If you’re anything like me (which I’m hoping you are + that’s why you’re here) productivity has always be something you struggle with. I don’t know about you but I am a master procrastinator + constant distraction-aire (that’s not even a word…).
Somehow, I've managed to get this far in life waiting until the last minute, cramming out work + hoping for the best.
Now, I don’t necessarily do this on purpose. I wanted to be one of those people on top of their game. I think that’s every procrastinator’s dream!
But something in my brain felt hard wired to do the complete opposite.
Procrastinators are validated by seeing that our last minute effort usually produces the same, if not better, work than our planning-type counter parts.
But what we don’t take into consideration is how much GREATER our work could be if we learned to plan + execute more strategically.
We’d be unfuckingstoppable.
Over the last year of freelancing + starting/growing my own business, procrastinating just couldn’t be an option any longer. I knew I had to figure this out. So, I became oddly obsessed with productivity + how to effectively leverage time.
Now, this is all well + good, but as a recovering procrastinator myself, if I could’ve planned + executed better I would be doing so already.
Well, like anything else in life these skills are learned + habits are formed.
Some people are programmed to run this way naturally + others (usually creative types) need a little more TLC to get this whole focus thing going.
Today I want to share some things I’ve found to work really well in helping me become laser focused, intentional with my tasks + feel accomplished by the end of every day.
These are things anyone can use in any area of life or business. Whether you’re in sales or work behind a desk. Try some of this hacks to see if you notice a difference in your work output.
Yes, I know. How boring.
But this is the foundation of a productive day.
You can’t caffeinate your way out of lack of sleep. Ariana Huffington wrote a book called, “The Sleep Revolution” about the science behind getting adequate sleep. If she can get 8 hours of sleep each night, so can you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a night owl or a morning person. Figure out what you need to do in order to get between 7.5 + 9 hours of sleep each night. Do you go to bed a little earlier, head into work a little later?
A good night’s sleep in the foundation to your most productive day.
Because I usually avoid using words like “plan” (because they trigger the procrastinator in me) so I call it brain dumping.
Each night before I go to sleep I write a mile long list of all the things that need to get done the next day.
No particular order. It doesn’t have to be neat + color coded. Just get it out of your brain. (I use the Day Designer planner + it makes it SUPER easy to write a list on one side + then set up your day next to it.)
Once you’ve dumped all the things, circle or rate your tasks in order of importance + what much get done first.
Now that you’ve done that, it’s time to time block.
TIME BLOCK/POMODORO METHOD
This trick/hack/tool I learned from reading the book “The One Thing”. If you haven’t read it, definitely run (don’t walk) + get it right now. You can read my review of it in my post called "Intro to Self-Help".
The idea of time blocking is that you physically schedule everything you have to do into blocks of time. Once the time is over, you move on.
This is the first lesson in "if it’s not scheduled, its. not. real."
8:00-8:30 // Make coffee + eat breakfast
8:30-9:15 // Priority Task #1
9:15-9:30 // Break
9:30-10:15 // Priority Task #2
10:15-10:30 // Break
10:30-11:15 // Priority Task #3
11:15-11:30 // Break
11:30-12:15 // Priority Task #4
12:15-1:00 // Eat lunch
1:15-2:00 // Priority Task #5
…on + on.
Now, a method of time blocking I LOVE to use is the Pomodoro Method. You can read more in depth about it here but in short, it sets you up in timed increments of 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks in between tasks.
You set a timer for 25 minutes, work un-interrupted, take a break, repeat. It works like a charm. This helps to avoid burnout + help you feel accomplished quickly.
Every 4 rounds, you take a longer break. You’d be amazed how much you can get accomplished!
I used 45 minute increments in the above example because that’s what I tend to use. I’ve found my tasks are generally just about 45 minutes in length, but depending on the day + the task I can adjust accordingly.
This is dependent on your personality but I know for me sometimes a little background music goes a long way. The key here to is use either instrumental (jazz, down tempo electronic, etc…) or music in another language…I love bossa nova.
Spotify is a great place to find playlist to help you get to work. Some of my favorites are Jazztronica, Soft Jazz Backdrop (how corny, I know) + Bossa Nova dinner.
Under the “Focus” tab in the browse section of Spotify there are tons! Find one you like the most + get to work!
Now, if you’re not using a strict pomodoro method, the key is to leave some padded time. Meaning, don’t time block your self without any wiggle room. Things always come up + if you don’t allow for some time in-between tasks you’ll be thrown off for the rest of the day + defeating the purpose of being uber productive.
To help ya get started, I’ve designed a worksheet you can grab to help you get in the habit of planning your days. Think of how much more money you can make, how much more content you can create, how many more sales you can generate when your time is being thoughtfully considered + each important task gets accomplished!
Download your worksheet by leaving your email below!
Ok, so now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about your brain.
It’s. Not. Meant. To. Multi. Task.
What we seemingly think of as something to “save” time, what winds up happening is the opposite.
By switching between tasks periodically, we’re not doing any of them thoroughly + we’re definitely not saving any time. The amount of brain power required to switch from task to task takes your attention away from what you’re intending to do to focus on the act of switching tasks.
Which is why things like time-blocking + using the pomodoro method are so effective. They force you to stay in one space for an set amount of time.
Seeing as though you’re a procrastinator just like I am, I’m assuming you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t *mean* to multitask, I just get distracted easily + move on.”
I feel you.
I’m about 99.4% sure I have ADD + though it’s never been diagnosed, I check all the boxes.
I can head to google searching for one thing + then wind up on a website about big game hunting in Africa. It’s super frustrating + I don’t even know I’m doing it. The struggle is real.
I think most of us these days have ADD. The amount of information we are bombarded with on a daily basis is unlike any other time. We have tens of thousands of decisions to make each day on random shit + it’s starting to effect our efficiency.
Back in December I was beginning to get really concerned with how bad my ability to focus was getting. It made me feel lazy + unmotivated when I *knew* neither of those things were true.
I started researching alternative ways to regain focus. I’ve tried things in the past that said they would help with brain + cognitive function, but none of them worked.
Then one day I stumbled up on an ad on Instagram (isn’t it creepy how insta can do that!?) for a product called TruBrain.
I looked them up + read their website front to back. They explained how neurotransmitters in our brains were responsible with how we focus + think effectively.
All the research + testing they’ve done to prove this little mighty juice pack works was there. So, I decided to give it a try.
Their 10-day trial pack was delivered the following week + I haven’t looked back since. I swear by this shit. Honest.
If you struggle with mental focus + concentration like I do (to where you think something is really wrong with you that you can’t freggin focus for one more minute) then I highly highly highly suggest giving it a try! Read more about it here. I promise you won’t regret it.
Even if you are someone that can focus just fine but wants to up-level their game even more, its for you too. Feel free to ask me any questions! I’m happy to answer!
Now, that I’m completing this Whole 30 challenge, I can’t consume added sugar + since there is agave in the juice packs of TruBrain, I decided to give Bulletproof Coffee a try.
Bulletproof coffee is a blended coffee drink you consume in the morning as a meal all by itself. You add grass fed butter (super important, no swaps for this - Kerrygold brand is my favorite) or ghee + MCT oil. Bulletproof has their own brand called Brain Octane.
MCT, medium chain triglycerides, are a type of saturated fat that improves cognitive function + can help maintain weight. MCT oil is a highly concentrated version of coconut oil.
Coconut oil contains these MCTs but straight MCT oil has the most.
Drinking this first thing in the morning allows the body to burn fat for fuel as opposed to storing it. It helps clear mental fog + feel fuller longer.
Since I’ve been drinking it I’ve been able to maintain my focus + mental clarity. I love coffee SO much but found that when I was trying to focus I was unable to. I was alert but I wasn’t focused. Two very different things. I would get jittery + feel uncomfortable sitting + doing work for an extended period of time. This, my friends, is the solution!
I hope some of this has helped you tackle your focus demon + get to work. All of these tips can be applied to any career + area of work.
You are now well on your way to becoming a more focus + productive you!
What are your biggest struggle points when it comes to productivity? Any other tips that work for you!?
With a big hug + lots of love,