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I am so excited about this post for a variety of reasons! In it, we discuss simplifying and increasing productivity, which is 100% my jam. It is also the inaugural "Better Together" post where I invite smart and savvy people to share tips on simplifying various aspects of life.
Being productive is about doing less, not more. It's about creating systems and routines that allow you to complete the things you have to do quickly, so you have more time to do whatever you want to do. I have a routine for just about everything with home and work, and I love helping others create them too.
I remember talking to my dad one day when I was in college, and he said something along the lines of, "You won't know everything about everything, but try to know the people who do."
The fact is all of our brains work differently. Things that may click in my brain, may not click in your brain, so I am so excited to share not only my tips but also tips from three great friends and really smart ladies.
Here are the smart ladies who are sharing their best productivity tips:
Hayley Bigham is the brains behind Hayley Bigham Designs. She creates gorgeous brands, and what impressed me most when working with her on the branding for my marketing company, Coastal Connections Marketing, was how organized her business process was.
Meg is the marketing director for Mary Cheatham King Real Estate and juggles many projects at one time (my head spins when I hear all she has going on!).
Paige is the owner of Paige Hulse Law and the Creative Law Shop, which is full of contract templates for small business owners. Not only does she have a huge heart, but I love watching her analytical brain in action.
What is productivity?
Being productive is getting things done. But, let's go a little deeper. Being productive is getting things done that matter. Did you know that organizing your time is exactly like organizing your stuff? Let that sink in a minute.
First, you have to discover what truly brings you joy/matter and clear the clutter. Then, you organize what you have left. You can buy all the bins, or, in the case of time, planners in the world, but if you are organizing a bunch of "clutter", then your space/time will not stay organized. It won't be a meaningful change.
"I used to think that productivity and busyness were synonymous, and I've learned that just isn't true. You can have a productive day without staring at your computer screen all day. Step 1 is completing your tasks well and with intention, and step 2 is figuring out how to do those tasks using less time and less energy. So, the next time someone asks how work is going, I'd take a pause and consider what it means when you automatically respond: So busy! Is it busy? Or is it productive? In my opinion, completing your tasks well and in a systemized, timely manner will help you answer with the latter."
"Productivity means completing meaningful tasks that put you in the right direction. Meaningful productivity is doing tasks that move you forward in an important area of your life: like working out - health, creating - work/passion, communicating - relationships, etc.
Tips for Increased Productivity
Create Routines - Paige
“My track coach in college was very strict about the music he’d play during practices and when. It was a little odd at first, but then it worked! After a time, your body would respond reflexively when it was time to compete. To this day, I have certain playlists that I’ll only listen to when I’m doing certain types of work. You can apply this logic with all kinds of routines: light a certain candle, make a cup of tea, or stretch.
Pause Your Inbox - Caroline
Stop using your inbox as your to-do list. If you are like me, you still need access to your inbox to work on projects, so use the Boomerang plugin to pause your inbox. Work through your tasks, then unpause to create your new task list and pause again. Instead of reacting to every email, you will be able to focus on accomplishing important tasks.
Time Block - Meg
Make a master list of your tasks for the week. Starting with the most important items, determine roughly how long each will take. Put the tasks into the calendar. Tasks that didn’t make it to the calendar for the week are items that can be saved for a later time or delegated. The most important step – Stick to your schedule!
Sort Your Task List - Hayley
Create two task lists. One task list is your top 3 things you have to get done that day. Focus on those first. The next task list is for things that “would be nice” to complete that week but aren’t a high priority yet. This keeps a task list manageable and takes out some of the thought about what to do next. I avoid procrastinating with easier “would be nice” tasks when I need to be focusing on the top 3.
Use a Timer - Caroline
I love to use a timer to keep me on track. Before I set the timer, I decide what tasks I’m going to do during the time frame, and also what tasks I’m going to do after. The task for after is usually something totally different. For example, I may spend 30 minutes head down in a presentation, and then 10 minutes to pay some bills or grab a snack. It’s important to plan your tasks ahead, so you don’t waste time wondering what you’ll do next. (This is the timer I use to avoid getting distracted when setting the timer on my phone. #amazonaffliatelink)
Change Your Environment - Paige
I prefer to change my surroundings based on the work I’m doing. When I’m home, I love to work on contracts outside. I’m relaxed and produce the work faster. I perform high-intensity work in a conference room, and if I’m working on a trademark application, it’s sound-off sitting at my desk, and completely in the zone. Change your physical environment and see where you are most productive. Paige
What to do when you hit a slump?
Do you know the one thing that is 100% guaranteed to get you out of a slump? (ok, maybe 98% guaranteed.)
Move your body!
"It's normal for us all to have days where we're a little less motivated, but on those days where I'm in a true slump, nothing is more therapeutic than activity."
Meg agrees and loves to add a marketing podcast to her walk or jog. Check out The Storybrand Podcast @storybrand_ for one we both love!
Change your medium! You don't have to be an artist to change your medium. If you've been doing a lot of computer work, then break out pen and paper and make some notes there.
I love to open a window and change up my music to get my motivation going.
Get fresh air, move your body, change your environment, change your medium, and have fun with music are just some of the ways you can pull yourself out of a slump.
I hope you enjoyed reading this first post of the Better Together series! It is so fun to compare notes with other people and learn new ways to do things. Stay tuned for more!