How to *Actually* Be Productive

August 19, 2021

When people find out what I do for a living, the number one question I get asked, is “How do you have time to accomplish all that?” And truth be told, I don’t! While content creation may look like an easy job that’s all fun and games, there’s so much more to it than it appears. It is SUPER fun (way more fun than my days practicing law), but the reality is, I work all the time (to find out how I balance my career with my family life, click here).

The only way I am able to produce a such high volume of work (and staying sane!), is through proper planning and organization! I’ll admit that I am not the best planner; it’s not something that comes naturally to me. But over the years, through lots of trial and error, I’ve figured out a system that works for me, in hopes that implementing even one of them helps you too!

No. 1 – Start by Getting Your Tasks Organized

Is this surprising at all to you? My first tip, by far, is to sit down and get *everything* in your life organized. If you’re wanting to be productive in your career, start by understanding what exactly you need to get done, day-to-day. If you work for a company, this might be a little bit easier to keep track of. But if you’re self-employed, it’s up to you to keep track. So, start by making a list of all of your general tasks and day-to-day obligations. You can do this in a Google Doc, on an old fashioned pen and paper, or in a note taking system like Notion. I am also loving Trello, to make different boards for all of my different projects.

Next, begin to sort your tasks by priority. For this, I love using different colored highlighters or fonts. Label anything that’s urgent or has a tighter deadline in red. Next, label anything that needs to be done soon, but isn’t as urgent, in orange. Label meetings and/or calls in blue. And finally, label the least pressing tasks in green. I like to do this every Sunday, so I know exactly what needs to get done that week.

No. 2 – Try “Blocking” Your Schedule

Once you’ve figured out which tasks go in which categories, create a calendar block to set up designated times to work. I like to use Google Calendar for this; I’ll create a separate calendar just for work, and schedule 3-4 hour blocks each day where I just work, straight. 

Not only does this help with productivity by ensuring that everything gets done,  but it also helps with a little thing called the work-life balance. The key is to get as much done during that blocked time as you can, and then having space to rest or take a break after.

I usually start off by blocking my highest priority items first (aka the red items), and then block throughout the week in order of priority. The best part about using a system like Google Calendar, too, is that you can match the “event” color to the color of your labels, so that you know exactly what’s getting done. Is it extreme? Maybe. But it’s the best way I’ve found too maximize and organize my productivity.

No. 3 -Turn off all Distractions

You’re not going to like this one, but it’s true. If you want to be as productive as possible, the best thing you can do is turn off all distractions. Power down your phone and put it in another room, turn off the tv or any music playing, and just sit down and work during those blocked hours. Yes, the temptation to check Instagram will be real, but I promise you’ll feel so much better without it. And, you’ll be able to work a lot harder.

One thing I’ve done recently is go into my Instagram settings and set a timer on the app. I’m only allowing myself to be on for 45 minutes a day, so once that 45 minutes is up Instagram alerts me. It’s a great way to eliminate this distraction that can be a huge time suck for me, especially during the workday.

No. 4 – Create a Cozy Work Environment

Now don’t get me wrong here – we don’t want an environment that’s *too* cozy (aka one where we will fall asleep), but having a work environment that feels cozy and inviting will make you want to spend more time there. It’s true!

A few things I always keep at my desk are some nice plants (to liven up the space), a good smelling candle, a big bottle of water and a snack, and I always keep my desk by a window. By creating this nice environment for myself, I’m more excited to show up and sit at my desk every day to work. Another important thing to note with this one, is to also make sure that you have what you need right at your workstation. So, computer chargers, water, snacks, notebooks, pens, etc. Keep everything you need right with you, if possible, so that you don’t have to get up in the middle of working to get something, and risk losing your train of thought or getting distracted.

No. 5 – Schedule in Self-Care Breaks

One of the best things you can do for your work-life balance and your overall productivity is to schedule in time to take breaks and focus on your self-care. Your brain and body need ample time to rest, and while it sounds counterintuitive, you will be so much more productive if you can take care time to take care of yourself.

This can look like, taking time to go take a workout class, or go to the spa, or going and getting a pedicure in the middle of the workday (if you can). Or, go get coffee with a friend, or take a long walk outside! Whatever feels best for you, try to make time for something during your workday that isn’t work. If you’re schedule blocking, then make time for this in-between blocks. I promise you’ll come back to your work feeling so much more refreshed and ready to tackle whatever’s coming next for you.

Finding your groove and productive drive can sometimes be hard, especially when we’re surrounded by distractions. But thankfully, there are some easy and helpful shifts that we can make that create a huge difference in our overall productivity! If you decide to try any of these out, share your experience and tag me on Instagram so I can support you! xx

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