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.
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.
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.
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?