Productivity can be difficult to measure. When we have so many things on our to-do list (whether it’s work-related, family, or a side-hustle we’re working on), getting one thing done can feel like such a huge accomplishment.
I remember when I was running my previous business and I often felt swamped with so many things I needed to do. My day job, my business, family life, personal admin - it all just blended into one and I had no way of knowing how I was even going to start, let alone do all of the tasks. So I decided to test different methods and see which worked best, and of course share that information with you too in case it helps you. Here are three tips to be more productive when you have so much to do. Let me know how they work for you, as well as any other tips of your own that you might like to share.
1. Put your to-do's onto paper (and out of your head)
Do you ever feel like you have an endless loop of ‘stuff’ in your head - all the things you need to do, from replying to messages from friends and family, picking things up, getting a work task done or organising things for kids/partners/family/friends… the list can be endless. It can be so overwhelming and you can feel like you don’t know where to start or that you have no control over it. It can also often stop you from making any progress or starting any of them at all.
I want you to sit down with a blank piece of paper or a notebook and a pen and write down all of the stuff that’s in your head. Whether you prefer to do this as a list, a mind-map, in boxes or just one big brain dump - just get it out of your head. Seeing it all in one go will hopefully allow you to feel a little lighter and get clarity on what needs to be done. (If it feels overwhelming at first, do the next bit which will hopefully make it feel less overwhelming for you). Now grab a highlighter and highlight the three most important things you need to do this week. They might be time-sensitive things and have a deadline (e.g. you need to RSVP for an event), or maybe things that impact your day-to-day life (e.g. do the grocery shopping). The idea here is to get it all out of your head and in front of you, giving you the head space to take control of it.
I personally prefer doing this every week and laying it out on these weekly planning sheets - it allows me to add some structure to the process and prepare for the week ahead, knowing exactly what I need to do and when.
Then it’s time to move on to the next bit.
2. Time block - for each item on your to-do list, block out the time to do it
This next bit is optional, but I have to confess - time blocking has been a game changer for me and I’d highly recommend it. Everyone’s different, but I'm just the sort of person that if I don’t block out time to do something , it’s just floating around and will probably never get done - is it the same for you too? Once you have your three most important things to do, time block for it. I use the daily planning sheets and add in time for when I’m going to do the task that needs to be done that day. The planning sheets help you to get clear on your priorities for the day, take control of how you want your day to go, and allow you to reflect back on what does or doesn’t work for you. You’re making the space and time to get it done and off your list, and it’s so satisfying - I’m pretty sure some happy hormones are released somewhere too!
3. Write a gratitude list at the end of your day
The daily planning sheets I mentioned above also have a neat little section on there for writing three things that you’re grateful for. Writing a gratitude list is a great way to reflect back on your day and highlight the things that really make an impact on you in a positive way. It can be anything - your family, partner, pet, the lunch you had, the focus you achieved today, the coffee you drank - anything big or small. When you’re limited for time and have had a long day, it’s the perfect way to check-in and finish your day.
As a recent newbie to journaling (it’s made a massive difference to my mental health and wellbeing) I often switch between writing short versions of this on my planning sheets, and then later in the evening I spend 10minutes writing in my journal and expanding on my gratitude list a bit more.
I hope you found this helpful, let me know what else you’d like to see on our blog by emailing us at email@example.com.
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