I talk a lot about productivity on my blog now, but I wasn’t always exactly a productive person. In fact, for a while, I was a super unproductive person.
That’s why I started learning everything I could about how to be more productive!
There are a lot of big-picture productivity hacks that might help you. But really, it just comes down to make a plan for every single day and sticking to it.
In this post, I’m going to teach you how to plan a productive day – and how to actually stick to your plan!
How to Plan a Productive Day
Plan Your Day Ahead of Time
I can pretty much guarantee that when I’m waiting until the day-of to plan a certain day, it’s not going to be as productive of a day. There are a few reasons for this.
First of all, I like to be able to sit down at my desk in the morning and dive right into work. But when I haven’t planned my day ahead of time, I instead have to start by figuring out what the heck I’m going to work on first.
The other reason is that when I’m deciding in the moment what I want to work on, I’m going to work on whatever is easiest or most fun.
Think about it this way: Let’s say you’re going out to dinner with some friends.
If you look at the menu ahead of time, you might decide you’re going to order a salad. And since you made a plan ahead of time, you’re more likely to stick with it.
But if you don’t look at the menu ahead of time, you’re more likely to just choose whatever meal sounds really good at that moment. For me, that is always pasta!
Productivity is the same way! When you plan ahead, you’ll plan to be productive. When you decide at the moment, you’ll pick an easy or fun task.
First of all, by constantly telling myself that I wasn’t a morning person, I wasn’t giving myself much of a choice to be anything different.
But I was also failing to realize that people who aren’t morning people are those who most need a morning routine!
For years I would snooze my alarm and wake up at the absolute last minute. That meant I was frazzled and disorganized in the morning, and often late for work.
I was spending more money on food and coffee since I wasn’t waking up in time to make them in the morning.
I wasn’t getting any productive work done in the morning, because I was still so tired when I got to work.
And because your morning usually sets the tone of the entire day, I found myself feeling behind and unproductive all day.
Once I created a morning routine for myself, I realized that not only would I be more motivated to get out of bed in the morning, but I could also have a productive and peaceful morning without getting up that much earlier.
Once you create a solid routine for yourself, it’s a lot easier to get everything done without feeling disorganized and like you’re definitely forgetting something.
Prioritize Your To-Do List
When you sit down in the morning and look at your to-do list, which task are you most likely to choose? I’m guessing it’s going to be whichever one you can get crossed off the fastest. That’s how most of us are.
That’s why it’s so important to prioritize your to-do list. Otherwise, the really important but challenging tasks will never get done!
My favorite way to prioritize tasks is by using the Eisenhower Matrix. This matrix helps me to decide which tasks to do immediately, which to schedule for later, which to delegate or automate, and which to get rid of altogether.
Prioritizing your to-do list ahead of time is a game-changer and helps to make sure you aren’t filling your day with unimportant tasks.
Put Everything on the Calendar
One of my favorite writers and podcasters Gretchen Rubin often says that “things that can be done at any time are often done at no time” and I relate to that statement so much.
For years, I had a huge running to-do list of things I wanted to do for my businesses. And I’m not kidding when I say that some of those tasks were on the list for years. Yes, years.
I figured I could do them any time, so instead, I did them at no time. And the one thing that really changed that?
Now, instead of keeping a running to-do list in a notebook or in Asana and working from that every day, I put tasks directly onto my Google Calendar.
Not only does putting it on the calendar ensure that it actually gets done, but it also ensures I don’t take longer than I need to do it.
For example, if I’ve given myself five hours to write a blog post, then it will take my five hours to write the blog post. But if I put it on my calendar for just two hours and then have another task scheduled right after it, then I’ll finish it in two hours.
Sort of like how in college no matter how long your professor gave you to write a paper, you would always finish it right before it was due!
Plan Your Results
Do you ever have those days where you feel like you’re being really productive and getting a lot done? But then at the end of the day, you really aren’t sure what you actually accomplished? Yeah, me too.
That’s what happens when we plan activity on our to-do list instead of planning our results.
For example, let’s say you have a two-hour block of time on Sunday mornings for your blog. If you write “work on blog” on your to-do list, then there’s a good chance you’ll spend that two hours with busy work and trying to figure out what to work on.
Instead, try putting “write one blog post” on your calendar. That way you know exactly what you should be doing when you sit down to work, and you won’t distract yourself with busy work and convince yourself that you’re working on your blog.
I’ve noticed a huge difference since I started doing this in my business. Before, I could have spent an entire evening thinking I was working on my blog, but not getting anything done.
Now, I always have specific tasks planned, and when I finish working, I have something to show for it.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
Remember when everything thought that multitasking was a thing? And that multitasking a lot would make you more productive?
Yeah, it turns out that’s not true at all.
You can only give your full attention to one thing at a time. Meaning when you’re “multitasking” you’re just jumping from task to task without giving anything your full attention.
Here’s a good example for you. I love listening to podcasts when I’m running, cleaning, or getting ready for work – basically things I don’t need my full attention for. For me, those are the best times to listen to podcasts.
Every once in a while though, I’ll try to listen to a podcast while I’m working. And you know what usually happens? I get to the end of the podcast and realize that I didn’t really hear most of what they said. My attention had been on my work, and you can’t give your full attention to two things at once!
The truth is that you aren’t saving time by multitasking. You’ll take longer to do everything, and it won’t be done as well. It’s way quicker to just give your full attention to one task, and then move onto the next when you’re done.
Keep Your Workspace Organized
Believe it or not, your environment has a huge effect on your productivity. And having a cluttered or messy workspace can actually make you a lot less productive.
I always find myself less productive when my workspace isn’t neat because clutter tends to stress me out. So instead of focusing on my work, I’m stressing out about the clutter.
Clutter also slows you down. For instance, let’s say you’re looking for one specific piece of paper, but you’ve got piles and piles of paper on your desk.
It’s probably going to take you a while to find what you’re looking for!
I always make time in my calendar, usually at the very end of the day or week, to clean and organize my workspace. That way when I start working the next day, I can dive right in and have a clutter-free environment to work in.
Every so often I’ll get really ambitious with my schedule and plan work for myself literally from the time I sit down at my desk in the morning until the time I’m getting ready for bed in the evening.
And sure, sometimes this works out and I get it all done. But this really isn’t sustainable.
First of all, if you plan to work like this every day, you’re going to get burnt out. And once you hit burnout, you’ll find it really difficult to accomplish anything at all.
Another reason this doesn’t work is that things don’t always go as planned. And when you have a task that takes longer than expected, it’s going to throw off the rest of your day or week.
End With a Productive Evening Routine
Just as a productive day starts with a productive morning routine, it also ends with a productive evening routine. And just like a productive morning routine, a productive evening routine looks different for everyone!
I really like to use my evening routine to get ready for the next day. This means making my lunch, getting the coffee maker ready, and picking out what I’m going to wear the next day.
A productive evening routine also helps to get you ready for a good night’s sleep. This might mean taking a shower, doing your nightly skincare routine, and turning off electronics an hour or two before bed so you’re actually ready to sleep when you lay down.
Having a productive evening routine is a big part of what allows me to have a productive morning routine! It prevents me from feeling rushed and disorganized, and it allows me to feel well-rested because I’ve gotten enough sleep.
When it comes to increasing your productivity, every day is important!
I spent the past years learning everything I could about increasing productivity. And in the end, I’ve learned that it mostly comes down to how you treat each day.
In the grand scheme of things, one day doesn’t really seem like much. When you have one unproductive day, you don’t feel like it will make a difference.
But a chain of single unproductive days adds up to an unproductive life. And a chain of super productive days adds up to consistently getting things done and reaching all of your biggest goals!
If you’ve been around this space for a while, you know how passionate I am about personal development. It’s one of my favorite topics to write about, and something I make a lot of time for in my own life.
This wasn’t always the case, though. Years ago I was feeling stuck. I was in a marriage that felt stuck and a job that felt stuck, and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted out of life.
And so I turned to personal development.
I read personal development books and blogs but found myself feeling so overwhelmed with everything there was to learn and everything I wanted to accomplish.
The one thing that made it was less overwhelming: creating a personal development plan.
Creating a personal development plan helped me to figure out where to focus my attention and awareness. And by doing this, I was able to start reaching my goals.
In this post, I’m sharing how you can create a personal development plan to finally start reaching your goals!
How to Create a Personal Development Plan
What is Personal Development?
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’re probably familiar with the concept of personal development and have seen me talk about it again and again.
Personal development is the process of improving yourself through positive habits and activities.
Personal development includes improving internal attributes such as self-awareness and happiness, as well as external attributes such as professional growth and wealth.
Personal development takes place over the course of our entire lives and is what allows us to achieve our goals and aspirations and increase our quality of life.
Now that we’ve nailed down what personal development is, you can probably figure out what a personal development plan is!
It’s essentially a road map of the goals and successes you plan to achieve and the skills and habits you’ll need to achieve them.
A personal development plan covers every area of your life: education, career, relationships, self-improvement, and more.
It’s important to note that personal development is not the same as self-improvement or “self-help”, but that those will be just one element of your personal development plan.
Why Do You Need a Personal Development Plan?
I’ve learned the hard way why it’s important to have a personal development plan! So many times I found myself thinking about something I hoped would someday happen, only to have it never come to fruition.
Why didn’t those dreams work out?
Creating your dream life doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of goal setting, planning, and hard work along the way!
Creating your dream life requires you to live super intentionally. We live in a world full of distractions, and if you aren’t intentionally directing your focus toward personal development, it’s easy for your attention to be pulled toward those distractions.
A personal development plan creates clarity.
Once you’ve put all of your goals and aspirations into a personal development plan, it’s so much easier to narrow your focus prioritize your future achievements.
Key Areas of Personal Development
In order to create a personal development plan, I find it most helpful to break it down into categories for the key areas of personal growth.
I’ve put together a list of 7 key categories to include in your personal development plan:
The first step to create your personal growth plan is the most fun – it’s the dreaming step!
For this step, you’re essentially making a bucket list. You’ll go through each of the life categories we just discussed and write down every single thing you want to accomplish. I’m serious when I say everything!
Don’t just think about what you want to do in the next year, like paying off your credit card or taking a vacation.
Think about what you want to do years down the road like buying a house, starting a family, starting a business, retiring early to travel, etc.
You can have as many dreams per category as you want!
Once you’ve written down all of your dreams and visions for all of the categories, it’s time to prioritize them.
When you prioritize them, think about what is most important to you right NOW.
If you’re working on your health and your absolute biggest priority for the next six months is to get healthy, that goes to the top of the list.
If you want to buy a house next year and saving for a house is most important to you this year, that goes to the top of the list.
The goal in prioritizing your goals is to determine what it is you’re going to be working on first. Ideally, there would be just one goal that would stand out as the most important, but you can choose 2-3 if they don’t conflict and none of them will take up an extraordinary amount of your time.
When you’re narrowing down your goals, I think it’s so important to figure out why you want to reach that goal.
For example, let’s say you want to earn a full-time income as a freelancer. You might think that the motive is starting your own business, working from home, or just that you don’t like your current boss.
But when you dig really deep and really analyze why you want that, you realize that you want the location independence to live and work wherever.
That’s a very different motive from what you initially thought! Know your real motivation for your goal will help you to set intentions for the rest of your life as well.
Knowing your why also helps you to stay determined and focused on your goal. Eventually, your motivation will start to wane. And when it does, being focused on your why will keep you going.
Step 4: Determine Your How
You’ve figured out what and you’ve figured out why – not it’s time to figure out how.
I’m sure we can all relate to the experience of setting a large goal, a new years resolution perhaps, only to never make any real progress on it.
That’s because just know what you want to accomplish is not enough – you need to figure out how you’re going to accomplish it.
This means that your personal development plan needs action steps. And those action steps need to be scheduled out on your calendar to ensure you actually do them.
In order to tackle this step, write down every single task you can think of that you’ll need to accomplish in order to reach your goal. If it helps, start at the goal and work backward with the last step you’ll do.
Once you have all of the tasks written down, actually decide when you’ll do them. Put every single one on the calendar.
If you aren’t able to determine when you plan to accomplish every task to reach your goal, it’s going to be a lot less likely that you’ll reach it!
Step 5: Create Supportive Habits
Habits make up a huge portion of our day. Your current habits are partly responsible for the results you have in your life right now.
That means if you want to change your life, you need to change your habits.
I want you to write down a list of every habit you think might be useful in order to reach your goals.
For example, if your current goal is to start an online business while working a full-time job, it would probably be useful to get into the habit of waking up a few hours earlier so you can work on your business before going to your full-time job.
And if you’re working on saving for a big financial goal, try getting into the habit of making coffee at home in the morning instead of stopping for a latte on your way to work.
Please do not reach one goal and then call it a day. The entire point of personal development is that you are constantly developing as a person!
Remember that huge list of goals and visions we wrote down in step one?
Well once you’ve achieved one goal, it’s time to refer back to that master list, prioritize them again, and decide what goal you’re planning to work on next.
It’s important to remember that you’ll never be finished.
Personal Development Plan Summary
Now that we’ve covered all of that, let me quickly summarize what exactly goes into your personal development plan:
What you want to accomplish
Why you want to accomplish it
What steps you will take to accomplish it
What supportive habits you will adopt in order to accomplish it
When you will accomplish it
As far as what tool to use to create your personal development plan – you can use anything! You can use a journal, a spreadsheet, a word document, a task management tool like Asana, a planner, etc. It’s really up to you!
I do my big-picture planning in a word document, where I set my big goals and write the action steps.
Then I outline every task in Asana and assign due dates.
Finally, I write each daily task in my daily planner.
Whatever tool (or combination of tools) works best for you is the one you should be using.
If you’re interested in or passionate about personal development, creating a personal development plan is a great way to achieve your goals without getting overwhelmed!
A personal development plan is an amazing road map that you can update and refer back to for literally your entire life.
This plan gives your life purpose and focus and can help you to live a happier life that you always dreamed of.
I hope you’ll give it a shot, and come back and let me know how your personal development plan is working for you!
My full-time job, my business, and my personal life all keep me pretty darn busy. It’s not all that often that I have any large amount of downtime.
When I do end up with downtime, I always find myself feeling a little unsure of what to do with my time!
I want to take advantage of the rare free time, but I want to do it in a productive way!
So I put together a list of 55 productive things to do that I can turn to the next time I have some downtime.
55 Productive Things to Do When You Have Downtime
There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.
Start a Side Hustle
Starting a side hustle was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only has it allowed me to bring in extra income over the years, but it has done other awesome things for my life such as pushing me to learn new skills and allowing me to make new friends.
We all know how that working out is important for our physical health, but plenty of us still don’t make time for it. I think part of the problem is that people are overwhelmed by the idea of working out, thinking they need to be running or lifting weights.
Working out can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you’re getting your body moving! If you prefer slower workouts like walking or yoga, that works too!
When was the last time you spent some serious time outdoors? If the answer is “not lately”, then use your downtime to get outdoors!
You could find a cool hiking spot, or just grab a book and find a nice part to read. Being outside always puts me in the best mood!
Map Out Your Goals
Do you set goals for yourself? If not, now is the time to start! Setting goals is such an amazing way to accomplish new things and really grow as a person. Goals give you something to work toward and something to motivate you!
Here are some resources to help you get started with goal setting:
There are so many amazing volunteer opportunities out there. And the great news is that no matter what your passions, you can find an opportunity that really speaks to you.
Whether you’re passionate about animals, education, or anything else, there is an organization in your community that could use your help!
Try a New Hobby
I started my blog back in 2014 as a hobby. As it grew into a small business, I found that it wasn’t quite the source of stress relief that it once was.
I started making time for other hobbies that weren’t bringing any extra stress, and found that it made such a huge difference!
Declutter Your Home
A few years ago, I started the task of decluttering my home. Then I moved from a three-bedroom house to a studio apartment and had to get rid of almost everything I owned.
Two lessons I learned from this are that clutter really stresses me out and that I can live with a lot less than I had.
If you’ve got some downtime, it’s a great time to start decluttering home! Start small with just one easy room and then make your way to the more difficult rooms.
Make Plans With Friends
Getting together with friends is also ways a productive use of time in my book! I get so much joy from an evening at a friend’s house or spending the weekend with some long-distance friends.
Call up a friend you haven’t seen a while and get together for dinner or drinks – you’ll be glad you did!
Map Out Your Five Year Plan
I know five years is a long time, and many of you are probably thinking you can’t possibly map out a plan for the next five years of your life.
You don’t have to plan everything. But having a vision of what you want your life to look like over the next five years is a great way of figuring out what goals you should be setting now.
For example, maybe you and your spouse know that over the next five years, you’ll probably discuss buying a home or having children. Those are both things that take a lot of planning and a lot of money!
The further in advance you plan your huge goals, the more prepared you’ll be when they actually come, and you can start setting goals now to help you get there.
Start a Project
I’m guessing most of us have probably made mental notes of projects we want to tackle, without ever actually making a move to start them.
If you’ve got some downtime, now is a great time to follow through on those things you said you were going to do!
Take an Online Class
I always loved school, and once I started graduating from college, immediately started looking for other ways I could keep learning.
Then, once I started blogging, I started taking online blogging courses and absolutely loved them!
There are plenty of online classes on literally any topic, both free and paid! Skillshare and CreativeLive are both great places to take online courses.
There are few things that bring me more joy than a perfectly clean home. Of course, I don’t get all that much joy from the actual cleaning!
But still, knowing how much I love the end result, I like to use any downtime I have to clean the house. Depending on how much time I have, that might mean a deep clean or just a quick touch-up of the often-used areas.
Clean Out Your Inbox
My email inbox can be a scary place sometimes, and I’m guessing yours is no different. I love using a block of free time to go through and actually get rid of everything in there. This means either taking action on it, moving it into a folder or just deleting it if it turns out I don’t need it anymore.
Unsubscribe From Emails
While you’re cleaning out your inbox, use this opportunity to unsubscribe from some emails. Most of us get tons of marketing emails every day and don’t really give them much thought. We just mindlessly delete them, without reading or without thinking to unsubscribe.
If you find yourself deleting every marketing email from a certain company without reading it, unsubscribe!
Update Your To-Do List
Chances are you, like most people, have a huge running to-do list of things you hope to get to eventually. If you’ve got free time now, it’s a great time to address it!
Right now just go through the list and either cross off items that are no longer relevant or find a set time on your calendar to schedule the other items.
Things are so much more likely to get done if they’re actually on your calendar!
For years I read about meditating as a great way to increase focus and manage your mind. But of course, I brushed it off and thought for sure it would never work for me.
Once I finally tried it, I was so glad I did! Meditation has really done wonders for my focus, which used to not be all that great. It has also helped me to manage my thoughts when it comes to my anxiety and overthinking.
Write a Meal Plan
I love meal planning. It has helped us to save so much money on groceries, and time spent stressing about what to make for dinner.
We make a meal plan every Sunday before we go grocery shopping. That way, we know exactly what we need to get at the grocery store. Plus, we never have to come home tired and frustrated that we still have to figure out what to have for dinner.
Schedule All of Your Appointments
Who else lets all of their appointments pile up until you’re way overdue on all of them? Just me?
If you’ve been procrastinating making an appointment for the dentist, doctor, hair salon, or anything else, use your next block of free time to finally make those calls!
Plan Your Next Trip
Do you have any upcoming trips? Way too many people put off planning until the last moment, and then really come to regret.
If you’ve got free time now, then now is a great time to work on those travel plans so they don’t fall until the end.
Call a Long-Distance Loved One
Things that can happen at any time often happen at no time, and calling long-distance loved ones is one of the things that often ends up on that list of things.
Next time you’ve got some downtime, reach out to a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while.
Back-Up Your Files
When was the last time you backed up your files? I learned a tough lesson a few years ago when my computer ended up in some water, and I wasn’t able to recover anything!
Now I diligently back up everything on both my computer and my phone to make sure that never happens again!
Watch an Inspiring Ted Talk
I think we would all agree that there are some amazing TED Talks out there and that watching them is a great use of time! If you’re new to TED Talks, here are 11 must-see TED Talks for everyone to watch!
Clean Out Your Cabinets
How many items or products that you don’t really need anymore do you have sitting in a cabinet somewhere? I’m guessing there are a lot!
I like to use occasional downtime to go through my bathroom cabinets to get rid of items I don’t need anymore. I also like to go through my fridge and kitchen cabinets to get rid of any food that has expired.
Update Your Resume
Many of us don’t give much thought to our resume unless we’re actually applying for jobs. But then when it comes time to find a new job, our resume is totally outdated!
I think it’s a great idea to keep your resume up regularly so that it’s never a huge chore to update it when you’re job hunting.
Organize Your Workspace
I’m always so much more productive at work when I have an organized workspace. Because of that, I make time every single week to organize my workspace. If you’ve got a few minutes of downtime at work, this is a great way to spend it!
Practice Some Self-Care
Many people might think that self-care isn’t exactly a productive use of time, but they would definitely be wrong!
First of all, anything that helps you to care for yourself is a great use of time. Second, self-care looks different for everyone!
For some, it might mean taking a break from work to really slow down and relax for a day. For others, it might be the total opposite!
Brush Up on an Old Skill
Learning new skills is great, but you probably also have an old skill or two that could do with a little fine-tuning.
Every once in awhile I’ll end up needing to use a skill I haven’t used lately. And I always find myself wishing I’d done a better job of keeping it up!
Plan the Upcoming Week
I find that planning my week ahead of time helps make sure I’m super productive all week long! I like to go into the week with my calendar and to-do lists ready to go for every single day.
Planning for the week for me also includes meal planning and getting the house cleaned.
Sometimes when I have some free time, I’ll use the opportunity to watch a documentary. I’ll be the first to admit that I was kind of a nerd in school, and learning something new is a lot of fun for me!
Plus there are documentaries on just about any topic, so everyone can find one that interests them!
Find Networking Opportunities
I feel like most of us know that networking is a great way to grow in our careers, but many of us don’t really make the time for it.
I’m not big on social events with people I don’t know and tend to hide in the corner rather than getting to know anyone new. I’ve found that a better networking opportunity for me is striking up conversations one on one at work. It’s more comfortable for me and really gives me the opportunity to form relationships with those in my field.
Go For a Long Walk
Taking long walks is honestly one of my favorite past times. It’s a great way to get some exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and make sure the dog gets some exercise.
Sometimes I’m walking with my fiance, which is a great way for us to catch up and spend some uninterrupted time together. Otherwise, I’m walking alone and using the opportunity to listen to some new episodes from my favorite podcasts!
Review Your Calendar For the Next 90 Days
Time seems to fly by so quickly these days. It feels like every weekend is filled with something, and it can be hard to keep track of it all sometimes.
If you’ve got a lot on your calendar over the next few months, now is a great time to review your calendar and make sure you aren’t forgetting anything.
Learn a New Language
I took seven years of foreign language classes in high school and college, and I honestly barely remember anything.
Lately, I’ve been trying to pick up Spanish again, and I’m really enjoying it! I’m also hoping it will come in handy for some upcoming travels we have planned.
If you’ve got any upcoming international trips planned, that’s a great excuse to start learning a new language!
Try Cooking a New Dish
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a great cook. Most of the time me trying a new recipe consists of me sending the recipe to my fiance and asking him to make it for me. However, once in a while I feel the desire to work on my cooking skills and find a new recipe to make.
Whether you’ve already got some cooking skills or are a beginner like me, trying out a new dish is a great use of a free evening!
Pick Up a Camera
I used to constantly find myself making a mental note to take more pictures, but then not following through when I have the chance.
Lately, I’ve really made an effort to take more pictures, and it’s been amazing! I’ve been working on getting better at using my nice DSLR camera, but also just snapping some pictures of our daily life on my phone.
Start a Garden
If you have some free time in the summer, gardening can be a super productive use of your time!
I love gardening for multiple reasons. First of all, I find it really relaxing to be out in the garden, weeding and taking care of the plants. It’s also a great way to have delicious, fresh produce at home while saving money on groceries.
We don’t have a home with a yard right now, but gardening is one thing I’m super excited to get back to when we have space.
Have a Family Meeting
Once in a while, I try to find evenings where my fiance and I are both free to sit down and have a family meeting. It’s nothing formal, but I really like to sit down and touch base on important things going on.
This is a great time to talk about budgeting, household chores, and anything that’s coming up on the calendar.
Pampering seems really indulgent, but it can actually be a really productive use of time. After a day (or even an hour) of pampering, I hit the ground running on my work.
If you make time for some pampering, you’ll be able to go back to your to-do list feeling super refreshed and ready to tackle anything.
Visit a Local Tourist Attraction
Your town might have some really cool tourist attractions, but you’ve never thought to visit them since you live there! When I have a free day, I love using it to check out exciting things going on in my city.
Create a Vision Board
I’ve always read about vision boards, but never really thought of creating my own. However, then my fiance and I started planning for some huge financial goals.
I knew that having a vision board would help keep me motivated for our goals, even though they were quite a ways off.
Having the opportunity to look right at your goals and dreams every day is a great way to keep pushing toward your big goals!
Plan a Dream Vacation
Most people I know love to travel, but don’t actually do much traveling. This is partly because travel involves a lot of forethought and planning. And for most people, travel involves saving money.
Rather than waiting until you’ve saved up the money to start planning your dream vacation, plan out everything you want to do, and then you’ll be really motivated and excited to start saving!
Organize Your Paper Clutter
For the longest time, I held onto important papers, moving them in boxes with me from apartment to apartment.
It’s such a freeing feeling to have no paper clutter in my home. And it’s so much easier to find things now that I can search for keywords instead of having to dig through boxes!
Create a Capsule Wardrobe
I spent years with a closet filled with way too many clothes that I rarely ever wore, with a few staple pieces I wore all the time. When I finally read about the idea of a capsule wardrobe, I was hooked!
If you’re anything like me, your phones camera roll is filled with pictures you took and then promptly forgot about. Mine is a mix of personal pictures and screenshots for things I wanted to remember.
If you’ve got downtime, use this opportunity to organize those photos, and delete the ones you don’t need anymore.
If you’re feeling really crazy, you could even have a few of your favorites printed and framed!
Indulge in a Guilty Pleasure
We’ve all got guilty pleasures. Most of the time it seems there’s always something more productive you could be working on, but it’s good to indulge once in a while!
Write in a Gratitude Journal
For years I read about the value of writing in a gratitude journal, but never really believed it would have that big of an impact.
Once I tried it for myself, I was converted! It’s amazing how just writing a few things you’re grateful for can put you in such an amazing mood.
Donate Unused Belongings
Do you have clothes sitting in your closet that aren’t being worn? Or a shelf full of books that you’ve read once and never touched again?
The items that are just taking up space in your home could be really valuable to someone else! If you’ve got some downtime, this is a great time to fill a box of items that can be donated and take them to your local Goodwill or shelter.
There are seasons of life where you’re constantly on the go and on the rare occasion you have some downtime, relaxing is really the most productive thing you can do.
I am almost always working on something, and find myself feeling uncomfortable when I don’t have anything to work on. It’s times like those that I have to remind myself that I need to relax once in a while too!
There are so many productive things to do with downtime that don’t involve mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or turning on Netflix. And while those things might feel good in the moment, I’m guessing we all do enough of those!
So if you’re like me and want to use your downtime a little more productively, pull out this list next time and I know you’ll find something productive you can do!
I’ve been writing about productivity for years now, but if I’m being honest, it wasn’t always something I was that great at. I spent a heck of a lot of time jumping from task to task and constantly trying to multitask.
And surprise, surprise – I wasn’t all that productive.
Over the years I started experimenting with different productivity hacks to see what worked. By far one of the most useful strategies I implemented was batching tasks.
In this post, I’m going to be sharing what batch work is and how to use it to skyrocket your productivity.
How to Batch Work to Skyrocket Your Productivity
There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.
What is Batching?
Batching is a time management system that allows you to maximize your productivity and reduce distractions by focusing on one task or type of task rather than jumping around from task to task all day.
Batching tasks helps you to increase concentration, creativity, and productivity, all while minimizing stress, fatigue, and distractions. Sounds like a win-win right?
As someone who is balancing a full-time job, side hustle, and personal life, batching is absolutely essential. The time I have to work on my blog is limited, so I maximize that time by batching my blogging tasks throughout the week. That might mean writing all of my Instagram captions for the week at once, creating graphics for all of my pending blog posts, updating a number of old blog posts for SEO, etc.
Then I’m also able to batch personal tasks. For example, Sunday afternoons are set aside for meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal prepping.
The key to batching is to ensure that your brain is able to fully focus on one type of task at a time.
Most of us go through our days trying to accomplish multiple things at once, thinking that we’re multi-tasking. But really, there’s no such thing as successfully multitasking.
You can’t give your full attention to more than one task at once, so you’re really just quickly shifting your attention back and forth between tasks. And just about every study done has shown this is actually terrible for productivity!
So much time is wasted every single day by switching gears and trying to get into a new task. Cutting down the number of times you have to switch gears is essential.
That’s why batch work is so valuable. With batching, you are intentionally setting up your schedule to be focusing on just one thing at a time, which makes you way more productive!
How to Batch Tasks
Now that we’ve talked about what batching is and why it is useful, how the heck do you actually incorporate it into your life?
1. Make a list
First things first, make a list of everything you need to get done in your life. And when I say everything, I mean everything. My list includes all of the tasks for my business and for my personal life. Here are some items on my list that might be on yours as well!
Write blog posts
Write emails to subscribers
Schedule social media posts
Update old blog posts
Send freelance pitches
Write freelance articles
Clean the apartment
Meal plan and meal prep
Include even the smallest tasks that you do every week! This makes it a lot easier to make time for those tasks on the calendar.
And make sure to break each task into every single step it’s going to take to get it done. For example, writing a blog post really consists 5-10 individual tasks such as: research keywords, write post outline, write post, edit post, link to other posts, create post graphics, promote post on social media.
Once you’ve made a list of all the tasks you need to get done in a week (and have gotten super specific), it’s time to group similar items together.
For example, I try to group most of my personal tasks together on Sundays. This includes cleaning, errands, meal planning and meal prep, etc.
When it comes to my business, I like to have certain days set aside for content creation and other days set aside for more admin type tasks such as finance, returning emails, etc.
3. Make a schedule
Once you’ve made a list of all your tasks and have grouped similar items together, it’s time to get them scheduled on your calendar! This part is important because having something on my calendar is essential to make sure it actually gets done!
You know your schedule best, so I can’t tell you exactly how to do this part. But what I usually start with is blocking off previous commitments. For example, the hours of 9-5 are blocked off for me, because that’s when I’m working at my full-time job. I do the same for any appointments for plans with friends I have.
Now that I know what time is not available, I can start filling in the time that is available. For me, this means evenings and weekends. So I might block off Monday evening for writing my new blog post, Tuesday evening for working on freelance client work, and Wednesday evening might be blocked off for date night.
My blocks aren’t the same every single week, but I like to keep them pretty similar so I can establish a routine!
You can do all the planning and scheduling you want, but if you aren’t willing to commit to what’s on your calendar, you aren’t going to get your work done.
Honestly, I used to have such a hard time keeping commitments to myself. I would never bail on a friend or family member if we had something on the calendar, but I was bailing on my own priorities left and right!
Once I realized that the only way I would reach my goals is if I keep my commitments to myself, it made it a lot easier to commit to my calendar every day (or at least almost every day).
Batching Tasks + Time Blocking
My favorite way to incorporate batch work into my schedule is to pair it with another productivity hack I’ve shared – time blocking! Time blocking is a method of time management where you schedule your day into blocks, and each block is filled with a certain collection of tasks.
I break my days up into a few large blocks, each of which is filled with a “batch” of tasks I’m working on.
For example, I might have a few hours in the morning set aside for writing blog posts, followed by a time block in the afternoon devoted to social media.
I also see many people organize their entire week in batch days: one day for content creation, one day for meetings, one day for administrative tasks, etc. Do whatever works best for you!
Batching Tasks + The Pomodoro Technique
Another way to tackle batch work is by using The Pomodoro Technique. This productivity hack requires short bursts of super focused work, followed by a very short break. It looks a little something like this:
Set a timer for 25 minutes. Block out all distractions and spend this time 100% focused on the task at hand.
Take a 5-minute break.
Repeat step 1 by setting the timer for 25 minutes again, followed by a 5-minute break.
Continue these steps for as long as it takes to complete the task.
The Pomodoro Technique has become more popular, so much so that the famous Productivity Planner uses the technique as the framework for its daily to-do list.
Batch work is one of my favorite systems to ensure I finish everything on my to-do list – at least most of the time!
If you’ve been struggling with productivity and are looking for a solution that will finally work, give batching a shot and see how it works for you!
Personal development is one of my favorite topics to both write and learn about. I love diving into a good personal development book or article. But my favorite has actually become personal development podcasts!
There are so many amazing inspirational and motivational podcasts out there, and I love that I can get a free education while I’m doing things like working out, driving to work, cleaning the apartment, or getting ready in the morning.
I’ve been listening to self help podcasts for years, and have listened to more podcasts than I could possibly count! Over the years, I’ve definitely found some that stood out more than others.
In this post, I’m sharing 17 of the best self improvement podcasts to motivate and inspire you. These are some of my absolute favorites!
The 17 Best Self Improvement Podcasts to Motivate and Inspire You
There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.
The Life Coach School Podcast
The Life Coach School Podcast, hosted by Brooke Castillo is a resource for learning to manage your brain and solve any problem in your life. Brooke owns the Life Coach School, where she trains and certifies life coaches. But her podcast is all about learning to coach yourself.
One thing I really love about this podcast is that in addition to teaching you how to solve specific problems, Brooke also teaches you her coaching model that can really be applied to any problem you might be dealing with.
Some of my favorite topics on the podcast are how to set goals and see results in your life, and how to manage your thoughts to change your emotions. This podcast has helped me a lot when I’ve been going through a hard time and helps me to remember that it is within my power to be happier, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Happier is one of the first personal development podcasts I discovered and is still one of my favorites years later! When I first found it a few years ago, I binged very episode that was out so far!
Happier is hosted by happiness and habits expert Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. In each episode, they share happiness hacks and advice that can easily be incorporated in your life.
The Design Your Dream Life is hosted by one of my favorite personal development blogger and life coaches, Natalie Bacon. Natalie is a former lawyer and financial planner who has been able to make a living teaching high-achieving women to reach their goals.
In the Design Your Dream Life podcast, Natalie shares lessons on how to accomplish goals, master your mindset, make more money, and build a business.
I’ve been following Natalie since she was a lawyer, and before she was making a full-time income from her business, so I love listening to her podcast and knowing all of her knowledge comes from personal experience.
And if you enjoy Natalie’s podcast, then you will LOVE her other personal development resources!
Read Natalie’s eBook, Dream Year, where she walks you through the process of creating your dream year.
10% Happier is hosted by ABC News Anchor Dan Harris. Dan’s personal development journey started when he had a panic attack on live TV while hosting Good Morning America. That’s what got Dan to start experimenting with meditation.
On 10% Happier, Dan interviews big names about meditation and life, and looks for an answer to the question: Can you be an ambitious person and still strive for enlightenment?
Dan is also the best-selling author of the book 10% Happier. Finally, he created an app to accompany his podcast called “10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics”.
For anyone who is a meditation skeptic or who has tried it a few times and gotten nothing out of it, this book is a great read for you.
The Marie Forleo Podcast
Marie Forleo’s podcast is the audio version of her weekly video series MarieTV. Marie Forleo is a huge name in business right now and was named by Oprah as a thought leader for the next generation.
In her motivational podcast, Marie interviews some BIG names and they talk about happiness, success, motivation, creativity, productivity, love, health, contribution, and fulfillment. She also dives into business, marketing, and career advice.
No matter what topic she’s talking about, Marie always has actionable strategies to share. She also has a super energetic personality and gets you really excited about creating a life and business you love.
Minimalism certainly is not a new topic in the personal development world, but Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are some of the thought leaders in the space. They have demonstrated their expertise on the topic through their website and their documentary, Minimalism.
On their podcast, they talk about living a meaningful life with less. They apply minimalism to all areas of their lives. Sure, they talk about owning less stuff. But they also talk about applying minimalism to your diet, to your budget, to fitness, to your relationships, and more.
It’s a podcast that really encourages mindfulness and needing less in a society of more everything.
The Lively Show
The Lively Show is a podcast hosted by Jess Lively and is designed to uplift, inspire, and help you add intention to every day. Jess is a business owner turned business coach turned life coach.
I’ve been listening to The Lively Show for years and it’s actually one of my favorite self help podcasts. She takes some topics that are a little woo-woo, like the law of attraction, flow, and intuition, are puts them on a level that even skeptics can get something out of.
I love that because the podcast has been around so long and Jess has gone through so many changes in her own life, the direction of the podcast has really changed and developed as her life has.
The Lavendaire Lifestyle
The Lavandaire Lifestyle is a podcast about personal growth and lifestyle design hosted by YouTuber and entrepreneur Aileen Xu. Aileen shares weekly inspiration on how to create your dream life.
Aileen interviews guests and covers important topics including self love, learning to say no, productivity, navigating your career and so much more.
She also shares some personal development and motivational content on her YouTube channel, along with more personal content.
The Tony Robbins Podcast
Tony Robbins is without a doubt of the biggest names in personal development, and his motivational podcast is a hub where he shares all of that amazing knowledge.
In his podcast, Tony shares proven strategies and tactics for achieving massive results in your business, relationships, health, and finances.
Tony has reached more than 50 million people from over 100 countries to create meaningful change in their lives. I love that Tony, as someone who grew up disadvantaged, looks for answers as to why some people see big results in their lives and others don’t.
Whether you’re looking to build a bigger business, deepen your relationships, or reach other amazing goals, Tony’s podcast can certainly help you do that.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, then this is the podcast for you. The Mindful Kind, hosted by Rachel Kable, shares insights into mindfulness journeys and provides listeners with simple and effective practices to incorporate into their own lives.
Mindfulness can help you improve so many areas of your life include stress, productivity, relationships, and more. Rachel sheds light on so many important topics, including relaxation, using your phone mindfully, being more productive, leveling up your relationships, and managing your mind.
Unlike so many other self improvement podcasts that have long episodes, these episodes are only ten minutes, so you can listen to them between tasks or when you only have a short amount of time.
The Overwhelmed Brain
The Overwhelmed Brain, hosted by Paul Colaianni, is a personal growth podcast for critical thinkers. This podcast is for anyone who hasn’t had luck with personal development strategies such as affirmations, and who is tired of being told to “think positively”.
This podcast deals with topics that teach you to manage your own mind. Paul talks about tackling anxiety, depression, negative self-talk, judgments, and personal boundaries.
The Art of Charm
The Art of Charm is a motivational podcast hosted by AJ Harbinger and Johnny Dzubak. This podcast will teach you to become more charismatic and learn to connect with people more confidently and on a deeper level.
This podcast provides a different spin on self improvement because rather than sharing tactical tips for performance and goal setting, it teaches you to improve your personal life through relationships.
I discovered this podcast years ago when I was looking for advice on improving my interactions in the workplace. I’ve always been introverted and shy to a fault, and I wanted to learn to come out of my shell more so my introversion didn’t negatively impact my career.
Optimal Daily Living
Optimal Daily Living is a self improvement podcast hosted by Justin Malik. This podcast, with new episodes every day, is quite a bit different from the others on this list. Justin isn’t a content creator, but rather a content curator. Rather than sharing his original content, Justin reads blog articles from other sites.
Justin compiles the best content on personal development, minimalism, productivity, and more to share with his audience.
He’s able to share amazing content on living your best life, and his audience is able to discover new, amazing personal development blogs to follow.
Tiny Leaps Big Changes
Tiny Leaps Big Changes is a podcast hosted by Gregg Clunis – artist, entrepreneur, thinker, and author who helps people to become better versions of themselves.
In his personal development podcast, he explores the day-to-day behaviors that determine the results we see in our lives. His covers a variety of topics such as stress, career, mindfulness, and habits, and shares simple strategies we can implement in our lives to start moving the needle towards our biggest goals.
Gregg’s core philosophy is that big changes come from the tiny leaps you take every day. This is a great podcast for anyone who feels they aren’t seeing progress in their lives, despite their hard work.
The School of Greatness
The School of Greatness is a podcast hosted by Lewis Howes, bestselling author, former pro athlete, and world record holder in football. This podcast shares inspiring stories from some of the most brilliant business minds, world-class athletes, and influential celebrities to help you find out what makes great people great.
Lewis’s story is inspirational, as are the stories of the people he interviews. He’s interviewed some seriously big names. I love the advice he has to offer on managing anxiety and burnout, creating success habits, and building confidence.
This podcast is a great reminder that everyone has obstacles in their lives, and the key to being great is overcoming them.
The Brendon Show
The Brendon Show is a motivational podcast hosted by Brendon Burchard, one of the world’s leading high-performance coaches. Brandon is also the author of the book High Performance Habits.
Brandon’s shares two podcast episodes every week. One episode is a tactical training on how to improve one area of your life. The other is Brendon’s recap of his week’s adventures, service, and lessons learned.
One thing I really love about his tactical trainings is just how actionable they are. I jot down some notes during the podcast, and afterward, I always have one very specific action I can take to make a positive change in my life.
Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod
Achieve Your Goals is a podcast hosted by Hal Elrod where he talks about, you guessed it, practical advice and strategies to help you achieve your goals.
I came across this podcast after reading Hal’s bestselling book The Miracle Morning where he gives you the formula for transforming your life with an effective morning routine.
I love this podcast because it is a great combination of super practical, actionable steps with inspirational stories and lessons.
As I said earlier, podcasts have been such a huge part of my personal development journey. There are so many self improvement podcasts to choose from that I know everyone can find one that really speaks to them and what they are going through in their lives.
If there’s a podcast you love that isn’t on this list, be sure to leave a comment so others can check it out as well!
Sunday can often be bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s still the weekend so you want to enjoy it to its fullest. On the other hand, you’ve got the Sunday blues in anticipation of having to go back to work on Monday.
Sundays have always been a struggle for me because I like to plan for a productive week, and that means there are quite a few productive things to do. But I also want to relax and enjoy that last day of freedom!
The great thing is, you don’t have to choose! I’ve developed a routine for a productive Sunday that allows me to plan for the week ahead, while also making some time to relax.
In this post, I’m sharing 17 productive things to do on Sunday that will help you to have a better and more productive week!
17 Things to Do on Sunday For a More Productive Week
There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.
Start Your Day on a Positive Note
Sundays can be such a struggle. I know I should be productive and plan for the week ahead. But at the same time, it’s the last day of the weekend. I want to enjoy it!
Because of that, I always like to start my Sundays off on a positive note. Some weeks that might mean getting up and meeting a friend for brunch. Other weeks it might just mean letting myself sleep in and having a leisurely start to the day.
By starting the day off doing something I enjoy, I’m always far more amenable to getting the productive stuff out of the way afterward.
Plan & Shop For Your Meals For the Week
Sunday is always a grocery shopping day at our house!
First, my boyfriend and I plan our meals for the week. This means taking a look at what food we already have on hand and figuring out how we can use that for meals. Then we plan out meals and figure out what else we need to buy.
Once we’ve got our shopping list planned out, Sunday is the day we go to the grocery store and run any other errands necessary.
I know some people hate grocery shopping, but we actually really enjoy doing our grocery shopping together, so this is usually a fun activity for us!
Clean Out the Fridge
Because Sunday is when we buy food for the week, it’s also the perfect day to clean out the fridge. As I’m putting away the groceries for the week, I usually check and see if there’s any expired food that needs to be tossed and make sure all of the shelves are wiped down.
We’re usually pretty good about not letting any food go to waste. But let’s be real, we’re all guilty of occasionally buying those fruits or veggies with the best of intentions and then totally forgetting about them!
Do Any Necessary Meal Prep
Sunday is always a great day to do any meal prep you need for the week!
I’m not a huge fan of cooking, so if I’m making something, I’m usually making it in a big batch for the week. It also makes life so much easier so we don’t have to worry about preparing lunch every single day.
Meal prep is especially convenient for anyone with a busy lifestyle! With you’re on the go all the time, you probably don’t have time to cook every day. Meal prepping can be a lifesaver!
Finish Your Laundry
I don’t know about you, but I always like starting the week with an empty laundry basket.
Sunday is the day I wash all of our sheets and towels. Then I make sure to get any dirty clothes cleaned, dried, and put away.
It’s just one of those tasks I know I’m not going to want to worry about when I come home from a long day of work Monday.
Check the Weather & Plan Your Outfits
My mind is always in a bit of a fog in the morning before work. I swear it takes me twice as long to pick out my clothes in the morning than it would have the night before.
Sunday night is a good time to take a glance at the weather and generally plan your outfits for the week.
Tidy Up Your Home
A messy home can give me some serious anxiety, so I like to keep things pretty tidy in general. But I especially like to make sure I’m starting the work week with a clean home. I know that when I start getting back into the work week, I’m not going to want to do any cleaning as soon as I get home. I try to get it all out of the way on Sundays.
Have a Family Meeting
Sunday is the perfect time to sit down for a family meeting. This is a great time to remind each other of any activities going on during the week, or evenings you’ll be home late. This is also a good time to talk about any tasks that need to be completed.
This is also definitely the time to bring up any areas of contention or stress that have been lingering.
Depending on the size and structure of your family, a family meeting might be just a quick touch-base at the beginning of each week.
Check in With Your Budget
Weekends tend to be the time of the week we spend the most money. That’s because this is when we’re having date nights, going out with friends, or going away for the weekend. It’s also when we do our grocery shopping and run errands.
Because of that, I always like to check in on my budget on Sunday. That gives me a good idea of where I’m at financially. And if I went over budget on any of my spending categories, that tells me I need to be frugal in the upcoming week.
Monday morning is already enough of a bummer. But it’s made even worse when I sit down to an inbox full of emails.
I like to filter through some of those emails on Sunday evening to make Monday morning a little easier. I take care of deleting any emails I definitely don’t need or quickly handling any that can be deleted after a quick read or a task that takes just a minute or two.
My schedule looks a bit different every week, so I always like to sit down on Sunday and double check my schedule. I look at my meetings for the week, any plans with friends, and check with my boyfriend to see what evenings he has plans.
I also make sure to double check if we have any weekend plans because then some of my normal weekend tasks would need to get done on a different day instead!
Plan Your Goals For the Week
Once I know what my schedule for the week looks like, I sit down and plan some goals for the week. For me, this usually means filling whatever free time I have with working on my side hustle.
Things are constantly changing. Some months I have enough free time to write a blog post every week. Some months it’s once in the entire month.
In addition to my normal blog posts, I also usually have a special project or two I’m working on, so this is when I plan that!
I do all of my big picture planning in Asana.
Make Your To Do List for Monday
Once I’ve reviewed my schedule and planned my goals for the week, it’s time to put together my to do list for Monday! I always write my to do lists at least the night before so I’m never scrambling the day of.
Now that the weather is finally nice again, I’ve been spending a lot of time outside. Brandon and I love taking the dog for a long walk on Sunday or walking to the local dog park.
Our city also has a lot of outdoor venues and activities, so we always keep our eyes open for those.
Make Time to Relax
Sunday may be a great day to plan for a productive week, but it’s also the last day to relax before the work week. Because of that, I make sure to set aside some time to relax on Sundays!
For us, that usually means finishing up our productive tasks earlier in the evening so we can have a couple of hours of just enjoying the end of our weekend.
Prepare For Your Morning Routine
If you have a morning routine you follow during the week, that’s amazing! But I know what’s common for a lot of us is that we have a morning routine we would like to do, but then we fall off track pretty quickly.
Look at Sunday as a fresh start! Sure, maybe you fell off your morning routine last week. But you can start again on Monday with renewed motivation.
And you can make it even easier by getting everything ready the night before.
For example, when I’m doing yoga in the morning, I lay my yoga mat out the night before. I also prepare the coffee maker, and anything else I’m going to need first thing in the morning.
I always stay up too late on the weekends. I feel like I’m not alone here!
And because I always dread going into the work week without having caught up on sleep, I try to go to bed a little early on Sundays to prepare myself for the week.
Sundays get a bad rap, but they don’t have to be bad news.
I’m sure plenty of you aren’t super excited about the idea of using Sunday (aka the LAST day to enjoy the weekend) to do productive stuff for the week. Trust me, I for SURE have those weekends where I don’t want to do anything but relax.
But like clockwork, I always regret it Monday morning when my week is not starting out on the right foot. Just tackling a few important tasks on a productive Sunday makes a big difference!
Plus, I make sure to get some fun and relaxation in there as well!
When I was in my mid-twenties, I went through something of a mid-life crisis. I found myself questioning all of the decisions I had made up until that point, including my career and relationship decisions. I ended up choosing to end my marriage at 26, and frankly was a little lost.
It was during this time that I threw myself into self improvement. I read just about every personal development book I could get my hands on and loved learning new personal development tips.
Personal development is something I’m still super passionate about, and something I talk a lot about here on my blog. And in this post, I’m sharing with you 30 of my favorite self improvement tips!
80+ Self Improvement Tips That Will Change Your Life
1. Set goals for yourself. Setting goals is the best way to keep moving forward in life and ensure you’re able to achieve your dreams. If you’re ready to start tackling your goals, be sure to check out my blog post about how to set goals and plan your best year ever.
2. Write down your goals. While you’re setting goals for yourself, be sure to write them down. There is so much research to show that people are more likely to meet their goals then they’ve written them down somewhere they can see them!
3. Start now. So many people have personal development goals, but they think they have to reach other milestones before they can really start. This is just a form of procrastination. You can start TODAY!
4. Break down your goal into actionable steps. If you look at your goal as one huge task, it’s going to seem way too overwhelming. Instead, break it down into each individual task you need to complete to reach your goal so you can put those tasks on your calendar.
5. Create a monthly budget. When it comes to managing your money, creating a monthly budget is the best place to start. No, it’s not going to be fun. But it will be down the road when you have more money to spare every month! And once you’ve created your budget, be sure to check in with it daily, or at least weekly. These budget apps can help you stay on top of your budget.
6. Map out a five year plan. Planning anything five years in advance might sound ridiculous. But mapping out your plan for the next five years is actually really useful in helping you to set goals for your life right now!
7. Evaluate what isn’t working. If you aren’t reaching your goals, there’s a reason. Be sure to constantly evaluate your progress so you can figure out what isn’t working, and change course before it’s too late.
8. Learn to enjoy the moment. I’m someone who spends a lot of time planning and overthinking. Since meeting my fiance, he has really helped me to see how important it is to enjoy the current moment, and has helped teach me how to do that. Now, I really try to live in the moment when we spend time together rather than planning for and stressing about the future.
9. Start a personal development blog. Starting a blog and sharing my personal development journey has helped me to grow so much as a person. I’ve also been able to help other people on their own personal development journeys, which has been super rewarding! Here’s how you can start your own personal development blog!
10. Start a meal plan. Meal planning has so many benefits! First of all, you’ll find yourself far less stressed when you get home from work every night and don’t have to stress about what to have for dinner. It will also help you save money and eat a lot healthier!
11. Identify your blind spots. When it comes to personal development, blind spots are things about ourselves that we can’t see, but that are weaknesses or need improvement. Once you can identify those, you can really learn to overcome them!
13. Create healthy habits. Your habits make up basically your entire life. Meaning if your life is filled with small unhealthy habits, you’re living an unhealthy life. Instead, make sure to create healthy habits in your life. Here’s how to create healthy habits.
14. Eliminate a bad habit. In addition to starting good habits, try to eliminate a bad habit. Surely we all have a habit that isn’t healthy, whether it’s smoking, overeating, talking down to ourselves, or anything else that isn’t serving us.
15. Cut down on screen time. This is good for your physical health because it gives your eyes and head a break from the light of the screen. But it’s also good for your mental health! When I’m feeling down about myself, I know spending some time away from social media will help.
16. Create routines in your life. Routines are basically just a collection of habits you do in the same order every day. By creating routines in your life, you have to make far fewer decisions in your day and you’ll be a lot happier and more productive.
17. Read personal development books. I’ve become slightly obsessed with personal development books! No matter what you’re struggling with in life, you’ll be able to find a book that can help you.
18. Read personal finance books. When I first became determined to learn more about managing my money, personal finance books became my favorite learning tool! There are so many experts out there with the knowledge to share.
19. Start a 30-day challenge. Start a goal and work on it every day for the next 30 days. There are plenty of 30-day challenge guides online for everything from fitness, healthy eating, reading, wriitng, and more.
20. Find an accountability partner or mastermind. If you’re reaching for a goal, why not find someone (or someones) who are going after the same goal, and work together to keep each other accountable? You can exchange tips and motivation to ensure you all reach the finish line.
21. Commit to an exercise routine. Physical activity is so important, and one of the best ways to care for your body.
22. Ask for feedback. No one likes getting critical feedback, but it’s also how we grow! Ask your significant other, friends, boss, coworkers, etc. for feedback and you might actually learn a lot about yourself. And then you can use that feedback to grow as a person!
23. Create a capsule wardrobe. I spent years with a closet filled with way too many clothes that I rarely wore, with a few staple pieces that I wore all the time. When I finally read about the idea of a capsule wardrobe, or minimalist wardrobe, I was hooked!
24. Avoid impulse spending. I used to be so bad about impulse spending! I would run into Target for one thing and end up spending way too much money. And let me tell you, it was not great for my credit card balance! Be kind to your finances by avoiding impulse spending.
26. Pay attention to the thoughts you are having. It’s important to stay in tune with what’s going on in your mind. If you’re constantly talking down to yourself or others or having negative thoughts, it’s important to notice that so you can change course!
27. Expand your network. I’m not a huge fan of networking, but I know how important it is for my career! Even if you’re an introvert and the idea of going to a networking event sounds terrible to you, find a different way to network with those in your industry. For bloggers, there are so many amazing online networking opportunities available!
28. Eat well. As with exercise, caring for your body by eating well is incredibly important. Most of us are eating far too many sugary and highly processed foods. Trying to eat clean most of the time will do wonders for your body.
29. Plan your career. Far too many people start a job or career and then just get stuck on a conveyer belt without really stopping along the way to revisit whether this is really what you want for your career. Make every decision intentionally so you can be in control of your own career.
30. Let go of the past. There are plenty of things in my past that brought me unhappiness, and I’m glad to be past them. Except when I find myself dwelling on them, they bring me unhappiness all over again! You can’t change the past, but you can stop it from negatively impact your life today.
31. Be okay with imperfect. If I never published a piece of writing until it was perfect, I would literally never publish anything! When we make room for perfectionism, we’re really just giving ourselves an excuse not to try at all. Be okay with imperfect work and you’ll reach your goals a lot faster. You can always go back and revise later!
32. Get outdoors. I don’t know about you, but I always feel amazing after spending the day outside. I’m happier and more relaxed, and often it pushes me to get a good workout in if I’m going hiking or swimming.
33. Check in with your partner. It’s important to communicate with your partner regularly to maintain a healthy relationship. Whether you’re scheduling family meetings or date nights, make sure to have time on the calendar just for the two of you.
34. Practice delayed gratification. Many of the things you’ll have to do now to reach your goals aren’t going to feel great, but they’ll be much better for you in the long run.
35. Focus on one thing at a time. Your brain is not capable of multitasking. If you try to multitasking, you’re really just jumping from task to task without giving anything your full attention. Everything will take longer, and the finished product won’t be as good!
36. Allow time for creativity. If you already have a creative hobby, ensure you’re making time for it in your busy schedule. If you don’t have a creative hobby, try to find one! It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, but you’ll really see the mental benefits from it.
37. Drink lots of water. Did you know most people walk around in a constant state of dehydration? Yep, and it can be the cause of a lot of the discomfort and fatigue you feel throughout the day! Drinking lots of water will make a huge difference in the way you feel.
38. Create a morning routine. Starting your morning off on the right foot is so important and can help lead to a productive day.
39. Create an evening routine.My evening routine ensures that I get to sleep at a decent hour and that I’m ready for the next day. This is when I do things like prepare my lunch for the next day, pick out my clothes, wash my face, etc.
40. Spend time alone. I love being with my significant other, or with family and friends. But I also really crave being alone sometimes and feel really refreshed afterward. A little solitude can really help clear your mind.
41. Plan your days and weeks ahead of time. I am always so much more productive when I have planned my days and weeks ahead of time. Otherwise, I’m always a little overwhelmed and not entirely sure what I’m supposed to be working on!
42. Care for your relationships. The relationships you have are some of the biggest determining factors in living a happy life – so make sure you take care of them! Whether it’s your spouse, your parents, or your friends, make time to nurture those relationships.
43. Keep your home and workspace organized. When my environment is chaotic, I tend to get a little stressed. And clutter actually decreases your productivity! Keeping an organized home and workspace allows me to focus on other things instead, rather than being overwhelmed by my surroundings.
44. Never stop learning. I was one of those kids who loved learning in school and when I graduated college, I was bummed about all of the classes I didn’t get a chance to take. Luckily, I’ve never stopped learning! Whether you’re into books, podcasts, online course, or whatever else, there are seriously endless opportunities to keep learning!
45. Be adaptable. What got you to where you are now in life isn’t necessarily what is going to get you to where you want to go. Figure out who you need to become in order to reach your goals, and then become that person! And remain adaptable along the way.
46. Learn to forgive. If you’re still hanging onto anger and resentment from the past, learn to forgive and let it go. You aren’t hurting the person you’re angry at, only yourself!
47. Stop comparing yourself with others. There is never any good to come from comparing yourself to someone else. You are on different journeys. Rather than comparing yourself with others, compare yourself with your past self to see how much you have grown.
48. Find a mentor. One of the biggest turning points for me in reaching my goals has been finding mentors and teachers to learn from who have already accomplished what I want to accomplish. Start networking and find a mentor in your field!
49. Build an emergency fund. You never know what is coming in life, so you should always be prepared. Building an emergency fund allows you to start preparing for the unexpected. That way if something goes wrong, you’re covered!
50. Learn a new language. Not only is learning a new language a really great growing and mind-opening experience, but it also might really come in hand for job opportunities or future travels!
51. Treat yourself. You work hard and deserve to treat yourself. Way too many people feel guilty about treating themselves, so they just don’t. There’s nothing to feel guilty about!
52. Say no. I tend to have a hard time saying no to others. But that unfortunately means that I’m not getting as many things done on my own to-do list. I’ve really had to learn to say no to others sometimes, no matter how uncomfortable it might make me!
53. Analyze your emotions. If you’re experiencing negative emotions, analyze them and try to figure out why. What thoughts are you having that are causing those negative feelings? Likewise, when you’re experiencing positive emotions, figure out what thoughts are creating them so you can recreate those positive emotions in the future.
54. Watch less television. I have to say, I’ve never been grateful that I spent an entire day or weekend mindlessly watching television. In fact, there are times in my life where I wish I would have spent a lot less time watching TV and a lot more time working toward my goals!
55. Do your most important task first every day. There are always going to be those days where you don’t finish everything on your to-do list. I like to finish my most important task first thing in the morning. That way no matter what else happens, I still had a productive day!
56. Set personal boundaries. No one else in life is going to be looking out for your mental health and best interests as well as you can. Setting boundaries in your life is a great way to put yourself first and make sure no one else can negatively impact your health and happiness.
57. Admit your mistakes. We all mistakes. It’s human nature. And making a few mistakes along the way isn’t going to hold you back. But what will hold you back is not being able to admit and learn from your mistakes.
58. Level up your skills. Learning new skills is great, but are you still brushing up on the skills you already have? Continuing to level up your skill is a great way to grow professionally and personally.
59. Start a skincare routine. I was in my twenties before I really started taking care of my skin. Before that, I would regularly go to sleep with makeup on, go days without moisturizing, etc. It’s amazing how much better my skin looks now that I consistently take care of it. And don’t forget the SPF every day!
60. Travel somewhere new. There is so much to be gained by traveling! I really feel myself growing as a person every time I travel to a new place.
61. Practice positive affirmations. The mindset you approach life with is going to have a big impact on the results you see. When I’m doubting whether I’ll be able to reach my goals, I use positive affirmations to turn my mindset around.
62. Start a meditation practice. For years I rolled my eyes at the idea of meditating because it just seemed way too woo-woo. But once I tried it, I realized the benefits are real.
63. Don’t rely on credit cards. Way too many people fall into the trap of credit card debt. I know, because I’ve been there! Stop using your credit cards until you can figure out how to do so without going into debt.
64. Give back to your community. By volunteering and giving back, you can help ensure everyone in your community, including you and your family, have the best home possible. This might mean volunteering at your local food pantry or helping on an environment project.
65. Surround yourself with positive people. Have you ever had a friend who was really negative, and you always found yourself feeling really negative after spending time with them? I feel like we’ve all had at least one person in our lives like that. We’ve all heard the saying, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. Well do you really want to be more like that negative person, or would you rather learn from the positive people in your life? I know which I would prefer!
66. Practice self-care. Many people think that self-care is selfish, or not a productive use of time. Really, self-care is just helping you care for yourself, and it really is important. Self-care looks different for everyone, so figure out what it looks like for you and put it on your calendar!
67. Start a gratitude journal. I tend to be a bit of a glass half empty person. Starting a gratitude practice in my journal has really forced me to focus on the positive things in my life, at least for a little bit each day!
68. Work through issues with a therapist. The idea of going to therapy makes some people cringe, and I totally used to be one of those people. But talking your thoughts and feelings out with a professional can do wonders!
69. Develop an abundance mindset. If you assume that nothing is going to go right and you aren’t going to be successful, you’ll be right. Believing you can accomplish something is the first step to actually making it happen!
70. Journal regularly. I tend to struggle with anxiety. Lately, I’ve found a great way to deal with it is to just do a brain dump of all the thoughts I’m having and talk myself through them. I always end up feeling better!
71. Stop negative thoughts. If you’re having negative thoughts that are causing negative feelings, stop them in their tracks. For me, this goes hand in hand with journaling, as I journal what negative thoughts I’m having, and then the positive thoughts I want to think instead.
73. Schedule time for fun. It’s easy to get caught up in work and all of the other responsibilities in life. But I definitely start to feel the negative effects of not enough free time. Try scheduling in some time for fun!
74. Become familiar with your credit report. I paid almost no attention to my credit report until I was in my mid-twenties, and boy do I wish I had started checking sooner! Your credit report will be a huge determining factor down the road when it comes to do things like buy a car or a house.
75. Keep a to-do list. I don’t know about you, but I can’t possibly remember tasks if I haven’t written them down. Keeping a to-do list helps to reduce a lot of mental clutter and allows you to focus on the task at hand.
76. Embrace change. You are going to go through major changes in your life, whether you like it or not. If you don’t embrace change, you’ll find yourself dreading it and suffering through change rather than enjoying it.
77. Get lots of sleep. Your body needs sleep. When I haven’t gotten enough sleep, I can feel it. And it starts to affect other parts of my life negatively. I am for at least seven hours per night.
78. Create a vision board. If you’re reaching for some BIG goals, it might be easy to lose motivation. Creating a vision board ensures your big goals are always in front of you, so you continue to remember what you’re working for.
79. Save for retirement. Many people think about what they can do to improve their current selves, but improving life for your future self is just as important. Be sure to start saving for retirement ASAP. You future self will thank you!
80. Embrace failure. Usually, we shy away from failure, and often don’t bother going after our goals because of our fear of failure. Instead, we should be embracing the fact that failure helps us to grow. When you fail, you learn important lessons that will help you the second time around.
81. Commit to yourself. Whatever form of personal development you decide is for you, really commit to it. Personal growth is a lifelong effort. Once you start to honor your commitments to yourself and showing yourself that you’ll follow through for yourself, it will be a lot easier to start seeing positive changes in your life.
There are a lot of tips for self improvement in this post so that anyone will be able to find some self improvement ideas that appeal to them.
As someone who has been passionate about personal development for years now, some of these changes have honestly changed my life, and I know they can do the same for you too.
Be sure to leave me a comment and let me know YOUR favorite self help tips!
I don’t know about you, but I almost always have more on my to-do list than I can possibly get done. I write my daily to-do list in my daily planner. I also have a running to-do list in Asana of tasks that haven’t made it onto my calendar yet. And let me tell you, I’ve always had a really freaking hard time figuring out which of those tasks need to be at the top of the list.
I’ll admit that on quite a few occasions, this indecision has led to procrastination. It’s not that I don’t want to get to work. I just don’t know where to start!
The Eisenhower Matrix has become my favorite way to narrow down my to-do list and figure out which tasks really need my attention.
In this post, I’ll be sharing how you can use the Eisenhower Matrix (otherwise known as the Eisenhower Box) to accomplish your most important and urgent tasks every single day.
How to Accomplish Your Most Important Task Every Day Using the Eisenhower Matrix
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
The Eisenhower Matrix was made famous by Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States. He was known for being incredibly productive, and the Eisenhower Matrix is the tool he used to manage his tasks.
The Eisenhower Matrix has four quadrants that break down your tasks into four categories:
Important and urgent
Important, but not urgent
Urgent, but not important
Neither important nor urgent
Here’s a look at what the Eisenhower Matrix looks like:
The Difference Between Urgent and Important
Before we dive into how the Eisenhower Matrix works, let’s first talk about the difference between urgent and important tasks.
Way too often, people confuse the two. We assume that anything that’s urgent must also be important. And even worse, we assume that tasks that aren’t urgent just aren’t important.
There’s a quote from President Eisenhower that says, “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the importantare never urgent.”
Most of the time this is true!
Important tasks are those that allow us to be proactive toward achieving our goals, both personal and professional.
Urgent tasks, on the other hand, are reactive. We’re reacting to something in our lives that is demanding immediate attention, even when it may not be important enough to warrant that attention.
Knowing the difference between these two is the true goal of the Eisenhower Matrix.
How the Eisenhower Matrix Works
Important and Urgent
The first box of the matrix is for tasks that are both important and urgent. Not only are they time-sensitive, but they’ll also likely have a significant impact in the long run.
These are the tasks that should be moved to the top of your to-do list! In your business, they would probably be the big money-making tasks such as closing a sale.
Personal emergencies would also be both important and urgent, and would immediately become your top priority.
The tasks that go in this quadrant are probably also energy and time-intensive tasks. They’re the ones you procrastinate starting because you know how much work they’ll be, but they’re totally necessary because they are what moves the needle in your business.
When I’m crafting my schedule every day, I always try to make sure these are the tasks I work on first thing in the morning. That is the time of day I have the most energy and motivation, so I know they’ll get my best work then.
I would never recommend saving these tasks for the end of the day because if something comes up that pushes you off course, you won’t get them done.
Important, Not Urgent
The tasks in the second quadrant of the matrix are important, but not necessarily urgent. These tasks will certainly have a big impact in the long-run, but they don’t need to be done immediately.
In your career, this would include the time you invested to get your degree. In your business, this would be your long-term business strategy and future product launches.
In your personal life, maintaining relationships is important. Making time to spend with those you love may not be time-sensitive, but it certainly has a great impact in the long-run.
This quadrant would also include the things you do to maintain your health. Exercising and healthy eating may not be urgent, and often they get moved to the bottom of our to-do lists, but in the long-run, they’re incredibly important.
The tasks that fall into this category often get put off in favor of urgent tasks. But in the long-run, these are the tasks that are going to help you reach your goals – so make time for them! If they aren’t on your calendar, add them.
I always make sure these tasks are scheduled on my calendar ahead of time, that way I’m not likely to set them aside in favor of something else.
For example, I schedule my workouts on the calendar one week at a time. When the time comes to work out, I’m pretty unlikely to talk myself out of it because there’s nothing else I should be working on during that time. I’ve made a commitment to myself and I’m going to keep it!
Urgent, Not Important
The tasks in the third quadrant are urgent, but they aren’t important. However, they are mistaken for being important tasks way too often! This quadrant includes tasks such as answering phone calls and responding to emails.
People way too often think that because these tasks are “urgent”, they have to do them right away. Well, I’ve got good news – you don’t have to do them right away!
Think about phone calls. When the phone rings, it’s urgent. You only have a limited amount of time to answer it before the call gets sent to voicemail.
But how often do you get a phone call that you would consider important? For me, the answer is almost never. And so I don’t answer the phone when I’m working on something else.
The exception would be if my fiance or a family member is calling during a time I know they would only be calling in the case of an emergency – then it’s important as well as urgent!
These tasks can be scheduled for later. But even better, they can be delegated.
In the example of the phone calls, you’re “delegating” that task to your voicemail. In other cases, it might be an actual person you’re delegating to.
Neither Important Nor Urgent
Let’s be honest, most of us fill our calendars with a lot of things that aren’t necessary as well. Some of these we do as a form of laziness or procrastination, and some we do because we genuinely think they’re important, but they really aren’t.
Things like watching TV and scrolling through social media are activities we know aren’t important or urgent, but we spend a lot of time on them anyway. I’m not saying you should never do these things! Having balance in life is important, and it’s fine if those are activities you want to enjoy in your free time (I certainly do!) – but don’t use them as a crutch for laziness or productivity during work time.
There are also some activities that fall into this quadrant that you might think you need to be doing, but when you think about it, they really aren’t important or urgent.
When I started blogging, there were a lot of tasks I made time for because I read they were things I “should” be doing. But they didn’t benefit my business at all or bring me any closer to my goals. By identifying the tasks that weren’t having an impact, I was able to eliminate them from my to-do list.
The good news is you’ll be saving yourself a lot of time by getting rid of these tasks!
How to Use the Eisenhower Matrix in Your Own Life
Hopefully, you’re reading this and thinking the Eisenhower Matrix sounds like exactly what you need to finally organize your freaking to-do list. But how do you go about using it in your own life? Here are some practical tips for applying the Eisenhower Matrix to your tasks.
1. Make a list of every project and activity you have to do. Try to be super comprehensive, even for tasks that don’t seem relevant. Anything that takes up your time is relevant here! Include tasks for both your professional and personal life.
2. Assign each task to a quadrant on the Eisenhower Matrix. You can just use paper and pencil to sort them. Be honest with yourself to avoid elevating the importance of any task. A good way to do this is to honestly ask yourself, “What is the immediate result of this task?” If the immediate result is your child being fed when they need to be or closing a sale in your business, that task is pretty darn urgent and important!
3. Cross off every task in Quadrant 4. These tasks are neither urgent nor important, and you should only be giving them your energy during downtime.
4. Create a plan for tasks in Quadrant 3. Is there a person, app, service, etc. that can do this task for you?
5. Pull out your calendar and schedule your tasks for the week. Tasks that you put in Quadrants 1 and 2 should be added right to your calendar. Scheduling them for a specific time ensures they actually get done!
6. Eliminate distractions. When you’re working on the tasks on your calendar, put everything else away. Focus is the key to successfully getting it all done!
7. Repeat with new tasks. Any time a new task ends up on your desk or in your inbox, figure out where in the Eisenhower Matrix it belongs and act accordingly. You can seriously use this matrix for everything!
The best way to reach your goals is to ensure you’re focusing your time on the tasks that are truly going to move you forward and have an impact.
The Eisenhower Matrix works so well because it forces you to identify which tasks you should be focusing on, and which are a waste of time.
I have always found myself procrastinating by spending too much time on the tasks that are either urgent but not important or even those that aren’t urgent or important. Using this method has really forced me to get honest with myself and move those tasks to the bottom of the list in favor of the more high-impact tasks.
Pretty often I find that the reason I’m not focusing on the important tasks is fear. I’m afraid of going for something big and failing. I’m afraid of putting something out, whether it be a new blog post or a digital product, and being judged.
Using the Eisenhower Matrix has really forced me to take a hard look at those important tasks and take away every other excuse for finally doing them.
If you’re not as productive as you’d like to be, the Eisenhower Matrix is the perfect tool to help you take an honest look at your to-do list and focus on the most important tasks.
And by using the Eisenhower Matrix on a regular basis, you’ll ensure that your most important and urgent tasks are getting done every single day.
Sure, it will be hard at first. It’s not easy to admit you’ve been spending time on tasks that aren’t worth your attention! But once you get past the hard part, you’ll eliminate so much wasted time and energy and find that you’re getting more done in less time and achieving all of your goals!
There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.
If you read this blog regularly, you know how much I love talking about goal setting.
I spent years setting new year’s resolutions for myself, only to forget about them by February. And honestly, this is how so many people approach goal-setting!
When it comes to setting goals for the year, setting the RIGHT goals is half the battle.
In this post, I’m sharing 21 goals to set for yourself this year that can seriously make 2021 your best year ever!
21 Goals to Set For Yourself to Make 2021 Your Best Year Ever
Learn a New Skill
One of my favorite things about blogging is that I have learned SO many new skills that I absolutely did not set out to learn.
It’s really helped me to learn how much I love learning new skills and has pushed me to branch out and try learning new skills that are completely separate from my business as well.
There are SO many resources online to help you branch out and try something new.
Two of my favorites are CreativeLive and Skillshare, both of which have TONS of classes available (and if you use one of those links ^^ you can get a free trial).
Create a Monthly Budget
I feel like money-related goals are some of the most common people set for themselves every year, so I definitely had to include some on this list!
If you don’t currently have a budget, that is honestly the first goal from this list that I would tackle.
Money is one of the single biggest stressors for people (especially millennials), and it’s one of the biggest points of conflict in marriages and relationships. So it definitely seems that getting your money under control should be pretty high on the priority list!
I went years of my adult life without creating a monthly budget. Looking back, it’s still crazy to me that I really didn’t know where my money was going every month.
Creating a monthly budget allowed me to get my money under control in a way I honestly couldn’t even have imagined.
I love to read so much, whether it’s fiction, poetry, or personal development books. But sometimes I just get out of the habit of it and realize I’ve gone months without reading!
I’ve started setting a yearly reading goal for myself and using Goodreads to track how many books I’ve read. This has really helped to motivate me to keep reading.
You can definitely set a goal of reading more than 12 books. I just think that 12 is a good starting point for people who don’t read super often because that gives you an entire month to finish each book.
I’m a huge proponent of having a side hustle. I started this blog back in 2014. At the time it was only meant to be a hobby, but it has definitely turned into a side hustle!
Looking back, I’m so grateful I started the blog when I did! Not only has it allowed me to earn extra money alongside my full-time job, but it has also paved the way for a lot of personal and professional development.
Create a Morning Routine (And Actually Stick To It!)
I’m going to be honest, mornings have been one of my biggest struggles for…basically my entire life. I’ve never been a morning person. But I really took the whole “not a morning person” thing to a whole new level.
But once I graduated from college and started my career, I had to get up early for work every morning. And I needed to actually be awake and functional rather than being a zombie for the first two hours!
Creating a morning routine seriously made ALL the difference for me. I learned to create a routine that actually helps me to wake up and enjoy the morning rather than being miserable and frantically running out the door late every day.
At some point a couple of years ago it was like a switch was flipped and everyone was talking about gratitude journals. And I promptly ignored that advice and went on with business as usual.
Then last year I was struggling with some pretty severe anxiety and was looking for solutions, and once again the idea of a gratitude journal kept popping up. So I finally broke down.
It turns out everyone was right. It’s amazing how when I’m having a bad day, something as simple as writing down things I’m grateful for can completely turn around my mood.
You can do this first thing in the morning, right before bed, or any time you’re having a rough day and need something to help turn your mindset around.
Spend Less Time Online
I have a full-time job where I’m on a computer most of the day, and then I go home and run an online business. So it’s safe to say I’m spending a LOT of my time online. And running a blog means spending a lot of time on social media.
One of my goals for 2021 is definitely to spend less time online. Quite often I don’t have a choice. But in the moments where I’m not working and have the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, I want to make a genuine effort to focus on those around me and get outside more rather than have my phone in front of my face all the time.
Eating healthier is without a doubt one of the most common goals people set for themselves each year. I’m right there with you! My eating habits are significantly better than they used to be, but they aren’t perfect (and I don’t expect them to ever be perfect).
Rather than push yourself to cut entire food groups or go on really restrictive diets, aim for slow progress and a better diet.
If you love bread and pasta and decide you’re cutting out carbs completely, how long will that really be feasible? What if instead you trade the white bread and pasta for whole grain, and swap in veggie pasta a couple of times per week? That’s not a huge change, but it would still make a difference.
Rather than preventing myself from eating foods I love, I shoot to eat clean 75% of the time, and then I feel better about eating whatever I want the rest of the time!
Create a Fitness Routine
Fitness is another goal to set that seems to be pretty universal. And for some people, the idea of creating a fitness routine seems SO daunting.
Here’s the thing though, your fitness routine can look literally however you want it to look.
If you don’t like running, don’t run. In fact, skip the cardio altogether it that’s not what floats your boat.
My favorite exercises are the ones that don’t feel like exercise at all! Brandon and I love biking around the city when the weather is warm. We love checking out bars and restaurants in town, so we just started biking there instead of driving.
I also love hiking, which definitely feels more like a hobby than a workout!
There are also SO many workouts like yoga, pilates, barre, etc. that are a great workout, but low impact.
Finally, your fitness routine can just consist of walking! When the weather is nice, I throw on a podcast and take the dog for an hour long walk. I get my body moving, I get to listen to a favorite podcast, and I feel amazing when I’m done.
Travel to a New Place
I love to travel, and I definitely don’t get to do enough of it. In 2019 my husband and I were able to take a vacation to a place we had never been before. Then, in 2020, we traveled the country in our RV. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2021!
If travel is in your budget for this year, I absolutely recommend making it a personal goal for yourself. And rather than visiting the same destinations you’ve visited before, branch out and explore a new place!
There are honestly so many amazing places and things to see, and none of us will be able to see them all.
But whatever your interests when it comes to travel, whether it be hiking, history, or laying on a beach, you can always find a new destination to visit.
Declutter Your Home
Thanks to Marie Kondo and her new Netflix series, it seems like everyone is jumping on the KonMari bandwagon and making it a personal goal to declutter their homes this year.
I’m right there with you, and I’ve been on the declutter train for several years now.
In 2017, I got divorced and moved from a three-bedroom house to a studio apartment. That meant I had to get rid of almost everything I owned.
I thought it would be the most difficult thing ever, but it turned out to be amazing! I was honestly surprised by how much stuff I had that I didn’t need, or even really want.
Since then I’ve continued to keep an eye on how much stuff I accumulate and regularly donate clothing and household items I find I’m not using.
While we’re on the subject of decluttering, let’s talk about clothes. You guys, I used to have SO many clothes. Clothes I hadn’t worn in years, and yet still couldn’t bring myself to get rid of.
When I finally decided to really force myself to narrow down my wardrobe, I realized I was wearing the same few pieces and the same few colors over and over again.
I’ve created a minimalist wardrobe for myself by limiting the colors in my wardrobe (95% of my clothes are black, white and gray) and limiting the style of clothes. I’ve really narrowed down what my personal style is, and I really don’t feel the need to experiment with anything outside of that!
Now, a minimalist wardrobe definitely won’t work for some people. If clothes and fashion are your passion, you’re not going to be excited about this. But if fashion isn’t a priority for you, I really recommend challenging yourself to create a minimalist wardrobe this year.
Meditate Every Day
I was definitely skeptical a few years ago when I saw SO many people recommending meditation for productivity and personal development.
And even after trying it the first few times, I was still skeptical. But once I really gave it a chance, it totally won me over.
I’ve suffered from my fair share of stress and anxiety, and meditation has helped me reduce these a lot.
I’ve also noticed that it has helped me improve my focus, which has been amazing. I have WAY to much going on in my life to not be focused.
For anyone struggling with anxiety, I think daily meditation should absolutely be on your list of goals to set for yourself this year.
Journal Every Day
I’ve been journaling on and off for pretty much my entire life. I hadn’t journaled for years but picked it back up again in an effort to control my anxiety.
Journaling has really helped me to reduce my stress and anxiety, and just learn to better control my emotions.
When I sit down to journal, I focus on identifying the negative emotions I’m feeling and trying to get to the root cause. I also focus on affirmations I know to be true in order to negate the worried thoughts I’m feeling.
If journaling is a goal for your this year but the idea seems daunting to you, I recommend picking up the Five Minute Journal. As the name suggests, it’s literally five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening. And even in that short amount of time, I think you’ll see a difference!
Drink More Water
It turns out that about 75% of us are living our lives chronically dehydrated. And I know without a doubt that I used to be one of those people.
I’ve had a lot of health-related annoyances in my life. Not to the point where something has been seriously wrong, but just enough so that I’ve always felt…well, just not great.
Once I started making a really solid effort to drink more water, I noticed a big difference. I aim to drink 100 ounces per day, and I track it religiously throughout the day.
I use the Fitbit app to track my water intake, but there are also apps like Plant Nanny that are specifically designed for tracking water.
Set a Bedtime For Yourself
I will be the first to admit that I do NOT get enough sleep. There are some nights where my schedule prevents me from getting to bed as early as I would like. There’s unfortunately not much I can do about that.
However, I also find myself staying up WAY too late on the nights that I could be going to bed earlier.
One of my personal goals for 2021 is to get more sleep, which means setting a bedtime for myself and actually sticking to it!
One creative way I’ve heard of accomplishing this is by using a bedtime alarm. I would set mine for about an hour before I actually want to go to sleep. That way I have time to prepare my lunch for the next day, get the coffee maker reader, wash my face, brush my teeth, and spend some time reading in bed.
In case you can’t tell, I like to have as much prepped the night before as possible because I won’t be happy having to do it the next morning!
Build an Emergency Fund
You guys already know you need to have an emergency fund. But since I’m guessing a lot of you either don’t have one or aren’t putting money in regularly, I’m adding this as a goal to set for yourself this year!
Statistics show that most Americans have less than $1,000 dollars in savings, and nearly half have less than $400. Those numbers are pretty alarming, considering something as simple as unexpected car repairs could easily take out your entire savings account.
I struggled for a long time to build my emergency fund. Finally, I decided that rather than save whatever money I had left at the end of the month, I would pay myself first.
On the first day of every month, an automatic transfer takes money out of my checking account and puts it into my emergency fund.
If you’ve struggled to save, trying paying yourself first and really prioritizing your emergency fund.
I’m pretty lucky in that I have had the same close group of friends since I was about 16. We were a close-knit group in high school. And then many of us ended up going to the same colleges, so it was easy for us all to stay in touch and we got together pretty regularly.
After college, as I’m sure happens to a lot of friend groups, we all moved away and started our careers, and definitely didn’t spend as much time together.
Over the past year or so we’ve really made an effort to see each other more often. We’re lucky to all live in the same state where the travel isn’t too difficult. We’ve been able to make it a pretty regular thing.
I’m so glad we all reconnected! If you have a close friend or group of friends that you’ve drifted apart from or haven’t seen in a while, reach out and try to reconnect. You’ll be so glad you did!
Revisit Your Career Goals
When was the last time you took some time to really reevaluate your career goals?
I’m a big proponent of five-year goals for things like career and finances. But let’s be real, five years is a long time. And things can definitely change. My career goals have absolutely changed in the six years since I graduated from college!
Make it a goal for this year to spend some time thinking about your career. Consider your short-term and long-term career goals. Think about the company you work for and whether you see a future there.
In some cases, your career goals may have changed so much that you have transitioned (or want to transition) to a totally different industry.
Make Time for Self Care
If you read this blog regularly, you probably knew self-care was going to make this list!
Self-care is so important, and most of us are NOT making enough time for it!
Self-care isn’t just about pampering yourself. It’s about making time for sleep, mental health, and physical health.
If it isn’t on your list of goals to set for this year, it totally should be!
Goal-setting can be super overwhelming for some people. Setting the right goals is half the battle!
There’s still plenty of time to reach your goals and make 2021 an amazing here. When you’re thinking of what goals to set for yourself, make sure to include a few from this list to make your year awesome!
There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.
Whether you realize it or not, many of the actions you take throughout the day are done out of habit. This includes things from brushing your teeth, checking your email first thing in the morning, and the time you go to bed at night.
And if you’ve ever tried changing or creating habits, you know that habits are TOUGH to change. Because of this, there has been a LOT of research into habits and the role they play in our lives.
One of the habit creation strategies that has come up is the idea of “habit stacking”.
In this post, I’m going to explain what habits stacking is, and how you can use it to develop good habits in your own life.
Habit Stacking: How to Create Good Habits That Actually Stick
What is Habit Stacking?
Habit stacking is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
It’s about creating new, healthy habits by stacking them on habits you already have.
James Clear is one of the more well-known habit experts. He explains that because your current habits are already ingrained into your brain, it’s easier to use them to create new habits.
By linking your new habits to existing ones, they’re more likely to stick.
And when you’ve mastered one habit, you can continue to stack on new habits.
This is how routines are created!
Think about your morning routine. It’s essentially just a bunch of habits stacked on top of one another.
Find Your Habit Trigger
In order for habit stacking to work, you need to find the right existing habit to stack your new habit on. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing your habit trigger.
First of all, think about the time of day you want your new habit to take place. If you want your new habit to be a part of your morning routine, obviously your trigger needs to be something that also happens every morning.
Next, make sure your habit trigger is a habit you actually do every single day.
When I think about my morning routine, for example, there are some things that happen every day, such as brushing my teeth. Then there are others that I try to do every day, such as meditation, but they don’t necessarily happen every single morning.
It wouldn’t do me any good to anchor a new habit to those things I only do on some days!
Make yourself a list of all of your existing habits during the time of day you want your new habit to be, and you’ll have narrowed it down to a few different habits you can choose as your trigger.
Habit Stacking Examples
When you set your intention for the new habit you plan to create, it will look something like this:
After I , I will .
Here are habit stacking examples that may give you some inspiration:
After I turn my alarm off in the morning, I will drink 8 ounces of water.
After I get out of bed in the morning, I will immediately make the bed.
After I brush my teeth, I will do ten minutes of yoga.
After I start the coffee maker, I will meditate for five minutes.
After I eat dinner, I will read for ten minutes.
After I get into bed at night, I will journal for five minutes.
Creating the Habit Staircase
Once you’ve creating a new, consistent habit using the habit stacking method, you can start adding on more habits. When you do this, you’re creating what is called a “habit staircase”.
Let’s use a morning routine as an example.
For years, you have woken up every morning and turned on the coffee maker. So when you decided you wanted to start meditating in the morning, you decided to use turning on the coffee maker as your habit trigger.
Once you’ve mastered the habit of meditating after turning on your coffee maker, you decide you would also like to start journaling in the morning. So you “stack” your journaling habit on top of your meditating habit, which has been stacked on top of the habit of turning on the coffee maker.
You have created what is called a habit staircase.
And the great news about the habit staircase is that once you’ve created a consistent habit, you can stack as many new habits onto that staircase as you want, as long as you master one before moving onto the next habit.
Here’s an example of what the advanced morning routine in our habit staircase example might look like:
Turn on the coffee maker
Shower and get ready for work
Leave for work
More Habit Stacking Tips
I know the concept of habit stacking seems simple. And believe me, it is. But as you know, most things are easier said than done. Here are a few extra tips to help you get started with habit stacking:
Start small. If you start by trying to add a 30-minute habit on the first day, you may not be able to sustain it. Whatever habit it is you’re trying to add, start with just one minute.
When I start trying to add a new habit, I write it in my to-do list every single day. That way I have an extra reminder to get it done. And if I forget, it’s right there staring me in the face.
Wait until you’ve mastered one habit before adding another to the stack.
Know WHY you’re trying to create the new habit. Trying to meditate or exercise every day isn’t going to be sustainable if you’re only doing it because you think you should, and not because you actually want to.
Even if you don’t realize it, habits literally make up our entire day.
Trying to create healthy habits can seem super overwhelming. And more often than not, we end up giving up pretty quickly.
That’s why I was SO excited when I discovered the book Atomic Habits and the concept of habit stacking.
I know this technique will help you with developing habits as much as it has helped me! I can’t wait to hear what new habits you’ve created with using habit stacking!