productivity

Productivity

Get a Planner

Maybe you’re one of those weirdos who can keep all their ducks in a row using Google Calendar or iCal and phone reminders, but I am not one of those people. I need to write tasks, commitments and appointments down, so I carry a planner pretty much everywhere I go. I was a diehard Passion Planner fan for a long time, but I found the structure started to feel a bit limiting to me, so in 2019 I switched to bullet journaling. This way, the physical planner can be smaller and more convenient to carry around, and I get a bit more freedom with it. My BuJo set-up is not particularly artsy, but it works for me! I can track upcoming events, tasks and appointments, as well as business metrics, habits, goals of various sorts, etc. I also have pages dedicated to reading lists and brainstorming for upcoming blogging content, so I keep it all in one place!

Time Audit

If you wonder where your days go and how you are not getting more done, it’s time to perform a time audit on yourself. For at least 2 days this week (1 week day + 1 weekend day), carry a blank timetable around with you and fill it out as you go. The goal is to get a clear picture of how you spend your time; from there, you can see where you can shave down inefficient time use to get more done.

Time Block

Maybe this is a carryover from my high school days, but I live and die by a good timetable. I am a visual person, and I find that laying out all my commitments and tasks for the week soothes my anxiety and allows me to buckle down and get sh!t done. I use a bullet journal so I create this layout for myself weekly, but I find that the task of setting it up is sort of soothing and takes 10min max.

Identify Your Non-Negotiables

What are some of the things in your week that you are absolutely not willing to let go of? Maybe for you this means date night, or your lazy Sunday morning routine, or your Tuesday night yoga class. Whatever it is, get clear about it and then pencil it in!

Put It All On Paper

When I feel my stress rising and I start getting overwhelmed, I like to make a list of everything I have on my mind. Without categorizing or censoring myself, I simply jot down everything that’s on my plate to create the mother of all to-do’s.

Importance.png

I then ruthlessly separate it into 4 categories, depending on how important and timebound the tasks are.

Once the graph is completed, I have a visual aid to decide what to do about each task. I have 4 choices:

  • keep on my list and address right away

  • defer

  • delegate, and

  • delete.

I know I said I was an old-school paper planner kind of gal, but at times I can be swayed by digital tools. When it comes to task management, I am a fan of Asana. While it was originally created to manage tasks and conversations across team members and department, I actually at times have used it for personal purposes. It works particularly well for tasks you wish to defer, as you can simply move their due dates, but you obviously could also do that with a paper planner as well.

Make A List The Night Before

To make sure you hit the ground running in the morning and avoid spending the first 30min of your day waffling, procrastinating and feeling overwhelmed because you have so much to do (oh wow, can you tell I’ve been there?), take a look at your planner the night before and make a plan of attack. What are the top 3 things you want to accomplish the next day? Clearly list them so that you know exactly what to tackle the next day.

Did you notice how I told you to make a list of 3 things you want to accomplish the next day, not a list of everything you want to get done? The goal here is to create small wins - you are obviously much more likely to accomplish 3 things than you are to accomplish 10 things, so let’s prioritize the list and celebrate if you do get though more than you thought you could!

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Health & Fitness

Having your fingers in a lot of pies doesn’t have to mean you let your nutrition and fitness fall off the way side (foodie pun intended). Here is how I manage to keep up with my healthy eating habits and fitness routine while keeping all the other balls in the air simultaneously:

Batch cook

I normally thoroughly enjoy cooking, so I am not always the biggest bulk meal-prepper, since I like cooking up a nice meal for myself when I have the time. However, when my week is looking packed, I have no problem resorting to batch cooking healthy meals ahead of time. I typically prep things “family style”, meaning I take my fridge into a giant buffet. I just make sure everything is as close to its ready-to-eat state as possible, so I can mix and match things onto a plate come mealtime. I also make sure I utilize as many cooking methods at a time, so that I can be more efficient (though this may take a bit of practice).

For example, I may have some brown rice cooking in the Instant Pot, some chicken + a pan of root vegetables in the oven, and some green beans steaming on the stove, while I am also shredding some cabbage to add to salads throughout the week. Once you have a system, 1hr in the kitchen could be all you need to have your meals squared away for the next few days!

Food Shortcuts

Pre-cut veggies and pre-cooked chicken may be a bit pricier, but they are vastly healthier than take-out. The same goes with meal prep companies!

Make Time for Movement

When you get busy, it’s easy for your training regimen to get put on the backburner. Still, you will feel more energized and sleep better (more on that later on) if you find ways to incorporate some movement into your busy day. It doesn’t have to mean 2hrs in the gym or a super intense interval training class (or run)! When stress is high, you don’t necessarily want to add more stress in the form of hard physical exercise on top of it. Try booking yourself in for a yoga class or going for a walk at lunch!

Pencil It In

The main tip I have if you feel like you don’t have time to cook or move is to put it on the calendar! Eating well and moving your body are acts of self-care, and they need to be honoured like any other commitment. In the next section we are going to talk about planning ahead, and this applies to nutrition and movement, too.

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