I love to be productive. I’m an action-taker, a problem-solver and I love to be organised, so I find it quite easy to get a lot of things done each day. There’s plenty of other things I’m not so good at though! For those of you who have talents in other areas but struggle with getting things done, staying focused, managing your time and being productive, check out my post on 15 ways to have the most productive day ever!
1. Make a To Do List
You can prioritise the important things. It will help keep you focused on what you’ve got to do, make sure you don’t forget anything and free up your mental space by getting your thoughts out of your mind and down on paper. You can also tick things off the list as you do them, so you can feel really productive and visually track your progress!
2. Prioritise the 3 most important things
To make sure you get the most important things done, choose 3 things which are THE most important or urgent. If you make your whole list full of important or urgent things, you’re unlikely to get any of them done. If you pick just 3 then you’re much more likely to get them all done.
3. Get up early and do the most important thing first
Wake up before the rest of the house and tackle the most important job on your list first. You can get it out of the way, without any distractions and before you get side-tracked by everything that the day brings.
4. Don’t over-commit
Try not to put too much on your To Do list or overbook your diary. Schedule in some down time that’s free from commitments and allow some wiggle room with your timings in case things start late, run on longer or you hadn’t expected them to even happen in the first place.
5. Be realistic
Think about the time you’ve got available and be realistic with what you think you can achieve. If you’ve got the kids with you, allow more time than if you were on your own. If you’re pushed for time, calculate whether you’ve really got enough time to get from A to B, or complete a task properly and completely.
6. If you get stuck, move on and come back to it
If something’s more difficult than you first thought, it’s taking longer than expected or you’re just plain stuck, leave it for the moment and come back to it another time with fresh eyes and mind. Don’t spend ages struggling with it and getting nowhere. Keep it on your To Do list and revisit it when you’re feeling ready.
7. Choose the best time of day
If you get an afternoon dip in energy levels, don’t pick this time of the day to catch up on a really big task. If you’re a night owl, allocate your evenings to catching up on things to do whilst the kids are in bed, or if you’re an early riser, get it all done early in the morning. Know your body clock and what times of day you’re at your most productive and take advantage of them.
8. Plan what you can do with and without the kids
If you’ve got to do something which requires lots of focus, concentration or patience, try to pick a time when you don’t have the kids with you if at all possible. Or, try for first thing in the morning before anyone else is awake if it’s a work project or a long complicated form that needs filling out. If you need to run an errand pick a time (as far as possible) when the kids are more chilled out and not tired, irritable or hungry!
9. Batch similar errands/work
If you need a few items from the shops or to do some errands in town, plan just one trip when you can get all this done in one go, rather than individual trips. Having a list of everything you need will help so you don’t forget things and have to go back. It will save time walking to the shops or driving and finding a car park space just once in the day, rather than two or more. If you’ve got a number of emails to action or similar work tasks, try doing similar jobs in one go, rather than switching between different tasks. You can maintain focus, be in the right mental zone for that particular job and therefore be more productive.
10. Don’t waste time
The definition of wasting time is different for everyone. I like watching TV, but some people consider this a waste of time. Whereas I feel that mindlessly scrolling through social media is a waste of time, but others love it. There’s no right or wrong here! Do what is right for you but really ask yourself during the day whether what you’re doing is worth it, or could your time be better spent doing something more productive?
11. Be intentional
Whatever you choose to do in your day, think about the intention behind it. Why are you doing it, what is the purpose and who is going to benefit? If there’s no intention behind it, question whether it’s adding any value to your life and is it worth doing in the first place.
12. Stay focused
Don’t allow yourself to get distracted or side-tracked. Concentrate on the task at hand and stay focused until its complete and you can move onto the next thing.
13. Find the simplest way of doing something
I don’t mean cutting corners here! But I do mean finding the quickest, easiest and most efficient way of doing whatever needs to be done. For example, pay your bills by setting up a direct debit instead of having to go to the bank every time a bill needs to be paid. It’s much quicker doing it online and you’re less likely to forget to pay things if they’re set up to be paid automatically.
14. Big tasks vs little tasks
Decide whether it’s better for you to knock out 2 really big and important tasks or get 5 smaller niggly ones out of the way. The smaller ones might be filling up your To Do list and the 2 very important big tasks might get lost amongst the list of smaller tasks. Look at your To Do list and assess which needs your attention first that day.
15. Be flexible
Problems arise and the unexpected happens, especially when you have kids! Be flexible with your plans so that you can adapt to the situation without having a meltdown if it all goes wrong!
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