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It seems we now live in a time where if you’re not busy, you’re deemed to be unsuccessful – and whilst I don’t agree with this stereotype, I do agree that we seem to be juggling a more jam packed schedule than previous generations.
As technology advances, gadgets come onto the market promising to simplify tasks and free up our time – so why do we still find ourselves busier than ever? And why are we so obsessed with productivity?
Juggling such hectic schedules can no doubt lead to burn out, feeling overwhelmed and a negative impact on our mental health. It’s Mental Health awareness week from 13th – 19 May, so I thought now would be a good time to share this post, if you’re feeling a bit stressed with the sheer volume of life expectations on your plate right now.
Productivity isn’t about being busy. It’s about getting the most out of your time and freeing it up to do the things you actually want to do.
As I am sure you’re all aware by now – particularly if you follow me on Instagram, I love to plan and organise. I am constantly trying to find better ways to manage the different aspects of my life – home, work and play; in order to maximise my time.
Over the past few months, I’ve picked up a few productivity tips and tricks which have helped me streamline my day a bit better – some of these things are so simple, but honestly they made the world of difference. Though I still have days where my anxiety does get the better of me and I do still feel overwhelmed, with a good routine I am managing it much better.
So have a gander, and see if any of the tips below can help you manage your routines a bit more efficiently and help you be more productive.
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What can you prepare in advance to make your day/week a little easier? We get our food shopping delivered on a Sunday and I will try to batch cook lunches and prep meals for the week to free up our weekday evenings and to minimise the temptations of buying lunch out.
Perhaps you could decide on your clothes for the week/next day and iron them or lay them out ready. Pack your gym kit the night before. Batch prep a big tub of overnight oats so your breakfast is ready for the week. Mornings are busy, try to think what you can do to make them easier.
It is probably the last thing you want to do, especially if you’ve got kids or you’re not getting the best sleep (trust me, I know) but having just half hour to yourself before the rest of the house wakes up sets your day off right. On a good day, I’ll go to the gym but sometimes I’ll just take myself downstairs make a cup of tea and read my book or do morning pages (or both depending on how much time I get to myself) and just enjoy the silence for a little bit and drink my tea while it’s still hot!
It’s a simple task that will put you in a positive mindset and give you a sense of accomplishment before the day starts. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something psychological about looking at an unmade bed that just makes me feel lazy. A tidy bed instantly makes the bedroom look tidier. Open your curtains and crack a window open too. Get the fresh air flowing.
Nothing makes me feel more lazy and unproductive as staying in my pyjamas. Get washed, dressed and ready to go when you get up and you will instantly feel more motivated. Plus there’s nothing worse than unexpected guests turning up when your hair could do with a wash and you’re slumming in sweats with no bra on (it’s like they know!).
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Either the night before, or in the morning – write down what you want to achieve in the day. This helps you prioritise your time and ensure that the important tasks are done. It is so easy to get distracted by other things, particularly if you are at home all day – there’s always something that needs doing. But writing a list helps to keep you focused and makes sure that you don’t forget to do a particular errand. For example, posting ebay parcels is a regular item on my list – because the ebay stuff lives in the attic (out of sight, out of mind) I often forget that I have sold things and need to post them.
Plus it’s extremely satisfying crossing completed items off a list (no, just me?).Once you see that you are making progress, you feel more motivated to continue. And then when you get to the end of the day feeling like you didn’t achieve anything, you can look at your list and think, ‘well actually, I did get quite a lot done today’.
If you’re on Instagram, I’d highly recommend following @katykicker and joining in with her #kickerlist (where you share your to do list with her hashtag) – honestly, you’ll be amazed by how much you get done when you hold yourself accountable to the IG community! You can read Katy’s detailed post here
I haven’t actually read the book, but I’ve come across the term in numerous other self help books and articles. It’s basically a technique to overcome procrastination whereby you tackle the worst item on your to do list first – you ‘eat the frog’. By getting the worst task out of the way first, you won’t waste time avoiding it and procrastinating, and it will spur you on to tackle the lesser taxing tasks on your list.
Cleaning is the one never-ending task in our house. No matter how much I declutter and organise it constantly needs doing. It’s catch 22 because I hate having a messy house but at the same time I hate spending hours cleaning it. So I set myself a timer and crack on with it. In the mornings before work I’ll do 5-10 minutes, when I’m home I’ll do 30-60 minutes depending on how busy my day is. You’ll be surprised what you can actually get done in just a few minutes. In the morning, I can empty the dishwasher from the night before, wash and sterilise bottles, clean the sides and put a wash on in 5 minutes.
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Structure is the best way to efficiently manage your time. I have a cleaning schedule which I employ on my days off which ensures that each room gets a good clean once a week and then I keep on top of it for the rest of the week by doing the daily tasks which don’t take much time.
Likewise with ebay, I am most productive when I stick to a routine. I have separate days for separate tasks ie. Listing, sorting stock, photographs. And then the daily task of posting sold items.
Schedule your day like you would in work. Evaluate your day and break it down into 30/60 minute time blocks. My days at home obviously revolve around the baby’s schedule but I try to get the cleaning done in the morning while she’s eating breakfast, blog and life admin while she naps and then my afternoons are free for her.
Like I previously mentioned, being busy doesn’t equal productivity. It’s important to take regular breaks from tasks to ensure you remain focused and don’t start procrastinating and dragging tasks out longer than you need to. Once you’ve ticked a task or two off your list, or completed a 30/60 minute block, reward yourself with a break. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea or chill and browse social media (just don’t fall down a rabbit hole and stay there the rest of the day!)
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I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about making extra money, saving money, getting my life organised and being a new mum. Join me!