Do you ever wonder how some people fit everything into a day? Does it feel like some people have more hours than you or like they manage to accomplish more than you?
Some of my most frequently asked questions [and most viewed videos] revolve around organization. You wouldn’t guess this by looking at my closet, but I’m not naturally the most organized person. In fact, I’m actually pretty scatter brained [or so my mom says]. I always have 400 things going on-ideas in my mind, projects to start, jobs to finish and plans to rush off to. But running my own business means that I have to be organized- if I don’t get somewhere, I’m the one missing out. If I can’t find something, I’m the one in trouble. So I thought I would share with you my top six tips on being more productive and less stressed by learning how to work with your weaknesses and by better utilizing the time you have.
1. Be Realistic
Most resolutions on self change fail because people aren’t honest with themselves. You see it all the time with weight loss- ‘it’s 2015!! I know I never went to the gym last year, but I’m going to go EVERY DAY THIS YEAR!’ cue two weeks later, they’re completely burnt out, and out of the gym. It’s not to say that their intentions weren’t good- it’s that they weren’t realistic with themselves. If you’re honest about your goals as well as honest about your habits, you’re way more likely to make real progress!
For example: Instead of going 0-100 and from no gym to only gym, something more realistic would have been to enroll in a class that meets weekly.
An example in my life that needed to change: I was always late.
Always. ALWAYS. I’m naturally a late person.
But I’m never late to meetings. I’m realistic with myself about how long it actually takes me to get ready, as well as how long traffic actually takes.
Time yourself on a day when you’re getting ready. Then time yourself on a day you’re getting ready at your absolute fastest. It takes me an hour to get ‘camera’ ready, and 20 minutes to get ready in a rush. This way I can truly plan how much time I need and factor that in so I’m not rushing.
Be honest with yourself about how much time you actually need to get places- people would much rather have you be honest when you’ll show up so they can plan for that time as well, as opposed to you pretending that it takes you ’10 mns omg so low maintenance’, and then arriving 30 minutes later to an annoyed group.
This way you’re also less stressed-I plan out my day with realistic timelines, and know how much I can actually fit in instead of trying to cram in 300 things. I have enough time to get ready, get where I’m going, and enjoy the process- not be racing and apologizing.
2. Write things down
To do lists and planners should be your best friend. Sometimes it’s just destressing for me in general to write out everything I have to do- it seems much more achievable when it’s on paper. It seems like there’s actually less to do, and now I know I won’t forget anything.
I like to write my to-do lists in order of importance. For example: what has to get done tonight? what do I want to do, but actually won’t matter if it doesn’t get done until the weekend? Answering work emails and finishing projects are always paramount to something like organizing my closet. This helps you to focus your energy on what has to get done, and takes your mind off the projects that don’t need immediate attention.
I also like to jot notes on my phone [literally, on the notes app] throughout the day. This helps me later at night when I’m compiling my list / checking things off in case anything came up or I had a reminder to myself.
Once you get down your to do list, it’s important to schedule your time out among the tasks- including breaks. Naturally we tend to drift off during work [checking social media sites, watching videos] especially if it’s on a computer. BUT we’re stressing out the entire time that we’re doing it!
Ex: “omg I have to finish this paper I have soo much to do” -while checking facebook.
If you schedule breaks in for yourself, you’re more likely to get your job done faster AND enjoy those moments for social media, instead of expanding your stress over a longer period of time.
How I fixed this: For every hour I would dedicate to a project, I would give myself ten minutes of uninterrupted chill time. I could do whatever I wanted in this time. Tweet, text, facebook. Or just literally step away from the project and get a snack. This way you’re actually relaxing for those ten minutes and enjoying your break that you normally take. This also gives you a reward for working and an incentive to get through it. You’ll also probably get done a lot more and a lot sooner since you’re dedicating solid time to working!
You probably read this title and were like ‘Carly, we thought you said you can’t multitask’ and that is TRUE- I don’t like to hold conversations and try to text or email, etc. But I DO multitask when it comes to tedious projects-
Example: Netflix while organizing.
If you’re someone who gets caught up watching hours of netflix, this is the perfect fix for your dilemma. I recently had to unpack my entire apartment due to the move, and this was a great time for me to start House of Cards. I would set up my computer in the area I was unpacking and organize while watching and listening to the show. This helped me stay on task while also being able to enjoy it! Set up your computer anywhere you have a task like this- laundry, sorting clothes, making your bed, etc. Helps the mundane chores seem more enjoyable!
5. Work with your weakness
Another reason so many personal resolutions fail is because we like to promise the best of ourselves [ex: ‘I am going to have the most organized taxes ever next year’ etc] when really, we should be planning for our worst versions [‘I lose everything’].
Personal example: I would always misplace my keys. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to run out the door and having no idea where your keys are. So I started to plan for this moment and bought a tray specifically for my keys that I set at my entry table by my front door. It’s an automated response for me now to put my keys in the tray when I enter my apartment. This was a simple way for me to eliminate something I always do! By working with what my problem was, I was able to accommodate for it.
Other ways to work with your weakness:
- Do you lose papers in school? Get one binder, always put your loose papers in it. Handouts, notes, your syllabus. If specific folders are too much for you, at least they’ll always be in one spot!
- Always late? Time out what’s the absolute minimum amount of time you need. I’d say it takes me ‘ten minutes’ but that doesn’t factor in my walk to the elevator, to the garage, to my car and actually on the road. That is 20 minutes. So now I know that I absolutely have to give myself that time to not stress.
- Bad with emails? Create a folder within your emails. I have a folder called ‘respond’ that I’ll put important emails in throughout the day if I can’t get back to them immediately. At the end of the night, I’ll check this folder and reply to everything that I would have forgotten about.
6. Plan ahead
This last tip goes hand in hand with how I talked about ‘planning for your worst’. No matter how much pre-planning or organizing you do, things can still go wrong. This is one of your best bets to living a more stress free life!
I eliminate most of the worst case scenarios by packing a bag before I go off for the day. This includes my laptop, a portable phone charger, some snacks, water, toothbrush / floss, touch-up makeup, and sometimes a change of clothes. This way if my meetings / drive takes too long, I’ll still have food if I can’t stop for lunch [which has happened, many times] and I’m never without my technology in case I need to post something. You will never catch me with a dead phone because I ALWAYS have a back up charger!
I hope my tips can help you guys be more productive and less stressed. A little bit of planning goes a long way! Let me know if you’d like to see a video on this topic! xx