There is a big difference between being busy and being productive. Do you know the difference? Which one fills most of your time? We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but how you spend those 24 hours will determine if you are really being intentional with your time. With an ever growing to-do list and limited time to get things done, I realized that in order to make the most of my time, I needed to stop being busy and start being more productive. As busy women and business owners, we all are juggling many things and you probably have little time to spare. So I put together some of my favorite productivity and organizational tools along with some tips for ending the busy in your life.
Create a routine
Even if you have a different schedule every day, I highly recommend finding a routine that works for you. Create a routine that helps you manage your time, stay productive, and keeps you energized throughout the day. Establish a good morning routine that gets you in the right mindset for the day. Then, start your work day with your least favorite task first. Get the tedious items out of the way so you have room to be creative the rest of the day. Keep in mind that this routine can be flexible. For me, I focus on different tasks every day, but I keep my routine essentially the same so I know what to expect and can plan ahead. Of course, there are always things that come up and derail my plan, but starting with good intentions will make it easier to get back on track.
Get rid of the clutter
Say no to things that don't really matter. If there are an excess of things on your to-do list that are causing stress and overwhelm, don't do them. Get rid of the clutter mentally and physically by removing it from your list. If it isn't something that is important and necessary for that day, cross it off the list and save it for later. Clear your mind by doing a brain dump and getting it all out on paper. By making space for clear thinking, you will find that you are more ready to take on the day and stay productive. All of that stuff can be a big distraction from staying on task. The same goes for physical clutter in your work space. If your desk is piled high with papers and things, clean it off in the morning so you have a fresh space to work with. Remove the physically clutter that can potentially be a distraction too.
I used to call myself the queen of multitasking. I still can be when needed, but over the years I have learned that multitasking is not the best tactic when it comes to my workflow. Instead of trying to do everything at once, I can focus on one thing at a time and devote my full attention to it. I am able to get that task done faster and do it better. Utilizing time blocking, batching, and delegating will help you greatly in this area. By batching your tasks into groups and setting time blocks to work on them, you can get more done in that allotted time. Delegating smaller tasks to others will also help free your time for more important things that require more of your attention.
Make time for distractions
Life happens. Things come up. Sometimes nothing goes as planned. But that's ok. One of the best things I have done for staying productive is to plan ahead for those distractions. If I have 3 hours to work, I know I will really only be productively working for 2 of those hours and the other hour may be filled with distractions for my little boy, social media, or emails. I build in time in my schedule for things to come up. Knowing that some days the little guy just won't nap and I won't have time to work has given me the freedom to be flexible with my schedule.
Establish a workflow
By creating systems and processes for your daily tasks, you will be able to spend less time figuring out what to do next and more time actually doing it. Use the same workflow for similar tasks in order to create a checklist for yourself on what needs to be done. For example, you can create a workflow for your client work, blog posts, social media, newsletter, design process, etc. In addition, creating editorial calendars and scheduling your social media and blog posts can be a big time saver. This also goes back to batching your tasks. For example, if you create an editorial calendar in advance, you have your blog topics ready to go and can spend less time deciding what to write about. Then you can write the posts, follow your workflow, and schedule it to publish when needed.
Utilize a planner and to-do list
I'll admit - I am a planner lover. But it's for good reason. Keeping a planner and to-do list on my desk at all times allows me to keep track of events and projects in one place. I am able to see what's ahead for my week and plan my time accordingly. For me, I like to list out all the things I need to do for the upcoming week and break it down by category and days of the week. Then I can put those things into my planner based on what each day looks like. Find what works for you to keep things straight and keep yourself organized.
My favorite planning + organization tools
- PowerSheets: for intentional goal setting and purposeful action steps
- Simplified Planner: to keep track of meetings, appointments, and daily to-dos
- Evernote + Google Docs: for content, lists, and notes that I need to access remotely
- Google calendar: to keep track of meetings with clients
- Dropbox + Google Drive: for sharing files and images with clients
- Gmail Canned Responses: to cut down on email response time (note: they are used as a starter to an email and should be personalized!)
- Hootsuite: for scheduling all social media posts
- Templates: to cut down on time creating the same framework over and over (can be used for graphics, blog posts, content, etc.)
Are you being productive or just being busy? What are some of your favorite tools for being productive?
PS: If you liked this, you might also like setting intentional goals for the year.