When I was a kid my mother enrolled me in what it was called: ‘how to study course’ . When that happened my first reaction was negative as I thought I didn’t need any help studying as it was pretty much self-explanatory: you sit down and study. But to my surprise there was indeed way more to it than just sitting down and getting to it. The teacher introduced us for the first time to the concept of personality differences and as a young kid it really did open my mind to just how different we are from the person standing beside us. As it turned out, my personality type was one that needed to read a book to get into the ‘mood’ or studying as a way to focus the attention and to quiet my thoughts while for others it was advised to do that after they studied as a relaxation technique.
As an adult woman I find that the same technique applies to my life in general. I have developed little routines that I need to follow in order to get the day right and my concentration the way I want it. I have read numerous books on productivity and found a lot of insight in how other people manage their day productively. But the more I read the more simple has all become to me, maybe because I have found a system that works with the way I am, with my personality and daily intentions. These are some of the tips that I wish I knew earlier! I have quite a few tips so I will make a series of posts around this topic. Enjoy!
Find your own system and focus on the process, not only the goals.
I am a stationary addict and as such I have always bought diaries, journals, to manage my daily tasks. I would also download apps for the phone but I have noticed that those only work better as a reminder for me, not to really work things out or remember dates.
I have found my perfect system with the bullet journaling. It was introduced to me by a friend and even though I was reticent first as I thought it was just a fade I have to admit that it really works for me. What’s so special about it? Nothing much, really. It is a system that takes you back to the basics: pen and paper. And it works. It helps me to organise my head first and to decide what I really want, even outside my day job which it is important. The sense of fulfilment does not always comes from your day job, and since I decided to start working on what I love on my own I have to find the time outside those hours to work on what I truly love.
Some days will be more productive, some other days will be more chaotic but at the end of the week I will review what went well and what could be improved and I find this system allows for these kinds of adjustments. It also helps me to relax when I don’t get things perfect from the beginning, it helps me to see it as a process, instead of an end result.
Find your ideal work routine and stick to it. Your body will get used to it.
I find that my routine does change with the seasons and as we enter the autumn and it gets colder and darker I just want to stay in and relax, sleep till later in the mornings and so on. But I have also noticed that when I do that, I end up feeling even more tired than before. Whenever I decide to exercise either in the evening or the morning the whole day lightens up and I have energy for so many more things. That’s why they say, if you feel too tired to do it, you probably need it the most. So, I learned that sometimes your body does not know what it wants. Sometimes it is good to exercise when you feel tired as it will make you feel way more energised and it will help with the mood
Stop multitasking and respect your time
When you are writing a letter, you should focus only in that and nothing else. Respect that time. Take note of other things that needs to be done, but I find it is always better to group tasks in chunks arranged by similarity of the task or how much brain power it takes to complete it. So in my day job I have many task that are easy to do, they just take time so I decide to do them in the evening because I prefer to use the morning for more complicated tasks that need my focus. I am fresher in the morning so it feels easier to respect this order and I get more done if I do this.
As for the categories, I group them in chunks that are similar so I can do these task in one go. Switching tasks continuously makes us feel confused and take a lot of energy from us.
Another way of respecting your time is realising that sometimes you will feel more energetic and in the zone to work more and other times you won’t. You should take advantage of either scenario by working more when you are focused and relaxing when you are not in the zone at all. Sometimes you may feel more tired and working more hours will not make a difference into the result you will get. In those cases it is just better to call it a day and take it easy from then on. You will benefit from the down time even more because chances are that you really need it.
Assign a time limit to each task and divide the task in chunks if it is not doable in that time.
We need time to be aware of what we are doing and how we are managing the time. We cannot or shouldn’t go on with our day with that kind of awareness. If your mind feels scattered you may find useful to use the POMODORO technique that will help you to organise focus time to work for 25’ and breaks for 5’ right in between. There are many apps for the phone or for the desktop that will do that for you because we all have days like that and because nobody can work focused for 8 hours straight.
There is always time in the day; you just have to choose your priorities wisely.
It is important to reflect on what we want to get out of a month, a week and a day in order to be able to start each day knowing what we want to achieve. Otherwise we may feel we need something but we are not really allocating the time or the resources for that to ever happen. Daily reflection on our day, how we spend it is key to understand what we are doing with our lives and to be able to improve our general well-being.
Let me know what your thoughts on this post are and check the blog up next week for part 2 of this post! What has been your most useful productivity trick to date? Share on the comment section belowJ