Happy New Year! It seems like the past year has flown by. I’m excited to have an entire new year to plan, organize, and create. It’s time for planning content, taking photos, upgrading products, and getting things done. I’m being completely honest when I say being productive isn’t one of my strong suites. I get distracted. Easily. It’s a family trait to move from one project to another without ever actually getting anything done. But with some practice I’ve been learning to better manage my time, attention span, and tasks to get more done effectively.
1. Start With a Clean Slate: Believe me when I say some small clean up tasks before bed will help you wake up to a clean canvas, which makes starting the day easier. A sink full of dishes and cluttered desk make being productive a harder chore. Do those dinner dishes before bed and start the dishwasher. Wipe down counters. Pick up those candy wrappers littering your desk (I know they’re there). It only takes me 15 minutes to do a small run through of my desk, kitchen, and bathroom and it feels amazing to wake up to a semi-clean house, which studies show increases productivity and will help you get more done the next day.
2. Set Personal Deadlines and Stick to Them: Don’t leave it up to just your brain to plan out what needs to get done when for a due date. Writing out what will be done what day and at what time breaks the project down into small, bite-size deadlines that are easy to follow. Use a planner, a notebook, a post-it note. Whatever helps you keep track of what you need to accomplish.
3. Set Office Hours: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a day off and sat down with the intention to get some good, solid, productive work done only to get an email saying Kourtney & Khloe Take the Miami is now streaming on Netflix (it’s not, I already checked. Sorry guys.) and lost an entire day. Set office hours and stick to them. I started out fairly simple with Mondays/Thursdays 11am-2pm, and Saturdays 7-9pm. This works perfectly for me because I’m typically off Mondays and Thursdays – I can carve out a few hours between the gym and cleaning to get some solid work done – and Saturdays I get off early enough to grab dinner and then get a bit of writing done before I hit the DVR. Pick hours that work for you and make a conscious effort to work those hours on project-related writing, research, planning, etc. There’s nothing to say you can’t work more or less, depending on project needs and your personal availability.
4. Be Reasonable: You’re not a super hero, so don’t schedule yourself like one. Keep your to do list short and reasonable. I aim for a maximum of 10 tasks per day. I know I’ll never get those 35 things done in one day, so I schedule a small amount I can get done and leave the rest for another day. It may not feel like it, but by breaking things done into bite-size pieces, you’ll actually get more done.
5. Reward Yourself: I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty reward driven. I always joke that I taught my dogs using positive reinforcement because it worked so well for me. But it’s proven, tried and true. If there’s a reward waiting, the task will get done. It doesn’t have to be something huge. One of my friends in college used the gummy bear trick. She’d put a few gummy bears on her text book page when studying – when you reach a bear, you get to eat it! Tell yourself, “once I’ve answered these 5 emails, I’ll make myself a snack.” Sweet and simple.
What tricks do you use to get more done in the day? Let me know in the comments below!