We all struggle with being productive throughout the day. I’m guilty of sneaking a two hour nap when I can; despite needing to get more done. The phrase “staying busy” has become a mantra that isn’t necessarily a good one. Today, I want to share with you how I stay productive during the day while still having time for fun and leisure. I have learned a lot over the past three years as a Bullet Journaler; but, more in the past year as I have really focused on what the word “productive” means to me.
As I was working from home for almost a year, I quickly learned I needed to define my “ideal day”. What did I want my day to look like? How much time did I want to spend on my work; and, how much did I want to spend on me and my other responsibilities? I created two schedules for myself: one for when I was working from home, and one for when I was working at an office. Although I didn’t start working at an office for some time, I still wanted to be able to see what I could manage as both a blogger and working for another company. I wanted to be able to equally split my time where I could accomplish not only what I need to, but what I wanted to.
The first thing I did when making my schedule was ditch the idea of having to be busy. There are experts who talk about time blocking. I am all for that, however adjustments will always have to be made. Other commitments come up, we need to go to doctors unexpectedly, and family emergencies happen. In order to successfully block out your time, in my opinion, is to leave some room in your schedule. You can still block off that time, but name it something that allows room for adjustments.
CREATING A ROUTINE I CAN STICK TO
Creating routines are hard, really hard. Personally, I have struggled for years with having a consistent and effective routine. I tend to start building habits to only break them weeks or a month later. So, focusing on creating a routine became important to me. In order to have focus throughout the day, I found out the hard way how vital it is to have a good morning and night routine. Honestly, creating a morning routine that has helped me has been a lot easier than staying consistent with a night routine.
My morning now consists of waking up before 6:30 AM, planning my day, eating breakfast, and getting ready. I have become pretty consistent with this routine, so I will be adding two more habits to my morning routine—reading for 15 minutes and morning pages. My night routine on the other hand, has been influx. Once my husband gets home I end my day. Then, we eat dinner, spend some time together, and then sleep. This is a routine but not a very good one for what I want to do for both my mental health and productivity.
The good thing about routines are they don’t have to be set in stone for years and years. In fact, I believe in doing bi-yearly check in’s. By doing this, you can see what areas are good, what—if any— tweaks need to be made, and if you can add something. Establishing and keeping habits are important not only for our health, but to keep us on track with our goals and finishing things. And, routines are just habits you do together at specific times regularly. Keep this in mind when you create, or improve, your current ones. What will help you stay motivated throughout the day? How do you want to wind down the evening? These are important questions to ask yourself.
GET UP 15 MINUTES EARLIER
You know the saying, “the early bird gets the worm,”? Well, I hate to say it, especially as someone who loved sleeping past my alarm, the more time you give yourself in the morning will reflect how productive your day will be. If you do miss your alarm five times, then it’s unlikely you will have time to finish your morning routine. which, in turn, throws you off for the rest of the day? Why, because you are now going to have to sacrifice something to make up for time lost. If you get up 15 minutes before your alarm, you can fit in one to three more tasks in your morning. Consequently, this allows you to check off more stuff in the morning, feel oddly more relaxed, and more prepared for the day because you had a great kick start to your day.
This may be a no brainer, but it is often something a lot of us tend to skimp on. If you are unfamiliar with what morning pages are, you can check out the book The Artist’s Way which describes this practice in more detail. The basic premise is writing three pages each morning. You don’t need to have a topic; rather, you shouldn’t. You are meant to get rid of what happened the day before and get a fresh start for the day ahead. I have tried this method, and have slacked on it as well. I have recently implemented it back in my routine. It is certainly something I need to adjust more to, but it is giving me more clarity.
DEVELOPING A WORKFLOW
Whether you work at home, work outside your home in any profession, or are a stay at home mom. We all have responsibilities, tasks that need to get done, and schedules to manage. This is where block scheduling has started to come in handy for me. However, it may be a struggle in the beginning. In theory, you are training yourself to be focused throughout the day, every day. I found breaking my schedule into blocks, I can remain focused and productive throughout the day. Thus, I achieve better results, can reach deadlines easier, and have the free time that I want.
What you should do is think about the areas of your life you have each day. In the morning, you have your routine. During the day, what are tasks and responsibilities you can batch? Do you have errands outside the house? Create a block for that. Is there specific, time sensitive work tasks? Block out another time for that. Instead of assigning something every hour, you can be flexible with the exact time. If you keep within the blocks, you will be more focused and put that time to good use. Blocking hourly can be overwhelming; it was for me. If you just assign specific chunks of time, even if you don’t get everything done you will more likely have gotten a majority done because you were focused on those tasks.