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Feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Like you’re always (always!) working, but don’t seem to get everything done… or can’t quite put a finger one ONE thing you got done today, despite an extremely busy schedule?
You’re not alone.
Nearly all of us spend the majority of our days working, but not NEARLY enough of us are working productively!
There are many factors to blame for our lack of productivity – but that is a discussion for another article.
What we’re here to do right now is make a schedule! Not just a schedule that tells us when to go to the dentist, pick up the kids, grab dinner, turn in that report.. But a schedule that will help us increase productivity!
Why Do I Want to Increase Productivity?
Great question! I’m glad you asked. Here are just some of the reasons you should focus on increasing your productivity!
Use Your Time for Fun
Being more productive basically just means you get more done in less time.
Getting more work done in less time means you now have MORE time!
How can you spend that newfound “free” time?
Well you can do a lot of things!
- Spend time with your kids or family
- Cook a healthy meal (and ditch the last-second drive through)
- Do your hobbies!
- Spend time with your significant other
- Have “me” time!
- Work on your home, garden, car, bike, etc.
- Go on vacation!
- Do more work (this is last on the list for a reason)
Don’t all of those options sound nice?? Those are just some of the things you can do! The premise here is that if your work is done more quickly, you can do what you want for longer.
Reach Goals More Quickly
If you’re getting work done more quickly, theoretically, you’re reaching your goals more quickly! SCORE! Who wants to reach their goals slowly!? That’s boring (and a waste of time and a waste of life!).
If you reach your goals or dreams quickly, you then have time for MORE goals or MORE dreams.
And then more, and more and more!
And guess what? You’ll start setting HIGHER goals. Lofty goals. Goals you never would have previously thought possible!
Suddenly, you’ll be out there inventing the latest technology, taking the music world by storm, writing the next great American novel, or whatever else you dream of doing.
You’ll be kicking ass – with productivity!!
Build An Impressive Resume or Portfolio
Because you’ll be doing all of this amazing work so quickly, you’ll easily build up your resume and portfolio with all of the incredible work you’ve done.
Helloooo promotion! (or raise, new job, million bucks, what have you)
Be Less Stressed
This one is simple, but easily overlooked.
You’ll be out there kicking ass and taking names, spending more time with your family, and less time worrying about getting your to-do list done.
You will be WAY less stressed than before. Productivity is magical that way!
So how do you achieve this incredible, productive schedule and lifestyle??
Read on, friend!
How to Create a Schedule to Increase Productivity
So you’re convinced. Productivity is GREAT. It helps your work life, home life, mental health, job security, salary, relationship and more!
Let’s get to work on actually BECOMING more productive with that great schedule of yours!
What are you working toward? What do you want to achieve?
How on Earth can you possibly be productive if you don’t know what you’re trying to produce?
The MOST IMPORTANT PART in being productive and making a schedule is to set goals.
You should set small, easily attainable goals, larger, realistic goals that are a bit harder to achieve, and then also set some lofty goals that are going to require a lot of work!
This will help you start out small, build momentum, and then grow in your success until you reach the big huge goal you’re after!! More about this later.
Schedule & Work with the End in Mind
Now that you have your goals in place – it’s time to ask yourself some questions.
- When do you want to achieve the goal?
- What do you need (objects, money) to achieve the goal?
- How long will it take you?
Now that you know that information, you can schedule backward
What? You sound insane, Allison. How can I schedule the end of my week if the beginning hasn’t happened!?
Shouldn’t I be starting on Monday or the 1st of the month, and finishing on Friday, or the end of the month?
You should always start with the end in mind, and work backward to now. In order to plan for success, each thing you put in your schedulel and plan to do must be in service of that goal.
If you plan something that does not serve your goal, or work toward your goal – is it helping you? Should you be doing it? Are you actually going to WRITE IT DOWN when you know it’s un-helping you??
Always stay focused on your big, lofty goal, and work toward it, unrelentingly!
Schedule & Take Breaks
Whaaat? Aren’t breaks, um.. NOT productive, Allison? Shouldn’t I be working ALL THE TIME to be most productive??
Taking breaks is good for your brain!
We simply must rest our bodies and minds – always! The rest, relaxation and recover that we find in taking breaks is incredibly restorative, and is a vital component of the self care routines that we all deserve and should work toward practicing every day
You cannot possibly perform at your highest level if you are burnt out, exhausted, and overworked. Taking breaks prevents such states of being, and therefore helps you do your best work – every single day.
So how do we ensure that we’re taking breaks and properly caring for our minds and bodies?
Create a schedule with breaks in it! Lots of them! Then actually stick to your schedule! (it’s harder than you’d think)
On a similar note…
We can only focus on a specific task for a short period of time. (No, I’m not referring to the gnat-like attention span that most teenagers seem to have these days). Scientifically speaking, we can only do one thing for so long with our brains. Then we MUST take a break.
Many studies have shown that working in time chunks of 45 – 52 minutes of each hour allows people to be as productive as possible. This is a stark contrast to our normal work routines – 4 hours of work, lunch break, 4-6 hours of work, go home.
We actually focus better and get more work done if we do extremely focused work (“extremely focused” is the key phrase here) for a short while, and then take a break to do some sort of physical movement in a different environment.
So go ahead and tell your boss you’ll be needing 8 minutes off to go walk around the block at the end of every hour. She’ll thank you for it – since your productivity levels will probably shoot through the roof!
Plus, a schedule like this provides a built-in opportunity for exercise, meditation, or general mind-clearing time that our normal work schedules do not! Capitalize on this and be even MORE productive than you previously thought possible!
There’s no right answer- either of those (or a variation that you create yourself) may work best FOR YOU. Mix it up, test them both if you want. But make a schedule. Write it down. Stick to it!
Work with Laser Focus
Like I said – we can get a lot done if we are extremely focused when we work. This means eliminating all distractions.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that is fraught with distractions!
Literally everywhere you turn (except for out in the woods.. but you’re on the internet right now, soo… ) there is something vying for your attention, trying to catch your eye, open your wallet, and spit you out to the next business who can show you something shiny or loud and get you to switch your focus to them.
Don’t believe me??
Do you have 15 tabs open in your web browser right now? Each doing something different – online shopping, email, news, article, work, online class….
Do you really think your brain is doing quality work on ANY of those things??
Probably not. We simply cannot do that many things – and just having all of those options there in front of our faces causes great distraction!
Similarly – having a phone that will buzz and ding every time someone you know has a mundane thought is incredibly distracting, since we are now programmed to check our phones at any sign of life!
Plus there are normal, non-technological distractions all around us! Pets, kids, coworkers, TV, music, a nagging task we forgot to do this morning . . . the list goes on and on.
The REAL key to getting great work done and being as productive as possible is turning a blind eye (and ear) to these distractions, getting into a physical and mental space that is distraction free, and using laser focus to get sh*t done.
To accomplish that, you simply have to schedule yourself laser focus time. Then honor that time commitment and ACTUALLY GET SH*T DONE.
Make a pledge to not answer your phone for 45-52 minutes. Don’t answer emails, calls, or anything else. In fact, just turn off your phone… if you dare.
I already touched on this before, but we CANNOT MULTITASK. Human brains are not set up to do such a thing(s?).
As a person who once prided herself on her multitasking abilities – I am well aware that we can work on multiple projects or tasks “at once” and get all of them done “at the same time.” . . . but are we really?
Science says no. We are simply switching our attentions from one thing to another very, very quickly.
Not so much.
Switching our attention over and over means switching our focus, our brainpower, our skills, expertise, and maximum supreme effort that we have within us.
Instead, we need to use that laser focus we talked about, and just do ONE THING AT A TIME.
If you create a schedule with time chunks, you can simply decide on ONE thing to focus on per time chunk. I typically choose one thing to focus on per 2 – 4 time chunks, depending on the task.
This means I use laser focus and work on Task A, take a break, come back to laser focusing on Task A, and repeat 1 or 2 more times. Then after these 2 – 4 time chunks are over, I move on and repeat this system with Task B.
Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here. Make it work for you!
We are inundated every day with “the most important thing” . . . or simply THINGS, that people tell us are the most important.
Our kids have things they think are the most important, our bosses, spouses, pets, friends, and on and on and on…
How can you possibly treat all of those things with the same amount of focus, care, respect, and effort??
It’s your job to prioritize! When you’re scheduling out your day, week, month, or year – you must determine your priorities, and continue to work with the end in mind.
Is work your biggest priority? Family? Money? Travel? Charity?
Again, there are no wrong answers, and no judgement here. This is for YOU to decide so you can move forward with your life.
Once you choose your priorities in your mind and heart – you must actually MAKE those things priorities, by spending your time, energy, money, resources, effort, etc. on them.
Once you prioritize, you know how to divide your time and create a schedule for maximum productivity and happiness!
Write it Down – ON PAPER
Yes, everything is digital these days. You probably have at least a calendar on your phone and/or computer, if not your entire schedule.
But I’m here to proclaim something different. Something crazy. Something bold. An outlandish idea.
Go back to the dark ages and write that sh*t down on paper!
Like actual, physical paper.
Don’t worry, you can recycle it later. In fact, I INSIST that you do. Let’s save the planet, kids.
But writing a schedule down on paper has a certain magic about it that doing so digitally just doesn’t.
- You remember more – just like those “write the vocabulary words 8 times each for homework” situations, we remember what we write.
- It becomes “REAL” – sure it was real before, but you could just kind of ignore it or pretend you forgot if it dinged like the other thousand notifications on your phone. Paper is for real. Your brain tends to accept something more if it’s penned in. (Think “I’ll pencil you in” and how dismissive that sounds! It’s not real!)
- You can see the bigger picture. This is important in productivity and goal setting
- It forces you to think through the details of your day and prioritize. You probably won’t write down ‘screw around on Facebook for 45 minutes accidentally” – you’ll probably write things down that you want and need to do. Then, the trick is just sticking to the schedule you make yourself. THAT’S where the real productivity comes in
- It’s kind of fun! You can be super neat and color coded if you want, or you can doodle, practice your calligraphy or whatever- but whichever way you do it- making a schedule by hand is just kind of fun
Check out these useful journals, planners, and bullet journals!
What Will Your Productivity Schedule Look Like?
So now that you know some tips to create your very own schedule that will help you be hella productive… what will yours include?
I hope you prioritize and set goals – then work with the end in mind! Remember to take breaks between your time chunks of SUPER LASER FOCUSED work and try to avoid distractions at all costs!
I hope these tips have helped you to create a fabulous schedule for yourself and your family! If you’d prefer not to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel (because that would suck!) feel free to use my FREE, PRINTABLE daily schedules here!
There are two – one with 45 minutes of work and 15 minute breaks, and one with 52 minutes of work and 8 minute breaks. Try them both and see what works best for you!!
And remember: make good life choices!
Save it for later!