PRODUCTIVITY MADE SIMPLE: 7 EASY WAYS TO MAKE PROGRESS TOWARDS YOUR GOALS

We all start of the beginning of the year with plenty of goals in mind, most of which we want to achieve as soon as we can – which is awesome! I think that we should all have things we look forward to and things we want to accomplish. But all the dreaming and goal setting is the easy part. Creating a step-by-step plan to begin working towards your goals is ehhh somewhat easy. But, when it comes down to keeping yourself accountable and staying productive and consistent about reaching your goals…now that is the hardest part, in my humble opinion.

Making sure I follow through in doing what I tell myself I want to achieve is hard because, frankly, being your own boss is hard. I find that when you have no one else to be accountable to but yourself you may give yourself a few too many passes to push things off for a lot longer than if you were working on completing something for someone else. Do you agree? Which is why I compiled a list of what helps me stay productive through those moments (and days) when my dreams just seem to big or too cumbersome to achieve.


Make lists


I keep a running list of the things I know I need to do. I do this for my personal life - like doing laundry, blow drying my hair (all of you curly hair girls out there know that this task needs to be planned out!), doing my nails and the list goes on. I also do this for Ninel Studio – I have a list for updates I need to make to the website, a list for candle production (what I need to make, inventory lists), a list for planning my editorial calendar for the blog and a list for bigger projects down the road. Having a place that you can refer to when you need a high-level view of the things you need to get done will give you a little boost of energy to start working.


Use time blocks wisely


This strategy has really done wonders for me. Blocking out time to do specific tasks is a really great way to stay productive. If I know I have an hour in my day to spare I try to put it to good use. For example, as I am writing this blog post, I literally just got home from work and will be picked up in 45 minutes to run a few errands (i.e. shopping) so I got right to it and started writing this blog. Every minute counts. When I get back later tonight I will block out one more hour to edit this post and schedule it for publishing.


Plan your day


This is like the idea of using time blocks wisely in that we need to plan the day out. Yes, sometimes things come up and we cannot stick to a strict schedule but having at least a rough idea of what we want to accomplish the next day will help up stay on track and continue to move things forward. All you need is 10 to 15 minutes to sit down and write down what you want to accomplish the next day. This is a great way to get a head start on your day!


Use the Pomodoro technique


I must admit that I don’t always remember to do this and it is mostly because I am in and out of meetings for the better part of my day and I feel that the Pomodoro technique allows for best results if you have a good chunk of uninterrupted time on your hands (say around 2-3 hours). The basic idea of this technique is to work in 25 minute increments and take a 5-minute break and do this repeatedly for as long as you need to in order to accomplish whatever task you are working through. This technique is AMAZING – the times I can implement it I feel my productivity increase dramatically.


Skip the multi-tasking


Trying to focus on more than one thing at once really does not work for a lot of people. It certainly doesn’t for me, especially, if I am working on something that requires my undivided attention. I know it can be difficult to not reply to that email that just came in, after all, it will only take two seconds, right? Wrong! Breaking your focus to reply to that one email that will only take two seconds means that you are very likely to lose your train of thought and it may take you a while before you get back into the swing of things. This will slow down your productivity, big time. So, my advice here is to focus on your task at hand, the email can wait.


Listen to music


I like to listen to upbeat instrumentals to get me working a little bit faster. One thing I cannot do is listen to music with words while I am trying to write a blog post or draft an email – so music like electronica is pretty much my go to these days. Am I the only one?


2-minute rule


I incorporated this into my personal and professional life a few years ago and have not looked back since. The 2-minute rule means that if you have a task that will only take 2 minutes to do – just do it. But if it will take longer than that you should schedule some time to do it. The only time I do not use this technique is, as mentioned above, if I am already in the middle of something and a quick task comes across my desk. But aside from that, the 2-minute rule is fantastic a getting those little things that come up throughout the day out of sight and out of mind as quickly as possible.

There you have it – those are the ways/methods I use to stay productive and stay on track of my goals in my day to day life. Like I said in the beginning of this post, having dreams and goals is easy – making sure we work towards them one task at a time is hard if we do not feel motivated enough to do so. I hope one or all the techniques I have listed help you stay motivated and productive to reach your goals. Happy 2017!

Now your turn! Do have any other tips and techniques that help you stay productive to reach your goals? Do share below!

5 TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS AND TRICKS TO BOOST YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

I took a couple of days off of work and had an extra-long holiday weekend. It was a last minute decision and since I had no pressing deadlines at work I went for it and I loved every minute of it. While I really needed some time to de-compress from the craziness over the past couple of months I also knew going into this stay-cation that I wanted it to be productive AND relaxing. And yes, it is really possible. I had a to-do list of enhancements, if you will, I have been wanting to make to my living area and my bedroom, I have also been itching to get back in to the swing of things to make candles, I had a few to-do’s on the candle packaging front and I also wanted to binge on some Netflix (btw I watched the entire season of Stranger Things in a matter of two days!) and watch a movie or two.

In order to do the things I needed to do and squeeze in the things I wanted to do and not feel stressed out in the process I had to remind myself of some time management tips and tricks I turn to during times like these:

1 – prioritize your list

Write down all of the things you need to do and the things you want to do. Then go through and prioritize them. My list has two columns a “need to do” and a “want to do”. This helps me separate the two types of to do’s because at times I get stressed out over things I believe I need to do when in reality I don’t have to do them, I just want to – and that makes a huge difference.

2 – complete the most important ones first

Now that you have your prioritized things to do, you need to pick 2-3* that you want to accomplish that day. For the most part I try to tackle my “need to do” first but the change I made this time around is that for every three “need to do’s” on my list I included a want to do.

*This was the hardest part for me – picking 2-3 tasks a day is hard since I always feel like I want to tackle them all at once.

3 – check them off as you go

This may seem trivial but checking things off really helps seeing the progress you have made and will also give you that little boost you need to keep the momentum going.

4 – think of ways you can multi-task

There are instances when multi-tasking can actually be relaxing. For example, one of the things I really wanted to do was lay back and watch a movie with Nina (my four-legged best friend) by my side but I also had a couple of loads of laundry that needed to get done. So I watched the movie in 20-30 minute increments while the loads were either washing or drying.

5 – its okay to say no

This is one of those things that I always tell myself but when the time comes to implement I fold 95% of the time. But this weekend I did it! I was asked to help out with something this weekend and I just knew that I already had things lined up to do and I almost agreed but resisted and declined the invitation. And of course, I felt guilty but it was during this time that I was able to get a few things off of my “want to do” list and it felt great! At the end of the day I did not feel as bad for saying no (only a little bad) because they were able to figure it out without me.

All in all, it was a productive and relaxing weekend. Even though I did not get though everything on my list I made a significant progress and it feels sooo good. On that note, one of the things I really want to do is re-upholster a DIY headboard I made a couple of years back – I’m thinking of documenting that process and making a blog post out of it :) .

How do you manage your to do list? Share your own tips and tricks below!

6 PRACTICAL TIPS TO GET THROUGH YOUR TO-DO LIST

9 PRACTICAL TIPS TO GET THROUGH YOUR TO-DO LIST

I, for one, have had an extremely busy April/May – it has been a good busy but I am so happy to say that I can finally feel things slowing down a bit and getting back to normal. To catch some of you up, I recently started a new job which I really, really like but as always there is a lot of learning when starting a new role so that has kept me much busier than usual and if that was not enough I was also planning a baby shower for my sister who is expecting her second child. I am happy to report that the baby shower went off without a hitch this past weekend and I cannot express enough the relief I feel to get past it!

With so many things going on in my personal life and professional life I have been heavily reliant on my planner. I purchased the Inkwell Press planner for 2016 and I LOVE IT – I can go into a more in depth review for another blog post but in a nutshell that little planner has seriously helped me get through my busy days and weekends. Except for the time I wrote down an event I was invited to on the wrong day altogether – that wasn’t good! Here the nine tips I have followed these past several weeks to get through my never-ending to do list while not going completely crazy.


Take three deep breaths and hold


Breathing can easily fix a cluttered mind. There were a few instances in the last several weeks when I felt so over-whelmed that I was a complete scatter brain. In those instances I reminded myself to breath – I stopped doing whatever I was doing and I took three very deep breaths and I held my breath for a count of 5 and then I released. This very simple technique does wonders to bring clarity and peacefulness that always finds a way to put things into perspective.


Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize


This is such an obvious thing to point out but at times I did not prioritize very well because I did the things I felt were easy but not totally important that day while I put off the things that NEEDED to get done. So, yes, it is oh so important to prioritize your to-do list. Take 5-10 minutes at the start of your day and run through your to-do list in order of importance.


Don’t be afraid to adjust your priorities


Sometimes things change and it impacts our short term to-do list – when this happens its okay to re-adjust your to-do list and move on to the next thing and get back to the task you moved when it is ready to be addressed again.


Use the Pomodoro technique


I recently began using this and I love it! The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique with which you set yourself a timer of 25 minutes and dedicate every second of those 25 minutes to ONE task and then you take a 5-10 minute break and you repeat that for up to 4 sessions before you give yourself a longer break of 30-45 minutes.  I have to admit I was pretty hesitant of this technique when I first heard of it but I went in to it with an open mind and I have to tell you that it dramatically boosted my productivity. I do not do this every day because it is hard to fit this in on days that are jam packed with meetings but on the days when I do not have meetings scheduled this is my preferred productivity hack.


Give yourself some breathing room


Be sure to allot yourself some time to do something not on you’re to do list – but it has to be something you enjoy doing. You can walk your dog, read through a magazine, listen to music or read a blog – whatever your heart desires. The point here is to understand that not everything has to be work, work, work, we need to fit in things we love to do even with a busy schedule. Life is supposed to be enjoyed not consumed by a never ending to do list.


Delegate


There is nothing wrong with asking for a little help whether it be at work or at home. So take advantage in the best sense of that word) of the people around you – you may realize that people are much more giving with their time than you thought.

How do you get through your to do lists? Share your tips and tricks below!

WHAT I HAVE DONE TO BECOME SOMEWHAT OF A MORNING PERSON

Being a “morning person” has always been a foreign subject to me. Even when I think back to my grade school days I remember my dad prodding me to wake up and even pulling my toes – that always got me right up!

I’ve heard people equate “non-morning” people to lazy people and from first-hand experience I know that is not necessarily the case. We all have an internal clock, also known as a circadian rhythm which is a biological function that operates on a (roughly) 24 hour cycle. 

So, there are morning people, night owls and I’d like to throw a third category in there or intermediaries (which is me!) I am neither a morning person nor a night owl – even if I fall asleep at a decent time (say 10:30-11PM) I STILL hit the snooze button at 7AM.

If you can afford or have a lifestyle that can support your internal clock then have at it! Sleep at whatever time that rocks your boat. I on the other hand need to be up in the morning and be at work by 9AM (although I have been shooting to get in by 8:30 and not too successful at that lately).

I used to think that my snooze hitting habits were a by-product of our long and cold Boston winters but I've come to the conclusion that that is not the case - it's simply me.

Here are the things I have worked on in the past couple of years that have helped me become (somewhat) of a morning person.


Consistency


In order to make a long term change in your life it is crucial to be consistent. This means that, in my case, I set my alarm clock for 7AM every day including weekends. Yes, even weekends. Even though I usually allow myself to fall back to sleep on Saturdays and Sundays I want my body to get used to a 7AM wake up call.


Time Management


If you know how many hours your body needs to function to its optimal level make sure you do everything in your power to make those hours sacred. For me that means I need a solid 8 hours to feel good in the morning, therefore, I do all of the miscellaneous things that need to get done in the morning at night. This includes, picking my outfit, prepping my lunch bag and prepping my coffee machine. I do all of this at night because I want to get every minute of sleep I can in the morning.


Drink water


Since I have started to drink water in the morning at I am getting ready I have noticed such a positive change in my morning attitude. It is such a simple and easy thing to add to your morning routine that will immediately give you positive results.


Aside from beginning to drink water every morning becoming consistent and effectively managing my time has by far taken the longest time to work on. For example, if I knew I had to be at work by 8AM on any given day I would go to sleep earlier and set my alarm earlier for the next morning. Then, the next day came along and I reverted back to my normal sleeping schedule which completely threw any progress I had made out the door.

In order to combat that from happening I landed on 7AM as a good time for me to wake up every morning. If I need to be at work by 8AMthen I know that 1 hour is just enough time for me to get ready and get to work (those days Iprep a little extra to make my morning routine as quick and simple as possible). But if it’s a normal work day I know I can take my time getting ready – I can watch a video as I get dressed and as I make my coffee.

Those early days do not happen very often so I am OK with the tight timeline I have created for myself on those days. My main goal here is to train my body to wake up at a consistent time every day and hopefully someday I will not even need an alarm clock!

And, while I still end up hitting the snooze button it is not nearly as bad as it was a few years ago. I can say that I do have a little more discipline around that these days.

So, as a “non-morning” person or intermediary I’d like to say that no, we are all not just lazy people. And some of us do try very hard to train our bodies to adjust to the work hours we need to adhere to.

As for me, I still envy people to wake up early in the morning without even trying!

How about you – are you a morning person, a night owl or an in-between like me? And have you always been that way? Do share below!