The last two weeks have been possibly the most productive period of time that I can recall. As someone who has always struggled with procrastination, this has been a massive change and it has been feeling on top of the world!
Here are five things that have been helping me create momentum in my days and actually enjoy every aspect of my life!
1. Use the right tools.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a slight problem with planners. I love the things – the more elaborate the better! I love stickers, checklists, calendars, coloured pens and everything in between. Often though, all of this simply creates overwhelm and I abandon the lot. I have found that simplifying the systems I use and making sure that they are ones that work for me has been invaluable in making my days truly productive.
Option a) the paper planner: Currently I am using the 2018 Fit Planner from Blogilates. I love that I am able to have a monthly calendar, daily schedule and a daily planner all in one. There is room for a food diary and daily workouts, which I love. Using a daily planner allows me to embrace my love of stickers and get creative with decorating. Although I use the daily to-do list, it is more of a back up to my primary productivity tool which is…
Option b) the digital planner: Wunderlist! I admit to being a bit obsessed with this thing. It’s a free app that is now owned by Microsoft and it is is hands down the best thing I’ve used. You can share lists, add plenty of details to your notes and also input straight to iCal by using the script provided on the Wunderlist website (web version only unfortunately!) The user interface is simple and clean and there is a very satisfying bell sound when you tick off an item. I love it so much that I think everyone at work is sick of me talking about it….
2. Be proactive.
As a natural procrastinator, instinct tells me to leave it until later. But I’ve found that by making a rule for myself that if the task will take less than ten minutes I have to do it right away, I have eliminated many of the little tasks that used to become mental clutter and drag me down.
A surprising one for this has been meditation. I have found that by doing my meditation before going out for my workout in the morning, it has been much easier and more enjoyable. By waiting until after my workout and doing it just before I left for work, it became something that weighed on my mind. Just freaking do it!
3. Embrace momentum.
Following on from the last tip, use the little tasks that you accomplish quickly as a springboard to create momentum for other tasks. The more items you can tick off, the sooner you find yourself feeling like an accomplished person and the longer you want to feel this way! This happened last week when I had to write up a plan – something that I will often procrastinate on for a month (in fact, I have been known to procrastinate on the write up until after the plan has been executed…) but having ticked off so many other things in quick session I realised that shelving the plan would feel like a personal contradiction. So I did it. It took me fifteen minutes and I took great pleasure in ticking off that item in my planner and in Wunderlist (yes I acknowledge that this makes me a huge nerd, but hey, whatever!)
4. Track achievements.
Ticking items off is hugely satisfying, but there are inevitably items that are habits rather than single tasks. You can set Wunderlist to repeat items, but I feel that I would feel vaguely depressed to tick off an item only to have it bounce right back! So, for items that are daily habits that I want to cultivate I have been using the app Way of Life. These are mostly health related rather than work or chores, but accumulating that string of green boxes is quite gratifying and pushes me to do things that I don’t want to do – such as getting on the scales after a night out with friends – ugh! But habits catch on quickly and this is a good reminder in the process of creating the patterns that will benefit you in the long run.
5. Detox from distractions.
Over the summer, I went on an amazing holiday through South East Asia. But as well as embracing the experience and spending time with loved ones, I also spent too much time trawling social media. I will argue that some of this was valid – we announced our engagement on Facebook so getting to see people’s reactions was a lot of fun. But by the end of the trip, I had realised that neither Facebook nor Snapchat were adding much value to my life. So I implemented a month long ban on them, deleted the apps from my phone and can honestly say that it’s been brilliant. I feel like I’ve saved a lot of time, but I hadn’t realised quite how many negative emotions Facebook was causing me. I can genuinely say that I am so much happier without it. Instagram stayed, but I can honestly say that I’ve spent a lot less time on it and am much quicker to realise when I’ve stopped enjoying what I’m looking at and have deteriorated into mindless scrolling. I have decided that I will go back on to Facebook on my birthday (in two weeks) but that I won’t be reinstalling the apps on my phone or iPad. If I want to check it, I can use Safari but I am going to keep this as infrequent as possible. Life is much sweeter without it!
So there you have it, five things that have made a difference to my productivity, my achievement levels and my overall happiness! Over the last fortnight I have crushed a huge goal at work and received a lot of positive feedback, which will be added impetus for me to continue working this way. Pick up one of these tips and give it a go – you might surprise yourself!