1. Write it down in one place!
I love my iPhone, but any smartphone will do. My calendar sync’s with my computer, my phone, my iPad and anywhere that I have access to iCloud. Personally, as a tech junkie, I love this! I used to carry around a datebook, but I found that when I wasn’t looking at it I would miss important meetings or events. And heaven forbid that I leave it behind when I went somewhere, I was totally lost. The thing was quite literally my brain. Now my iPhone is my brain, or maybe more correctly, it is my personal assistant. It sends reminders, alerts and sync’s with all my other devices that it’s hard not to see when something is coming up. Or, in my case, when I am out of time to work on something. But I can’t tell you how many business people I know that use their phone, a datebook, a calendar at home and then they are constantly double booking themselves and stressed out about where they might have written it down. So pick one place and make it work for you. If you’re not a tech junky, check out one of my favorite bloggers Simple As That’s Printable Daily To Do Lists. I forewarn you though, be prepared to be inspired if you check out her blog!
2. Put it on your calendar
So this might sound like the first one, but when I said to write it down in one place, that was for organization. Put it on your calendar means actually block out time in your schedule to do something. This is not limited to work activities. If you want to make something a priority, put it in your schedule. It will help to keep you from booking something else, but it will actually make you do it. I put time in my schedule to read, spend time with my husband, and write this blog. Because if I don’t, I simply won’t do it.
3. Prepare meals for the whole week on Sunday. (or whatever day works for you!)
It’s really easy to get into a pattern of eating junk food because we forgot to take the time to eat something and then we are so hungry that we don’t have enough mental energy to prepare something. If you prepare your snacks and lunches for the whole week it’s really easy to just grab something from the refrigerator and go. I also set a timer on my phone to remind me to eat. I know, you think I’m crazy, but I have a tendency to get working on something and just power through meal times. Then I am so hungry I make poor choices or have difficulty focusing on the next task. Check out Buzzfeed’s Clean Eating Challenge if you need a jumpstart, or load your favorite recipes and snacks in Plan to Eat and it will print you a grocery list.
4. Workout in the morning
I know how you feel, I resisted the urge to work out in the morning for years! I liked decompressing at the end of the day by working out my stress in the gym. But as my busy life got out of control I started skipping the gym and my health suffered. If you start out with a walk, exercise, the gym at the beginning of the day you are much less likely to skip doing it. If you can’t afford a gym membership, go for a walk around the block. It stimulates mental energy and makes you feel better! Here is my 4-Day workout log.
5. Schedule difficult tasks for when you are most alert
It’s true, we are human! And the truth is, we aren’t equally productive throughout the whole day. We have a window of time (for most people in the morning) where we do our best critical thinking. Block out time in your schedule to do things that need your full attention during those times. Don’t check your email, don’t answer you phone, and don’t get distracted by Facebook. (See above – plan time in your schedule for these activities) If you work for yourself, your clients will wait for you to call them back. They don’t know you’re in the office. It’s a great way to get more done in less time. Like the phrase “work smarter, not harder”. So if you’re like me, you hit a wall around 3pm. I never schedule any detailed work to happen during that time. That’s the time I love to meet with clients, because they are excited and upbeat, so it wakes me up and energizes me to finish out my day. So take some time one week and listen to your body’s natural rhythm. Figure out when you are most productive and start blocking out time to do the hard tasks then. If you pick the one thing that has to get done that day, and do it during those hours, you’ll feel energized and your stress levels will go down because you aren’t procrastinating.
6. Clean off your desk at the end of the day and make a to do list for the next day!
It’s so much easier to walk out of my office, close the door, and leave the explosion on my desk behind. But then I stress about all the things I have to do that week, and when I’m going to do them. If I clean up my desk and make a to do list, I am mentally leaving my brain at work and am free to do fun things with my family after the day is over. I’ve created a plan for what needs to get done and I feel happy. And when I clean my desk I find notes I left for myself that are reminders of things that need to get done and have to get on the to do list. It’s liberating really, just try it.
7. Schedule time to return phone calls, check email, or handle social media!
In today’s technology era we get sucked into “constant availability”. The problem with that, is our tasks never have our full attention. It takes twice as long to get something done if an email comes in and divides our attention. Email also causes us to be in a reactive mode. We just have to answer this question or solve that problem. The truth is, there are very few things that need your immediate attention. So shut off the distractions and get ready to see a bump in your productivity!
8. Set goals and review them daily
And I will leave you with this gem. Set goals, otherwise you might find you’re at the top of the ladder and it’s leaning on the wrong building. (Dave Ramsey) That’s not just a metaphor for business, although I own my own business. The same rules apply to life at home. If I didn’t set a goal to spend time with my friends (who are not business associates) once a week, it just wouldn’t happen. And then I’d wake up one day and wonder why none of my friends called me anymore. They would just think I’m too busy to spend time with them and they would move on. So set goals, and remind yourself often what they are, because we are now a quarter of the way through the year, are you on track with your goals?