My Five Essentials for Staying Productive

Life is trying its hardest to overwhelm me right now. I’ve been working 10-12 hour days at the office, then coming home and trying to tackle my messy house, some holiday crafts I need to finish, and decor DIYs that need to be done. I may not be the world’s most  productive individual, but since this season of my life seems to be my busiest to date, I’ve been trying more and more to streamline my day and my time both at work and home, and thought I would share some of the things that have worked for me.

Break It Up – For some reason, when I became a real working adult, I all of a sudden had the attention span of a fly. Like adult onset ADHD, if such a thing exists. I’m not good at concentrating on things for long periods of time. So I break them up into small, productive bursts. If my husband and I need to clean and are really unmotivated (or the Seahawks are on TV), we go all out during commercial breaks. Each commercial break, we get up and do something that needs to be done, like putting away the dishes, or folding the laundry. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re putting your full attention to it. The Pomodoro Technique is a similar idea: work, short break, work, short break, work, longer break.

Lists Lists Lists – There are a ton of list apps and fancy GTD (“get things done”) tools out there, but for me, nothing beats the good ol’ fashioned, hand-written list. During busy month-ends at work, I used to make really pretty and colorful lists with fun font and tape them to my desk. I love the feeling of checking something off of a to-do list, and I think it helps to keep you going if you can see that you’re making progress with your tasks. I carry around a small Moleskine notebook and am constantly scribbling down things I need to accomplish. But be sure to start new lists every once and a while. Adding projects upon projects will make you feel like your to-do list is never ending. Which it’s probably not, but you don’t need the constant reminders, amIright?!

Evernote – To continue on the theme of “lists lists lists,” Evernote is the ultimate productivity app. I can access it from my phone. I can access it from my iPad. I can access it from my laptop. Everywhere I go, my lists are there. Which means every time my husband says something hilarious, it goes in a note. Every time my husband mentions something he likes which might make a good gift at some point, into a note. The best part is that you can share notes, so if you are working on a big project with someone, you can both keep up to date in real time. Also, you can add to notes with text, photos, video…anything! ALL THE MEDIAS! And you can take pictures that it will convert into searchable text, which was awesome a few weeks ago when I was trying to purge a bunch of cooking recipes that all had ONE recipe I wanted to try. There are so many capabilities that I have yet to take advantage of as well, I feel like I’m always discovering new things to do with this app. Try it out. It will change your life.

Self-Bribery – I’m not afraid to admit that sometimes I treat myself like a child and bribe myself to complete tasks. When I’m really overwhelmed or have a lot of unpleasant things to do (aka housework), I set up a few small rewards in my schedule to keep me from getting burnt out. Say you want to get coffee with a friend. Force yourself to complete X/Y/Z before you’re allowed to leave the house, and you’ll feel more relaxed and present with your friend knowing that you knocked a few things off your to-do list. Treat yourself to an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians after you get that report done. Clean the kitchen and then sit down with your book for a while. Some people can do the whole “nose to the grindstone” routine for hours, but not me.

Stay Irritated at Your To-Do List – One day, I came home, and my husband had plastered the house with post-it notes scribbled with home projects we need to do in each room. Now I look at that screw in the wall that came with the house and has no purpose, and I think “Yeah, why DO we still have random screws in our wall?” Whatever you choose as your reminder/annoyance, you aren’t allowed to get rid of it until that task is done. DONE done. So unless you LOVE looking at lime green post-its on your wall, you will get those things DONE.

Bonus Tip – The Glee Pandora station. Does this really need an explanation? Don’t stop believing, people.

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One thought on “My Five Essentials for Staying Productive

  1. Self-bribery = great tip

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