How To Be About A Million Times More Productive

Seven tried and true productivity tips + a life-changing tip about how to write better to-do lists! // yesandyes.org

Who’s the sort of person who could teach us how to be more productive? How about my girl Carly? Girlfriend teaches, acts, blogs, goes to school, designs jewelry and still finds time to rock a great relationship and a busy social life. Let’s borrow a page from her book!
I’m a naturally (and irritatingly) organized person but even I need a swift kick up the backside every now and then to stay motivated. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of things…

7 ways to be more productive

1. Plan. Plan. Plan.

If you don’t own a diary then buy one. Write down all of your appointments in it. Schedule your gym sessions, coffee dates, what night it’s your turn to cook dinner, when your next project is due – everything.

I cannot fathom how anyone survives without a diary. Buy it, use it. Your diary should be like a puffer for an asthmatic. Do not leave the house without it. Go into a semi-permanent state of panic if you lose it. Diary = Livelihood. Get it?

2. Learn how to write lists.

Most people think this is a no-brainer, but there is a serious art to list writing. A little-known tip to write an average to-do list is to categorize it.

For instance my to do list today consisted of the following:

Computer
*Blog post on productivity
*Print earrings photo for auction portfolio
*Emails
*Transfer rent money
*Book flights for July trip to Brisbane
House
* Clean kitchen/washing up
* Put clean clothes away
* Clean sheets on bed
Errands (Don’t forget travel mugs and green bags!)
* Gym
* Post Office
* Shopping
* 2 x takeaway coffees
This way you can knock over a whole category at once and save yourself time by not jumping from a ‘House’ task to an ‘Errand’ task. I also use categories like ‘School’, ‘Body’, ‘Blog’, ‘Work’ and ‘Personal’. You can then have sub-lists within these categories for tasks like shopping or emails.
You should also have daily lists (washing up, email editor, shop for dinner), weekly lists (start research on assignment, buy wedding present, take car to be washed) and monthly lists (book dentist appointment, roll superannuation funds, join new gym) so you don’t go crashing towards the end of the year realizing, in December, that you haven’t paid your electricity bill since August.

3. Fake it until you make it.

It takes thirty days for a behavior to become a habit. Start every day with the proverbial ‘can do’ attitude and commit to thirty days of organization.

I guarantee at the end of this time you’ll have three matching notebooks with categorized lists and a full supply of Sharpies in your handbag at all times. And if you really love me you’ll also alphabetize your bookshelf and label all the jars in your kitchen pantry… I’m just saying.

4. Plan a treat at the end of a busy day.

I study full time and work part time. Both my study and work require a lot of extra hours of research and planning so my weekends and evenings are often spent working.

When I wake up on a Sunday I’ll make plans with a friend to have a coffee or a glass of wine at five o’clock that evening so I have the incentive to get everything done. If you leave your time open ended it leads to procrastination and time wastage. Always give yourself deadlines.

5. Remember that there are 24 usable hours in every day.

And if you don’t spend at least 6 to 8 of those hours sleeping, the rest of them are pretty bloody useless.

6. Ban distractions.

I love nothing more than to write while Sex in the City is on in the background, but, unfortunately, it makes me start every blog post with a Carrie-ism – ‘And that got me thinking… (insert rhetorical question here)?’ so that habit had to go.

Be honest with yourself. If Facebook/Twitter/YouTube are taking up most of your day, work away from the internet. Turn off the music. Switch your phone to silent. Halve the amount of time you spend working and double the amount of time you spend playing.

7. Prioritize.

Really think about what is urgent and get those tasks done ASAP… because every time you miss a deadline, a fairy dies.

What are your best productivity tips? Share ’em in the comments!

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

23 Comments

Christine

Great advice – I really struggle with just getting on with things. Before I realise it the whole evening has gone and I haven't done anything productive other than half watch TV whilst on twitter, facebook, flickr, blogs etc. The thing I need to learn is to turn off the distractions and do something instead. And if I am watching something great on TV to just watch it – not try and do several things at once.

Reply
Jen

These are all great tips! I live by my "diary." I used to have a traditional leather-bound one, but now I use my BlackBerry synced with my Outlook calendar. I go crazy with color-coding and reminders. It actually takes the place of a lot of my lists too: I actually schedule my to-do items immediately rather than store them on a list.

Reply
Everydayjuju

What a great post! I wish I was a virgo….but as a pisces I can always offer tips on day dreaming and drinking wine.
But when I AM on top of things I can't say enough about carrying a diary with you where ever you go, and getting away from distractions. I have to pack up and head to a coffee shop to focus (strange I know) but with beloved pets, a handsome man, and cable TV (Sex and the City reruns indeed)at home I need to get away for a while to focus!

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Kelsi

As someone who is very good at multitasking, list-making and overall efficiency, the best tip I can offer is to SLOW DOWN. Being productive is NOT synonymous with doing lots of things in a short amount of time. Being organized is NOT synonymous with spinning multiple plates at all times.

I know our lovely Lady Smaggle is not telling us to do this, but it is often a common misconception that Efficiency = Being Busy.

There are so many great little widgets and gadgets out there to help us streamline our lives and focus on priorities. But it also doesn't hurt to give your brain a break once in a while. For example, I occasionally fast from phones and computers so I don't forget how to look someone in the eye and speak in a cohesive sentence ("lolkthxbai!"). I find those sabbaticals help me to be more productive overall.

Reply
Rachael

Ah! A guest post on one of my favorite blogs by one of my favorite bloggers on one of my favorite subjects! I was a disorganized person all through school, but started embracing organization in college, and now it's one of my favorite things. My books in my library (450+) are sorted by type (ficton/nonfiction/plays & poetry/knitting/cookbooks/etc.) and then sorted further within those types, and it brings me so much satisfaction to be able to find exactly what I want in a split second. I think I need to work harder on embracing the creating lists part. I just got a new purse-sized notebook to help make that happen.

What a great post full of great advice!

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Anonymous

I totally agree with the diary thing! I've always had such a hard time using traditional paper planners and would give up on them, so now I've been using my iPhone and I think it works better for me.. one less thing for me to remember to carry around! Plus Wunderlist has bright red little notifications on my home screen reminding me to do things. XD But yeah, writing things down is awesome for my terrible memory, and I feel so productive when I get to cross a new thing off the list.

Reply
Sarah

I'm a virgo who is bless/cursed (depends on the day) with list making habbits. My two tips:
1. Don't save it to do in the morning. you'll forget/rush.
2. post-its!

Reply
Razz My Berries

This post was fantastic!… i as a fellow Virgo lack in the type A department. Procrastination is my number one problem. post-its are my number one stressors… i put everything on post-its and then i loose them or have accumulated so many that i get confused what should i begin with. This post hopefully will help me adopt some type A characteristics.

THANK YOU!
<3 Yasi

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Rachel :)

I needed this!! Thank you!!

I have been on a bad streak of failing lists after stumbling into depression a couple of months ago. Ever since then I have not been able to finish my daily tasks and it sucks the life out of me.

Reading this gave me a real boost (and reminder to go get my 6 hours of rest!) you are the best!

Reply
whollyafool

I hadn't thought of the idea of setting up an appointment in the evening so you have a deadline to work to! It's a good thought…I always get less done if I have the whole day to do it.

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Amy

As an anal-rententive, English teaching, perfectionist Taurus I applaud all of these! I think I'd die without Google Docs (organization on the go!) and Post-It notes (perfect for writing quick reminders to myself) for productivity!

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Teresa

I love this! I'm actually a Libra but have always been meticulously organised. In that new mumbo-jumbo about the starsigns changing I have just recently discovered.. that I'm now apparently a Virgo. Perfect fit!

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Fajr | Stylish Thought

As a Virgo Type A/B hybrid, I really appreciate this article. There are so many things I want to do (a common trait amongst Virgos)and staying organized is key to getting things done!

Thanks for kicking my type B personality in the pants!

Reply

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