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A topic I always hated. I was never good at being productive. I used to procrastinate all of the time, especially when I had to do a presentation or homework for school.
But, recently my life has changed.
It was a few months ago when I discovered Natalie Bacon’s blog (nataliebacon.com). I not only became obsessed with her (I freakin’ love this woman she is so inspiring and motivational) but also with productivity, time-management, business stuff, etc.
Since then I have literally read every blog post of her, listened to tons of podcasts about personal development (among them thelifecoachschool podcast from Brooke Castillo, whom I adore) and I have to say I became pretty damn good at living my best life.
Producing, getting things done, organization, managing my thoughts, getting better at my business, I love all of these things now and I can’t wait to share with you what has worked for me.
That’s why I want to share my top 12 tips on how to become more productive when you are a pretty lazy person like I used to be. Some of these methods are inspired by Natalie, Brooke, other podcasts and my beloved ProductivityPlanner.
Let’s get into it!
Planning is, in my opinion, the most important compound when it comes to productivity. It requires the most advanced part of our brain – the prefrontal cortex. It is the part of our brain, which manages our thoughts, plans ahead, sets goals, reflects, and visualizes.
Whenever we don’t plan ahead our primitive brain takes over.
Guess what this bitch is responsible for 😀 It seeks comfort and avoids suffering and pain.
It used to be very helpful, when we were primitives because it would be in a constant fight and flight mode, it would question everything, turn anxiety on, when predators were in sight and avoid suffering by doing these things.
Sounds familiar, huh? My brain is always like “Do I really wanna do this? This is way too scary! Is this the right thing for me? Ahhhh I can’t do this. Wait, let me just stay in bed a little longer.”
Why is planning important?
The problem with the-being-in-the-present-moment-and-don’t-planning-ahead-kind-of-mindset is that your primitive brain will always take over and you will stay in bed a little longer than you really wanted to.
Unless you plan ahead. Because, if you have a detailed plan, you will get up at this hour, because you have a reason to get up.
And not only this. You simply don’t have to think about it too long. Or question why you want to get up so early.
How to plan
Just a few words about the actual planning. Hope you are still with me 🙂
I use my google calendar and my productivity planner for this.
- On google calendar, I plan all of my appointments, the tasks I have to do for the day, my workouts, quality time with friends, even self-care time and breaks. I plan everything up to the hour, so I will never be in a state of “blah, I wonder what I should do now”.
- I plan out my week precisely on Sunday evening.
- Every morning I open my google calendar to check what I will do this day.
- I use my productivity planner for planning out my entire to-do list and what exactly I have to do in a specific task.
2. Wake up earlier
I just recently created m the perfect morning routine for me.
I get up at 6 o’clock.
Then I shower and get ready for the day.
Next, I make myself a cup of coffee, because coffee is life. Then I blog for 2 hours until I have to go to the gym, UNI, appointments, my part-time job or my PT course.
It allows me to be doing something I love before my actual “work” day starts. And this makes me happy and more productive.
Plus, I find that my mind is the most focused and clear in the morning right after I wake up.
3. Use the productivity planner
I just recently got my productivity planner and it boosted my productivity, like crazy.
- Every day you have a blank to-do list, which you have to fill with the top 5 things you need to do that day.
- You have to prioritize the most important things and do them at first.
- You can also track your time you needed, using the “Pomodoro technique”, which I will explain later on.
- At the end of the day, you give yourself a productivity score from 1 to 10.
And the best thing: every day there is a new inspiring quote. I love it.
4. Measure based on results, not time
This was a game changer for me.
Instead of writing in my calendar or to-do list “Blog for 2 hours” I now create a detailed action list on what I have to do in these 2 hours blogging. For example: Write 1 new blog post in 1 hour. Respond to XY email.
That way I get up, look at my list and know exactly what I have to do in the next 2 hours. Production guarantee.
Why does this work? Because we tend to get overwhelmed and confused easily. With a detailed plan, you get more things done.
5. Treat yourself like your boss
What I mean by this is that you should treat your responsibilities or the things you have to do for your own business, career or yourself, just like you would, if your Boss told you to.
If we work for someone we respect or even are afraid of, we would do anything for them. It is way easier for us to actually get the things done if our boss told us so, then if we ourselves planned to do so.
Respect and actually stick to your calendar, your tasks, and plans.
Another good way to do so I learned from Brooke. Ask yourself “How can I help you?” or “How can I help you get the things you want?” Be your own employee. If that makes sense.
6. Don’t multitask
People are not capable of doing two things simultaneously. Period.
You may be doing two things and it works, but actually, you are only getting half of the results.
Your brain has to switch from task to task, from one way of focus to the other and this itself is really energy consuming.
It is way better to do one thing at a time and only focus on this. When you are finished do the next thing.
7. Don’t overdo your to-do list
Prioritize. What is the single most important task you have to do today? What is the one thing you feel most uncomfortable doing? Do this at first.
The next 2 more things are of secondary importance. You can also add another 2 things to the additional tasks.
However, I wouldn’t recommend a lot more tasks than 5, because one can get overwhelmed so easily. It is better to have a few, accomplish them, feel proud of oneself and then think about adding another. Rather than having 100 things on your to-do list already feeling overwhelmed and never accomplishing a single one.
8. No distractions
The next 5 tips are about the work environment and how to get things done in the most effective way.
So, the first is obvious. No distractions. Let people around you know that you are working.
I don’t know about your people, but my family always used to interrupt me with some pretty annoying stuff. That’s why it’s important to tell everyone around you and create an isolated bubble. Haha.
9. Phone on airplane mode
Put your damn phone away. For once.
I always have it in airplane mode or in a drawer, as long as I am blogging or doing something I really need to focus on. As soon as the phone is on my desk my focus is gone.
10. Track your time – use the “Pomodoro” technique
This is a technique the productivity planner uses for time tracking. The term “Pomodoro” is, because some guy once tracked his time on a timer, which looked like a tomato.
- Decide on a clear task you want to focus on that will take at least 25 minutes
- Start a timer for 25 minutes (One Pomodoro)
- Don’t take a break for the whole 25 minutes. Go all in
- Once the timer ends it’s time for a 5 minutes break (and a mini celebration)
- Then start the next Pomodoro
This technique is really effective. Firstly, because giving yourself a timeframe, in general, helps to stay in focus, because you know you have to finish by the end of the time frame.
Secondly, because 25 minutes is the perfect time-frame to hold your focus. Moreover, the breaks in between will keep you fresh and clear minded.
11. Use breaks effectively
Speaking about 5-minute breaks, use them to clear your mind! And how is this done? NOT by scrolling through social media.
I like to stand up, move a little, do some stretches or close my eyes and take a few deep breaths to calm my mind. Sometimes I will get up and get myself some coffee or snacks.
Which leads us straight to the last tip, SNACKS. What we have been all waiting for, right? 🙂
- Always have some water beside you. Keeping you hydrated.
- Also have some tea or coffee, if you prefer. I love coffee, because it has this I’m-going-to-work-my-ass-off kind of vibes.
- Here and there get some nuts, fruits or some kind of healthy snack to keep your mind focused.
Thank you so much for reading!
This has been a little bit different, but I loved writing it. I think I will be writing more about personal development and how to get the things you want in your life.
Hope you have a productive day!