If you haven’t read the book “How to Say No” by Patrick King then, you’re probably overwhelmed with more than you can handle because you’ve been taking on more than you should. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day – are you using them as efficiently as you can? Here are some small shifts that have made a huge impact on my productivity system:
1. Schedule a time to fill each “bucket” of your life. Anything that requires regular attention in your life requires a time to get it done. Start by writing down each of those buckets of your life that you need to fill. It can be physical wellness, business tasks, organisation and cleaning, or planning and executing content for your socials. Schedule a “block” of time in a calendar for when you want to get each task done – i use google calendar religiously since my tasks can be synced across my devices so I’m always up to date on the things i need to get done.
2. Prioritize your tasks by what the length of time it’ll take to do it or the environment in which you need to get it done. Low-energy tasks like clearing out your media or catching up on all the messages in your inbox can easily fit into a portion of your calendar when you know you won’t require your laptop or your computer to get it done. These are quick and simple tasks that you can complete on your phone while you’re sitting at the doctor’s office. High energy tasks like designing and reviewing documents or editing videos require a lot more of your time and energy, as well as a laptop or computer. Schedule these into your calendar on the days you know you have less tasks scheduled.
3. Plan Ahead – ideally on Sunday. What are your non-negotiables that you need to find the time to do at least once a week? Is it general cleaning, meal prep, pampering yourself, changing your sheets, restocking the pantry, planning your work outfits for the week? Whatever these reset tasks are, be sure you have a block of time planned to prepare for the week ahead. Nothing bugs me more than not feeling prepared. I find that my performance throughout the week is heavily dependent on the planning that i did at the start of the week so the less decisions i need to make, like what to wear or what to eat, the more in control i feel of my time and routine.
4. Quality over Quantity – As Dave Crenshaw mentioned in his book “The Myth of Multitasking” there’s a price you pay when you constantly switch back and forth between tasks. Multitasking is NOT THE SAME as productivity. It’s actually the opposite. The time it takes for you to refocus your attention on one task actually decreases your efficiency to get that task done and move on to another. A great way to handle your incoming and upcoming tasks is to keep a physical list open at all times to jot down your next to-dos without having to switch back and forth between two or 3 separate tasks.
5. Task Batching groups tasks of similar nature or project into one designated time period. If you’re working on responding to messages and emails, get it all done in one sitting, that way you won’t need to revisit that until the next block of time allocated to clearing your inbox or have to pay the mental price of switching back and forth between these tasks.
6. Put a limit on your tasks – if you give yourself a day to complete a task, it’ll probably take a day. If you give yourself 2 hours, you’re more likely to get it done within that time frame. Limiting yourself to complete tasks within an allotted time is essentially the same as implementing the Pomodoro Technique, a simple yet effective tool for deep focused work with planned breaks in between. It keeps you hyper-focused on the task you need to get done, without the disruptions or overwhelming feeling that follows looking at your to-do list.
7. Build systems to develop your habits and achieve your goals.
“Goals are for Losers” – Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
If you think setting a goal is the key to achieving the goal, you’re in for a shock. It’s not actually the GOAL that helps you get up every morning to workout, or finish that book you’ve been reading, or taking your vitamins every morning. It’s really the systems that you set in place that become the push factor in the steps you’re taking to achieve that goal. Take for example – working out. It’s not an easy task to do. Some days you’re not motivated, some days you might just not have the energy. This isn’t to say you should always force yourself past your limit. But more so it’s about the little things you do that push you to get it done. If that means placing your gym clothes beside your phone on the opposite end of the room so you need to PHYSICALLY get out of bed to switch off your alarm and get dressed, it needs to be something that’s pushing to make that decision. I’ve been taking my multivitamins consistently for the past few months after placing them out on the breakfast table where i will for sure see them when i sit down to eat, as opposed to forgetting that they are in the cabinet because, well – out of sight, out of mind.
8. Build a visual bank or library. For creators, designers and those who need to be inspired before they can create, developing a visual library to help inspire creativity is a great way to avoid sitting and staring at a blank paper or screen. Whenever you come across inspiring visuals that you can draw inspiration from, save it, copy it, store it somewhere that you can reference back to when you need ideas. There’s nothing worse for a creator than creative constipation. Ideally, try to keep this online, so no matter where you are or what device you’re on, you can easily access it when you need. Notion and Canva are great options to look into for this.
9. Make a note on your calendar of all the recurring deadlines you’re expected to make. Completing monthly/weekly reports, organizing budget, developing content calendars, issuing invoices, whatever those repeated deadlines are, plug them into your Google Calendar then set reminders at least 5 days in advance so you have time to prepare and organize yourself. Maybe it’s just me, but my anxiety skyrockets whenever someone has to remind me to do something. Submitting on or before your deadline gives me a sense of control and ease that I just can’t get from rushing my process. It’s important to mention that the most effective way to ensure you’re on top of your reminders is to install the Google Calendar App on your phone so you don’t miss your notifications.
10. Utilize the Focus Mode feature during important tasks. I’ve only recently started doing this and it’s really a game-changer for me. Most smartphones now feature a Focus Mode that you can customize to silence notifications that are not necessary and allow those that you need to keep an eye out for, including calls from specific contacts. Setting this up and then keeping my phone faced down prevents me from glancing over to see that light flashing and instinctively pick up my phone to check it out.