if it feels slow… at least this way you are still moving forwards.
Clear, balance and align your energy
Book a kinesiology alignment session. Kinesiology can help you clear overwhelm, perfectionism and procrastination, so you can be your more productive self, and help you feel more peaceful and calm when going about your day to day work and projects.
Read these books
They’re about productivity, doing the work, and using your organisational skills as well as your creative skills. These books are game-changers:
- Die Empty, Todd Henry
- Do the Work, Steven Pressfield
- The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
- Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield
Being productive is also about sitting down to do the work.
How else can you make friends with time?
What needs to be done, or not done, in order for you to get stuff done?