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.
Start With a Productive Morning Routine
I spent years insisting that I could not create a morning routine because I simply wasn’t a morning person.
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 business. 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?
Putting everything on the calendar.
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 activities 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 on to 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!
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.
Clean Your House
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 a while 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!
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.
Review Your Calendar For the Week
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.
Go to Bed Early
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!
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!
It seems like time management is something just about all of us struggle with. Whether you’re balancing a full-time job, a side hustle, a family, travel, etc., it just seems like there’s never enough time in the day.
I this post, I’m sharing 31 time management tips that will help you be more productive and really take control of your time.
Not all 31 of these tips will work for everyone, but if you can find just a few that really work in your life, I guarantee they can make a huge difference!
Time Management Tips to Help You Get More Done in Less Time
Of all of the time management tips I have tried, I’ve found goal setting to be by far the most effective. This might come as a surprise to you, but I’ll explain why that’s the case.
Setting goals gives me a clear and specific direction for exactly what I should be doing with my time. When I’ve set a goal the right way, it’s so easy to just quickly drop those tasks onto my calendar.
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
So how does this apply to time management? The premise is that if you get the biggest, most difficult ask out of the way first, then the day is smooth sailing from there
Depending on your schedule and responsibilities, you might not be able to do the biggest task first. But rest assured that getting that task out of the way early will take a lot of weight off your shoulders and make you feel a lot better about what you’ve accomplished that day!
Create a Morning Routine
Mornings have the potential to not only be super productive but to also shape your productivity for the entire day.
And yet, for so many of us, mornings are just chaos.
Creating a morning routine has honestly changed my life.
I’m less stressed. I’m less tired. I’m more prepared to tackle my to-do list for the day.
I have an entire blog post dedicated to helping you create a healthy and effective morning routine, so make sure to check it out!
Use a Planner
I can’t even imagine how chaotic my day would be if I didn’t use a daily planner. It’s basically what holds my life together.
Just having a place to plan your schedule and write down your to-do list will go a long way in helping you to manage time effectively.
Time blocking is a great way to plan your day in a way that really allows you to take control of your time.
Time-blocking at its core is just blocking off certain times on your calendar to accomplish certain tasks. This is a LOT more effective than just writing a to-do list because you’re actually planning when you’re going to get everything done.
Here’s an example of what time-blocking might look like in a typical day for me:
6:45-8:15: Morning Routine / Get Ready for Work
8:30-5: Full-Time Job
5:30-7:00: Working out, taking the dog for a walk, eating dinner, and other miscellaneous tasks to wind down after work.
7:00-10:00: Work on Blog
10:00-11:00: Shower and Bedtime Routine
Combine like tasks and work on them at the same time.
Jumping from task to task takes time and mental energy, so cutting down on the number of transitions saves a lot of time.
I like to batch as many tasks as I can for my blog and business.
For instance, instead of scheduling social media content every single day, I sit down once per week and schedule everything.
Similarly, I use batching in my Etsy shop. Rather than designing researching a new product, designing it, photographing it, and creating a listing, I’ll batch those tasks.
I’ll research and brainstorm a bunch of product ideas at once.
Then I’ll design all of those products, and photography all of those products, and create all of the listings.
Go through your workflow and figure out where you can be batching tasks to save time.
Set a Timer
For the longest time, I didn’t pay attention to how much time I was spending on certain blogging tasks.
Then I started tracking my time with Toggl, and I was honestly surprised by how long certain tasks were taking me.
And I guarantee that most of the reason for that amount of time was procrastination and getting sucked in my distractions.
Now that I know roughly how much time it should take me to complete certain tasks, I still set timers for myself to make sure I’m making any task take longer than it needs to.
And another reason I love tracking my time in my business is that I see what my hourly income ROI is for certain tasks. This helps me narrow down my to-do list to only focus on those tasks that make me the most money.
Set a Time Limit for Each Task
Once you’ve used a timer to figure out how long certain tasks are taking you, it’s a heck of a lot easier to plan your day. That’s because you can make an educated guess as to how long each task is going to take.
I’ve timed myself writing enough blog posts that I can confidently guess how long it’s going to take me. So when I put it on my calendar, I can schedule it for a certain amount of time.
Use the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule, otherwise known as the Pareto Principle, says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your actions. And vice versa – 80% of your actions account for just 20% of your results.
It turns out, you can apply it to just about any area of your life.
The benefit of the 80/20 rule is that if you can identify the 20% of your efforts that are giving you 80% of your results, you can do more of those things and maximize those results even more.
I probably don’t need to help you that you need to spend less time in your inbox…but I’m going to anyway.
Because even though most of us know we’re spending too much time checking email, we still do it!
For many of us, email could take up our entire day if we let it. So don’t let it. Set aside specific blocks of time on your calendar where you’ll check email – maybe a few times per day.
And then only check email during those times.
For me, just turning off email notifications on my phone made a huge difference in helping me cut down on the amount of time I was spending on email.
Say NO More Often
As a people-pleaser, this one is hard for me. I have a difficult time saying no, and so I’ve spent a lot of time rearranging my schedule to accommodate other people.
But the more time spent focusing on other people’s priorities is less time spent on your own.
Saying no to the things that don’t matter to you will ensure you can say yes to the things that do.
It is not your job to keep other people happy or make sure other people’s priorities are met. It’s okay to put yourself first.
Plan Your Days Ahead of Time
The best way to plan for a productive day is to starting planning before that day. I plan all of my days ahead of time, so I wake up every morning knowing exactly what is on my to-do list.
And I don’t just plan my to-do list. I prepare for the entire day. The night before I get the coffee maker ready, I pack my lunch, and I pick out an outfit.
And as for work, I make sure all loose ends are tied up before I leave in the evening so I know I’m not coming into work in the middle of a task I should have finished the day before.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
There are a lot of time management strategies that float around online, but the Pomodoro Technique is by far one of the most popular.
The premise of this technique is that you alternate between time blocks of very focused work, followed by short breaks.
Here’s how it works:
Set a timer for 25 minutes.
During that 25 minutes, your work gets 100% of your focus. Close the rest of your browser windows. Don’t check your phone.
When the timer goes off, take a five-minute break.
Repeat this four times, at which point you’ll take a longer break.
And that’s it! You can repeat the Pomodoro Technique as many times as you need throughout the day until all your tasks are done.
This also makes it super easy to track how long each task is taking you, as I talked about further up in this post.
I know it might not seem like there is much of a connection between meditation and time management, but I promise there is!
One thing that meditation helps you to become really good at is focus. You practice focusing on just one thing (usually your breathing) and then letting thoughts come and go without letting them distract you.
One of the biggest struggles I see most people having when it comes to time management is focus. We allow ourselves to be easily distracted, usually by technology.
Meditating regularly can really help you to improve your focus, and therefore get more done every day.
Know the Difference Between Important and Urgent
When you’re juggling a lot of moving parts of your life (job, side hustle, family, friends) everything seems important. And it’s possible that everything on your to-do list is important!
The real trick is figuring out which tasks on your to-do list are important and urgent. Then move those tasks to the top of your to-do list.
There are some tasks that are important, but not urgent. You should make time for those eventually, but they don’t have to be done today.
Then there are tasks that are urgent, but not really important. An example of this would be a phone call. If you’re going to answer the phone, it’s urgent that you do it right away. But since it’s not important, you could always skip it.
If you have tasks on your to-do list that are neither important nor urgent, cross them off!
Give Yourself Deadlines
Regardless of how much I might procrastinate, if I’m given a work deadline, I’m going to meet it.
Similarly, when I was in college, I might have waited until the last minute to write my papers, but I certainly turned them all in on time.
Having a deadline really pushes you to get things done in a timely manner.
Because of this, I find that creating self-imposed deadlines is a great way to help me manage my time and complete the tasks that are important to me, but that there’s no boss requiring me to do.
If you want to put even more pressure on your deadlines, announce them publicly.
When I was writing my first eBook, I sent an email to my subscribers letting them know what date my eBook would be launching.
I hadn’t even started writing it yet.
But you had better believe that once I announced that date to my readers, I made sure to publish the eBook on time!
I’ve learned to automate as many things as I can in my life in the interest of saving time.
One example of this is my social media marketing. I love sharing new content with my social media followers, but it could also take up literally all of my time.
If you schedule tasks or appointments for every moment of your day, you’re just not going to finish it all.
Make sure to schedule in buffer time between every task to make time for transitions, breaks, meals, etc.
Make sure you also schedule in downtime! I’m someone who tends to get a little over-eager when it comes to scheduling out my to-do list, and then I’ll get to the end of the day and realize I had zero time to relax.
Make Your To-Do List SMALLER
I can’t even tell you how many days I’ve had where I’ve got a lot to get done, so I cram as many tasks as possible onto my to-do list.
I can tell you this pretty much never works.
Adding more things to your to-do list won’t help you to get more done, and it will make it harder to prioritize throughout the day.
What you can do instead is cutting down your to-do list, and the prioritizing it.
For example, what is the most important task you need to get done today?
And what are 2-3 other tasks you really want to get done?
After that, you can list a few most tasks that you would really like to get done, but only if you have time.
Create Templates for Everyday Tasks
There are probably things you do daily, weekly, monthly, etc. that you end up starting from scratch every single time, even though you do the same task all the time!
Some examples here might be frequently sending the same type of email, creating the same time of spreadsheet, responding to the same questions, etc.
I use templates for lots of parts of my business. It makes it super easy to just copy and paste rather than starting from scratch every time.
Cut Down on the Number of Decisions You Have to Make
Did you know the average adult makes 35,000 decisions per day?
Am I the only one who thinks that sounds insane?? It’s no wonder we all have decision fatigue and procrastinate on making decisions.
There are definitely days where it feels like my brain can NOT make decisions, so I’ve found a few ways to cut down on the number of decisions I have to make in a day.
Here are a few ways you can cut down on the number of decisions you’re making:
Simplify your wardrobe. Consider starting a capsule wardrobe or limiting your wardrobe to a certain color scheme to avoid spending so much time putting together outfits.
Meal plan. By making all of your meal decisions on the weekend, you aren’t spending time every.single.day figuring out what the heck you’re going to make for dinner.
Use the Eisenhower Matrix to Prioritize Your Tasks
I know how hard it can be to figure out which tasks are really worth your time and which aren’t. I know when I first started my blog I spent way too much time on things that aren’t weren’t important at all, and failed to devote time to things that really were important.
That’s why I was so excited when I found what is called the Eisenhower Matrix.
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:
There was a time in my life when I thought I was really good at multitasking. Except it turns out, there’s no such thing as multitasking.
When I thought I was multitasking really well, I was actually just jumping back and forth between a bunch of tasks really fast. Meaning NONE of them were getting my full attention and none of them were done as well as they could have been.
Not to mention all the time I wasted transitioning between those tasks!
There have been SO many studies that have shown that multitasking is just NOT effective.
Get More Sleep
Some people might think getting less sleep will make them more productive because they’ll have more time to work.
This just couldn’t be more wrong!
Sure, you might spend more hours working if you cut the number of hours you’re sleeping. But I can pretty much guarantee that work time is not going to be nearly as productive.
When I’m well-rested, I notice an amazing difference in how much I can get done.
Keep Your Workspace Organized
Sure, clutter is annoying and not exactly pretty to look at. But did you know it’s also probably killing your productivity?
Physical, digital, and mental clutter are all taking a toll on how much you get done every day.
Whether it be the pile of papers sitting on your desk or the hundreds of unorganized photos on your desktop, it’s time to get rid of that clutter.
And by cutting down on clutter, you’ll really be cutting down on the number of distractions in your day.
These days, it seems that everyone has a pretty short attention span. Unfortunately, this means we’re all also conditioned to be easily distracted.
From now on, try setting up your workday to eliminate as many distractions as possible.
I know my phone is a BIG distraction for me. If I get a text or a call, I’m going to check it right away. And once I’ve picked up my phone, it’s pretty easy for me to fall down the rabbit hole of Instagram!
It’s important to know what your big triggers are and find ways to minimize them.
One of the great things about the Pomodoro Technique discussed earlier in this post is that you’ve got five minutes built in for distractions after each 25-minute time block!
Let Go of Perfection
I’m a bit of a perfectionist. And while this might seem like a good thing at times, anyone with their own business can tell you there’s no room for perfectionism.
Yes, it would be great it every piece of content I put out was perfect.
But there’s no such thing as perfect. No matter how many hours I spend on a blog post, it will never be perfect. And eventually, I just have to decide that “good enough” is good enough.
Learn to be okay with B+ work.
Know Your Why
When I’m feeling discouraged or unmotivated about a certain task, I remind myself of my WHY.
At some point, this project made it onto my to-do list for an important reason. And sometimes I just need to remind myself what that reason is.
For example, maybe you’re starting a side hustle so you can quit your full-time job and have more time to spend at home with your family.
There are going to be days where you don’t feel like doing that monotonous task, such as writing your next blog post.
But if you remember WHY it’s important, you’ll be a lot more motivated to get to work!
Measure Productivity Based on Results, Not Time Spent
Your productivity definitely isn’t determined by the amount of time you spend on a project.
There might be a day where you spent the entire day working, with some procrastination mixed in. And at the end of the day, you really haven’t accomplished that much.
Measuring your productivity based on your results, rather than the number of hours you worked, will give you a far better idea of how productive you actually were.
Don’t Wait for Motivation
I know so many people who wait until they feel “motivated” to work on a task. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. I spent a lot of time there, actually.
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on motivated. And if you’re serious about reaching your goals, you have to get to work whether you’re feeling motivated or not.
Here’s a little trick I’ve learned though – if I just get started, even when I’m not feeling like it, motivation usually follows pretty quickly.
And when I say everything, I mean everything!
I refer to my calendar constantly, so if a task is scheduled, I know it’s going to get done. And if it’s not scheduled, there’s a very good chance it’s going to slip my mind.
Looking at my planner right now, I have every task scheduled out for the week. Even the errands I need to run this weekend are scheduled.
Every workout, every meal, and every night out with friends is scheduled ahead of time. And throughout the day as I’m working, I never have to stop and think about what I should or could work on next. I just quickly move onto the next task and save myself a ton of time.
Okay, so 31 time management tips is a LOT to digest at once.
You don’t have to implement them all at once. In fact, I would really recommend you not implement them all at once. You don’t even need to use all of them to notice a huge difference in your productivity!
By just implementing a few of these tips you’ll honestly be able to make some huge steps in better managing your own time and not getting caught in the common productivity traps.
If you have a favorite time management tip, I would love for you to share it in the comments!
I want to kick things off with the Nomatic Planner since this is actually the planner I’m using daily this year.
I had never heard of the Nomatic Planner until I started doing research last year, but it was the one I just kept coming back to as my favorite. And I’m SO glad I purchased this one.
Nomatic is a company that focuses on a lot more than just planners. They aim to create functional products for people who are on the go. Their other products include backpacks, wallets, and travel accessories.
The planner is available in black or mint and is small enough to carry around in any purse.
The planner has a monthly page for each month. In addition to the calendar, it includes a space for notes, and a space to break down your three big goals into actionable tasks. It also includes a habit tracker to track three daily habits.
The planner has a weekly view, which also includes the notes and goals section that you find on the monthly pages. Each day includes time slots from 6 AM to 10 PM, as well as a place to fill in your daily priorities. Finally, each weekly page includes one activity. For example, one of the weeks instructs you write a gratitude list every day. Another encourages you to send a thank you note to three people who have made a positive impact on your life.
Possibly my favorite feature that is unique to this planner is the blank notebook pages at the back. I used to find myself carrying around a planner AND a notebook, so I specifically wanted a planner where I could find the notebook built in.
So far I haven’t found anything I don’t like about this planner.
I really do love this planner. It’s been a few years since I found a planner that I was super excited about. The Nomatic Planner definitely fits that criteria!
If you’re a productivity junkie like I am, you’ve probably heard of the productivity planner before. The Productivity Planner is a tool that helps you to both minimize AND prioritize the number of tasks on your to-do list. It incorporates the Pomodoro Technique to help you stay focused for small pockets of time to accomplish all of the tasks on your list.
The primary feature of the Productivity Planner is the daily page. Each daily pages provides a space to list your single most important task of the day, two secondary tasks of importance, and two additional tasks. Alongside each task is a Pomorodo tracker to keep track of how much time the task has taken you.
The daily page also features a small section for notes to use for whatever you’d like. At the bottom of each page is a place to rate your productivity for the day on a scale of 1-10.
Finally, each page includes an inspirational quote to help motivate and inspire you.
There is a space for weekly planning to list the most important tasks you hope to accomplish that week.
There is a weekly review section to help you track your weekly wins, what fell through the cracks, and what you learned.
The Productivity Planner is meant for prioritizing your daily tasks, but it’s not really meant for scheduling or long-term planning. There is no monthly calendar page. If you’re someone who keeps a calendar, you would need to use this planner in conjunction with another calendar tool.
I’ve used the Productivity Planner and love it for what it’s for. And I would love to use it. However, it doesn’t offer everything I need most in a planner.
For someone who uses a digital calendar to plan their schedule and are only looking for a planner to help manage daily tasks, this is hands-down your best bet.
The Passion Planner is meant to help you narrow down your goals and simplify your life by focusing on what’s really important. It also helps focus on positivity and gratitude. Think of it as a planner/journal combo.
The planner is available in three options: dated yearly (January – December), dated academic (August – July), or un-dated.
The planner comes in a variety of colors.
The planner includes weekly layouts with a daily schedule, to-do lists, and notetaking.
The monthly reflection pages will ask you questions to focus on both your productivity and your mindset. The monthly layouts include a calendar and space for project planning and notetaking.
The big thing that sets the Passion Planner apart from others is the Passion Roadmap. It’s a layout where you plan what you want to accomplish in three months, one year, three years, and in your lifetime. Then you choose ONE of your shorter-term goals to create a passion plan for, where you map out the actions you’ll take to reach that goal.
I don’t think there are any big downsides to this planner. My personal complaint was the lack of blank notebook pages.
Of the planners I’m talking about in this post, I think the Passion Planner is MOST similar to the planner I actually purchased, the Nomatic Planner. The only reason.
The big reason the Nomatic Planner won over the Passion Planner was the fact that the Passion Planner didn’t include the blank notebook pages at the back.
If you need more help with goal-planning and don’t need the notebook pages, I would choose the Passion Planner.
The Full Focus Planner is a newer one. It was created by Michael Hyatt (he’s a productivity guru, so I’m a big fan). Each planner actually only covers 90 days, so you would have to purchase a new one every quarter. Michael Hyatt claims this to be less overwhelming and more productive.
Each planner starts with a set of pages to plan your annual goals and make notes on your motivation, the next steps, and your reward if you reach the goal.
The planner has monthly calendar layouts to help with planning ahead.
A page for rolling quarters allows you to plan several months in advance.
There is a page to plan your ideal week, so you can refer back later.
Each daily layout has a space to write your top three tasks, followed by any other tasks you want to accomplish. Each daily page also has a notes page, which is a nice addition that I would find really useful.
There are pages to plan your daily rituals for your morning, workday startup, workday shutdown, and evening.
There are pages to review each week and plan for the week ahead based on what worked the week before.
Hands down, the biggest drawback of this planner is the price. $39.99 is a bit high for an annual planner, so it’s pretty extreme for a quarterly planner.
Also, there is so much in this planner that I think a lot of the features would go unused for me.
The Full Focus Planner offers so much and if it wasn’t so expensive, I would have considered it.
It’s also important to note that investing in yourself is important. However, it’s also important to know which investments pay off the most for you. Time management is NOT my biggest struggle, so I don’t believe it would be worth the money for me to invest in this planner. However, for some people, this planner would be well worth the annual investment. It’s just about knowing yourself.
Erin Condren is definitely one of the most recognizable names in the planner world. The Erin Condren LifePlanner has been super popular for years. The business has exploded to include tons of different types of planners, planner accessories, planner sticks, and other office supplies. It’s a bright and colorful company.
The planner includes a basic monthly calendar layout for each month.
You can choose between three options for the daily layout: vertical, horizontal, or hourly.
There is a page to plan for goals and dreams for the year.
There’s a section for notes in the back.
There are SO many ways you can customize your Erin Condren LifePlanner using the accessories and stickers on their website.
The first obvious downside to this planner is the price. $55+ is a LOT to pay for a planner that doesn’t offer any features you can’t find in another planner.
The other downside for me is the size. I want to be able to fit my planner in any purse. It needs to be easily transportable. The Erin Condren LifePlanners are quite large and seem like kind of a hindrance to carry around all day.
The Erin Condren planners are so popular, but I would probably never buy them.
It’s a VERY basic planner. If basic is what you’re looking for, you can find unlimited other options that will be significantly cheaper.
If you’re really looking for extra productivity tools, this planner has none.
The bullet journal is a little different from everything else on this list because it’s not an actual planner. A bullet journal is more of a planning method that you can do in literally any blank journal or notebook.
The original bullet journal system is inherently simple. It’s simply a method for logging your daily tasks, events, and notes.
The bullet journal system is, at its core, minimalist.
There are other pages you can include such as a future log or monthly log for noting future events.
You can create a page for logging just about anything. Here are some common examples:
Food Log or Meal Plan
Monthly reviews, and way, way, way more
Bullet journals have gotten to be really trendy and there are people who use it more as a creative outlet, spending many hours per week on it.
If you’re looking for a tool to help you be MORE productive, this may not be it unless you really intend to stick to the original minimalist bullet journal method.
Ranging from next to nothing for a regular notebook to $20+ for a nicer journal.
I would consider myself an organized and productive person MOST of the time, but I can also procrastinate like nobody’s business from time to time. What is especially frustrating is when I procrastinate on tasks that are SUPER easy, and that I know are going to take me no time at all! Enter: the One Minute Rule.
How to Use the One-Minute Rule to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done
What is the One Minute Rule?
I first heard about the One Minute Rule on one of my FAVORITE podcasts, Happier with Gretchen Rubin (if you’re looking for personal development podcasts, definitely check this one out).
The rule is super simple. Any task that you can finish in one minute or less, you do right away. For example, putting your shoes away as soon as you get home, or making the bed first thing in the morning. Both take less than one minute, and later you’ll be super glad you did them!
The One Minute Rule is an easy place to start when you’re looking for productivity and personal development tips, because it’s just SO simple to accomplish, and takes almost no time (one minute or less).
If you really follow it, I can almost guarantee you’ll notice that your home is cleaner and less cluttered all the time because those dishes don’t have a chance to pile up!
How I Use the One Minute Rule
As someone who preaches batching tasks, it doesn’t seem like I would be a proponent of the One Minute Rule. But there are definitely situations where I find it to be super useful!
I most often use the One Minute Rule when it comes to housekeeping. One big example of this is the dishes. If I use a coffee cup, it takes me almost as much time to open the dishwasher and put it in there as it does to put it in the sink, so I try to be diligent about doing that.
I also really appreciate having a bed that is made every day (partly because it looks nicer, partly because, for some reason, it’s just a lot nicer to get into bed at night when the bed is made). Since I know it takes me less than a minute, I usually try to do that when I’m the last one out of bed in the morning.
I also use the concept of the one minute rule to push myself to do things I might otherwise talk myself out of. For example, there are definitely times when I get home super late at night, and I’m exhausted and just want to fall into bed.
On those nights, it would be super easy for me to talk myself into going to bed without washing off my makeup or taking out my contacts. But then I remember that it will literally take me one minute to do those things, and I’ll feel 1000% better in the morning if I do. When I think about it that way, it’s SO much easier to talk myself into doing them.
Other Benefits of the One Minute Rule
One thing that I love about the One Minute Rule is that it’s a great way to trick yourself into getting bigger tasks done as well.
For example, let’s say I tell myself I’m just going to take one minute and clean a certain part of the apartment that is cluttered, such as the coffee table. Well once I get started, chances are I’m going to keep going until I’ve tackled all the clutter in our living area (we have an open floor plan so the kitchen, living room, and dining room are basically one big room).
Another good example of this is email. I might tell myself that I have ONE email that I know needs to be responded to and I know it’s going to take me less than a minute. But once I’ve got my inbox open, it’s SO much easier to finish organizing my inbox and reply to the rest of the emails.
Sometimes you just need that initial boost before you have the motivation you need to get a bigger task done.
There you go, my friends, that’s the one minute rule! If you find yourself procrastinating on the quick, easy tasks (and then getting super frustrated with yourself), give the one minute rule a shot. I guarantee you’ll find that you get more done and have more time to relax later!
When it comes to productivity hacks, the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) is one that is seriously overlooked but can have a serious impact on your life.
So what is the 80/20 rule? Founded by economist Vilfredo Pareto, the rule says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your actions. Pareto was only using for a few specific situations at the time, but it’s since been shown that this principle can apply to just about ANYTHING.
Here are a few examples:
Business: 20% of customers bring in 80% of the profit.
Software: Microsoft reported that by fixing the top 20% of the most reported bugs, they could eliminate 80% of problems.
Sports: 20% of exercises have 80% of the impact. Additionally, 15% of players produce 85% percent of wins.
Healthcare: 20% of patients use 80% of healthcare resources.
Crime: 20% of criminals commit 80% of crimes.
Seriously, you can apply the Pareto Principle to just about anything! Today I want to share a few examples of how you can apply the 80/20 rule to change your own life!
How to Use the 80/20 Rule to Change Your Life
Your To Do List
Does anyone else’s to-do list get cluttered up with really minor tasks that add up to take up a lot of your time, but you really don’t feel like they’re contributing to your life? Yep, that’s those 80% of the tasks on your to-do list that are probably only contributing to about 20% of your productivity. Also, try to identify the minority tasks that are making up most of your productivity!
The obvious answer here would be to eliminate the 80% of tasks that only contribute to a minority of your productivity, but in a lot of cases, these “busy work” tasks aren’t something that can be totally eliminated. However, you can probably either automate them, outsource them, or devote less time to them.
For example, if you work full-time and have a side hustle, but find you’re spending more time cleaning your home than working on your side hustle, figure out how to minimize that task. Which means either outsourcing the cleaning (hiring a cleaning service) or minimizing the cleaning (being okay with your house not being SUPER clean).
In some cases, you’re spending your precious free time on things that are not at ALL productive or necessary. For example, I used to spend a LOT of time watching TV. Usually binge-watching a show on Netflix. And this was a ton of time I wasn’t spending on my business.
Eventually, I just decided that down the road, I would be a lot more happy with myself if I could look back and see that I spent that time on something that would make a real difference in my life, like being able to make more money from my side business. That made it super easy to cut that thing that was taking up a LOT of my time and having NO positive result on my life. Now I really only watch TV when I’m spending time with my boyfriend.
The time wasters in everyone’s day are going to be different, but it all comes down to figuring out what in your daily routine is NOT making the most of your time, and figure out how to spend less time on it.
I was doing some reading up on how much of our day runs on autopilot and read from a few different sources that 40-50% of our day is made up of habits, meaning we’re running on autopilot rather than making conscious decisions.
In some ways that seems great because it means we’re cutting back on the number of decisions in a day, therefore minimizing decision fatigue.
But then when I think about it again, because it’s kind of alarming how much of an impact BAD habits can have on our lives. And since using the 80/20 we can assume that 20% of our habits are responsible for 80% of our results, it’s SUPER important that those habits be healthy ones!
Since habits are often things we do on autopilot, we might not even notice all of them. So take a few days and just try to be super mindful of what you’re doing and thinking about throughout the day. And take notes, either in a notebook or on your phone! Make note of which habits are taking up a lot of your energy, and which are having a big impact on your day.
It’s scary how a few bad habits can have a major impact on your life. One example for me was smoking. I didn’t spend a significant portion of my day smoking, but there were certain times of day where I would just automatically light a cigarette out of habit, and holy smokes is that a bad habit to have!
Other habits that probably have a HUGE impact on your life but you might not think about that much are what you’re eating throughout the day, how much you’re moving, how much time you’re spending on your phone or on social media, and how much of your day you spend in a negative headspace (complaining, gossiping, feeling down about yourself, etc.).
Having a really accurate view of the habits you have will make it SO much easier to start changing any habits that need changing or maximizing the good habits you already have!
Chances are, some of the relationships in your life are bringing you a lot more happiness than others. As someone with limited free time (I have a full-time job AND have my own business) I have to be picky about how I spend my time.
When it comes to my social life, I do this by making sure I’m maximizing the 20% of relationships in my life that bring me the most happiness. Basically, this means my significant other, my family, and very few close friends.
I’m not suggesting you need to approach this the same way. For some people, their social life is a significantly more important part of their life, and they genuinely enjoy spending their time with lots of friends or getting to know new ones. That’s totally fine! It’s not about following hard and fast rules, it’s about knowing what makes YOU happy and contributes to your life and doing more of that.
Take a look around your home at your possessions and ask yourself two questions:
Does this item bring me happiness?
Do I regularly use this item?
Chances are you only answer yes to both of those questions for about 20% of your items (though it’s entirely possible they weren’t the same items).
Last year I moved from a three-bedroom house to a studio apartment. As you can imagine, there definitely was going to be room for ALL of my belongings in the apartment, so I had some serious eliminating to do. Pretty much anything that didn’t cause me to answer YES to one of the two questions above had to go.
I’m not necessarily saying you should immediately discard anything that doesn’t fit into one of the two questions, but those questions can definitely be a guide when it comes to decluttering your home, as well as purchasing new items in the future. If it doesn’t make you happy and you’re not going to use it regularly, do you REALLY need it?
When I first started trying to make money from my blog, I learned everything I could about growing my blog and tried just about every piece of advice I read. Some of them worked and helped me get my business to where they are today. Some were a HUGE waste of time and did very little (if not nothing) to grow my business.
Honestly, it took me way too long to start being really critical about how I was spending my time in my business. I have VERY limited time to spend on it, and I need to be really picky, but I wasted a lot of time in the first couple of years.
Now I look really critically at every single task and ask myself a simple question. Is this going to increase revenue for my business? If the answer is no, then it gets put on the back burner to make room for tasks that WILL increase revenue in my business. And honestly, most of the little tasks I was wasting money on were NOT increasing my revenue.
If you have a business, take a hard look at the tasks you’re doing every month and figure out what 20% of tasks are ACTUALLY making a big difference in making money, and which aren’t. Minimizing those 80% tasks will save you a TON of time and make space for the 20%.
Where Else Can You Apply the 80/20 Rule?
These are just a few areas of your life where you might apply the 80/20 rule, but I guarantee there are others where you can apply it!
Consider the different categories of your life (relationships, career, money, personal development, home, etc.) and take note of any imbalances you find. Keep in mind that the majority of your results are coming from a minority of your actions, so figure out what actions you can do MORE of to see bigger results in the areas you want to.
If you devote MORE time to the 20% of actions that see results, you’ll see even MORE results!
It’s amazing how changing or maximizing a MINORITY of the actions you take can have such a serious impact on your results! But now that you’ve seen a bunch of examples of the 80/20 rule at work, it’s super easy to see how it can apply to your own life.
I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know your big takeaways from this post and what part of your life you can really see the 80/20 rule at work.
When you’re juggling multiple things in your life (for example, a full-time job, a side hustle, school, a family, etc.) it can seem like your to-do list is pretty much overflowing, and prioritizing tasks can feel pretty impossible. That’s how I felt for years as I balanced all of the responsibilities I had.
Everything feels urgent and you don’t know where to start! In this post I’m sharing the tips you NEED to teach you how to prioritize tasks when everything seems super urgent.
In this post, I’m sharing some of the best tips that will help you to prioritize your tasks, even when everything on your to-do list seems important.
How to Prioritize Tasks
Make a To-Do List
I tend to get really stressed and feel super disorganized when I’ve got a bunch of ideas and mental notes floating around in my head, so step one for me is always getting everything down on a to-do list. I just like to have the visual representation of everything I need to get done, and that also ensures I don’t forget anything!
I write a daily to-do list every day that is filled with small, manageable tasks that need to get done that day. I also keep a big picture to-do list of all the projects I want to get done long-term, whether they be for my business or for me personally. And all of those tasks from the big picture to-do list will eventually make their way onto a daily to-do list to be finished.
When you’ve got a huge project to take on, you can’t really just throw it on the to-do list as is and expect that it’s going to get done. That’s because big projects are usually made up of tons of small tasks.
When I’m figuring out what tasks need to get done to accomplish my big project, I like to work backward. What is the final result going to look like? And what do I need to do right before that? And before that?
Sometimes when you’re starting a new project, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Working backward is a great way to tackle it because you can start with your final goal and use that to figure out where you need to start.
I love to plan and prefer to go into a project having as much planned out ahead of time as possible, so what I’m about to say might seem a bit counterintuitive. However…it is possible to over plan. There comes a point when your time spent planning just really isn’t productive anymore, and you’d be better off just diving into the project.
I notice that the projects I tend to over plan on are those that I’m anxious about starting, and I’m really just using the planning process as a form of procrastination. But if you’ve got an overflowing to-do list and hardly enough time to get everything done, you really don’t have time for procrastination.
What might be more beneficial is to ask yourself why you’re procrastinating. I’ve taken on really huge projects that I was excited about, but also super nervous, and I was procrastinating because I was worried about failing.
I’ve also taken on projects that I wasn’t excited about and it turns out, really didn’t matter that much for my business. If it’s the latter, consider just ditching the project altogether and freeing up some room on your to-do list!
Separate Urgent from Non-Urgent Tasks
Just because everything on your list is important does not mean everything on your list is urgent. When you’re really in a time crunch, some of those tasks that are important in the long-term but not really urgent may need to be postponed until you have more time to get to them.
Tasks that are important are those that are going to have a long-term impact on your life, your job, your business, etc. Those that are urgent are time-sensitive. They have a deadline and need to be done soon. The tasks that are urgent as well as important trump those that are just important.
The best way to separate the urgent from the non-urgent is by using a handy tool called the Eisenhower Matrix.
Prioritize the Task That Will Have the Greatest Result
If all the tasks are important, think about which will have the most significant impact. Let’s say I’m working on my to-do list for my business and have a bunch of super important tasks to get done.
Once I’ve crossed off the time-sensitive ones, I’m left with a bunch of tasks that are important, but don’t necessarily need to be done that day. If there’s a task that will probably impact my business income the most, I’m probably going to start with that one!
Basically, rather than thinking of the importance of each individual task, think of the end result of each task and figure out which of those results is most important to you.
Consider Taking Something Off the List
While everything on your to-do list might seem important, be honest with yourself about whether or not it all really is. Maybe there’s something that’s on your list because you think it’s something you should be doing, but it really isn’t important to you. Or maybe there’s something that seemed important to you at the time you put it on your list, but it no longer is.
Removing something from my to-do list always makes me a bit anxious. I feel like once I’ve written it down, I’ve committed to it. But it’s totally okay to take things off the list, and if it wasn’t really important to you anyways, then you’ll just feel better after you remove it.
Seriously, getting your life organized is no small feat. And it’s ALL about knowing your priorities and sticking to them no matter WHAT.
These tips are sure to help you get your priorities in order. I would love for you to leave me a comment and let me know what your biggest struggles are when it comes to productivity!