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3 Simple Hacks to Make Today More Productive

3 Simple Hacks to Make Today More Productive

More, more, more. It seems everyone wants more these days. Putting more on your to-do list requires finding ways to be more productive that sync with everything else you’ve got on your plate. 

Maximizing productivity is something almost everyone says they want to do. Making it happen is often a different story. Because of that, here are a few different productivity hacks that you can implement today that will make a difference in how much you get done. 

1. The Pomodoro Technique

Don’t let the name scare you. And just because it’s named after it’s tomato-shaped timer doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly valuable. Essentially, it’s about working in short intervals and taking breaks in between. The key is that you work as fast as you can while “on the clock”. When you use these short bursts to focus 100 percent on the task, you are highly likely to complete the task.

One Pomodoro is an increment of 25 minutes. It is followed by a short 5 minute or so break. After four Pomodoros, you take a more extended break of at least 15 minutes, up to a 30-minute break. The way it works is that you set your timer, do the work, and only the work during that time. When the timer sounds, turn it off and then mark a checkmark on a piece of paper so that you know you did one Pomodoro. 

Pro’s: 

If you’re of the mindset that you can endure almost anything if it’s done in short bursts, then this technique is for you. This technique is great when you struggle with overwhelm from the bigger picture. The Pomodoro method is intended to be used with one task or a group of very similar tasks (tasks that require the same skills help you switch between tasks more easily). 

Con’s:

If you prefer to “get in the zone” or take a little longer to get to that space we often refer to as “flow” (where you’re working efficiently and being productive and your creative brain is in alignment with your thinking brain), then this might not be your jam. It is not helpful with projects that involve longer focus or for people who have a hard time settling into a focused mindset. 

Modifications Options:

You can modify this method by increasing the time from 25 minutes up to as much as 55 minutes. More than 55 minutes may be too long (you know how you work, however, so go with what works for you). 

2. Say No 

I’ve said it before, and I will keep saying it until I’m blue in the face, you simply cannot nor should not try to “do it all”

Saying no more often and to the right things is the simplest way to be more productive. Everyone is probably always asking you to do more things. When you have too many things to do, you end up being overwhelmed. You then either do nothing or do everything haphazardly. When you value your time, your goals, that balance you long for, and yes, even money, saying no works wonders. 

Perhaps that last point baffles you a bit. Let me explain. When you say yes to too many things, you don’t do any of it well. Including running your business and serving your customers. That impacts your bottom line. Learn to say no to those things that don’t serve your goals. You will find yourself increasing your productivity in those things that do matter.

3. Give it Ten Minutes 

Have you ever felt that sense of dread around some item on your to-do list? We all have those things we just don’t like to do. Usually, they are things we are not that great at or they don’t light that passion fire in us (aka they are boring). But that doesn’t mean we can just skip these tasks altogether. Learning how to do them with less procrastination is your key to being more productive.

Anytime you really don’t want to do something on your to-do list, tell yourself you’ll just do it for ten minutes. Set your timer for ten minutes. If you are almost through and you can finish the task or feel you can stick it out another 10 minutes, stick with it. Reward yourself when you complete it.

Productivity hacks are like bras, there’s no one size fits all solution and you have to try them on for size to know if they really fit you. The key is that you have to give them a chance.

So try out these ideas and let me know in the comments if any of them helped you, or if you have other suggestions we can try? 

How to Get More Done in 7 Easy Steps

How to Get More Done in 7 Easy Steps

How to Get More Done in 7 Easy Steps

You want to get more done while adding value to your life…ahem, without SUBTRACTING value from your life. 

And you want to do this all in a timely manner. You can spend a lot of time doing things that add no value to your life, to other people’s lives, and are just busy makers. Or you can thoughtfully plan your week to be more productive and useful than you ever thought. Here’s how:

1. You get more done when you have a plan

Taking time each week (30 minutes at most, even less than that as you get better at this) and base your to-do list and calendared items on your goals and objectives for the week. Remember to plan out individual actions (not big goals that have 37 million steps to them) that need to be taken for the final result so that you don’t get caught up in a bottleneck or roadblock. This step clearly requires knowing in advance what your goals and objectives are for the week.

To know this, consider setting aside time once per month to figure out your monthly goals and break them down into weekly objectives (this is also known as your to-do list). This step doesn’t have to take more than 30 minutes or so but is part of having a solid plan in place that will help you on your journey to getting more done. If you need help with getting started, check out my free ebook “Make Every Minute Count”.

2. Fill in your schedule with thought

As you look at your plans, goals, and objectives (to-do list) now, you need to translate them into a chronological schedule that helps you break down tasks into small chunks. Having a guesstimate of how long each item will take you included on your objectives/to-do list can help you here. Also, having steps written out in chronological/logical order can also be helpful.

Then be sure to schedule everything realistically and efficiently. For example, if you need to go to the doctor’s at 10 am, it’s unlikely it’s really going to take only an hour. Plan for travel time to and from, and consider taking some gap-filling activities for you to do while waiting. 

3. You will get more done if you check your schedule before saying yes

Whenever someone comes to you with new things to add to your schedule, don’t say yes automatically. You may even need to practice saying no. I know it sounds silly, but don’t skip this part. Ask your spouse, friends, and kids to ask you for favors and to do things for them, and then on purpose tell them no. Or at the very least practice saying, “Let me check my calendar.” The more you practice saying and hearing these words come out of your mouth, the easier it will be to say no on the fly.

Remember that just because you instinctually say no does not mean you won’t ever be helping anyone or adding unexpected things to your calendar. Saying no initially buys you time to check your calendar and make thoughtful decisions about what fits and what doesn’t. First, tell them you’ll check your calendar. Then check your schedule but also check your mind to find out if you really want to do it or not.

Only say yes if you can fit it in even if you think you want to do it. Other things to consider here are whether or not the added task fits into or clashes with your values or if it will throw your life balance wheel out of balance. You want to consider what you will be saying no to if you say yes to this new task.

4. Batch like tasks together

To get more done, consider how your tasks relate to eachother. When you check out your task list for the week, determine if you can schedule some tasks together. For example, if you have a doctor’s appointment and you need to grocery stop too, why not do those together (better yet, put in your grocery order for pick up immediately following your doctor appointment). Another example is to batch simple and shorter computer tasks together. Let’s say you have a blog post to write and you have social media engagement planned every day.

Since there are multiple steps to planning, researching, writing, and posting a good blog article, you can plan for one of each of those steps each day to be paired with social media networking. This keeps your mind engaged and thinking with two shorter tasks while making good use of your time on the computer.

5. You can get more done when you know how to delegate and outsource

Sometimes getting more done actually means not doing them at all. When you look at your task list, note the things that someone else can do. Turn those tasks over to the other people who can do them. If you want to pay someone to do things, that’s also an option. Just find someone else who is good at the job and let them do it.

For example, if you find yourself micromanaging your kids before or after school activities, instead make them a to-do list of their own and then give them the opportunity to complete the lists on their own. This frees you up to do other things and in the end, may give you more fun time together as a family.

6. Start your week with a full tank of gas (and other often forgotten necessities)

One thing that really helps you avoid time wasters is to anticipate them. Instead of waiting for your vehicle to get empty to fill it up, get gas on a regular schedule (maybe every Sunday and Wednesday) so that you always have a full tank of gas to start your week. This makes each gas stop quicker too.

If you have other issues like that, such as you need money on your bus card, and so forth, take care of it before the week starts. If you pack lunches for your kids, why not make extra for yourself. This makes grabbing your lunch more efficient.

Another timesaver is to pack the week’s worth of lunches for everyone and store them in one spot in the fridge for a quick grab and go.

What tasks do you find yourself feeling surprised by regularly? What time savers do you practice?

7. You get more done when you remember to take care of yourself

In order to be productive, you need to eat right, stay hydrated, sleep enough, and take care of yourself (feel refreshed, not stressed). When you are healthy, mentally and physically, it’s a lot easier to get more done without stress. Find that you’re not getting enough sleep or forgetting to eat? Then these things need to be added to your calendar and set up as priorities.

Getting more done is so much easier when you know why, when, and how you’re doing it. Download your free planning guide today!

How to Save Time Managing Your Household

How to Save Time Managing Your Household

Yes, you can save yourself time by managing your household more efficiently. 

Maybe you never realized that running a household requires management skills before, but it does. If you want to save time, turn your attention inward, to how you live every day. Ignoring how you set up and run your household is in and of itself a self-defeating behavior

Managing your household wisely, and thus your time, involves setting up good boundaries. These boundaries are not for others per se, rather they are for yourself and how you spend your time.

All your household tasks can either be a source of wasted time or a way for you to squeeze a little more time out of your day. I’ve picked the ones that will provide the most extra time for you if managed right. 

Meal Planning 

Meal planning is part of managing your household. You may not realize how much time and resources you waste when you don’t plan meals carefully. Most people throw out about 30 percent of the food that they purchase. If a restaurant did that, they’d go under. If you want to avoid wasting food but also avoid wasting time, take the time now to organize and plan your meals for the seasons, months, weeks, and days. 

A great time saver is using a menu planning app that allows you to collect and keep favorite or new recipes, create a menu plan, create and connect your shopping list to an online store or order delivery service. Here’s my favorite.

Grocery Pickup or Delivery

Instead of spending time shopping, these days in most areas, you can order your groceries for delivery, or you can order them and then go pick them up. This service is a lifesaver and will save you a minimum of an hour and for many people much more time. Plus, most people report that they not only save time but money because they’re planning more carefully and not buying extra last-minute impulse items.

Other meal time lifesavers include prepared meals that are delivered and ready to heat up or meal kits that package all necessary ingredients into one grocery sack and have incredibly easy instructions on large colorful recipe cards. This one is my family’s personal favorite.

Limit Screen Time

Yes, managing your household includes managing how you spend your time in it. Of all the things that people waste time on, television, computers, and smartphones are at the top of the list. There is nothing wrong with enjoying entertainment and screens on a limited basis, but the four to five hours a day that you spend on average is a definite roadblock to productivity in your life.

Instead, find out what’s on or take note of how you like to spend your time on electronics, and then plan it into your day. When it comes to smartphones, games, and apps, time yourself and limit your daily online activity. This can be a challenge when you use your phone for work. You’ll start off with checking work email and before you know it you’re distracted by notifications and alerts. If you find you simply cannot ignore those, then turn them off for all apps that don’t pertain to your job.

Make One Trip

Inside and outside chores are a part of managing your household.

Whether it’s going upstairs in your house or it’s heading into town, get in the habit of stacking your tasks for where you’re going. This idea of habit stacking was first coined by author S.J. Scott in his book of the same name, essentially means that one thing leads to another and to another and so on and so forth. One action triggers the next. This concept can be used here to stack your errands all at one time. By planning your trip to town (or up the stairs) around tasks that come in order and make sense in relation to the other actions, you will save yourself time and make the most of your energy (efficiency). 

So think of your “trip” as a loop. Starting on one end, organize your activities in a way that you do those nearest to you and work your way around, avoiding backtracking whenever possible. Think logically too though. It doesn’t make sense to grab groceries that will sit in your car for an hour, so try to plan that for last. It also doesn’t make sense to carry around a large stack of towels as you drop off other smaller items in other rooms upstairs, so plan to hit the bathroom first if possible.  

Use Collection Baskets

No, I’m not referring to the ones you pass at church. These collection baskets are not a gathering spot for your money, rather, they are gathering spots for items you need to put away. Maybe it’s items you need to relocate to a different room. Or maybe they are items that can be dealt with more efficiently at a later time. Set collection baskets at the top and bottom of your stairs. Then put items in that belong on a different level of your home. 

Next time you make the trip up or down the stairs, grab the basket and deal with the items in it all at once. It might be a stack of towels, a package of toilet paper, and the soap refill for the upstairs bathroom. This can all be put away efficiently at one time. Use a basket just inside the door of your office. Put one in the kitchen and living room. And anywhere else you find yourself picking up items frequently. 

One hint: Use baskets that have handles you can hook on your arm to make them easy to carry with you. Drop the empty basket in place of the full basket from upstairs if that one is full. And if you have time to put away the items when you go back downstairs, do so. Do not however allow yourself to put away items in the basket just because you’re heading in that direction. If you have a specific purpose and/or a small set amount of time that is dedicated to a different task, then that task is what takes priority. Do not grab the basket and be distracted by its contents if it isn’t time to do so. 

Delegate

One more option is very important for you to remember. When it comes to household management, enlisting the help of family and others is crucial. Not only . Your spouse and your kids can help with many of the tasks that you need to do. However, you must delegate, teach, and let them be responsible for their own tasks. So what tasks are age appropriate for your kids? What tasks does your husband reasonably have time to take on? At the risk of getting into the middle of any marriage or parenting squabbles, I think they can do more than you think they can. And they should. For more help with how to pick age appropriate tasks for your kids, check out this ideas list here. And for ways to approach this topic with your husband, check out this article

No matter what gets decided on this end, know that continuing to play super hero and doing it all is actually holding you and your family back from getting to spend more quality time with the person they love the most…you.

Do you have tips for time-saving household management? Share them in the comments. And don’t miss out on signing up for my free ebook to help you make every minute count!

How To Plan A Productive Day In 4 Simple Steps

How To Plan A Productive Day In 4 Simple Steps

Plan your work, work your plan. 

No doubt you’ve heard this saying before. All too often though, this step is missing. Perhaps you’ve got a family calendar where you add kids activities, medical and hair appointments, and maybe even dinner ideas for the week. And maybe you have a to do list for work you want to do for your business. Your to do list lives on scrap pieces of paper and the calendar is clipped to the fridge. Or maybe you’re that Pinterest mom who has the home organization center and uses two professional planners, one for personal and one for business. Either way, these two vastly different approaches often share one common problem.

They don’t actually plan their work.

You see, planning your day on your planner (whether you work well with time blocking or do better running from a to-do list, it doesn’t matter, these next steps are crucial to working your plan successfully) is only half the story. You must then set yourself up for success. Here are my top tips for executing even the best planned out days.

Design Your Environment

Designing your environment to support your plan sets you up for better success. Distractions can create chaos for some while they are a welcome way of life for others. Some of us need noise or like music, while others need quiet. Room temperature, clothing you are wearing (I tend to get more done when I’m showered, dressed nice, and am wearing shoes). Know how you work best.

Timing is part of your environment. And it’s crucial to any plan for a productive day. You know as well as I do though that this will only work if you’ve planned appropriately. It won’t work for you to go hide in a closet or close your office door if your two-year-old then has the run of the house. So plan your work for appropriate times that fit into what life is really like for you. Yes, this may mean getting up a bit earlier or staying up a bit later (if you know me though, I’m the queen of promoting adequate sleep though, so do not compromise on that). It may mean enlisting help from family or friends. Creating a quiet environment might look like swapping child care with a friend or family member. This way you can each get some things done in peace without adding to your expenses. 

Here are some ideas my clients have found helpful when planning their productive days:

  • If you can’t focus unless it’s quiet and nobody else is in the room, then close your office door, work in a closet if you have to, and use noise-canceling headphones.
  • Knock out a quick email in the bathroom if you have to (zero judgment). I think the key to success for brains that need quiet to work is sometimes found in being flexible about our standards. 
  • If you’ve suddenly found yourself working from home with littles running around, your best work might happen at mealtimes when they’re strapped into booster chairs. 
  • When your kids simply want to hear your voice, talk through what you’re typing or doing as though you were dictating a memo, they may be too young to understand, but they’ll be soothed by the sound of your voice. 
  • If your brain thrives off novelty, working in an area where you can shift your focus frequently can help you get a lot of short action items completed. 
  • Set a time limit or challenge yourself to get something done before your timer goes off or before the barista finishes serving the next customer (or before your two-year-old asks you to read her another story). 

Break Your Work Into One Step Actions

Nothing is more frustrating than setting down to get something done and realizing that you haven’t finished the 6 other steps necessary (“I can’t send this email until I have my graphics completed” or “The post for my group needs the sales page link before it will be ready to post”). So be sure you have done the work to break each item on your to do list down into ONE step actions. Think of it this way, if an action item on your to do list has more than one component or part, it’s a project and not really an action item and doesn’t belong on your to do list. Instead, the parts that make up that project can go on your to-do list.

For example, I see people put “create lead magnet” on a to-do list all the time. But when you think about it, creating a lead magnet has no fewer than 5 or 6 action items like deciding on what it will be, creating the content, building it out, creating the graphics/designing it, determining where it will live, uploading it so you have a link, creating a signup form, etc. 

Prepare Your Work

This is really the point of this post. How frustrating is it to finally have the house quiet and a rare 30+ minutes to yourself to work and when you sit down at your desk, what do you find but scattered notes and you’re not sure where that email went. You then spend the full 30 minutes gathering what you need and getting your thoughts together. And then the kids are back knocking on your office door or your lunch hour is over and you have to get back to your day job. What is it I’m telling you here? Have systems you use regularly so you know where things are and what things mean. 

Some examples to inspire you while planning your productive day:

  • Emails: only open and read when you have time.
  • Filing system: Make sure your file naming makes sense to you and is consistent throughout.
  • Notes/thought journal/post-its: Use these to keep track of ideas you don’t want to lose. Just be sure to have a place to put the post-its and notes where you regularly go through and organize/file.

Plan Time to Plan A Productive Day

Creating space for everything we’ve talked about is also necessary. So make sure you leave room on your calendar for planning and preparing yourself. Maybe you do this on Sunday evenings so you feel set and ready for the week. Or maybe you take time on Friday afternoons to ready yourself for the following week. This will help you enter your weekend with a freer mind. Whether it takes you 15 minutes or an hour and 15 minutes to get yourself ready to work, it needs to have a space on your calendar. You may also want to do this on a daily basis. There is no right or wrong. Do what feels best to you.

Everyone loves a good bonus!

One bonus tip: Pull out the files from your filing system that you will need for the next day. Don’t use paper files? No problem. Just make sure you have ready access to electronic files that you will need for each task. I teach my clients to only have three priority tasks each day, so your desk shouldn’t be overflowing with papers. If you prefer to work from a clear desk, have a file in your system marked “Today” or “Next”. Then place the files you need for the next day in that folder. The idea is to place them where they are easily accessible. This is especially important if you typically find yourself looking for excuses or dislike the task at hand. 

Don’t forget to download your free “Make Every Minute Count” ebook to help you figure out how you can make every minute of your workday count!

What are your best tips that have helped you to plan out your work and work through your plan?

How to Stop Creating Stress in Your Life

How to Stop Creating Stress in Your Life

(AKA give yourself more brain space so you can grow your business!)

Cool, Calm, And Confident
Cool, Calm, And Confident

Most clients I work with are stressed out and say their heads feel full. They get stuck in their business and say they don’t have time to work on it. They can’t progress because they can’t see where that time will come from, much less where it’s all going. And it stresses them out. And that stress is the problem. But there’s no magic pill to take to remove stress. Something else has got to change.

Typically, we’re responsible for creating stress in our lives. I know that is a controversial stance to take. But I urge you to keep an open mind. I aim to change your mind.

You see, I see this responsibility for our own stress as good news actually. Because if we are responsible for creating most of this stress, that means we have the power to STOP creating it. Am I right?!

Busy-ness Does Not Equate Productivity

So just how much do you have going on right now? 

If you’re like most people, your schedule is probably pretty full. Between work, family, and other obligations, there’s always something to do. With busyness, though, comes stress. Even when you’re doing things you enjoy, having a lot on your plate can create stressful situations. 

So how do you put an end to creating more stress in your life, but still get done the things you want to do most? I know you like the idea of taking things off your plate, so let’s look at how you can take some things off your plate…without actually removing anything from your plate.

Stop Creating Stress By Being so Goal-Oriented

If you’re rushing around trying to get everything done at once, micromanaging, and insisting on being in charge, you’re going to be stressed. It’s easy sometimes to get so wrapped up in accomplishing things you forget to breathe. Anytime you’re too goal-oriented, you need to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. Is it possible you’re setting some goals which are too lofty? Are you involved in things you shouldn’t be wasting your time on? 

Sometimes goals conflict. Or they have conflicting priorities. So take some time to assess the activities that make it to your calendar and sneak into your day. It’s important to know which goals are most important and which ones can wait. I recommend limiting yourself to 1 big goal and 3 smaller supporting goals at most at any given time. This is especially important to help you stay focused with growing a business or making changes to your habits. 

Balance Does Exist

Another way to look at this is through the balance you have in your life right now. I know this is another controversial statement. Many coaches right now are alluding to the fact that there isn’t ever really any balance in life. I disagree. You don’t need to hustle and rush your way through life to grow the business of your dreams and have the family and health and marriage and spiritual relationships you desire too. I firmly believe there is a way to have all of that WITHOUT the ongoing overwhelming stress. It’s why I do what I do.

Download my Life Balance Wheel exercise to find where life feels out of balance for you. Then work on adjusting your calendar to support the balance you seek. *Remember…balance looks different for everyone and it won’t necessarily be equal attention to all aspects of your life. But if there are areas you are neglecting and you feel stressed, that means a change is in order.*

Cool, Calm, And Confident
Cool, Calm, And Confident

Quit Talking Down to Yourself

It’s incredibly stressful when other people put you down. When this happens you might find yourself stewing on their comments for weeks on end. It’s an all consuming place to be in. It’s no different when we do this to ourselves. When your internal dialogue is full of failure, negative comments, and reminders of past mistakes, it’s tough to get things done, or even to feel good about your efforts.

Raise your awareness to catch yourself doing this. And when you notice it, give yourself grace. Beating yourself up for beating yourself up serves no one. Shift your internal dialogue to a more understanding or neutral tone if shifting immediately to a voice of love is difficult (which it often is). Get curious and to the bottom of why you are talking to yourself like that and make a commitment to yourself to reduce your stress by NOT talking to yourself like that. 

Learn to Better Handle Conflict 

Few people enjoy confrontation. If you’re not handling conflict well, you’re going to be stressed out. The solution? Learn necessary communication skills. 

Start these conversations with neutralizing comments like, “I see we disagree” “I’m sure we can come to a mutual conclusion”, or “Let’s figure this out together”. No matter what, it’s important to prioritize dealing with conflict. 

Similar to speaking poorly about yourself, conflict that is left to fester will create internal stress and consume your thoughts until it’s handled. Skillfully verbalizing your point and managing difficult conversations is crucial to reducing stress.

Stop Expecting Failure

This has been touched on before when discussing negative self-talk. Expecting failure runs deeper, though. This kind of reasoning can stop you from trying in the first place. Even if you do try, you’re going to be so stressed out, you’re likely to self-sabotage and wind up failing after all. 

Instead, try expecting nothing. I know it doesn’t sound super inspiring and (once again) steps outside the box of what you hear most coaches preaching, but it’s a shorter leap between failure to nothing than it is from failure to success. 

Another option is to play the “what if” game. Ask yourself “what if this does fail?” And then write down everything that comes to mind. Get it all out. Is it really as bad as you think? Are the things you wrote down realistic or pretty far-fetched? Are they tolerable consequences and risks you’re willing to take?

Stop Creating Stress By Doing Too Much (AKA Not Doing Enough of the Right Things)

Here is the heart of the matter. Most people tend to overcommit. When your schedule is booked solid, it’s normal to feel stressed out. Here is where a reality check helps. Write out your schedule for the next week, and ask yourself which of these items or truly expendable and which of these are truly necessary. It might be time to reassess your priorities.

And if you don’t have down time and self-care scheduled in, it’s time to make room for that. No arguments allowed here. My coach has taught me very well that you simply cannot pour from an empty cup (1).

While there is no cure-all to getting rid of stress in your life altogether, by following these steps, you can reduce it. Remember, the key lies in being intentional and refusing to let stress take over your life.  Let me know in the comments how you plan to stop creating stress in your life and grow your business. And don’t forget to grab your free ebook to help you find your calm!

Cool, Calm, And Confident
Cool, Calm, And Confident