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A routine is incredibly important to productivity, motivation and organisation and a morning routine (even if you aren’t a morning person) followed by further preparation in the evening is more likely to encourage a successful day.
Avoid focusing on the idea of perfection. There’s no such thing. Avoid getting caught up in fussing over the insignificant.
Plan your month in advance. Using a calendar, phone, diary or Bullet Journal, map out your month. I like to see an overview of everything on one page, so I create a linear list in my Bullet Journal for the entire month of dates when I have an appointment, event and a birthday to remember. I duplicate this list onto a single piece of paper that I put up on the wall at home. This allows me to see at a glance when I am free and gives me the opportunity to get ahead for times that will be busier than others.
Create a meal plan, buy and cook food in bulk and freeze as much as possible. It’s surprising how many healthy meals can be prepared using minimal ingredients and frozen afterwards in Ziploc Freezer Bags and Food Storage Containers and even Mason Jars ready to use later. Here’s an incredibly useful list of ideas.
To save further time, do your food shopping online.
Eat as healthily as possible. Junk food will make you feel lethargic and unwell when consumed in large quantities, particularly when a sugar drop happens.
Use simple trackers. If you have repetitive daily tasks, use a tracker instead of writing out the same list each day. I create two grids at the start of each month, using a page in my Bullet Journal for each: one for my clients social media management tasks and another as my personal habit and chore tracker. Once a task is completed I simply colour in or tick the relevant box, thus saving lots of time and paper. I can also then analyse the trackers at the end of the month to see where I can improve and what I need to do more of. These trackers/checklists are also a great way of getting young children involved – a sticker chart with a reward at the end of the week for completed tasks will encourage them to take responsibility for daily activities, even for something as small as making their own bed and getting themselves dressed.
For one-off tasks, I use a calendar layout across two pages of my Bullet Journal and I map them out the night before. A LEUCHTTURM1917 Bullet Journal is perfect for organising yourself in a bespoke way – you can customise your trackers, grids and tasks lists according to what suits you best
When creating an individual task list, simplify as much as possible and prioritise. There is nothing more overwhelming than a list of twenty-five things, particularly when only five of them are important. Save the non-essential tasks for when your schedule is lighter.
Set reminders for more important things.
Prepare each day the night before. The last thing that I want to do when I have got up first thing in the morning is try and organise myself and get everything together that I will need for the day, even though I work from home. Instead, it is much easier to try and prepare as much as I can the night before – clothes, lunch, putting my tech equipment together etc. If I have a busy day and am going out for the evening I work out my outfit the night before to save the hassle of trying lots of things on when I’m in a rush.
Avoid using technology immediately before you go to bed. Put the tablets and phones down and turn off the television.
Try and get more sleep. Easier said than done of course, particularly if you have children, but the more sleep you gain the more alert and positive you are likely to feel when you wake up.
Don’t use the snooze button. Once your alarm goes off avoid all temptation to give yourself those five more minutes. Get up, stretch, breathe and start your day.
Make your bed. A simple task, but creates a sense of accomplishment. Sounds silly, but this works for me every day.
Try and incorporate an early morning activity to get your mind and/or body more alert. I know people who go to the gym or for a swim at 6.30am, and others who meditate, do yoga or spend a little bit of time going through some affirmations or breathing exercises. I like to watch my favourite motivational video while stretching.
Avoid carrying problems over from the previous day. Today is a new day. Let it go.
Drink plenty of water. I’m not always able to stomach large amounts of water particularly first thing in a morning, but adding a few slices of lemon has really helped.
Avoid distractions and procrastination. Instead, reward yourself at the end of the day once everything is done.
Create a motivational playlist. I have to listen to music when I am working and often use a playlist full of motivational songs to keep me inspired.
Multitask where possible, but only when you are combining a physical and mental activity eg. an email can be sent while the laundry is being washed or you are waiting for the little-one to finish football practice, but avoid multitasking on things that require lots of individual thought. I don’t check my emails or write ideas for a blog post while I am doing my social media management activities or I will undoubtedly become distracted.
If you work on a computer, learning lots of basic keyboard shortcuts will save a lot of time in the future. To save more time, use dictation software.
Start with the most difficult and time-consuming task first. Once the bigger tasks are out of the way, it is more likely that you will be motivated to carry on with the smaller things.
Consolidate similar tasks to save time.
Learn to be a little more flexible when you need to. Schedule time as part of you day for interruptions. If an unexpected problem or task occurs, deal with them as soon as possible. Don’t allow things to build up – add them to your list or tracker.
Allow yourself to be satisfied with an outcome. This is linked to perfection – it’s always important to do your very best on something but don’t get into a habit of continually revisiting something to make minor changes. Set a time limit and once it is done, move on.
Keep your workspace as tidy as possible. Physical clutter is more likely to clutter the mind.
When there is time, take the chance to declutter other areas of your life. Here’s a useful list of 50 things to remove from your home and life.
Remember that self-care is incredibly important. Give yourself a break to rest and recharge to avoid burnout. Here is a list of useful self-care ideas.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In a home or work environment, try not to feel that it is your sole responsibility to ensure that things run smoothly. Delegate and outsource things that others can do.
Adopt ways to be more positive and avoid complaining, particularly in the workplace. Complaining wastes time and brings everyone down.
Start creating and implementing a list of hacks that will make life more simple in the long term. For example:
- Fold clean sheets in their matching pillowcases.
- Keep useful papers in Categorised Box Files for easy access.
- Tidy up as you go rather than having to spend several hours at once.
- Wipe down the shower with a Small Squeegee when you have finished.
- Cooking one pot meals or using a slow cooker will save time on cooking and washing up.
- Use leftovers for lunch.
- Don’t pay your bills at the last minute.
- Create templates for similar emails/posts/graphics/newsletters.
- Remember that it isn’t always necessary to reply to every email and text.
- Putting some Stockings over the end of a vacuum cleaner nozzle will help find dropped small objects.
- Take a picture of your fridge and cupboards before you go shopping to save time writing a list.
- Bulk lots of small errands into a morning or afternoon, and complete them in one go.
- Hang up creased clothes in the bathroom and turn the shower on when you don’t have time to iron.The steam will get rid of the wrinkles.
Learn how to say no and don’t commit to things that you know you don’t have the time to do.
Do you have lots of questions to ask someone? Bulk these together as one task rather than go back repeatedly.
Use your technology to suit your routine. As a blogger, I have used schedulers to send my posts out when I have been too busy to do so manually.
Don’t buy things on impulse, only to have to waste time returning them. Quality, not quantity.
Avoid beating yourself up if you don’t achieve something or feel that you have had a setback. Pick yourself up and carry on. You will finish it tomorrow.
Take the time to reflect. What have you done well? What worked for you? What could you do better next time? Use your experiences as a chance to improve.
What about you guys? Have you any useful tips for becoming more organised and productive?
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