I’ve been working a lot on my productivity lately. I am now maintaining two blogs, as well as running a business, launching a Sugar Free September program, working out… oh, and being a lone parent! As well as all of this, I have a tendency towards the lazy, and will always opt to work smarter, rather than harder. I’m really into anything that can help me to be more productive with my time.
In order to stay on top of my workload without dropping things all the time or feeling overwhelmed, I’ve had to adopt some new habits. Here are a couple of things that are helping..
Keeping a Master To Do List
Rather than sit down each day and think, “right, what do I need to do today?” I’ve started using an app on my mobile to keep my to-do list. And I don’t only record the work I need to do; I record literally everything. Buy bread; call HMRC (gah); email this client; update this blog; make sure this form is returned to nursery. I’m going to write a separate blog about this, because it syncs with my calendar and is in fact revolutionising my life!
Before I discovered this app, I had several magnetic list pads from Paperchase stuck to my fridge. Each one was used for a different thing, so if I was working I would take the “work” pad down; for blogging I would pick up the “blogging” pad and so on.
Either way, it’s foolish to rely on one’s memory to remember what needs doing. Not only because even the best of us will forget something at one point or another, but because of the time you waste between pieces of work, thinking “errr, what do I need to do next… and which is the most important thing… and is there something I’ve forgotten…”
Make Use of Down Time
One really great tip I’ve picked up is to make use of down time. The time when you’re queueing at the post office or on hold on the phone, waiting for the kettle to boil or overseeing bath time. You can make use of this time by doing things like sorting through emails, organising tomorrow’s to do list, looking at your Instagram notifications or uploading or deleting old photos. These are all things we generally need to do on a regular basis to keep things organised, but we end up leaving them until they reach a “critical mass” type situation where they need to be done right now. Doing a little whenever there’s down time can really help to keep that critical mass at bay.
Know Where Your Time Goes
I’ve blogged before about an app I use called Rescue Time. It’s installed on my laptop, my mobile and my tablet and tracks where I spend my time. At any point in the day I can see where my time has been spent – but also I get an email at the end of the week to tell me how productive I’ve been. Sometimes it’s a bit of a wake-up call! But it means I’m more aware of how long I spend on social media, and how long I spend on “work” sites.
Know What You’re Aiming For
I set myself goals, and I review them regularly. If I know what I’m aiming to achieve, I can evaluate each task against that. How important is this task? Will it move me closer to one of my goals? Do I really need to do it, then? I find that having a clear focus on what I’m aiming for means I can cut out lots of the crappy tasks that actually won’t move me closer to my goals, and won’t bring me anything.
Multi-tasking doesn’t make you more productive; it makes you much less productive. If you’re working on your productivity then do one thing at a time. You might feel like you’re moving more slowly, but actually numerous studies have shown that if you do only one task at a time, you will move through your tasks more quickly and accurately than if you try to do several at the same time.
In order to avoid multi-tasking, I have to close down all the tabs on my browser, switch off the TV or radio, often turn of the sound on my mobile so that I don’t know when a notification comes in. It can be really hard to start with; there’s a habit there where you automatically reach for your mobile or go to check your emails. If you can get out of that habit though, and just get your head down, you can rip through your to do list so quickly!