Maximizing the waking hours in my days is absolutely key for my schedule. I’m honestly so busy that I always have my calendar running through my head! I work as a second grade teacher so I write Rhyme & Reason at night and on the weekends. I’m currently in the process of really trying to utilize free weekend time (when it scarcely occurs!) to work on R&R because I’m finding more and more that I don’t have enough hours in the day to work on it. Sure, I can maintain R&R right now (with hard work) but I’d like a few more hours every week to dedicate to growing R&R! A girl can dream or be more productive! These are my tips for balancing a full-time job, starting your own business/project on the side, managing finances, exercising, seeing family, friends, and boyfriends/girlfriends, attending dinners, running errands, scheduling appointments and meetings, traveling, and making your lunch for work the next day all while trying to find a moment to post an Instagram.
Be productive in style by shopping at my favorite online office/desk/tabletop decor shops:
6 WAYS TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE:
1. WAKE UP EARLY & AT YOUR FIRST ALARM: Sometimes, I can tell that I set the tone and pace for my whole day by how I react to my alarm in the morning (a little background knowledge – I used to refer to my morning alarm as my enemy!). Do I press snooze or do I turn off my alarm and get up? My day starts early by the nature of my job because I am a teacher. I tend to be very motivated and productive in the mornings. So, for me to stay on top of teaching and running my blog, it so so so helpful for me to wake up 30 to 45 minutes before my alarm would normally go off in order to dedicate a few quiet minutes to R&R. 30 minutes doesn’t sound like much but it makes a world of difference because I can send out a few emails, schedule social media posts (using Hootsuite and TweetDeck), or finalize a blog post. If I sleep through my first alarm – my blog alarm – and just wake up for my second alarm – my teaching alarm – then I already feel behind when I wake up.
2. SET DAILY INTENTIONS: Before you jump to check your email or your Instagram in the morning, first give yourself a few minutes to set an intention for the day you have ahead of you. For some people, this will involve praying or meditating or just making your bed. Give yourself this time and
trick tell your brain how your day is going to go. I promise, even starting off your day by telling yourself something as simple and general as “I’m going to have an awesome day today” or “I’m going to be my best self today” will set your day off on a positive note. I can also tell that I’m consistently happier or more upbeat or more focused on days that I start off with a positive intention.
3. MAINTAIN A REALISTIC TO-DO LIST: My to-do list is EVERYTHING. It is what keeps me going everyday! I’ve tried different ways to manage my to-do list and after feeling so overwhelmed by so often having endless to-do lists that never seem to get shorter, I’ve mastered a system of attack that works for me. Every week, I write out a running to-do list that I can add to throughout the week. However, every day, I pick out my top 3 most important items to do that day and I focus solely on those 3 items (these are 3 items to do outside of my teaching job because I keep separate lists for school). 3 items is realistic for me and my schedule. Maybe 2 is better for you or maybe you have time for 5 items. I now end everyday with a sense of accomplishment because I am able to cross off my big 3 for the day. Another tool I have found to be useful are Meg Biram’s GSD Master List Notepads.
4. SCHEDULE YOUR DAY: Schedule your day around your work habits and your natural tendencies. For me, I only have so many hours that I can actually schedule – a little bit of time before work and my evenings and nights after work. I can sometimes be a slave to my Google Calendar and my Day Designer Planner but it helps me so much that I’m okay with it. I try to use certain evenings for appointments and then use other evenings for work I do at home like writing blog posts and managing things like finances. I try to do the tasks I want to do least right when I get home and have my creative juices flowing. If I wait to do my most time consuming or my least desirable task until 8pm or 9pm then I might not get it done. I also try not to get distracted by emails or my phone during hours I’ve set aside for my top 3 items on my to-do list (unless I’m checking off a task like “file emails”). In general, be intentional about your schedule and you will find your time better maximized and find your work to be more on task and more valuable.
5. COMMUNICATE: As I’ve grown up, I learned that communication is the single most important thing, for me, to decrease stress and maintain happy and healthy relationships. I honestly try to communicate with people even if it feels like the hardest thing in the world. Communicating to be productive is just as important. There are a few ways that effective communication can help you maximize your time toward your goals. First, be an email expert. Do not get distracted by your email in the middle of a project and tell yourself that it’s okay because responding to emails is work. It is part of work but it should be a work enhancer not a work copout. Set aside time between projects or to-do list tasks to check your email and then respond to emails right away. In other words, tackle emails before they ever creep onto your to-do list. I also categorize and file my emails once I am done with them/their email chain. Secondly, communicate with yourself and with those you work with. Do your best to be honest with what you can do when and relay that to those you work with. For example, don’t schedule a meeting or a coffee on Monday morning if you know that that is your catchup time. You won’t be your best self at the meeting if you are distracted so communicate with others about what you need/can do (in a professional and respectful way, of course).
6. USE HELPFUL TOOLS & RESOURCES: There are so many helpful tools and resources out there to assist you in managing your time. For example, I use the app Wunderlist to maintain my to-do lists… it’s amazing! I also use a Day Designer Planner because it literally kicks butt (for any teachers out there, I use a separate planner for work – Erin Condren makes the best teacher planners!)! For blogging, I use Hootsuite and TweetDeck to schedule social media posts for my blog posts. I have to do this because I can’t tweet and post throughout the day at work. I also use Iconosquare to track my Instagram following and Google Analytics to track my blog following. Here is a list of useful apps for staying productive: Productivity Apps.
Don’t forget to be productive in style by shopping at my favorite online office/desk/tabletop decor shops: Design Darling, Waiting on Martha, and Kate Spade.
Photo: This Is Glamorous