Manage how you’re spending your time
For almost everyone we know (ourselves included), social media is a major hindrance to productivity. Not only does it drain your energy and make you feel generally blah, but all those sneaky Instagram scrolls throughout the day often add up to hours by the time you clock off for the evening – hours you could have put to far better use. If this sounds like you, we’d suggest downloading an app like Forest, which more or less locks you out of your phone for a designated period and gamifies keeping focused. And have a read of our tips for reestablishing a healthy relationship with screens: you’ll be amazed at how much time you can reclaim each day.
Learn to prioritise
We get it: sometimes with the myriad responsibilities we have to juggle, there’s just not enough time in the day and no amount of discipline or organisation can magically manifest those extra hours for you to squeeze in that meditation session or chip away at your side hustle. It might be hard to swallow, but you have to accept that you won’t be able to do everything you’d like (and remain sane, at any rate) – and that’s okay! Employing a technique like the ABCD method is great for sifting out the tasks that absolutely must get done and that should be your daily focal point. In short, you basically categorise your to-do list according to the following guidelines:
- A: Tasks that only you can accomplish and are of the greatest importance to your life and goals. These should be your main focus and you shouldn’t have more than three on your list on any given day as they tend to be the most time- and energy-intensive.
- B: These are important, but less so than your A tasks. Tackle these once your A tasks are completed.
- C: Usually the most fun activities on your list, there won’t be consequences if you don’t get to them, but they would be nice to do. Move onto these once you’ve ticked your A and B tasks.
- D: Time to delegate. Identify tasks you can outsource to people with more experience in that area, or where it would be cheaper or more efficient to do so.
Once you’ve cut back your seemingly insurmountable list to something more manageable, consider this piece of wisdom: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”. The advice, variously attributed to Mark Twain and Émile Zola, boils down to tackling the most important (and invariably least attractive) task you have to do first. Not only will you avoid any potential procrastination stemming from said task languishing unaccomplished on your to-do list, but the satisfaction you’ll enjoy will boost your motivation – and thus your productivity.
Create a database to organise your entire life
Our multifaceted modern lives can make successfully staying on top of all responsibilities at once feel overwhelming (we’re all familiar with that ‘pick two: your social life, your work or your sleep’ meme). Which is why we like tools such as Notion: it allows you to create a database organising almost any and every imaginable facet of your life, from creating a habit tracker to a plant watering schedule or a packing list you can refer to every time you travel, so you never end up forgetting your toothpaste again. It offers pre-built templates for your personal life, work, study and so on, and you can also easily build your own pages to suit your exact requirements. It’s visually gorgeous, customisable and free – we’re big fans.
Hack your focus
We love to work with some noise in the background, but finding the perfect noise can be a tricky task. Podcasts are often too distracting if you’re trying to write, while you might find your attention drifting away with the lyrics of the song you’re listening to. Brain.FM have nutted out the perfect solution with their library of sounds and music that are expertly calibrated to the task you’re trying to accomplish and will deepen your level of focus on a neurological level. Toggle between Deep Work, Learning and Creativity, then select your genre of music or nature sound and desired neural effect (depending on if you’re highly sensitive to noise or deal with attentional challenges).
Journal and create specific goals
It’s no use being ultra-busy for the sake of it if it’s not bringing you to where you’d ultimately like to be in life. Instead, assess whether you’re actually setting good goals and that you’re checking in with them regularly to ensure you’re staying on track. When we’re sitting down to brainstorm our life objectives, we turn to ‘Manifest: 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life’ for inspiration. Penned by self development coach Roxie Nafousi, it details how to think up your dream life and then manifest it into reality.
Once you’ve defined your goals, incorporate a tool that will help you maintain progress and keep accountable. We’re journal fiends over here and the three we rate the most are Ella Iconic (you can opt for dated, undated, digital and paper diaries and they offer binders so you can “build your own” planners); Dailygreatness who have journals for business, wellness and parenting; and The Circle Planner’s beautifully cloth-bound diaries. All leave space to clearly plan your days, set goals and tick off your to-do lists. They all offer undated versions, so feasibly you could start using them now, tomorrow or any time you fancy; setting resolutions shouldn’t be exclusive to January.