Time to NAIL IT…
Being the planning lover that I am, I can’t say that I hit 2020 running and you just *know* that that’s not my style. Mark was ill with flu, I was jet lagged and struggling with my usual 6am alarm and I’d cancelled more workout classes than you can shake a stick at. It was a slow start and with my love for organisation and impatient nature (GUYS I’M SO FUN TO BE AROUND), my need for getting back on it was there but my brain and body just couldn’t keep up. One month back though and everything has finally clicked back into place. Mark has stopped coughing up his lungs 38 times a night and is back to eating us out of house and home again, I woke up at 5:30am the other day and managed to keep my eyes open till bedtime and I’ve managed to work out multiple times a week and have weirdly enjoyed it. So today I thought I’d share the five steps that I’ve been putting place to ensure maximum productivity every week; Monday through till Friday. And seeing as we got back from Sri Lanka yesterday and our body clocks are currently set to afternoon-mode right now, I think I might need this post today more than ever…
P.S) Sri Lanka travel guide coming your way soon!
PUT IN THE PREP. There’s nothing more satisfying than setting down to start work on a Monday morning and already have your to-do list laid out and ready to be ticked off. If I’ve had a productive week previously then I’ll usually set aside 30 minutes or so the previous Friday to sit down and have a look through the next week’s plans in order to put a to-do together to tackle, if not then I’ll dedicate the first section of the day on a Monday morning to it. Here’s how I put it together.
– HIGH PRIORITY TASKS. Allocate set days for you to complete your high-priority tasks for the following week. Make sure you’re being realistic with your timings and you’re giving yourself long enough to get the most important jobs done to the best of your ability. I tend to set myself just three to five medium to larger size tasks a day.
– LOWER PRIORITY TASKS. Then I set about buffering those already full days with items that need to get done, but perhaps aren’t so pressing. I tend to sandwich these things in-between meetings or events when I know I might not have so much time on my hands.
– ERRANDS. Instead of adding in errands and more life admin tasks to my to-do list I have them on the opposite page in my planner in a list, so I can eat away at them throughout the week. They are really handy when I’m feeling spent for the day, but still want to get something done – that’s when I tend to chip away at them most.
– SOCIAL STUFF & EXERCISE. Finally I look at how my week is panning out – hopefully with my high priority tasks given the attention they deserve, low priority tasks in there too so that I’m up to date with all my editorial work around that week’s meetings with an errand buffet to pick at when I have time – and then I add in social stuff and exercise where possible. Always booking onto classes where I can to give me a much higher chance of actually completing them.
WORK WITH YOUR PRODUCTIVITY LEVELS. I know I’m always harping on about this, but if you can, factor your natural productivity levels into your planning. For me I’m an early bird so I will always weight my days so that I do the meatier tasks in the morning, trying to schedule mornings at home and keeping them free from conference calls or meetings, leaving the afternoons for those things and any tasks which don’t require as much brain power. These days I prefer an evening workout as that way I don’t disrupt my productive mornings and they give me a nice distinction between work and home life too.
KEEP UP WITH OTHER LIFE STUFF. I will always feel like I’ve had a more productive week if the household side of things has run smoothly as well. So I meal prep where possible (blog post on that here) making big batches of dinners so that I don’t have to cook every night of the week, ensure that Mark and I keep on top of our weekly cleaning schedule and try to keep on top of clothes washing and putting away. Then there are the self-care cogs like leaving the house at least once a day to get some fresh air, reading my book in the evening, trying to get an early-ish night, not ditching my spin and Reformer classes – you get the gist. They are all little building blocks that once you start to work them into your life so you do them without even thinking, can help free up time and decrease your stress levels so you can run at 100%.
KNOW HOW TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF. This is perhaps the hardest part of productivity – procrastination and how to find the motivation to slap yourself out of it. If I’m having a tough time getting in the mood to complete a task then I switch it up, tackling something that’s completely different in order to try and jump start my productivity levels again. If that doesn’t work then a short 20 minute walk round the block often helps, or giving myself something that I can do whilst listening to a podcast or music, like photo editing or adding links to video description boxes to let my mind wander a bit and have a break. Often I find that I’m usually way more productive when a deadline is looming too, so sometimes getting something done super early just doesn’t put a rocket up my arse in the same way. Basically it’s trial and error, but have a few methods up your sleeves to see what sticks that day.
GIVE YOURSELF SOME BREATHING SPACE. I might have written a book about life organisation, but that doesn’t mean that I always tick everything off my to-do list by the end of the week. In fact, the reality is far from it. I’m chronically optimistic about what I can get done in a day, so will always over-plan and ultimately leave myself with not enough time on the clock to get the task in hand completed. Because I know that will be the case nine times out of ten I now force myself to take Friday afternoon to work through the backlog. The motivation is that if I do keep up with my tasks then I have a bit of spare time on my hands come Friday 2pm, but if I haven’t then I should in theory have a bit of time to complete them before the working week is over.
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Photos by Mark Newton