8 ways to be productive and get sh*t done

How to be more productive

As much as I’d love to be one of those naturally super organised people, I confess that my head is usually a little chaotic. I’m easily distracted, I over-think things, I like to stay up far too late, I forget important dates, I don’t always look after myself and I find it extremely difficult to be on time.

8 changes to be more productive

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This revelation will come as no surprise to family members who have seen me squirm in front of their eyes as I realise I missed their birthday last week. Or to old friends who have got used to telling me to arrive 30 minutes before everyone else because I’ll most likely be late…But past and present colleagues (I hope!) will be a little surprised. After all, my job in PR requires impeccable organisation skills. From organising large events to juggling client demands and sticking to tight deadlines, it’s definitely not the type of job where you can take your eye off the ball. The truth is, the routine and structure of working in an office environment suits me – I like having people to answer to and regular update meetings to help keep me focused.

So now that I’m working for myself from home, I’ve had to really get super organised to make sure that I don’t fall into bad habits. I currently only have two days when Taylor’s at nursery so it’s really important that I use that time effectively to ‘get my shit done.’ I’m not claiming I’m an expert on the subject, but here are some of the tactics that are really working for me so far and helping me to be more productive than ever.

How to be more productive

1. Write down your goals

I find that it’s easy to get caught up in my every day to do list and sometimes lose sight of my long-term, bigger goals. It’s a fact that if you write down your longer term goals you are much more likely to achieve them and I’ve definitely found this to be the case over the years. Whether it’s about getting a promotion, setting up your own business, taking your blog to the next level, saving for a family holiday or creating your dream home, it’s important to focus on both short-term (three-six months) and long-term (one to three years) goals so that you remain enthusiastic and focused.

2. Prioritise your to-do list

The bullet journal concept seems to be everywhere this year. I resisted it for some time and was a little late on the uptake – but boy would I recommend it! If, like me, you prefer a tangible pen and paper for your ‘to do’ list, you really should look at adopting this method. I’ve found it really helps me to prioritise between my tasks and I also love having a constant reminder of what I have coming up. If you’re interested in creating one, you should definitely check out this post, which is a fantastic guide recommended by the ever-productive Aby over at youbabymemummy.

minimise distractions to be more productive

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3. Minimise distractions

When our work requires us to sit at a computer there’s always the endless distractions offered by the internet. I’ve always been guilty of having umpteen different windows open on my desktop at any one time and will often be flitting between one task to the next and back again. I’d also have my mobile phone on the desk which would constantly distract me with social media notifications – even more so since I got obsessed with Instagram. I’ve recently started to turn my phone on to flight mode when working and will concentrate on just one task at a time. When blogging on wordpress I use the distraction free writing mode which I find helps me to be more productive.

4. Get a good night’s sleep

I’ve always been more of a ‘night owl’ than a morning person. When I first started working from home I’d make the mistake of planning to work for a few hours on an evening – only to find myself still working at 1am. I soon found out that this is totally counter-productive as the next day I’d feel sluggish and be far less productive as a result. If you struggle to take yourself to bed, it may be worthwhile giving your bedroom a makeover to create a cosy retreat that you can’t wait to get into – I updated ours last year and it made the world of difference.

5. Set time limits for each task

It’s been proven that if you give yourself less time (than you would perhaps choose to) to complete as task, you will generally complete it a lot quicker. I find that I work so much efficiently when given a tight deadline – without a deadline I tend to procrastinate and over-think. On the two days that Taylor’s at nursery I’ll block out parts of my day to ensure that I get everything completed that I planned. As well as writing and project work, I’ll also schedule in a set time for social media, as well as household tasks and breaks. It keeps me focused and helps me to work through everything a lot quicker without allowing myself to get sidetracked.

6. Organise your work space

I’ve always been a stickler for a tidy work space and find clutter to be such a distraction. A tidy desk definitely means a tidy head for me and helps me to be more productive.  I don’t yet have a home printer in my new office space, and to be honest, I quite like it that way as I’m not surrounded by paperwork that I don’t need! Before I sit down to work I’ll tidy the desk and remove anything that I don’t need to work on the task in hand.

how to be more productive

7. Re-fuel and stay hydrated

I’m not going to pretend that I always eat well. I’m as guilty as the next person for sometimes grabbing whatever’s available to gorge on because I realise it’s mid-afternoon and I still haven’t had lunch. But I am getting better and trying to eat a healthy lunch, substitute unhealthy snacks with high energy foods such as nuts and bananas, and drink plenty of water throughout the day (I always have a glass of water on my desk and find that I drink it without really even noticing). It really does make a difference and I can tell when I’ve not eaten well as I start to flag by the afternoon. There are so many quick and healthy lunch options – there really is no excuse

8. Take some time out

Regular tea breaks are a must for me. I also go for a walk twice a day thanks to our dog Max. Some days I begrudge it, but I do find that a little time out can help you to return to work with new enthusiasm and sometimes new ideas. If I don’t take regular breaks I find that I start gazing out of the window/searching for my phone to look at those social media updates…it’s completely counter-productive.

Thanks for reading, I hope it’s helpful! Do you have any other tips for how to be more productive? What works for you?


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50 Comment

  1. Elena
    April 26, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    I love this post! I work from home 2 days a week and also try to do some blogging in the evenings. Distraction is my problem, I just don’t seem to be able to sit still for more than an hour or so without making tea, checking my phone or have a nibble

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 3, 2016 at 11:39 am

      I’m such a procrastinator and often find I have to have something to nibble to keep my hands busy! It is soooo hard not to get distracted! x

  2. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love)
    April 28, 2016 at 7:33 am

    These are great tips and will definitely be taking them on board. Distraction is my biggest problem – I find it so easy to just pick up the phone for a few minutes to check social media and still be scrolling through half an hour later. Allocating tight chunks of time does make a different – I use that one to get housework done and it’s amazing how much putting a timer on can help with focusing to get stuff done. #coolmumclub

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 3, 2016 at 11:40 am

      I also use chunks of time for the housework and find it makes me super productive – so I’ve started to do it with my desk work and blogging now too – it’s definitely helped! It is hard not to get distracted though x

  3. wendy
    April 28, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Great tips and I really need to take these on board. I also get distracted and am guilty of writing a to do list so long there’s so no way I’ll ever finish it. Prioritising the list is a great idea..I’m going to look into a bullet journal!xx #coolmumclub
    wendy recently posted…The Vyne, Basingstoke – #mynationaltrustMy Profile

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 3, 2016 at 11:41 am

      You should definitely look at the bullet journal – it really has helped me to prioritise! 🙂 xx

  4. Talya
    April 28, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for this great tips which I try to live by but man is it hard some time. Especially the part about minimizing distractions which seem to be everywhere particularly on Instagram!! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely xx

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 3, 2016 at 11:42 am

      I am so bad at getting distracted by Instagram!! Obsessed!! xx

  5. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons
    April 28, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Time limits and deadlines are so motivating for me! I always think they’re too tight and then I end up coming in right on it, which reinforces the fact that I’m a massive timewaster without a deadline to work to! #coolmumclub
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…An April trip to St IvesMy Profile

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 1, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      Me too katy! It must apply to so many of us. I faff around for ages without a deadline x

  6. MMT
    April 28, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Great advice. I am a ridiculously organised person but even I feel like I’m overflowing with the two kids, the house, the blog and NO days a week child free! Aaargh!
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub
    MMT recently posted…#coolmumclub Linky week 24My Profile

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 1, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      I honestly don’t know how you do it! You must be so much more organised than me – perhaps you should share your tips!! Xx

  7. Joanna @mumbalance
    April 28, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Very good points. Yes, writing down really helps me to keep focused. Otherwise I feel overwhelmed and start doing a few things at once, rather than one by one. The result usually is nothing gets finished.
    It is also great to have the long term goals literally in front of you. It’s all too easy to get on with the task at hand and not work towards the Big Picture.
    Joanna @mumbalance recently posted…How to be happy – one step at a timeMy Profile

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 1, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      You should Definitely have a look at bullet journaling if you like pen and paper – I love it x

  8. Squirmy Popple
    April 28, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Great tips! The hardest thing for me is minimising distractions, especially when it comes to the internet! I should probably turn off the wi-fi on my laptop when I really want to write, but I haven’t been brave enough to do it yet. #coolmumclub
    Squirmy Popple recently posted…Why parents (and their babies, but mostly the parents) need librariesMy Profile

  9. Kirsty
    April 29, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    I tend to be productive when I have lots to do. When I only have a few things to do, I always put them off. Then go nuts and get them done all in one go….not sure that is a good thing but it works for me 🙂 #coolmumclub
    Kirsty recently posted…I listened, and took a step back…My Profile

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 1, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      I’m exactly the same! It can be so hard to get into gear when nothing’s that urgent x

  10. Azaria
    May 1, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I totally needed to read this today! I feel I have been getting behind in what I want to achieve through procrastinating when I could be working on my blog. Social media is a big downfall for me! Putting my phone on flight mode is a great idea!


    1. Mum in Brum
      May 1, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      So glad it was helpful! Flight mode really is a time saver for me. Good luck xx

  11. justsayingmum
    May 1, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    This is so helpful – thank you! The workspace is important to make you feel productive as well – I’m relatively organised but need to block out time in my diary for blogging which doesn’t mean social media obsessing! I can spend hours on social media and not have written a thing – such a time waster – though I a good time waster! The healthy snacks to hand is a brilliant idea – I’m so guilty of grabbing something unhealthy as have not stopped for breakfast or lunch – not good for the clear focussed brain! #KCACOL
    justsayingmum recently posted…“But You’ll Look Like A Mum!”My Profile

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 1, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      Social media obsessing is so hard to avoid! I think we’re probably all guilty of spending far too long on it! Xx

  12. Jason
    May 1, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Great list, problem is, I can’t get productive enough to implement any of these things. I will have to try. My desk space has become a dumping ground for anything and everything that doesn’t have a ‘spot’, I really must organise it. Thanks for sharing #KCACOLS
    Jason recently posted…Top 5 Fridays: iPhone Apps.My Profile

  13. Jess Powell (Babi a Fi)
    May 1, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Love this – I’m working on the organising at the moment. I’ve just bought a desk for the spare room to be my workstation, so I have to clear and sort all the junk in it! x #KCACOLS
    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) recently posted…Win a 3 Month Subscription to The Maths FactorMy Profile

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 1, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      My desk is in the spare room too and it’s been so useful since I set it up! Good luck with the organising! X

  14. Allyson Greene
    May 2, 2016 at 3:36 am

    These are great tips! Really great tips, because I am a lot like you! Right down to the night owl, which is my biggest issue, I stay up late working and the next day is useless! Pinning this to remind myself as often as needed!

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 2, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      Thanks lovely – it is so hard getting yourself to bed sometimes isn’t it?? Glad it’s useful! X

  15. Allyson Greene
    May 2, 2016 at 3:37 am

    oops #KCACOLS

  16. Cheryl
    May 2, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Thanks great tips, especially focusing on short and long term goals. I always work from a hand written list! #KCACOLS
    Cheryl recently posted…9 Types of Mum I’ve Spotted On The School RunMy Profile

  17. Emma
    May 2, 2016 at 8:44 am

    fad tips! thanks for sharing. for me the biggest is making a list and NOT getting distracted. I turn tiwtter off now and stay focused on one task at a time 🙂 #KCACOLS

  18. Sarah
    May 2, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    I struggle with the hydration and refuelling as well. Currently manifesting itself in stinking cold! #KCACOLS
    Sarah recently posted…What’s a Mummy worth?My Profile

  19. The Speed Bump
    May 2, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Fantastic tips (and definitely needed; I’m SO unproductive lately!). #KCACOLS

  20. Someone's Mum
    May 2, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    These are really useful tips and ones that I know would be really helpful for me… but I am so bad at not sticking to things and cheating! You have inspired me to try harder at some of them! Thanks for linking up with #KCACOLS. I hope you can come back next Sunday.

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 3, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Thanks hun – and good luck! x

  21. Jenny
    May 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    These are fab tips I really need to be more productive lately. I am really slacking on things. I will give this a go babes and already pinned to pinterest for reference too. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Me & Mine {April 2016}My Profile

  22. tracey
    May 3, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    I really need to take on board these tips I am so unorganised it’s ridiculous. I can pretty much waste a whole day jumping from one thing to the next and getting nothing productive done! #kcacols
    tracey recently posted…My Happiness Non NegotiablesMy Profile

  23. gigi
    May 4, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I like your idea for setting time limits for each task. I’m SO bad at that! I always say,…okay “five more minutes”,….”a half hour and then I’m walking away from the computer”,….sigh. Your workspace is really nice. I don’t have an official workspace,…I blog on our kitchen table, but its still a great space in a room with lots of windows and beautiful outdoor views. I do also have an outside workspace (in our garage) because I make glass beads (lampwork), which I could definitely decorate a bit more!
    gigi recently posted…Time to Plan for May 2016!My Profile

  24. Lynn
    May 4, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Good Morning Natalie…Such great reminders. While I’ve always known these, it’s so helpful to have them spelled out in front of me so that maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually put them to good use. What usually happens is that I just jump into the day and realize, at the end of the day, that I don’t have anything to show for it. Without a doubt, when I take a moment to write my daily to do list, prioritizing items, I get so much more done. Thanks for the reminders.

  25. mainy - myrealfairy
    May 4, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    I love this post as it confirms the need to have breaks and by being more rested we can normally be more productive. Sometimes I think I have to do double the amount when I’m working from home to prove to people I’m not having a jolly!:)

    mainy – myrealfairy

    mainy – myrealfairy recently posted…Beyond the Starline – Book ReviewMy Profile

  26. Gina
    May 4, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    These are such great tips! I’ve been so scattered and disorganized the past couple of years. I’m trying to get it all together. But, I’ve only just started minimizing distractions this week. It’s amazing how much I can accomplish when I do that! I also need to work on taking breaks and staying hydrated. I get a little too intense sometimes when I’m working on a to do list. O.o
    Gina recently posted…How to Overpower the Smell of Your Smelly NeighborsMy Profile

  27. Lara @MommyKazam
    May 4, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Great tips! I definitely work better when given time limits (you should see how fast my house gets spotless in the 10 minutes before company arrives!).
    Lara @MommyKazam recently posted…4 Things Perfect Moms Never Do (That I am Completely Guilty of)My Profile

  28. Regina L. L. Wells
    May 5, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Pinned! This is perfect, Natalie. I used to set time blocks for tasks and found that more productive. Thank you for reminding me to get back to that. I appreciate your points about clutter (its own distraction) and distractions in general. So true! #WAYWOW
    Regina L. L. Wells recently posted…Upsy Daisy Linkup 5My Profile

  29. Savannah
    May 6, 2016 at 3:30 am

    Love, love, love this post! My phone is SUCH a distraction when I’m trying to get things done, that I don’t even keep it anywhere near me when I’m trying to work. I’m so weak!
    I really need to start writing things down! Far too often I find myself just sitting there like “Now what am I supposed to be doing?” and if I had a list, it’d make things so much easier. This post has definitely pushed me to trying harder to be more productive <3 Thanks for sharing x #KCACOLS
    Savannah recently posted…Turn up the heat with this Spicy Southwest SaladMy Profile

  30. Madeline
    May 6, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Really useful post! I often feel disorganised, which results in me not being as productive as I could/should be. I’ll be taking a lot of your advice on board, thank you! x #KCACOLS

  31. Nikki
    May 9, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Great list, there are several things I need to work on. I am a list maker so #1 and #2 are my favorites, and my work area must be clean in order for me to concentrate on the task at hand. I need to start putting a glass of water on the desk though and remember to take a break here and there, it would help me to keep on task if I take a break!
    Nikki recently posted…Social Media Blast-Pin It Baby!My Profile

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    May 11, 2016 at 1:57 am

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  33. Tania
    May 11, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    This has been such a helpful post. I honestly think I need to work on each of these elements! I’ve been feeling very unmotivated recently, so hopefully If I can make some changes in the areas you’ve outlined this will improve. I’ve heard about bullet journalling, but haven’t looked into what’s involved. I’m going to now though as I think it might be something beneficial for me. Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 11, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      So glad it was helpful – it can be so easy to get sluggish and unmotivated some weeks! You should definitely try bullet journalling – it’s really helped me to get more organised. Good luck! xx

  34. Coral
    May 20, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Great list! I’m definitely pinning it for a later date. I work in an office but these concepts definitely apply. Especially #8…a little walk round the block (with or without a dog!) can do wonders!x

    1. Mum in Brum
      May 22, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      I completely agree – fresh air definitely clears the head! Thanks for pinning x

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