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I create holistic, sustainable paper goods for socially-conscious changemakers.
Shop owner, online educator, and activist. Fan of hydration and organization.
Ever feel like time just slips away from you? I used to start the day with great intentions and maybe even an action plan — but then I’d find myself staring at the computer screen or procrastinating (hello, Pinterest!). Turns out that getting sh*t done actually requires you to be a bit more proactive than that. Over the years I’ve discovered better methods for getting more done each day — and it doesn’t include waking up a 4 AM or chaining yourself to a desk. Just a few tweaks to your habits and routines can revolutionize your efficiency and productivity. Ready to hear ’em? Let’s go.
In the morning I like to assess my day and get a feel for what it will look like. I want to know when I have bigger chunks of time for more focused work and when my day will be interrupted for meetings or appointments. Once I have this info I can create a rough schedule for the day. I make sure to write in things I have to do, like walk my dog three times or run an errand. I don’t make a super detailed schedule, I just jot down rough timeframes and what type of work I’ll be doing when. This helps me visualize what my day will look like so I can avoid getting thrown off track by an unexpected interruption.
It’s also important to allow time for regular breaks throughout the day. While you might enjoy having one 2-3 hour stretch of really focused work to churn out some podcast episodes or blog posts, your focus and creativity benefit from short, intentional breaks. I purposefully schedule dog walking or a quick trip to the grocery store throughout the day to ensure I get up, move around, and have time to clear my head.
I used to be the type of person who was trying to plow through her to-do list on a steady diet of iced coffee and bananas. So many of us, especially women, are not providing our bodies with the fuel we need to actually stay focused and productive throughout the day. Then we act surprised when we are low-energy zombies with mood swings! I won’t even dive into how this diet-culture mentality plays into the oppression of women, but what I will say is that if you want to get more done, you need to eat enough and stay hydrated. Both are vital to ensuring your brain is functioning properly — literally! Just a 3% decrease in your hydration can result in up to 50% loss in your productivity. When we deeply hydrate our entire fascial system we can think faster, focus longer, and even have more innovative and creative ideas!
A few simple shifts you can make in this department are to drink at least 12 ounces of water within 20 minutes of waking up (try my Morning Water recipe!), focus on eating more plants throughout the day, and avoid being sedentary for long stretches. A simple change like putting your phone across the room or removing the garbage bin from your desk are great tricks to get yourself out of your chair regularly — which helps keep you alert and energized. You can also try my 2-week online hydration course if you need help creating hydrating habits.
No, I’m not talking about Asana or Trello or whatever your Team Lead is encouraging you to use this week. Those tools are amazing and absolutely changing the way we work —- but they can also be catastrophic for our productivity and focus. You see, when we actually write things down on paper, we provide valuable motor feedback to our brain to help it process the task and create ownership so you are more likely to complete it.
Try keeping your big-picture strategy or master task list in a digital planning service (I use and love Microsoft To-Do), but make time each day to parse information out of “the cloud” and onto paper. Not only do you get that beneficial motor feedback, but now you can avoid the distraction of going in and out of those apps during the day because the only information you need is written on paper. At the end of the day, you can reopen those services and reconcile them with your to-do list.
I can’t stress this enough: do not entirely replace paper planning with digital planning. They should work together and complement each other. Writing something down makes you 40% more likely to get it done!
I sold you on the importance of making a to-do list, but is there a right way to make one? For the most part, you should do what works for you, but if I had one tip to share with you it would be this. Instead of putting difficult or urgent tasks at the top of your list, try starting your day with “three easy wins”.
These should be three tasks that take you 10 minutes or less each to complete. They should be relatively simple and low-stress — bonus points if they are something you can be excited about doing (like organizing your desk drawer, changing your computer wallpaper, ordering a new business/marketing book, arranging a team happy hour, etc). Having these at the top of your list should help you wake up feeling motivated and excited to start your day, and completing them will give your brain a little dose of achievement hormones to create momentum that will carry you into harder tasks.
Ever notice how hopping from one task to the other wastes a lot of time (and energy!)? You have to get out equipment, start up specific software, or arrange a set of tabs in your browser. More importantly, you have to get into the mood and mindset for that specific task. The mindset and equipment I need for churning out blog posts is vastly different from shooting brand photography!
Try batching similar work together so that you waste less time “booting up” and can be more efficient. It doesn’t have to be the exact same task but can be tasks that require a similar setup or mindset and you can split these up by day or hourly chunks. For example, maybe Mondays are a writing day and Tuesdays are for podcasting. Or have your mornings more focused on computer work while your afternoons are more for hands-on, creative projects like photography or fulfilling orders. Jumping from one task to another wastes a lot of time, and you’ll be shocked how much more you get done (and how much deeper you focus!) when you batch your work.
These five shifts might seem simple, but the difference they can make in your days (and your life!) can be massive. Ready to implement them?
If you’re looking for a planner that will help organize all of this in one place, check out my best-selling planner, The Daily Page. It helps you prioritize six vital aspects of wellness alongside your to-do list to naturally increase your energy, focus, and productivity. It helps you create a to-do list, while also helping you plan meals, track hydration, establish self-care routines and so much more! You can take 10% off your entire purchase with the code GETITDONE at checkout. Head over to my shop to check out the sustainable paper goods I’ve designed to help you optimize your day!
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