How can I be more productive every day?
Do you often feel as though you have NO TIME?
You’re just going from one errand to another. You’re always busy.
When you have a few moments to relax, you spend that time unwinding. Doing something that’s mindless. Like watching television or searching on social media. Because you feel like that’s the only way you can reset.
You don’t actually spend your time doing something important to you.
What do you do when you are in this vicious cycle of having no real “me time”?
This is the way I used to feel. Until I became more productive in life.
I simplified things. Changed my mindset. My daily habits. My systems and environment.
Clearing both physical and mental space so I could breathe.
Be present in the moment.
This gave me the time to do things that are meaningful to me. Be happy.
I finally feel like I’m making the most of my life every day.
How do I make the most of my life?
How you get there is a personal journey. It starts with being intentional about how you spend your time.
Here are tips to become more productive in life that worked for me.
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7 Tips on How to Be More Productive in Life
1. Declutter and then organize
This is the first thing you need to do to simplify your life! Why? You need to get rid of the clutter first before reorganizing. Otherwise you’re just reorganizing the clutter!
It’s important to declutter frequently. You spend less money on maintenance. You spend less time going through your things.
How do you declutter your life?
There are 2 types of clutter:
- physical clutter (e.g. clothes you haven’t worn in a year, unused furniture)
- digital clutter (e.g. email and files you’ll never need to reference)
This is a big task so take it slowly. Give yourself a little to do each day. When you look through your things, think about its usefulness now and in the future.
Here are some areas you could clear:
- Wallet/purse (e.g. clear out the cards you don’t use, receipts you need to shred)
- Closet (e.g. take out the clothes you don’t wear and place them in a garbage bag to give away or to sell)
- Counters (e.g. store your appliances only if you’re regularly using them. Otherwise, get rid of them!)
- Paper (e.g. shred the paper you’ll never reference, consider moving the important paperwork to your computer so you don’t have to manage the physical paper file)
- Emails (e.g. delete the emails you’ll never reference)
If you need help with starting to declutter, I recommend checking out Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It focuses on only keeping possessions that “spark joy”.
I especially like her clothes organizing method. She recommends folding clothes so they stand up in a drawer – so that they’re next to as opposed to on top of each other. This allows you to see all of your clothes immediately when you open the drawer. Genius!
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2. Create productive habits
Here are habits that have helped me productively structure my day to create more “me time”:
- Have a set daily or weekly time block for your priorities e.g. 30 minutes of exercise/day etc.
- Do all the difficult tasks that require concentration when you’re the most clear headed e.g. I often manage my finances in the morning.
- Focus on one task at a time i.e. stop multi-tasking as it often pulls you in different directions and you spend more time getting less things done.
- At the end of the day, reflect on what you could have done differently to give you more meaningful time
- Use the Pomodoro method (25 minutes of work followed by a short break and then repeat) – This is a great technique when you need to intensely focus on a project. You can set an alarm clock to ensure you’re staying within the time period. When the timer goes off, if you’re mid-thought, you can just write that thought down and come back to it after the short break. This is a good video on how to apply this method in your life.
Scheduling time has also helped me to be in the moment.
For example, my family life is a priority. I’m passionate about blogging. I used to constantly think about blogging – even when I was eating dinner with my family. I just wasn’t present.
Now I schedule time for my family. I block it in my calendar like any other appointment. I know that there is a set time when I can get blogging tasks done. When my family is home, I am now more focused on them.
Related: Here are the secret morning habits and routines of self-made millionaires and billionaires.
3. Streamline and automate your processes
Take a few minutes and think about what you did yesterday, this week, or this month. Can any of it be eliminated, streamlined or automated?
Here are a few processes I changed to make my life more productive and give me more time:
- Meal plan (If you’re new to meal planning, check out the $5 meal plan. For only $5 a month, you receive a delicious meal plan that only costs $2 per meal! If you’re interested, they offer a 14 day free trial (approximately 40 recipes) – regular or gluten-free.)
- Create a capsule wardrobe (A capsule wardrobe is a streamlined collection of timeless clothes like a white t-shirt and skinny jeans. Basically all your go-to pieces. So you don’t spend lots of time thinking about what to wear in the morning.)
- Use a roomba (This robot vacuum will change your life!)
- Manage finances with Google Docs (you won’t have multiple digital files everywhere and it’s easy to access from any device)
- Automate bill payments (you can always do a weekly or monthly review to ensure everything is balanced and done properly)
I haven’t tried these things, but I’ve heard others have had success with it. I might give these a go this year!:
- Use Cozi if you have tasks or appointments that are shared with other people (You can use it to sync schedules. Set reminders. There is even a grocery list feature. It will save from sending texts back and forth with your family members!)
- Use Trello for any kind of project planning, especially if it involves multiple people. It also connects with your Google Calendar!
- Use Pocket to store the articles you’re interested in reading later on (That way you don’t spend your day reading articles you don’t have time to action. You also don’t clog your email box with hundreds of articles.)
- Automate grocery shopping (e.g. use Walmart’s grocery store pick up and change shopping lists occasionally to have variety)
- Use a planner or a bullet journal to keep yourself organized and have important information accessible
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4. RETHINK your to-do list
It’s great to have a to-do list you create at the beginning of the day, the evening before, or a week in advance.
Often it’s too long. Too unrealistic. Overwhelming. Difficult to execute.
Here are tips I’ve used to ensure my to-do list gets done:
- Create a small to-do list. Write down 2-3 things you have to get done and add more each day if you can handle it.
- If a task seems too big and stressful, break it down into smaller chunks.
- Use the pareto method i.e. 20% of what you’re doing produces 80% of your return so focus on what provides the biggest return first. This is a powerful tool. This video provides a good breakdown of how to use it in your daily life.
- Keep your to-do list accessible (e.g. in your cell phone)
- Group similar errands together (e.g. if you have to run to the grocery store, bring the water bottles with you so you can also get the water bottles filled)
- Prioritize the list based on importance, time sensitivity and especially mental weight! (Move the thing you’ve been putting off for a while or is weighing you down to the first position on the list! The longer you put it off, the larger the burden that grows with it. You’ll feel 100x better when you’ve done it!)
- Check completed items off! That satisfying check mark can be motivating to continue your progress.
On a side note, I just heard about Waterproof notepads so you can write an idea down in the shower. Maybe something you need to add to your to-do list. Brilliant!
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5. Be aware of your circle of influence
Don’t give any of your precious time to unhelpful, negative people.
You know who I’m talking about! It’s the people who are constantly complaining. Play the blame game. People who use you.
They’ll drag you down. They’ll make your life unnecessarily complicated. Don’t let yourself be in these toxic environments.
This doesn’t just apply to people you see in person. Unfollow these people and groups on social media. You can do the same thing for emails. Unsubscribe to these email lists and spam mail.
You know that saying, “You are the sum of the 5 people you’re closest to”. Make sure you’re surrounded by people who will influence you to be the kind of person you want to be.
If you don’t have people like this in your life, follow someone who does. Read their book. Listen to their podcast. Let them guide you.
My goal is to be an early retiree. There’s no one in my life who is one. So I seek out people who are and I read their stories. People like Vicki Robin who wrote Your Money or Your Life.
This book has changed my life course. It’s made me think differently about money and jobs. I value my time more and my goals have shifted. I started this blog to document this quest towards early retirement.
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Other early retirees that I want to learn from are Grant Sabatier who wrote Financial Freedom and Chad Carson who wrote Retire Early with Real Estate. Their books are on my to-do list. I’m excited to dive into them during my “me time” soon.
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6. Schedule time to unplug every day
It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of technology devices these days.
When you actually get away for that camping trip in the middle of nowhere and have no reception, you realize how healthy a few days of unplugging can be. You have no choice but to focus on YOU. Your goals. Your passions. What’s important in your life.
If anything, it reduces your exposure to advertising which is designed to make you want to do things you might not even need anyways.
Here are tactics you could use to unplug:
- Leave your phone in another room when you get home
- Disable all phone alerts e.g. you’ll check email during your allocated email time
- Spend less than 30 minutes a day on social media (perhaps use a timer to keep yourself in check or use Kill News Feed which is a chrome extension that disables your Facebook news feed. It prevents you from mindlessly scrolling through the home page. That way you can go into Facebook, check your messages, groups and notifications and not get distracted.)
- Limit TV watching (including movies, shows, news, sports games) to a few hours each week
- Check email only once or twice a day (You can use the chrome extension Inbox when ready for Gmail to schedule time for email. It basically locks you out of your inbox. You can still search and send email, but you’re not tempted to check email all the time.)
- Check texts only once or twice a day
Interested in learning more about your screen time usage and how to become even more productive? There is a new Screen time feature for your iPhone that allows you to block or limit apps at certain times.
For your laptop or desktop, there’s RescueTime. RescueTime has a 14 day FREE trial with their premium program if you’d like to try it out.
7. Just say no
This is something I initially struggled with.
I’m a believer that you should participate in as many opportunities as you can. Every time I’ve pushed myself to participate in an opportunity I was on the fence about, I’ve gained from it.
I learned something new that was beneficial. I met someone that became instrumental to my future. I came across another opportunity that I would have never otherwise noticed.
My schedule has gotten to the point where I’m too overwhelmed. I need to learn to say no to things. And not apologize to myself or the person for it.
At the end of the day, you cannot work 24 hours.
You need downtime to refuel. You need self-care. So you’re not running on overdrive. You can’t make the right decisions when you’re tired and stressed.
It’s okay to say no.
Summary of Ways to Be More Productive in Life:
- Declutter and then organize
- Create productive habits
- Streamline and automate your processes
- RETHINK your to-do list
- Be aware of your circle of influence
- Schedule time to unplug everyday
- Just say no
Related Productivity Articles:
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