We’ve reached a whole year of Productivity Paradox, and I want to share with you what I’ve learned along the way! These are some of my favorite expert productivity tips that I know can transform and boost your productivity right away, even if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
I used to struggle with finding time in my schedule for all the things I needed to accomplish… and then I realized: Productivity isn’t about doing ALL the things, it’s about getting the important things done. And that means building a life focused around your personal priorities.
I recommend reading through these tips – each one is from an episode of my podcast – and seeing where you can start implementing some of them into your life. Bookmark this blog post, and come back after you’ve created good habits with the first few tips, then implement a few new ones!
Let’s get started!
Top Tip: Reflection is the first step.
Throughout this episode, I’m talking about the anatomy of goal setting. Specifically though, you need to create a road map to use so you can actually achieve the goal you set. And that’s where this tip comes in: Reflection. If we don’t know where we’re at, we won’t know where to start and how to progress. Use my 2-page Reflection Worksheet to really break down how you’re feeling about your goals, opportunities, job, family… everything. And we will work on this journey together.
Top Tip: Create S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Yes, taking the time to write out your SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding & Timed) Goals is so worth it. It’s important to understand that you and your lifestyle are unique. That’s why what works for some might not work for you, and vice versa. What goal do you have for yourself? Make it specific to you in your situation, write down how you will measure the progress, how it’s attainable and through what means, what rewards you’ll have along the way, and a timeline for completion. More details and examples can be found here!
Top Tip: Use my favorite download to map out your goal.
One of my favorite and most popular downloads is the Action Worksheet. I created this one based off of my own method while starting inkWELL Press and the Productivity Paradox podcast. It takes your S.M.A.R.T. Goal and breaks it down. It pushes you to measure your goal and complete bite-sized pieces so that you will accomplish it! CLICK HERE to download it now and get started!
Top Tip: Use the mission statement formula to help you create your mission statement.
In this episode, I talk about how we can create our own mission statement in order to find our ‘north star’ that will guide us toward our goals. In that episode, I give a few templates you can use when creating yours, but I want to tell you about my favorite. I use the formula: The value you create + who you’re creating it for + the expected outcome. When I did this, I came up with: I will use my passion and expertise in organizing & productivity to inspire others to achieve their goals and dreams. What will your mission statement be? Listen to episode 004 for a lot more information and details!
Top Tip: Use the Family Mission Statement download and ask your partner/family the questions listed.
We want to work together as a family and support each other. That doesn’t just happen naturally. It takes hard work and intention. In this download, I’ve listed out several important questions to ask your partner and your kids (if you have them) so that you can create a Family Mission Statement. CLICK HERE to go to the podcast page for more details and for this download.
Top Tip: Don’t prioritize your tasks based off of the time you have, but rather the importance of the task.
We need to scrap the traditional to-do list and create our own priority list instead. When you have a long and scattered to-do list based on how much time you have in your day, you’re likely to not get anything important done. I’ll go into more detail in later tips and podcast episodes about this system. But for now, it’s vital that you understand what’s really important to you in pushing you forward toward a goal. That way, you can use that to guide your daily tasks.
Top Tip: Get comfortable with saying ‘no’ when tasks or events don’t align with your personal priorities.
We often feel guilty for saying no when others ask us for our time, energy, money, etc. It’s not selfish, because it actually frees up physical and mental space for us to do something else. I have four ‘excuses’ for saying no when the time arises that you can start using right away. Listen to episode 007 and see how you can begin saying no and clear the clutter for what’s most important to you.
Top Tip: Understand that you’re not a ‘YES’ person or a ‘NO’ person. Use the Finding Your Yes download to map out what you should say yes or no to.
I understand that it’s hard to know if we truly have time and energy to add one more thing to our plate, So I’ve created a download for that. CLICK HERE to visit the podcast episode 008 page and download that worksheet. It will walk you step-by-step through the process you need to take to see if am opportunity aligns with your priorities.
Top Tip: Multitasking is really switch-tasking, and we shouldn’t be doing it at work or home.
Look at any job application and you’re likely to see that a requirement is that you’re a ‘multitasker.’ Society is telling us we need to be busy and ‘hustle,’ but in reality, we’re working much less effectively when we multitask. It’s not an easy habit to break, but productivity has a cost when you’re multitasking. The settings in your brain compete for each other. It’s like tug of war between Task A and Task B. Experts estimate that switching between these tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity. And the worst part? You tend to be more error prone. You are working slower and less effectively. Listen to episode 009 for tips on how to stop multitasking at work or home.
Top Tip: Take control of your distractions so you monotask instead of multitask.
In this episode, I give you you five keys to monotasking. It doesn’t just happen naturally… there are so many different kinds of distractions at home and work. One of my favorites is to understand that you DO have control over what distracts you. You just have to communicate your boundaries and set boundaries for yourself. Know that you may not have to go to every meeting, or feel obligated to meet up with people after work, understand that you can block websites and put your phone on Do Not Disturb.
Top Tip: Know what kind of learner you are: Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic.
Knowing the best way(s) for you to learn will help you not only retain information, but also help you to plan out your days and prioritize what’s important to you. In this episode, I discuss the importance of knowing your learning style and why it’s helpful to use paper planning vs. technology… and here’s a hint: I use both. There is no ‘right’ answer, but writing things down works best with the way our brain functions.
Top Tip: Use the planning system that works best for you, your family and your lifestyle.
Here, I discuss my own planning system that I use weekly for work and family. While I have a liveWELL Planner, I also need other items to keep everything together and share with John and the kids. We also use the iCal app and a Weekly Kickstart on Sunday so we can plan for the week ahead. It’s all about knowing what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s OK to try out a few different items and discuss what works best for your family, too. You can learn more about how I plan and suggestions I have for you by listening to episode 012!
Top Tip: Allow yourself the grace to travel (whether for work or pleasure) and reduce stress by following these three steps:
In this episode, I interview productivity expert and entrepreneur, Alex Mandossian. He gives these travel tips, advice for handling email, and his secrets to creating weekly and yearly goals.
Top Tip: Understanding the trends that are happening due to Fear Of Missing Out will help alleviate it and the stress that comes with your FOMO.
When you listen to episode 014, I’ll share the trends that are coming up more and more as we experience FOMO. This can lead to us being too hard on ourselves, prioritizing the wrong things and feeling regretful. That’s unnecessary to feel that way, so if you have issues with FOMO, I suggest listening to that episode, because it starts with understanding.
Top Tip: Set hours of availability vs. hours of business.
There’s a difference in those. Hours of availability are the hours that you publish and people know you’re available to respond to calls and emails only during this time. Hours of business are the times used to focus on work. Don’t use this time for communication, responses, etc. It’s important to set expectations and boundaries for the different areas of your life, so that when you’re in one compartment, you can focus on it intentionally.
Top Tip: Pretend you don’t ‘own’ the item, opportunity or project, and change the way you question yourself and think about your situation.
In episode 016, I give these examples among others, and more details on sunk cost bias:
Top Tip: Use the Evaluating Your Time Worksheet that goes along with episode 017, and understand that quitting can easily be a good thing.
We often have negative feelings towards ourselves when we say we’re quitting something. It could be a job, volunteering, a class, school, etc. Big or small, sometimes it’s not only OK to quit, it’s necessary. This goes right along with the sunk cost bias from episode 016. We don’t need to keep doing things that no longer serve us. Instead, we should use that time for our personal priorities.
Top Tip: Don’t just squeeze in one more thing: Use Siri, Cortana, Alexa, etc. as your personal assistant.
Use your phone to set reminders for you, like taking the trash out at the end of the day instead of when you’re rushing in the morning. Use the download, Building Buffers, from episode 018 and start using time more wisely so that you’re less stressed.
Top Tip: Learn to mono-task even when everyone around you wants to multitask
It’s easier to monotask for some, while others have been told that they need to multitask by employers or due to family members. Whatever the reason, you’ll always work more effectively when you only do one task at a time. To do this, set your boundaries and expectations and communicate with the people around you. When you complete bite-sized pieces of work, be sure to reward yourself with a quick walk outside, a nap, listening to music, a snack, or whatever it is you think will keep you motivated.
Top Tip: The key to being productive and reaching goals is not to overwork yourself, but to find ways you can work more effectively in the hours that suit your lifestyle and job.
In episode 020, I discuss Tim Ferriss’s book, the 4-Hour Work Week and Elon Musk’s typical workweek of around 80+ hours. Now, this all depends on what we consider ‘work,’ and that an important detail in this episode. Overall, though, it’s best not to overwork yourself, but instead find ways to work more effectively. That could be through delegating, eliminating distractions, or getting rid of tasks altogether.
Top Tip: Use the 7 Keys to Better Sleep info-graphic download so you can start creating your ideal nightly routine.
I love this download because it’s so informational and gives quick and easy ways you can start sleeping better (tonight!). In this episode, I also discuss sleep myths and facts… such as the idea that if you get more sleep on the weekend you’ll catch up from what you missed during the week. It’s important to know what will help you and hinder your ability to get the sleep you need so you can be more productive during the day!
Top Tip: Shift the way you think about your time – don’t think of it as 24 hours a day, but rather 168 hours per week.
One of my favorite episodes is episode 022, because in order for us to work intentionally on our priorities, we have to save up pockets of time. Notice what situations or times during your week you have where you could use that time to focus. A good example is using childcare time differently or extending it so you can get work done on a personal project. Just the same, figure out how you could spend less time at your workplace so you can prioritize your family.
Top Tip: Start time tracking to get a better picture of how you spend your time at work, home and personally.
Do this by calculating exactly how many hours you really work each day and how many hours of sleep you get each night. Subtract that from 168 (the number of hours we all have in a week) and you’ll get a better picture of the time you have to spend with family or for yourself.
Top Tip: Implement the Priority List instead of the traditional to-do list, allowing you to schedule in the things that push you toward your goals.
When you set up your task list using the three categories I talk about in this episode, you’re so much more likely to get them done, and to feel satisfied and successful at the end of the day. The systems has helped me plan my days out so much (and others from what I’m hearing!), that I had to create my liveWELL Daily Planner around it!
Top Tip: Use Friday’s for learning – listen to a podcast, read articles you’ve saved throughout the week, watch tutorials and videos, etc.
Many of us feel our motivation and energy go down when we get closer to the weekend. Friday is usually the most unproductive day, but in episode 025, I talk about how we can take back our Fridays… making them productive AND relaxing. On of my favorite tips is for us to use Friday for learning. We often don’t take the time to actually read those articles or listen to podcasts that help us brush up our skills and keep learning. This is an ideal activity for Friday afternoons!
Top Tip: Cut back working on the weekends and use that time instead for your personal priorities by using the worksheet and having pre-written emails.
That’s easier said than done, so I created a Weekend Bucket List download for you. When things pop up in your email inbox about work during your Saturday and Sunday with the family, you should be prepared with pre-written email templates or an auto-responder letting the sender know when you’ll be available. Using the download, you’ll be able to integrate new activities with the people who matter most on the weekends. I suggest sharing the download with others too, so they can write down activities they would like to do with you!
I know these tips can be implemented into your lifestyle and environment to make being productive, successful and happy more attainable. You don’t have to try doing all of these strategies at once, either. Pick your favorite few and easily integrate them into your days.
If you’re liking these tips, you can subscribe to the Productivity Paradox podcast newsletter, and I’ll send you new episodes, tips, updates and free downloads every week right to your inbox!
I’ll also be sharing Part 2 with you next week, and that post will include 26 other expert tips that I’ve learned from my research and experience. Stay tuned, and happy planning!