Last week I presented a keynote session at the Problogger Conference with my blogging bestie, Carly of Smaggle. We work together running fun blogging workshops and we presented a session of actionable productivity tips.
If you’re a blogger, you can find our full presentation here (and some cool free downloads!).
The main focus of our talk was managing your time.
Our sessions are aimed at bloggers, but time is an issue for us all. We all want to get more done in less time.
A funny thing happened when I quit my day job and became a full time blogger.
My productivity went down.
All that new free time for me. Delicious free time! I had grand plans of what I wanted to do and achieve. However, in reality, that to-do list got even longer and my work output slowed right down.
It took me a long time to get myself back on track.
Whether you’re a blogger or working in a completely different job, you can learn from my mistakes.
Here are 7 simple ways to increase your productivity
1. Know your why and make it a priority
You don’t need anyone to give you permission to follow your dreams. But if you do, here you go –
What you want to do is important. Make it a priority.
Even if the only outcome is ‘selfish’ and time for you, that is important. Remember you have to help yourself before helping others.
When you know why you want to do something, it’s easy to stay focused. And focus is the key to productivity.
2. Switch up your to-do list
Instead of writing a TO-DO list, write a CAN-DO list.
I can’t remember where I first heard it, but it has changed my view every day. Instead of my list feeling scary or a chore, it’s a choice and it’s achievable.
We all know that our lists are long, but each day pick just three tasks. You will always feel under pressure looking at a list of 100+ things. Three tasks is achievable and if you can do more, bonus!
On days that go totally off-track, write a DONE list. Add tasks to this list as you do them so you get the same sense of achievement.
3. The more routine you have, the more creative you can be
This paradox was really hard for me to get my head around but it’s true. As a creative, I thought routine was my enemy. I had just left a traditional job for my dream job and I didn’t want any routine.
That’s where I went wrong.
The more I scheduled in my time for the important tasks, it allowed me time to make space for creative time. Instead of keeping a reactive schedule based on others’ needs, make your time a priority in your schedule.
If you work or have a family, this may mean getting up earlier, or staying in on a Saturday night. If it gets you closer to your dreams, then it’s worth it.
4. Schedule for the last minute
For as long as I can remember, I always do things at the last minute. School assignments, studying for exams, packing for holidays, painting my nails…the list goes on.
I tried to create a new habit of starting early but it meant I used to waste my time procrastinating. I’d still end up doing the task at the last minute anyway.
Now I schedule for the last minute. I save all my procrastination time and just make sure that I don’t have any meetings or appointments for the day when my work is due. It’s ok to do it at the last minute, provided you allow enough time to complete the task well.
5. Get an accountability buddy
Last year I started working with Carly as my accountability buddy. We skype each other every Monday morning with our list of three major tasks we wanted to achieve that week.
Saying your goals out load and keeping check with a friend really makes you take the steps to achieve them. Make sure you hold each other accountable and cheer each other on.
6. Use a timer
Check out Carly’s post on the 52:17 method which has transformed my working days.
On smaller tasks (or even within the 52 mins) I use a 20 minute timer to work on one task. It’s great for job you dislike doing, like admin and taxes.
7. Work backwards from your goals
Goal setting is really important if you want to lift your productivity. You need to know why you want to do something and where you want to go.
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve arrived?
Set yourself a goal with a number and a date. Be specific. For example, I want to grow my instagram community to 10k by Christmas. Then you can work backwards to know how many followers you need to grow by per month and per week.
Breaking your goal down into smaller chunks makes it seem easier to achieve. You can work down into the detail of the daily tasks you need to do to achieve your goal.
I bet you beat your goal deadline if you follow this plan.
Do you struggle to find time in your week? How do you manage to stretch your time for the things that matter to you?