Whether you’re a busy mum, entrepreneur or business owner, everyone is always looking for ways to be more productive. It is said that we are usually only productive for 3 hours max on any given day. This is calculated on an 8 hour day. No wonder we have to utilise our most productive moments and work efficiently. Sometimes you can work and work for hours on end but at the end of it, you find that you haven’t actually achieved anything. Not only that you are more stressed, confused and overloaded then when you started.
Have you ever found yourself writing for hours, only to re-read everything and nothing made sense? That’s me right now at the time of writing this post! Over the years, I have found certain some things help with trying to be more productive.
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The very first tip (and most important) to do to be more productive is to do a BRAIN DUMP! This means you need to sit down and put all of your thoughts down on paper or a journal (whatever works best for you). Just write it all out. If you’re thinking it (even for a second) just pour it all out into your journal. This will form the basis of your to-do list. This is a great habit to develop as it helps to de-stress!
Master To-Do List
Next, you need to go through your brain dump and put together a Master To-Do List which basically is a to-do list of ALL the tasks that you need to get done…in no order and uncategorised! This is an important list to have as it allows you to always go back and refer to it, add to it at any time and keeps you on track of EVERYTHING you need to complete!
You will be using your Master To-Do List to start formulating your monthly, weekly and daily to-do lists. If you’re doing this for the first time, block off a half-hour slot when you have some peace & quiet so that you can focus on this task.
Monthly To-Do List
When putting together a monthly to-do list you need to look at all of your commitments, appointments and any events for that particular month. Start off by jotting down all of these events or appointments, adding in anything you need to do, e.g. tax returns, renew insurance. Then add in any other tasks you would like to complete that month. You can use a notebook to record all of these items.
Weekly To-Do List
The weekly to-do list should be a list you put together at the end of each week (on a Sunday) or at the start of a fresh week containing all of the important events or tasks for that week. You can use your monthly list to plan out what to include into your weekly list. It is important to remember that you cannot complete every single task on your list. Life gets in the way so be realistic and plan accordingly.
Daily To-Do List
When it comes to putting together the daily to-do list, you can use your weekly list as the basis. Take a few minutes each evening before bed to sit down and think about which tasks you would like to complete the next day. Reflect on the tasks completed that day (and which you didn’t actually get to finish). I would recommend you to pick 3 daily tasks for your list – if of course, you have a lot of time on your hands (lucky you!) then you can pick up to 5 daily tasks.
Here is my list of tried & tested tips to help you be more productive when it comes to organising & styling your home and life:
Limit your to-do list
When it comes to planning your daily to-do lists, I always suggest that you pick 3 to 5 important tasks to do every day. This helps keep you realistic about which of your tasks you can actually complete – and more of a chance to tick them all off. It is much less likely you will be able to complete 15 items on your daily tasks as you don’t actually need to complete all of them. Be realistic, don’t over optimise. There is nothing wrong with only completing a handful of tasks on your list. This keeps you sane and less stressed.
Use time blocking
Time blocking is a helpful tool when it comes to planning out your day and being more productive. You can set aside different time for the day to complete the various tasks you have set for yourself. This ensures that you spend a good amount of time on a certain task without getting too bored or losing your creative flair. I use time blocking to keep me on track and it makes planning your day easier.
Check your emails 1-2 times a day
One of the biggest issues we have when it comes to being productive are emails popping into your inbox. We have all been there. We’re working very hard on a project when *ping* an email notification pops up on your phone or laptop. No matter how strong you are it is inevitable that you will put in a quick glance to your inbox to see what’s come through.
This is why it is very important to switch off your notifications on your phone and only allow yourself to check your emails 1-2 times a day. You should be setting aside a certain time of the day when you check your emails and respond. This will ensure your full focus is on your work or projects and any emails are dealt with in one go. I recommend going through your emails at the end of the day as it would help with formulating your daily to-do list for the next day.
Take a break regularly
Regular breaks keep you focused and on point. It is very important to take a break between any work, tasks or projects you are trying to complete. If you don’t take regular breaks then it will not only get boring quite fast but your creativity levels will drop. I usually set my working “hours” to fall in between naps. Sometimes I am lucky to get a full hour other days it can be a little more or a little less. But I tend to work through that period then have a few hours break until the next block of time I am lucky to get. This does help keep me interested in wanting to complete any unfinished tasks and also keeps my mind fresh.
Keep a notebook handy
When it comes to being productive keep a notebook nearby. This way you can jot down any new tasks or to-dos that pop into your head. This is especially helpful when you’re busy working on a task and remember a meal plan idea. Instead of dropping everything and moving over to a new task (which is very counterproductive), you can simply jot this new thought into the notebook. Then you can pick up on any new tasks or reminders at the end of the day. This again will help you plan your to-do list for the next day or week. Plus it helps a lot when everything is in one notebook.
Plan your week on Sundays
Sundays are always meant for relaxation, in my books. I like to reflect on all of the tasks and goals I had managed to achieve that week. I go through my weekly and monthly to-do lists ticking off the main tasks I had set myself. This lets me keep a running tab of what I have managed to complete that week. I create my new weekly to-do list selecting the most important tasks that I need to complete. I tend to choose a maximum of 3-5 daily tasks so as to not overwhelm myself. If you’re a busy mum then be realistic and stick to a number that you can actually complete.
The most important productivity tip I can give you is to reward yourself. Remember, life isn’t just about working and to-do lists. It’s also about being happy, healthy and loving your life. Whatever you do you need to make sure you are doing it with love. There is no need to stress over the little things as they don’t last forever. When you manage to tick off your tasks you should reward yourself with a glass of wine or dessert.
To sum up
Go through your day intentionally. Whatever you plan to do, do it mindfully and with the best intentions and motivation. Don’t end your day feeling frustrated that you haven’t completed all of your planned tasks. We are all human and have MANY responsibilities. Life gets in the way of plans and that is ok. Just breath, brush it off and move it to another day. You may get frustrated for not being able to complete all of your tasks but that is ok! Remember, frustration and stress only make you counterproductive. It also works up cortisol in your body putting you in a bad mood unnecessarily around your family/ friends. Wait a few days so that you are more energised when you come to tackle it.
We don’t always get to complete all of our set tasks. This could be because the task at hand is boring or difficult. One of the ways you could try to combat this is by tackling the hardest/ most boring tasks first. This way you’re motivated to continue working your way down your to-do list enthusiastically.
How do you stay productive?
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Til next time