Making the Most of Your Time: 5 Productivity Tips To Live By

It’s not enough to dream of success. It’s not even enough to set goals.

The only way to truly achieve your dreams and build the life you’re meant to build is to take action.

And that’s where many of us…well, fail is a strong word. But it’s the “doing” that trips us up more times than not.

We overbook our calendars until today’s to-dos become next week’s past dues. We procrastinate on the things that are important while attending to things that are merely “nice to do.” And sometimes we simply take on too much—even when we know better.

The answer? Embrace these five productivity hacks to get more done in less time.

Rituals and Habits: Simply put, a ritual or habit is a consistent way of doing something. You have a morning ritual (wake up, brush your teeth, work out, shower, and start your day), evening ritual (check homework, tuck the kids in, watch the evening news, and hit the sack), weekend ritual (sleep late, mow the lawn, catch a movie, visit your mom), and many others.

The trouble is, if you’re not careful with your rituals, they can turn into productivity killers. Is checking Facebook or email a part of your morning ritual? Is turning on YouTube a part of your ritual? Distractions such as these can turn even your best intentions into hours of wasted time.

Take a good look at your rituals. What are you doing that you should not be—or that should be moved to another part of your day? Make your rituals more efficient and you’ll automatically get more done. A really good book that will help you delve more into this is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.

Calendar Management: Want to know how much time you really have available for that new project? Try blocking off time in your calendar for all your existing projects. Fill in all your client calls, your business or work administrative tasks, time for meals and breaks, outside appointments, and everything else you’re committed to. What’s left might just shock you. It’s like..creating a first budget for your time.

Make it a habit to block time in your calendar for every commitment, and you’ll never again over-promise or over-commit.

Pssst..I use Google Calendar and color code everything! But, if you are at work, feel free to use any of their programs and do the same thing. I had a lot of success with that as an Office Manager AND as an Admin Assistant. It gave me the visual to tell my higher up that I had a lot on my plate so we prioritized much more efficiently!!

Learn to Let Go: Here’s a news flash. You do not have to do everything. You can (and should) hand off those low-level tasks, or even tasks you don’t like or not good at, to someone else. You have certain skills you were hired for, and your coworkers may have a different skill set. You can swap things (with permission, of course) to better suit your strenghts AND both of you will get a lot more done when you are playing at those strengths.

Freelancer example: Hire a VA to create your documents and manage your calendar. Or an OBM to manage your business for you while you do your core work. Let your tech support person manage your blog and email. Turn over your bookkeeping to an accountant. The time you free up will allow you to work on what’s truly important—and that only you can do.

Work Hard, Play Harder: You are not a machine. You cannot work all day every day and hope to be at your best all the time.

Take a day off. Get some rest, or relax on a long, slow hike. Take a friend out to lunch. Go shopping with your kids. See a movie or a play. Do something—anything—other than work. Self care is not just bubble baths..but..well bubble baths are lovely! But it’s disconnecting from daily stress OR reconnecting with those who are important to you to recharge yourself.

Not only will you return to your work feeling much more refreshed, but you’ll find yourself more creative and productive than before as well.

Focus: Multi-tasking is can be a distraction. You cannot efficiently create a new offering while you’re simultaneously surfing Facebook, keeping an eye on the dogs, and answering the phone every time it rings.

Instead, use your calendar to block time off for important tasks, then turn everything else off so you can focus. No phone, no Facebook, no kids or husbands or neighbors or pets demanding “just a minute” of your time. Tune everything out, and you’ll find you’re getting done much faster.

When I worked in an office and had a big project coming up, I spoke with my manager and explained that if I had 15-30 min of complete focus, I would have it done in that time rather than taking 2-3 days because I was constantly distracted by other tasks. They most likely will appreciate how dedicated you are to that project or task and allow you to take time away or close your door. (Or, they won’t but then you’ll know it’s not a high priority and you don’t have to stress about it!)

Managing your time and turning up your productivity is not something that comes naturally to most people but when you learn to master this skill, you’ll find your life starts to blossom.



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