Being productive is something we all strive for. I talk about it a lot because I firmly believe that controlling our time—instead of letting time control us—is a huge factor in living the life you’ve always dreamed of. Productivity isn’t about being fast; it’s about being efficient and knowing what’s important and what isn’t. With that in mind, here are 5 habits you can begin cultivating that will lead to greater productivity in both your business and your life!
1. Have a morning routine
Did you know there is such a thing as decision paralysis? Basically, the more options you have, the harder it is to make any decision at all. Think about it: if you’re getting ice cream at Jason’s Deli, the only options you have are chocolate, vanilla, or swirl. But if you’re getting ice cream at Jeni’s, you have waaayyy more options. Do you get Gooey Butter Cake? Savannah Buttermint? Lemon and Blueberries Parfait? Brandied Banana Brulee?
More options = a harder decision.
Sometimes hard decisions are worthwhile…like when you’re deciding ice cream flavors. But when you’re trying to be productive, you want to make your decisions as easy as possible.
When we could go multiple directions, it’s often hard to make a decision on which one is best…and we tend to choose the one that is easiest, because of decision paralysis.
You don’t have to experience decision paralysis in the mornings. Not if you have a good morning routine! You won’t have to wake up and decide what you’re going to do next. By having a basic morning routine, you’ll know exactly what to do each morning, saving your decision-making energy for more important things later in the day.
Your routine doesn’t have to be rigid…or even the same every day! Do what works best for you. But decide ahead of time what you’re doing, so you don’t have to make spur-of-the-moment decisions. Personally, I try to start my mornings the same way every day. That includes not looking at social media first thing → doing my quiet time → getting ready → eating breakfast (usually cereal…don’t judge) → getting to work.
2. Batch your days
Just like your morning routine helps eliminate decision paralysis, batching your days can do wonders for your productivity, too! You can read more in-depth here, but essentially, batching = putting like things together. Admin work on Monday. Client work on Tuesday. Content creation on Wednesday. You get the point.
You won’t be using extra energy as you switch tasks all day, and you’ll be able to get in the “focus zone” much more easily.
3. Use a timer
When I really need to focus and am having trouble doing so, I like to use the Pomodoro method: 25 minutes of focused work; 5 minutes break; repeat.
I’ll be honest: I don’t use the Pomodoro method all the time. The bulk of my work tasks take more than 25 minutes, and sometimes, it’s hard to stop in the middle of something. But, I love using the Pomodoro method when I am having trouble focusing. I can do anything for 25 minutes, right?
Even outside of the Pomodoro method, timers can be super handy for our focus. Remember, work expands to fill the time allotted, so set a timer for however long your task should take, put your head down, and get to work!
I also love using a timer to jumpstart my day when I feel behind—you can read more about that here.
4. Write it down
AKA make a list. I use Asana for most of my client work, and then transfer each day’s tasks to this checklist notebook to keep track of the big picture. Writing it down ensures I don’t forget anything, and I can visually see my progress after I check something off! Even if you aren’t a list person, creating this habit will be incredibly beneficial! There are too many other important things to think about than trying to remember every task you need to do today.
5. Set boundaries
Yikes. Not everyone likes that word. But—boundaries are so important to being productive! Don’t check your email all day long (I’m so guilty of that!). Set limits or times on your phone if you find yourself scrolling through social media when you should be doing something productive. Remember that boundaries are good—because they let you live the life you’ve always wanted. Boundaries are what help that work/life balance become a little more of a reality. My friend and client, Brooke Olsen, wrote about that recently—you can read more about how boundaries and productivity should work together here!
How to give yourself a win:
These five habits are good, but don’t try to start them all at once. Choose one or two to work on, and once you have created those habits, add a few more. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with trying to change everything at once, because then you’ll just get burnt out and nothing will work.
Tell me: which ones are you already doing? Which ones are you wanting to work on? I’d love to hear your thoughts!