Top 10 Ways to Be More Productive

I get asked a lot how it is I manage to get everything done: family, work, church, friends, etc.. Rather than address each of you individually, I decided to put together this handy reference guide to give you a few of my favorite tips and tricks for how to make the most of your time and have a more productive day!

Does that "to-do" list look familiar? No matter how much we do or do not have to do in any given day, it seems we all want the same thing... more time! Unfortunately we are all stuck with the same 24 hours in a day .... unless you know something I haven't figured out yet!

So, until you share your secret of freezing or slowing down time with me, I'm going to help you out with a few tips and tricks I've learned over the years about making the most of my days.

As a mom, a wife, a PTA member, a church goer, and a small business owner I've had my fair share of time management issues ... I'm sure we all have. But, there are a few tried and true things I use to help me get through it all. People will tell me I'm amazing at how well I handle everything... but here's the truth... I don't really handle everything! I am just really good at being productive!

Here are my top 10 tips to helping all of us to make the most out of our 24 hour days:

1. GET READY FOR YOUR DAY. Starting your day off ready to work hard sends a signal to your brain that you mean business. We all know those days when you sleep in late, stay in your pj's until noon, and maybe take a shower in the afternoon before you start thinking about getting anything done. By then you have no energy, and likely won't get much done before you climb back in bed at the end of the day mad at yourself for doing nothing. Yup, I've been there too! But, the days when I get up early, shower, get dressed (make-up and all) and eat a good breakfast ... those are the days when I get the most done. You too!? Yep, I thought so. I seriously believe in the lyrics from the Sound of Music when Maria is leaving the Abbey and heading out the her first day of work at the Van Trapps, "When you wake, wake up! It's healthy!"

2. MAKE YOUR BED. As simple as it sounds, there is something about knowing your bed is made that alleviates some of the chaos. Plus, it’s that much nicer at the end of a busy day to slip in under neatly made covers. This is especially important if you work from home, like I do.... but no matter where you get your work done, just make your bed in the morning. I know some couples have the rule of, "whoever is last in bed has to make it". I tried that... but my husband is terrible at making the bed. So, I know that if I want it to look a certain way, I just handle it. It may not get made until after I get all the kids to school in the morning, but it still happens. Just make it part of your morning routine and you'll never look back, I promise!

3. KEEP A RUNNING "TO-DO" LIST. I know that "to-do" lists are kind of an old idea, but they totally work! Sometimes the first thing I do when I sit down to get to work is to make a list of everything I can think of that needs to get done. Kind of like a brain dump of the to-do list I think I can just keep in my head, ha! Sometimes I try and do it at night before I go to bed to clear my head, but it doesn't always happen. The best part about having a physical list is that you can see everything in one place. Cross off items as you do them...confession: sometimes I add items once I’ve completed them just so I can cross them off. It feels good to see that you are getting things done even if you don’t feel like you are.

4. SET GOALS/BENCHMARKS, AND WRITE THEM DOWN! Goal setting is like the number one thing you can do in business... but it really helps in all aspects of your life. If you don’t write it down you won’t know what you're working towards and how you know when you’ve finished. The trick to setting goals or benchmarks (check points towards your goals) is to be specific. Keep it simple. Keep it attainable. This is something that you could do with your co-workers, your kids, your spouse, etc.. Get everyone on board so you can encourage each other.

5. BE REALISTIC. No, you can’t get everything done, everyday, all the time. It just isn’t possible. But, you can get some of it done most of the time. That may not sound like the best tip, but when you can make that realization, and accept it, you will find that you are less stressed out when things don't get done. Seriously. It's a game changer.

6. PRIORITIZE. Star, highlight, or underline the most important thing(s) you need to get done on your "to-do" list ASAP, and tackle those first .. even if you don’t want to do them. Waiting until the last minute to do something is rough... I know.. and I'm sure you do too. If you can keep yourself from having to do things last minute, it will save you a lot of stress, time, and anxiety. I tend to put my most important tasks as reminders on my phone so that they are always there.

7. BLOCK OUT YOUR TIME. If you wear several hats on any given day, set aside specific blocks of time for each one. It's kind of like when you were in junior high or high school and you had 6 or 7 classes a day. You couldn't take them all at once... that would be chaos! Each class had a specific time, a time for you to solely dedicate to that subject. The same idea can be used to help organize your day. Take a look at your day and decide when you need to handle which things, and then set a timer (or an alarm to signal when to switch hats) to make sure you have time for each of them.

8. GO DIGITAL. You can totally use a planner or a notebook for it all, but I find that setting alarms and reminders on my phone work way better for me than a piece of paper. I still use a notebook for my over-arching "to-do" list... mostly because I just love being able to visually see the accomplishments I make. If you are like that, then you will totally understand what I mean. We all always have our phones with us. It's so easy to jot down reminders on there, or set alarms to remind us to do something at a certain time. I always tell my kids that I write things down (or put them on my digital calendar) so that I don't have to remember them anymore. Our heads get so full of so much information that it's crazy! Birthdays, phone numbers, dates, passwords, facts, etc.. It's nice to be able to write it down and forget about it!  

9. JUST SAY NO. It’s okay to say no once in a while. If you are feeling swamped, maybe it isn’t the best time to volunteer to bake brownies for the school bake sale, or to agree to plan the neighborhood block party. Tell yourself that it’s okay to say “no” and don't beat yourself up about it. I know it's hard though... I have a really hard time saying no, especially to friends and family. I feel like if I tell someone "no" I need to give a reason why I can't do it. So, I've had to learn to simply say, "I'm sorry, but I can't" and leave it at that... but it's a work in progress for me... that why I am still the one to design our school PTA newsletter ....

10. ASK FOR HELP. This is the hardest one of all, at least for me. Most of us don’t want to admit when we need help, but sometimes you just have to -- whether it's by choice or not. You can ask another mom to watch your kiddos for a few hours, hire a babysitter to watch kids while you clean/work, hire someone to help you get a project done, ask an expert for advice, find a mentor, or google it!  It’s okay if you can’t handle everything on your own. Even the most successful people get help from time to time.

Hopefully these will help you to feel a little less overwhelmed with everything you have to tackle on a daily basis. We can't change the amount of time in our day, but we can change the way we use our time! Make more time for what you love by following these simple tips for better productivity!

Leave us a comment with your favorite productivity tips from this list, or something that isn't on our list that you find helps you!

Oh... and don't worry if this is a lot to soak in, we've created a FREE PRINTABLE for you of the highlights from the post. Grab your copy here.

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