Some people make getting stuff done look so easy (if you are one of those people I kind of resent you). Just kidding of course. For the rest of us, it can seem like such a challenge. I can’t remember how many times I have set out to do something, only to not end up doing it despite writing it down. Sometimes it’s due to poor planning.
Other times, life just gets in the way (but most times poor planning is the cause). Life can be so full of distractions. If you do not have a plan on how to deal with the many things that you feel that you must do each day, you will ALWAYS feel overwhelmed.
Even though I decided to name this particular post: The 10 productivity tips to save time, -something about the name makes it all feel a little bit like a quick fix.
I think its important to look at the following as habits instead of actual hacks. Making a habit out of these ‘hacks’ will help you to have longer lasting results.
Related: Why I quit freelancing for good
1. Define Your Core Tasks For The Day
Start off the day by writing down the top 4-5 tasks that you must complete before the end of the day. Schedule in these tasks and attach time slots to each task. I find that by putting in a time, I am more likely to complete each task. A few years back, I used to write down 10+ items as a to-do-list. My to-do-list would get really overwhelming. My anxiety levels would go up and I would end up not doing much of what I had written down. I highly recommend only undertaking 4-5 tasks per day.
I usually write down my tasks the night before on a plain peace of paper. Yup, I am not fancy. Just paper and pen. After I complete each task, I cross out the completed tasks. If writing down things is not your style, -there is an app for that. Apps like Trello, Any.do, Due, Fantastical 2 etc. can help you to plan your days better. The possibilities are endless.
2. Have Some Kind of Routine
Since I work a regular job, it’s important for me to keep a consistent weekday routine. My weekend morning routine is when I get the most time to work on my business. During my weekend morning routine, I usually wake up and take a shower. I go on to do my morning stretches. After that, I take my usual hot water with lemon. I then sit at my desk and start working.
During the week, I will come home from work. Have a snack, then go to the gym. Then, I come back home and have some supper. Meal prepping has saved my time by so much! When I get home the food is in the fridge, so I just warm it up and eat. I usually watch a short TV show while having supper. After that, I usually head on over to my desk and work until around 11:30 or 12 midnight. After working, I just go to sleep!
Having a routine is important because it will help you to be more consistent. Your routine has the ability to either make your day more productive or turn it into complete chaos.
3. Nip The Menial Tasks & Distractions
I sometimes find myself spending more time than needed on emails, talking on the phone etc. I will come clean, I have also lost some time on YouTube (Hey, I had to watch that cat video my sister sent me). Instead of spending an unlimited time on these tasks such as emails and phone calls, schedule a time when you should do them. I schedule around 25 minutes each day to do these tasks.
Remember social media will always be there when you are ready. Once your time is gone, you can never get it back. Ever.
I have a habit of over checking my emails and I needed to be more organized. Gmail and Outlook will allow you to create and use labels for your emails (use them!). Having labels just makes things more organized and clean. Instead of wasting time on emails with no end in sight, I now have an e-mail checking schedule. I check emails once in the morning for about 10-15 minutes and again in the afternoon for the same amount of time.
4. Stop Procrastinating
Putting things off will only add to your to do list. As a recovering procrastinator, I know that this bad habit can have really negative consequences. It makes perfect sense to work towards being more productive. To be productive, you will need to stop procrastinating.
I did a post about how to stop procrastination and be more productive. If you are surfing through Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook etc. when you know that you have other important things to do, -ask yourself if what you are doing is going to move you closer to where you want to be.
5. Put Your Phone On Airplane Mode
My phone can be a bit chatty and active at times. This can get very distracting. There have been times when I have been talking on the phone with a friend, only to look up and it’s been 1 hr! The 1 hour that I spent on the phone could be 1 hr that I could be working on my business!
These days I just put my phone on airplane mode when I am working. Turn off your alerts if you want to get more work done. Work consistently for 45-60 minutes and see how much work you get done. If you do this, you will be amazed by how focused you will be. The more focused you are the more work you will get done!
6. Avoid Reading The Mainstream News
The notion that you need to watch the news and constantly stay up to date is outdated. I do not watch or read the news. In my own personal opinion, the news is full of soooo much negativity. I usually get very bad vibes from most news stories. Can you remember how many times you have read or seen a positive news story this past week? I bet you can count this on one hand when compared to all the other carnage. No thank you, I’ll pass.
7. Take a Break In Between Working
You are not a machine. You are a human being (sometime I have to remind myself of this very thing). Kit Kat is right when they say: Give me a break. Because you need a break from time to time as a human being!
A person working for two hours can do more in those 2 hours than someone working for 8+ hours. There have been times where I worked for many hours, only to realize that I did not really get much work done!
Stay focused and have a clear plan. You will do more in less time. For example, I usually work for 45 minutes straight and then I take a 15 minute break. Write down what you want to do in those 15 minutes. For example, check Facebook, stretch, take a short walk etc. After my 15 minute break, I usually come back to my desk and continue working.
You can give the Pomodoro technique a try. With this technique, you work for 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks in between. Do what works for you. The main goal is to be productive, not just busy. This is something I wish I had learned earlier.
8. Get Rid of Clutter In Your House
When it comes to a cluttered house, I literally can not deal (yes, i just said that). Working in a messy place, let alone a cluttered desk can drive me NUTS. I can not concentrate when things are a mess around me. If I have papers all over my desk, my concentration suffers a great deal. A messy house really throws off my peace of mind. I have tried to work when my house and my desk were not organized and its impossible. My thoughts go towards how I should be cleaning and organizing instead! So its a waste of time for me to even try working in such conditions.
9. Do Not Skip Meals
There have been times when I have skipped meals because I was too busy. Thinking back to the times where I skipped a meal, I can remember feeling very sluggish. My energy levels were not the best. I can confidently say that I do my best work when I eat well and drink lots of water. Eating healthy and not skipping any meals can really makes a big difference.
I also snack throughout the day to keep my energy up. If you want some light snacks, you can keep a protein bar, trail mix or some fruit by your desk.
10. Redecorate Your Desk/Work space
I am more motivated to sit down, concentrate and work when my work space is easy on the eyes. Sometimes I get tired of the way things look. When that happens, I simply redecorate. Freshening things up just provides a change of scenery. This really is more mental. When my work space looks nice, I get more done. This is the same for my home.
It can be really unsettling to feel overwhelmed. My gosh, I can not stress this enough. I know because I have been there. You can free yourself from the chains of havingtoomuchtodoitis ( yep, I just made up my own word). As women we can fool ourselves into thinking that multi-tasking is a gift. It can be at times, but most times it isn’t.
Work in such a way so that you can get one task done before you move on to the next one. This is one of the keys to being productive. In the end, it is really all mental. Success comes down to how dedicated you are to reaching your goals.
So those are my top 10 favorite productivity tips that you can do to save time and be more productive. I hope that the above tips will help you like they did me. – After all, time is a valuable things. Do not waste it!