This post is all about the best productivity tips to use your time the most efficiently.
Hey guys, it’s Shelby here - for those who don’t know me, I am Sophie’s younger sister. I am currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (majoring in Retail & Consumer Behavior) and I am soo excited to be writing this post. Not only because I’m flattered Sophie wanted me to write this, but because I legit love all things productivity. I have read so many books on the subject and think the idea that we can incrementally use our time in a more valuable way to reach the goals we have is fantastic.
I first discovered productivity books on a cold New Year’s day (a few years back) when I was sitting there reflecting on my life and deciding what New Year’s goals I wanted to have, haha. Basically I realized that I had spent so much time scrolling through my phone, seeing all of these amazing people live these wonderful lives traveling, going to fashions shows, etc. etc. and forever thought “oh my gosh I want that to be me.” But instead of getting off my a$$ and doing something about it, I would just keep scrolling and continue to waste my time. To be clear, I am in no way a perfect person and this weekend I was not feeling well and spent most of it scrolling through Instagram, but I have made some huggggeeeee improvements for sure.
Moral of the story, I decided I wanted to do something with my life, rather than watch other people do incredible things with their lives. I saw how much fun life could be and I wanted IN.
I don’t want to waste your time with a list of a thousand books knowing you are likely not going to read them all, and if I’m honest, not all of them were for me either, but there were a few that changed my life. Specifically, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear.
OH MY GOSH, I love this book and got every single person in my family (and multiple extended family members) to read it. This book changed my life, not kidding. To put this into perspective, I love Harry Potter (one of my favorite geeky things about myself, since I come off as rather girly-girl in many ways) and I loved reading this book as much as I loved reading Harry Potter… for those of you who love Harry Potter, you will know how big of a deal that is haha. The reason I think I liked it so much comes down to the fact that, I felt a sense of reassurance as I was reading the book that the goals and dreams I have can come true. But either way, I recommend this book to everyone and truly think it will put things into perspective for you.
In this post I will dive into a load of various tips, podcasts, quotes and all things productivity related that I have learned along the way.
I hope you enjoy and let me know if you read Atomic Habits!!
This post is all about productivity tips.
BEST PRODUCTIVITY TIPS:
1. Time blocking
Time-blocking is a scheduling productivity tool that both Sophia and I use, and we both absolutely love it. Time-blocking is basically dividing up your time into segments in order to manage your time in a much more efficient way, and stay on task. The act of blocking out segments of time will allow you to stay focused on one specific task, therefore allowing you to accomplish it in a much more effective amount of time.
First, you want to write down allll the things you have to do. Then, prioritize from most important to least important. After you rank them, separate your time into increments specifically for each task; if your homework takes around 30 minutes, then give yourself 30 minutes to do your homework. NOTE: be reasonable with your time. If you are trying to be super-duper productive and schedule yourself an hour to write a 10 page paper, that’s unrealistic and you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. Be realistic!!For more information on time-blocking check out this article: How to Use Time Blocking to Manage Your Day
“If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.” - Jen Sincero
2. Lauren Evarts Bosstick, The Queen of Productivity
Lauren Evarts Bosstick of The Skinny Confidential is one of my favorite people to go to for inspiration when it comes to productivity. Her and her husband have a podcast called “The Skinny Confidential: Him & Her” and they have spoken to hundreds of the most amazing, successful, intuitive thinkers on what they do each day, how they manage their time, and most importantly, what their morning routine is ;).
One of my favorite podcasts from Lauren is a solo one, where she takes a deep-dive into how she stays productive. If you haven’t already listened to this one, I highly recommend it! She also uses time blocking and discusses the topic in detail during this podcast!
“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” - Dale Carnegie
3. Stick to your top three
Okay I am one of those people who writes down 500 things on my to-do list, thinking I’m going to get them done when I know very well that I won’t. Trust me, this is so counterintuitive because you are just going to let yourself down. You need to be as realistic with your to-do lists as you are with your goals (which I will go into more depth later).
Your to-do list should be there to motivate you and cheer you on, if you have been working your butt off all day, and then you look to see you have 50 more things to do, how is that going to make you feel? Probably not good. Be reasonable with your to-do list.
To start, you should write down the three most important things you have to accomplish today. Then, make those your top priority. Until those three tasks are done, nothing else matters. If you can accomplish those, I say that’s a win. Remember, be kind, realistic and motivate yourself and you’ll become much more productive (however, I’m not saying to let yourself relax and never work hard… but you know what I mean).
4. Give yourself a grade
Before I start, I know there is a lot of stigma around grades, and if they give you anxiety or make you uncomfortable please skip this tip!
I don’t know if I am the only one who does this, but I think I came up with my own productivity evaluation method, that I have never seen done before. Basically, what I do is at the end of each day, I will total up how many tasks I had written down, how much I go through and then I will calculate that into a percentage (# of tasks completed/ total # of tasks).
For example, if I had accomplished 11 tasks, out of 12 total tasks I had written down I would go into my phone and calculate 11 divided by 12, which equals 91.66; and if you remember the grading scale, that basically means that I received an A- for the day.
For me personally, this motivates me and also gives me an overview I can look back on to review how I have done for the week.
5. Use a timer
I don’t know about you, but knowing that I am running against the clock always seems to motivate me and force me to focus on the task at hand. I use my time blocking to schedule out my day, and then I will go into my phone and set timers based on the amount of time I’ve blocked off for that specific task.
“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” - Peter Drucker
6. Treat yo’ self
I think it is supppeeerrr important to be treating yourself, every now and then. This will allow you to stay on task and keep you motivated to keep going!
Here are a few treats I give myself, in order to stay focused and motivated:
In my time blocking, if I finish something earlier than expected, I will let myself use the rest of that time however I please (whether that be scrolling through Instagram or reading a book).
Mondays can be hard, so every Sunday I will buy myself a Kombucha as a little incentive to wake up early and get going on Monday morning.
I take breaks - if my brain needs a quick break, I will give it one. This mostly ends up happening through bathroom breaks because I drink so much tea during the day but regardless, your brain needs a break (especially if you are looking at a computer screen all day).
“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!”- Tony Robbins
7. You can accomplish anything, but set realistic goals
I am a firm believer that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything. If you want 500,000 followers on Instagram, I fully believe you are capable of reaching that number. But, if you think that you are going to accomplish that in sixth months, you are probably setting yourself up for failure.
When I was younger, I would always make these insane unrealistic time frames for when I would accomplish goals, and overtime that made me become very unmotivated - every single goal I would set for myself I would likely fail at.
But. everything changed when I began to set realistic goals. The first large goal I set for myself was making my bed. However, setting the goal of making my bed every single day was far too unattainable and I knew I would likely fail. So, I set reasonable goals for myself, (1) I would make my bed five times a week, (2) if I was sick, I did not need to make my bed, (3) Sundays, specifically, I did not need to make my bed; because I set these goals I was able to begin my journey into becoming more clean (haha) and productive, knowing it was okay if I failed one day.
It is okay to have huge, gigantic goals (I certainly do), but remember, you are at Point A, and that huge goal is Point Z. Focus on getting from Point A to Point B. You can always keep Point Z in the back of your mind but you’ll never get there until you go through all of the necessary steps.
8. Don’t focus too much on the goals
This is a topic that is highly discussed in Atomic Habits, and one I really took to heart when reading it. James Clear discusses that it is fantastic to have goals because they can really motivate you, but if you only focus on the goals you’ll never truly be happy. Reaching a goal lasts one second and feels great for a few more, but most of your time is going to be spent working toward that goal, and if you hate what you do, what’s the point? If you can enjoy the process, then you’ve already won. Focus on the process!
I hope these tips helped you. I am sure I will be back for more posts regarding the subject! Enjoy your day, and I hope these help you become more productive!