Just about every day, I have these grandeur plans of plowing through my work load and taking over the world. I always get myself to think, “I’m going to get a LOT done today. A LOT.” And then the day passes, and by the time I realize it’s time to make dinner, I’ve only gotten three things done on my to-do list of 27.
I know you all know what I’m talking about.
Those plans can be so deceiving when you merely think you’ll get all of these things done rather than have a plan to accomplish them.
See what I did there?
I think instead of plan and write it down.
Almost every time I don’t plan ahead, I get off track. Almost every time I don’t put something down in concrete, I create havoc for myself.
That, in the end, always shows me that a schedule, plans and lists are my best friend.
And hopefully, I’m here to show you that they may be yours, too.
For the month of May, we’re going to talk all about productivity. My last post was a nice lead-in for this one, so if you haven’t read it, you may want to!!
For this week, we will be talking about creating a productive workflow. It’s not always easy, and it’s hard to do ahead of time, however, putting some sort of routine and a bit of rules into place for yourself can be more rewarding than not.
For example, I’m definitely NOT a morning person. If I did what I truly wanted, I would wake up at 9am every morning. BUT, past experience tells me that I am much, much more productive in the morning. By simply getting up early (around 6:30am, if you must know), I already feel like I’ve gotten a jump on the day – even if I haven’t accomplished a thing by 9am but feeding my face with breakfast. Having a plan or routine and following it makes me feel like I have more day, more time, and more opportunity to get more done. Do I ever sleep past 7am? Every single weekend I can!! I just know myself well enough to know that waking up early during a work week can effect my whole day, work flow, and, therefore, productivity level.
Beyond the waking routine (brush teeth, coffee, breakfast, etc.), one of the first things I do is check my email. I don’t know about your inbox, but mine never ends! And I’ve come to realize that as a problem. There is no possible way to check every single email every day and still get work done. I may open my inbox to check one email, but then I get completely sidetracked by that sale or headline or follow notification. An hour and ten emails later, I realize how much time has passed. It’s insane. Does this sound familiar? I know we’ve all heard it a million times, but it wasn’t until I acted on the advice of others until I found sanity. I use Gmail, which gives me the ability to mark certain emails “important” so that I only look at those emails (at least most of the time) during work hours. This creates less distractions and less wasted time. All of the other “unimportant” emails can wait until a break or the evening, if I even want to go there then. I’m sure your preferred email provider supplies some variation of this system if you don’t use Gmail, so I recommend taking a crack at its usefulness. It’s not fool-proof, but it does create a much needed barrier between the two insanities.
Next up, you’ll want to get inspired or learn something. This can sound really minuscule or like such a time waster, but seriously, hear me out. I find that if I’m able to read something fun or educational that relates to what I’m working on, I have more motivation to keep going. It even sparks some creativity, and could help guide the project or task for the better. But, I’m also careful not to click too much… I could spend an hour wasting time if I’m not careful!! It’s so easy to get off track, which is why I love lists and schedules. I’m much more likely to stay on track – and get back on track quicker – with a list of To-Do’s in front of me.
Another great part of a productive workflow is management. All of the items in this post are all about management, but I’m more talking about the overall day. Sometimes things need to be switched up during the day in order to make way for the unexpected – such as going out for a business lunch or making way for a new idea that popped into your head. Just be conscious of managing your day (whether leaving the office or sitting at your desk with your phone buzzing off the hook) like you manage your work flow: Make time and room, but don’t let those things rule you; you must rule them.
What else goes hand-in-hand with a productive workflow? Social media. Can’t run from it now, cause it’s everywhere. I’ve learned that the better I embrace it for business purposes to work for me, the less I am ruled and distracted by the social world. I use Hootsuite, which allows me to schedule posts and plan ahead of time. Of course, I can’t do this for an entire campaign unless I already have my blog posts and other things planned, which is why the schedules of other things are so important (I know I keep saying this). When I schedule my social posts, I feel saner and I don’t have to constantly post manually. I would also argue that it looks more professional to have a blog and social media post merged into one campaign, scheduled around a launch date, so the audience sees the same material instead of random stuff that has nothing to do with anything. It all flows together and makes sense to my audience. This allows for more productivity (duh!) and more intentional posts.
Note that this step does not take the place of real human interaction. Scheduling merely gets your brand out there multiple times a day without all the manual labor. To combat this, I also schedule time during the week to interact. For me, the best time is in the evening, when I’m normally fishing for other things online anyway, so it works well. It’s never a set time, and it’s not always every evening, but I do have that in the back of my mind as something that needs accomplished every couple days or more. Don’t stalk your followers, just give ‘em some shout outs and move on!!
Finally, when the day is coming to a close, take time to recognize what you accomplished rather than focus on what you didn’t. It’s so easy to think, “I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to today”. Don’t. It doesn’t turn back time, and it doesn’t allow for relaxation so that you can turn around and do it all again tomorrow. If you must, take a minute to think about what you did, and why the other things didn’t get done. If it was because you were sidetracked and didn’t stay on task very well, then try again tomorrow. If it was because you really were working like a dog and just didn’t allot enough time for everything, or something unexpected came up, then you’ll do the same tomorrow.
To sum it all up, here are the 9 ways you can have a more productive work flow from the office or home (or both, if the two are in the same building!):
+ Have a Plan, Routine, Etc.
Side Note: The free version of Rescue Time works well if you need some help getting on track.
+ Ignore the Overflowing Inbox
+ Get Inspired/Learn Something
+ Make lists
Side Note: Trello App. Pretty awesome for this. Also goes with scheduling and timing and all that jazz.
+ Manage YOUR day
+ Manage that social
Side Note: The free version of Hootsuite is your friend. Just use it. You will not be so distracted by having to post something ever hour + you’ll be more intentional with your scheduling.
+ Manage Interaction
+ Acknowledge what was accomplished VS Fixating on what was not
This post also goes hand-in-hand with some other topics I’ve posted about before, including “effective-time” habits and goal setting.
If you need more help, just shoot me an email. And don’t be afraid to Pin this for later use!
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