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.”
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.
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.
Top 3 Priorities:
- Write one blog post
- Update homepage with new graphics and widgets
- 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.
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?