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I’ve received many emails from my readers asking for advice on how to be more productive. I’m a naturally (and irritatingly) organised person but even I need a swift kick up the backside every now and then to stay motivated. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of things…

1. Plan. Plan. Plan.

If you don’t own a diary then buy one. Write down all of your appointments in it. Schedule your gym sessions, coffee dates, what night it’s your turn to cook dinner, when your next project is due – everything. I cannot fathom how anyone survives without a diary. Buy it, use it. Your diary should be like a puffer for an asthmatic. Do not leave the house without it. Go into semi-permanent state of panic if you lose it. Diary = Livelihood. Get it?

2. Learn how to write lists.

Most people think this is a no-brainer but there is a serious art to list writing. A little known tip to write an average to-do list is to categorise it. For instance my to do list today consisted of the following

Computer
*Blog post on productivity
*Print earrings photo for auction portfolio
*Emails
*Transfer rent money
*Book flights for July trip to Brisbane

House
* Clean kitchen/washing up
* Put clean clothes away
* Clean sheets on bed

Errands (Don’t forget travel mugs and green bags!)
* Gym
* Post Office
* Shopping
* 2 x takeaway coffees

This way you can knock over a whole category at once and save yourself time by not jumping from a ‘House’ task to an ‘Errand’ task. I also use categories like ‘School’, ‘Body’, ‘Blog’, ‘Work’ and ‘Personal’. You can then have sub-lists within these categories for tasks like shopping or emails. You should also have daily lists (washing up, email editor, shop for dinner), weekly lists (start research on assignment, buy wedding present, take car to be washed) and monthly lists (book dentist appointment, roll super-annuation funds, join new gym) so you don’t go crashing towards the end of the year realising, in December, that you haven’t paid your electricity bill since August.

3. Fake it until you make it.

It takes thirty days for a behaviour to become a habit. Start every day with the proverbial ‘can do’ attitude and commit to thirty days of organisation. I guarantee at the end of this time you’ll have three matching notebooks with categorised lists and a full supply of Sharpies in your handbag at all times. And if you really love me you’ll also alphabetise your book shelf and label all the jars in your kitchen pantry… I’m just saying.

4. Plan a treat at the end of a busy day.

I study full time and work part time. Both my study and work require a lot of extra hours of research and planning so my weekends and evenings are often spent working. When I wake up on a Sunday I’ll make plans with a friend to have a coffee or a glass of wine at five o’clock that evening so I have the incentive to get everything done. If you leave your time open ended it leads to procrastination and time wastage. Always give yourself deadlines.

5. Remember that there are 24 usable hours in everyday.

And if you don’t spend at least 6 to 8 of those hours sleeping, the rest of them are pretty bloody useless.

6. Ban distractions.

I love nothing more than to write while Sex in the City is on in the background but unfortunately it makes me start every blog post with a Carrie-ism – ‘And that got me thinking… (insert rhetorical question here)?’ so that habit had to go. Be honest with yourself. If Facebook/Twitter/YouTube are taking up most of your day, work away from the internet. Turn off the music. Switch your phone to silent. Halve the amount of time you spend working and double the amount of time you spend playing.

7. Prioritise.

Really think about what is urgent and get those tasks done ASAP… because every time you miss a deadline, a fairy dies.

Please feel free to add any additional tips in the comments section. Also, if you liked this article… why not email it to a friend? Spread the Smaggle love!

Love Lady Smaggle

xxx