Something that’s been on my mind lately? Productivity. As I prep for the arrival of our baby, I’ve been trying to get as much done as possible each day so that when does come I won’t have to spend time catching up on work. But, staying on track to complete the last things on my list isn’t always easy.
1. Plan Your Day The Night Before
At the end of my day, before I shut down my computer for the night, I plan the next day. When I do this, I don’t think or stress about what needs to get done the next day because I already have a game plan. It makes my nights more relaxing and makes it easier to get a restless night’s sleep—even during stressful, busy weeks.
2. Top Three
I won’t lie, most days I have more than three items on my list, but that might be because I like to write down everything I have to do. Maybe this is over the top, but I add things like take out the trash and pick up dog food or even responding to a specific emails to my list because I get a little rush each time I scratch something off that list. I use Trello for my to-do lists which makes it easy to drag and drop items around. The list always starts with the top three things I need to accomplish that day. I start with those and if anything else after that gets done, it feels like a little bonus! Watching the list shrink throughout the day is super satisfying!
3. Start with the Worst
One of my best tips for getting things done in a hurry is starting with the task you’re dreading the most. I used to wait until the end to do this and it wasn’t working. Getting it out of the way first makes me feel so much more productive and gives me more energy to check off the other two items after that!
4. Know Your Limits
I struggle with this one, but reminding myself that there’s only one of me and that I can only do so much each day is important in keeping myself in check. Planning too much in a single day and not completing it can end up leaving you feeling drained and unaccomplished even if you actually finished 10 tasks! Know what you can realistically do each day and don’t plan for more.
5. Be Flexible
Life happens. Things come up that you’re not expecting, so be flexible with your schedule. If you have to move an item to the next day because you suddenly have to run to a doctor’s appointment. Another reason I like to be flexible is because some mornings I wake up and my list isn’t in line with how I’m feeling. If I wake up feeling ready to write, but I have photo shoots and administrative tasks on my list, I’ll move those to the next day and take advantage of the creativity I’m feeling and write instead.
6. Take Breaks
I’ve had plenty of days where I’m tempted to stay at my desk for hours on end and pound out work, but when I do this, I feel totally drained and have little motivation the next day. Taking breaks to get out and go for a walk, grab a quick coffee with a friend or catching up with your mom on the phone. Breaks will give you a little boost and help you feel ready to tackle your next task. Plus, taking your eyes away from your computer screen for a few minutes is good for you. You’ll come back to your desk feeling reinvigorated and refreshed! If you find that you’re bad at taking breaks—you can even schedule them in. Believe me, they’re worth it!
7. Cut Back on Emailing
No, I’m not suggesting you don’t answer as many emails, but instead of leaving your Gmail account open all day and checking it every half hour (or more), pick 2-3 times a day to check your email. It might even be worth setting a timer for 30 minutes while doing this task so you don’t get sucked in and find yourself emailing (or g-chatting) for hours on end. I’d start with once in the morning and once at the end of the day, but if you get a ton of emails, add another time in he middle of the day. As my mom always said, email is there for our convenience, so don’t be a slave to it.
Not everyday is perfect, but sticking with these simple tricks has made me a heck of a lot more productive, which makes me feel more confident and ready for the major life change that’s on the horizon. What tips do you have for being more productive?