Tricks to Having a Productive Day
We're all busy. Really busy. Work deadlines, emails, socials, appointments. It's all crazy AF. Tired of having more things to tick off my list than hours in the day, I decided to pull my shizz together and come up with a plan that would help me get stuff done without missing a beat or breaking a sweat. Do you want to see how I do it?
Here's how I organise my working week:
1. Monday Morning is for scheduling.
I block out my Monday mornings to go through emails and decide where my time needs to be spent throughout the rest of the week. I've read several blogs about productivity where people advise you to forget about emails and focus on your important tasks first thing in the morning. I agree with this but as far as I am concerned, Monday is the day to stress about correspondence.
I always aim to leave Fridays pretty free so I have time and head space to finish whatever task I didn't manage to get to during the start of the week. Also, as anybody else out there, I'm a lot less ambitious on Fridays so I allow myself to slow down. This relaxed state of mind often helps me see things clearer or be more creative.
2. Lists are my friends.
Once I've gone through my emails, I write a detailed list of all the things I need to achieve that week. This is important. It needs to be an achievable goal, extended through the entire week. I used to keep work lists that included targets for the entire quarter, which I kept having to push back as more immediate fires needed attention. The whole thing served only as a stressful reminder that I was failing at something. Make a list and date it only for that week. Anything that doesn't fit in and can be pushed back, push it back!
If you're one for extreme organisation, get yourself a planner that includes long term goals as well as immediate goals. This way, you know you won't let anything slip.
I really wouldn't mind this one. Hint, hint?
I also have a separate notepad for my personal errands. Doctor's appointment, dentist, paying rent. Write everything down. Even if it's laundry. The satisfaction you get when you cross it out will be totally worth the anal behaviour.
Top Tip: Break your objectives down by steps. So, if you have to deliver a White Paper by Friday, list out each section of the work. Research> interviews> drafts> proofing> editing> design> final revision, etc. And tick off as you go along.
3. If it's not on the calendar, it doesn't exist.
With my list of to-dos by my side, I allocate specific times on my calendar. I use Google Calendar - which I share with my work colleagues - so everyone can see what times I'm busy and when I may be available for meetings. I tend to stick to this but if when the time comes to tackle a certain task and I am not feeling inspired or creative, I move it. Why? Because I've learned that forcing yourself to do something you're not prepared to do, is a massive waste of time. How many times have you found yourself just staring at your computer, unconsciously login into Facebook and login right back out? Exactly. Pointless.
Take all the time you need to build this calendar and keep checking it every day to make sure you're on top of it. If it doesn't fit in your schedule, it's not getting done.
4. Sync your devices.
We're not always in front of our work so make sure you go mobile and take your schedule with you wherever you go. I can easily check my calendar from my phone but for my really important stuff, specially in my personal check list, I have a time managing app where I can quickly write down shopping lists and reminders.
Top Tip: For times when you really, really, really need to get something done but your brain is refusing to cooperate, try the 20-10 approach. Set a timer to countdown 20 minutes for you and in that time, close any tabs or documents not pertinent to the task at hand. For those 20 minutes, only concentrate on what needs doing, nothing else in the world matters. When the timer goes off, give yourself a pat on the back, get up, make a tea and have a break for ten minutes. Repeat as often as needed until you complete the niggly job.
5. Cut yourself some slack.
You won't always get to it and that's fine. There's a brand new Monday right after Sunday, and you get to start all over again :)
I hope these five tricks help you as much as they help me. Let's smash it!