Month: February 2019

  • 9 Tips For An Insanely Productive Day

    Hey there, fellow procrastinators! If you’re anything like me you can probably identify with feeling completely overwhelmed. There is so much to do and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do ALL.THE. THINGS.

    I get it. I struggled a lot last year with setting meaningful goals and sticking with a productive schedule. I used to get so overwhelmed that I just gave up and turned on the TV so I wouldn’t have to face the struggle.  Being focused and productive is hard. Especially, if you have a million things going on at the same time and just can’t figure out where to start.

    It’s not too late to change your ways though! Starting today (after implementing my tips) you will be a procrastinator no more!
     

    Time Blocking and Scheduling Results

    One of my goals for my 30 Before 30 Personal Growth Challenge was to get more done. I wanted to give time blocking a shot. I also read about scheduling results and outcomes instead of to-dos. Successful six figure blogger Natalie Bacon (yeah, I know, I talk about her a lot) schedules results instead of to-dos and her success speaks for itself.  

    “Don’t schedule ‘work on blog’ from 12pm-3pm. Instead, schedule ‘write 1 blog post’ from 12pm-3pm. You’ll force yourself to actually produce more if you schedule this way because you’ll be accountable to what’s getting done and not what you’re working on.” 

    Designate blocks of time to a specific task. This method is perfect if you have a pretty consistent schedule every week (for example, if you work full time). Here is a picture of my Google Calendar so you can see what I’m talking about. I schedule out my whole day and color code every activity to get a better overview.  

    These time blocks stay the same every week. I take some time on Sunday (see Weekly Planning – Schedule Results) to break down all the blocks and schedule results and outcomes. For example, in my Monday morning Blog time block I would put “Schedule 100 pins on Pinterest for the week.”  

    Productivity Tools

    You can’t do it all on your own. Sometimes you need a helping hand. That’s where amazing tools such as Trello and Hootsuite come in.  I love this Daily Habits + Goal Tracker Trello Board from Britt Joiner. Read more about how it works and how she uses it to create more effective habits and goals here. 

    I created my own Trello Board modeled after hers and it’s a great free tool to keep track of all my goals this year.  

    Hootsuite is great for batching your work. You can schedule out your social media posts for a whole week in advance (or even a whole month) all at once. You can also create different channels to monitor your mentions, different hashtags etc.  

    Ultimate Productivity Bundle 2019

    Focus Tools

    There are also some great tools  and apps that help you focus.  Here are my 4 favorites:

    • Brain.fm – soundtracks that boost your focus and brain activity
    • LeechBlock –  extension for web browsers designed to block time-wasting sites (hint hint – social media!)
    • Mindful Browsing – sends you reminders of how you should rather spend your time. 
    • One Big Thing– Focus on your biggest task every day


    Set your Top 3 Priorities

    Part of my daily morning routine is choosing my top 3 priorities for the day and it makes all the difference. It gives my day focus and clarity. I also set “other” goals but I make it a point not to work on them until I finish my Top 3 priorities for the day.   

    Example:

    Top 3 Priorities:

    1. Write one blog post 
    2. Update homepage with new graphics and widgets
    3. Finish Meal planning for next week

    Other (I’ll work on these AFTER I finish my top 3 priorities): 

    • Update Pinterest boards with new keywords
    • Create a new freebie from my freebie idea sheet
    • Start outline for Brand Guide post
    • Review my blogging and personal goals for 2019  

    Organize your home and workspace in 5 minutes   

    We are most productive without clutter. It may sound silly but the easiest way to start out your day right is with making your bed.

    Did you know there is a whole book about this subject? “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World”  

    Next, you can set a 5-minute timer and just start straightening up a few things around the house (most importantly your workspace). You’ll be surprised how much you can get organized and decluttered in just 5 minutes!  

    Use the Scrum Method

    I learned about this method listening to the podcast Blog It Boss It Radio by A Branch Of Holly and it changed my life. It will give you incredible focus and is a good visual tool that will show you exactly how much you’ve achieved that day.

    How it works:  

    Holly uses the goal “Setting up my website” as an example in her podcast. First, you map out all the mini goals that need to be completed for this bigger goal – register your domain, pick a theme etc. 

    Now grab a whiteboard (or a blank piece of paper) and draw three columns.  The first column will be your “Backlog” column. Write down all the different tasks you just mapped out (one per sticky note) and stick them into that column.  

    The middle column is “Doing” and the third column is “Done.” Grab the first sticky, put it in the “Doing” column and get to work. Once you completed this task, grab the sticky note and move it to the done column. Rinse and repeat with all the mini tasks until you finished your big goal.  This method makes sure you only work on one thing at a time and don’t get overwhelmed.

    Pro Tip: You can also do this with Trello  

    You can listen to the full episode here: Episode 3: 4-step time management system to help you save 10 hours a week. Check out her other episodes while you’re there! Holly has so many actionable tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs.

    Plan your day around your most productive times  

    Mornings are a great time to be creative and productive so I schedule all my most focused work (blogging) in the morning. For others, it might be midday or evenings. Whichever time of the day works best for you – don’t let that energy and focus go to waste! For your less productive times, focus on other tasks that require less brain power (such as meal prepping).
      

    Learn new things while being productive (my favorite)  

    Are you struggling to find time to take that course you’ve been wanting to take? Or to read that book you’ve had on your list for months? Just grab your headphones and listen and learn at the same time! 

    Whether it’s podcasts (check out my Top 4 Personal Development Podcasts that will change your life here) or audiobooks (Audible will give you two free audiobooks) or courses (platforms like Skillshare have online apps, just play the videos and listen away) – there is something for everyone.  

    I’ve been listening to podcasts and audiobooks for about 5 years now and I can’t tell you how many invaluable life lessons I got. And all while doing other things like driving, working out, walking my dog etc.! It makes me feel so motivated listening to others sharing their advice, perspective and stories.  

    Use the Pomodoro Technique  

    This is a pattern of 25 minutes of productivity with a 5-minute break. Set your timer for 25 minutes and during that time you have to WORK! No breaks, no distractions, just pure focus! Being disciplined and focused is much easier if you know that you only have to keep it up for 25 minutes at a time.  

    Final Thoughts

    Finally, don’t waste all your precious time trying to be perfect. I just downloaded a new quote wallpaper from my friends over at Bluchic and the message is so important: Done well is better than perfect.

    My favorite blogger Sam Laura Brown has a whole podcast series dedicated to this topic – The Perfectionist Project. Check it out to learn more about tackling perfectionism.  

    What have you done to increase your productivity? What are your biggest struggles that keep you from staying focused and productive? 

  • 10 FREE Tools I Use Every Day To Be More Productive

    Although you have to spend money on setting up your blog hosting and domain there is an abundance of free resources to help you grow your blog! Check out these 10 free tools to boost your blog performance.


    1. Keywords Everywhere

    The Keywords Everywhere extension is a free SEO keyword research tool. I use Keyword Everywhere for my Pinterest and social media posts and hashtags. Whenever you type something into the Google search bar, Keywords Everywhere will suggest other relevant keywords (you can export them into Excel, too).

    Now you have a list of hashtags or keywords that you can use in your pin description!


    2. Grammarly

    As a non-native speaker, I still make a lot of grammar mistakes. Luckily, I can do some damage control with this free little tool called Grammarly! It points out any grammatical errors you make while you type and suggests corrections and synonyms.

    You can just add an extension to Chrome and Grammarly will be with you every step of the way helping you to be a better writer <3


    3. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

    Headlines are hard! No matter how good your writing or your content is if you don’t have a good headline chances are not a lot of people will ever read your post.

    This tool will help you create the perfect title every time! Type in your headline and receive a free analysis of the overall structure, grammar, and readability of your headline. Is your headline too long? Too wordy? Does it convey positive emotion to your reader?

    The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer will tell you all that and so much more!


    4. Canva

    The holy grail of all bloggers, graphic designers, freelancers etc. You can do EVERYTHING on here for FREE! Resize images, design social media graphics, find pictures, add text, create logos, lead magnets, templates, worksheets, icons, banners etc. etc. I spent so much time on Canva and I can’t get enough of it.

    My blog and social media presence would not be nearly as good without it. It’s easy to use and they even have an app that works really well.


    5. Stock Photos!!

    I LOVE a good stock photo! Creating Pinterest and blog graphics is so much more fun (and successful) when you have a beautiful picture to use.

    There are so many photos out there that are crazy gorgeous but protected by copyrights. Unless you’re a professional photographer who takes her own blog pictures I recommend the following stock photo services that let you use their pictures for free! No attribution required either (although appreciated).

    Some of them have a search bar so you can be really specific about the image you need (for example, laptop, desk, white space, pastel etc.) and others have general themed picture packages.

    Here are some of my favorites:


    6. Yoast Seo Plugin

    This free WordPress Plugin helped me to optimize all my posts for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) from the start. It makes it so easy and breaks down every SEO element step-by-step.

    Every time you write a post you can optimize it before publishing with Yoast. Whether its meta description, slug, focus key phrase or even how easy it is to read your content – Yoast will be there to guide you through it.

    They even use sad, neutral or happy emojis to show you how well your post is doing. Easy peasy!


    7. MailChimp

    Another tool that has been with me since the beginning. Every blogger should have an email list (and use different strategies to constantly grow it).

    Collecting email addresses from your subscriber has never been easier than with MailChimp. And it’s free up to 2,000 subscribers.

    I have used MailChimp to set up my email lists, create opt-in forms and pop ups, write an email sequence and analyze click through and opening rates.

    I love how user-friendly it is and if you’re just starting out on your blogging journey this is a great alternative to paid email services such as ConvertKit.


    8. Evernote

    Evernote has been my friend ever since I bought a new laptop and decided that a subscription to Microsoft Office was too expensive. I needed a platform to write and edit my notes on and found the perfect one.

    Not only does it synchronizes all my notes with all my devices and let’s me add tags to my notes but I can also search my notes and clip content from the web directly into Evernote. My favorite writing and brainstorming tool!

    BONUS WRITING TOOLS:
    Google Docs and Google Sheets are also great alternatives to Microsoft Office products. I use Google sheets to keep track of my pin descriptions, affiliate marketing programs etc. – all for free, no pricy Microsoft Office required!


    9. Trello

    If you’ve been blogging for a while you know it can get super overwhelming to do ALL.THE.THINGS. There is just so much to do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Every month there is more and more I want to try and take on, create, write, schedule, post etc.

    Trello lets you break down all those big goals into a bunch of smaller tasks which helps with all the overwhelm. Keyword – FOCUS! I stay with one task until I finish, then I move on to the next and my focus is insane. Blog smarter not harder.


    10. Hootsuite

    One tool I plan on utilizing a lot more in the future once I figure out how to be more strategic about my social media. It’s great for batching your work since you can schedule out your social media posts for a whole week (or even month) in advance all at once and be done.

    You can also create different channels to monitor mentions, different hashtags etc.


    BONUS Social Media Tool

    Here is an essential blogging tool that has a monthly fee but offers a FREE TRIAL – Tailwind!

    Because of Pinterest (more spcifically Tailwind) I was able to drive more than 5,000 page views to my brand new blog! I now have more than 400,000 monthly viewers on Pinterest.

    Page views in December 2018: 538 (before Tailwind)
    Page views in January 2019: 5,161 (after Tailwind)

    SO WHAT MAKES TAILWIND SO AMAZING?

    Scheduling & Automation, Tailwind Tribes and features such as SmartLoop – add your Pins once and SmartLoop will re-circulate them for you indefinitely, detailed insights about your pins, impressions, followers etc. There are too many awesome tools to count.

    I wrote an entire post about How I grew my Brand New Pinterest Account to 250,000 monthly viewers in 2 months with Tailwind.

    Give Tailwind a shot. You can try it for FREE, no credit card required. It’s completely risk-free. All new users get 100 free pins. I highly recommend it (especially for new bloggers who are trying to increase their blog traffic).


    More Content:


    I hope you find these tools as useful as I do! Let me know in the comments if I missed any.