“I am starting to feel like I will never get to where I want to be both in my business as well as my personal life. I don’t understand when and how I’m supposed to get everything done. Every day feels the same and I feel like I’m getting further and further away from reaching my dreams. Do you have any tips that would help me accomplish more each day and make strides towards reaching some of my goals?” – Lauren

I hear you. How are you supposed to manage all that is life – your family, home, work, and other responsibilities? Every day feels like you’re racing against the clock and hitting the pillow with a stack of anxiety. You haven’t stopped all day and yet it somehow feels like you’ve accomplished nothing outside of your regular chores. The frustration escalates and you feel at a loss.

When I started my business I was drowning in this feeling of not having enough time. I had so many dreams for myself and my family but felt like that’s all they’d ever be; just dreams. It wasn’t until I became very serious about building a strategic approach to my daily tasks, that I made significant progress in reaching my personal and professional goals. By applying the tips listed below, I was able to increase my productivity and quit feeling like I’d never catch up!

1 // Design a to-do list that supports action and increases efficiency.

If you ask my husband or any of my close friends, they’ll tell you that I’m ALL about to-do lists. I live for my to-do list, but I’ve also learned that having a list does not make me productive. Having intentions to accomplish a lot doesn’t actually mean anything is going to get done.

So, I changed my approach. Instead of randomly listing out everything I want to do and then attacking those tasks sporadically and with no real organization, I got serious about strategizing. Here are the tactics I now practice as I plan out my schedule…

  • Prioritize. Ask yourself which tasks are crucial to every day functioning, and which tasks will push you closer to reaching your goals. Prioritize those items as you make your list. For example, it is essential that I go grocery shopping because my family needs to eat. I would flag that errand on my to-do list as high priority and make sure it is completed before I dive into any other items on my to-do list. It is also important that I edit my client’s wedding photos so that I can reach my deadline goal, so I would also flag that responsibility as a medium to high priority and make sure to have that assignment be next up on the list. By recognizing priority values, you’ll be able to efficiently plan out your days.
  • Assign realistic timeframes. One of the most common reasons people fall short of their goals is because they set themselves up for failure with unrealistic expectations. Making a to-do list that is a mile long and expecting to accomplish everything in one day is asking for a world of stress and frustration. Be realistic about how long each task will take you and give yourself a little extra time to complete it.
  • Include what’s required. If you’re adding projects to your to-do list, don’t forget to include what is needed to handle that project otherwise you’ll end up spending time working on something that is bound to be incomplete. For example, if I am planning to take some photos to be used for a blog post, I must also schedule some time to coordinate props, outfits, styling elements, etc. beforehand.

>> Being more intentional with the details of your daily, weekly and monthly project planning will help your productivity immensely! <<

2 // Know yourself. Take a look in the mirror and get real. What are you great at? What do you struggle with? What time of day are you most energized? Most tired? Where do you like to work? What do you love doing? Despise doing? Ask yourself all of these questions and acknowledge your answers. As you plan your days, don’t forget about reality. Set yourself up for success by lining projects, tasks, errands, etc. up alongside times and in scenarios that will work best for you (and your family). Gain control of when and how you are going to check things off the list. Here are some examples of what I mean…

  • Truth: I really, REALLY, don’t like working out at night. And when I do, it’s never a good sweat. It’s more of a sit-on-a-bench-and-stare-at-the-weights-in-exhaustion kind of situation. Since I know this about myself, I NEVER set expectations to workout at night. Instead, I’ve built a forty-five minute to one-hour morning workout into my routine. I know that is when I will have the most energy and the chances of my actually following through with the workout are much higher.
  • Fridays tend to be a bit messy for my family and I. We are usually gearing up for a weekend trip to visit loved ones, or preparing the house for a group of visitors. Acknowledging that this particular day of the week tends to be a hot mess, I will never schedule meetings or any other heavily involved work responsibilities for that day of the week.
  • I love going into the week with a full fridge, empty laundry bins, meal plans in place and a clean home. Without these things in place, I feel totally overwhelmed Monday morning. So, I prioritize these house chores to take place Sunday afternoon and evening so that I can start my week off on the right foot and not feel bogged down and flustered.
  • I need quiet alone time to write for my blog. I am NOT someone that can write while the TV is going and the house is full of distracting humans. For this reason, I always schedule for writing to take place at a time when I can concentrate away from the noise and somewhere I can feel comfortable and focused.

>> This is essentially a practice of accepting the realities of your world and who you are, then using that knowledge to create a game plan that plays on those strengths and personal preferences. <<

3 // GET STARTED. Once you’ve created a plan for the day/week/month, GET GOING. So much time is wasted sitting and mulling over all the ways you could do something or dreaming of the outcome. Defeat procrastination and jump in. This is such a straightforward, but often avoided, practice in maximizing productivity.

A recommendation to piggyback getting started: Try getting started earlier. Waking up an hour earlier can make all the difference in how your day plays out. A lot can get done in that extra time, especially if the rest of the house is sleeping and you’re able to steal this time alone.

4 // Be okay with pausing. I’ll be honest. I struggle with this one. Leaving something unfinished gives me a bucket of anxiety, but I’ve learned that it gets easier the more I practice it. Sometimes your brain and body just need a break and time to recharge. Forcing something to get done in a rush is a recipe for disappointment in the outcome. There is some serious power in being able to walk away from a project and tell yourself “It’s okay, I have other things I need to get done right now that are important. I will come back to this and finish it stronger.”

5 // Outsource. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Spreading yourself too thin across an infinite number of responsibilities will lead to total burn out. What tedious, time-consuming to-dos are holding you back from focusing on the kinds of projects that will push you closer to your goals? The less time you waste on the stuff that keeps you lingering in stress land, the more time you’ll open up to exciting, life-changing efforts.

Personal: Housecleaning / Yard work / Accounting / Grocery shopping and drop off / Dry cleaning / Laundry / School transportation / Dog walking / Petsitting 

Professional: Accounting / Editing / Copyrighting / Brand design / Website design / Social media management / SEO responsibilities / Sending of greeting cards and gifts / Travel arrangement / Newsletter creation / Reporting (…and the list can go on for awhile depending on the type of profession you have…)

6 // Leverage technology. It’s 2018 and there’s a bundle of technology available to keep you on track and help push you to work harder, smarter. I’m a huge fan of modernizing and streamlining as much as possible, especially in my business. There are applications available that will help you achieve more in less time and keep you accountable for reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself. If you’re a creative entrepreneur looking to learn more about these kinds of apps, check out my blog post: 10 Best Apps for Creative Entrepreneurs.

An organizer app that I recently adopted into my world is called Planner Pro. I link it to my google calendar so that all of my business meetings and events are accounted for, and then use it’s check off to-do list function for planning what other things I need to get done throughout the week. If something does not get checked off, it turns red and is pushed to the next day. I was drawn to this app above all others because of its simplicity and ease of use!

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Tips for Personal & Professional Productivity & I'm Sharing About the Planner App I Use EVERY Day!

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