I think we can all agree – within the blink of an eye, life can get out of balance. Life can be messy, overwhelming and frustrating. It is easy to fall out of productivity just as soon as you start finding your groove.
As a mom, I have had to learn how to go with life’s ebbs and flows. My toddlers’ schedule changes every month or so and it has required a high levels of patience and adaptability. Even before I was a parent, I would feel a sense of stability in my life for maybe a minute before a new obstacle was placed in my path towards “success.”
Keep reading for 10 techniques that I use to boost productivity that have made my life much easier to simply enjoy.
1. Fill Your Cup First
The first thing on this list is probably the most important productivity tip I can offer anyone. It has changed the game of life for me. It took becoming a mother and fighting my way through postpartum depression to really understand this one.
You are not being selfish by taking care of yourself! Obviously, there’s a difference between taking care of your needs and only caring about your needs and no one else’s. Be ok with taking care of your basic needs first before you offer your skills/talents/support to others.
2. Power Hours are Magical
Showing up for yourself will always turn a crappy day into a great one. Find a time in your schedule to be productive. Pencil in time for yourself and do. not. push. that. meeting.
Scheduling a power hour for yourself will hold you accountable. Eventually, when you do this everyday and persist with forming this new habit, your productivity levels will start to soar. If the rest of your day is messy and unpredictable and completely unproductive, you can just flow with it with zero guilt.
3. Remember, You Can Say No
Making promises you can’t really keep, even if you agreed with the best intentions, isn’t doing you any favors. I used to do this all of the time because I want to help as many people as I can. Honestly though, it became a super toxic habit that I had to learn to break. I was setting myself up to feel guilty and unproductive, and when I internalized those feelings it spiraled into a lot of unfinished projects and disappointment.
PS. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to say, “no,” you don’t have to offer an explanation. Boundaries are important and setting them for yourself is the first step towards healthy productivity levels.
4. Eliminate Distractions
A huge distraction for me is my cell phone. I will turn my cell phone on sleep mode sometimes when I am really having a hard time disconnecting myself from social media, group chats and Zoom calls. I love connecting with friends, especially right now (as I write this in quarantine) but its better to schedule time for that in your day. I am still working on this – it is a lot easier said than done!
For me, my biggest distractions are my kids. I love them (SO MUCH!) but with that comes a huge pull to feel like I always need to provide them with snacks, entertainment, snuggles, etc. Stuff that they don’t really need all of the time, but if they ask for those things, how can I really say no? Enter – finding a “sacred space”.
5. Establish a Sacred Space
I studied Wicca philosophies as I was exploring my own spirituality when I was much younger, and I will never forget reading about the importance of having a sacred space.
Take up space and claim it as yours. Whether that space is for work, inner reflection, exercise, meditation or prayer – build that space for yourself. No worries if you don’t have room for a full office. I have a quiet corner in a playroom (that also doubles as a guest room), but you could also get creative with fold up desk solutions if you don’t have an extra room to retreat to.
Build a beautiful space that calms you or uplifts you. Find what inspires you and surround yourself with that. Then, get to work and watch your creativity soar.
6. Take Breaks
With the exception of my power hour, where I really try to power through one hour to myself with as much focus as possible, I will give myself breaks throughout the day. I will workout in the morning, make a clean breakfast and scroll through my emails while I eat, and then I take a break and do something fun.
7. Amp Up Your Nutrition
One of my more recent discoveries that has changed my life has been the importance of nutrition. Eating clean isn’t hard and it really guarantees you are getting the correct macro and micro-nutrients in your diet to give you the energy that it will take to get through any task.
Because I live in New England, where it is cold for a larger part of the year, I take a vitamin d3 supplement. I found out I was severely deficient years ago, and it really explained a lot of the mystery ailments I was suffering from. I had no idea! I highly suggest reading more about vitamin d3 and the dangers of vitamin d deficiency.
Water intake is another HUGE piece of the puzzle for me. If I try to workout first thing in the morning but haven’t had any water for 8+ hours, I will feel that in my energy levels. Drinking at least 16 ounces of pure water as soon as you wake, and half of your body weight in ounces (total) throughout the day will make you pee a lot in the beginning. But it will give you energy you never knew you were missing!
8. Move Your Body Daily
If you are productive with anything at all in this lifetime, please throw health and wellness at the tippity-top of your list.
I started my weight loss journey years ago. I have been a work in progress and really had a hard time finding a routine that would stick. I lost 27 pounds so far this year, and counting, but I realized it is because my goal and mindset around exercise has shifted.
One thing I never considered was working out for energy and productivity, versus working out just for weight loss. When I was working out to lose weight, I only did the bare minimum to see results, about 3 days a week and mostly cardio. It felt like a chore and it wasn’t easy to stick with.
Now, I workout 5 days a week and move my body in some way (ie. walks outside or dance parties with the kids) every single day. This has been huge for my productivity because I feel good about myself and that feeling sort of seeps into other areas of my life. I feel unstoppable!
9. Calm Your Mind
When I make my bed and have clean counter space, I feel calm. It is my number one anxiety-fighting trick. Do a deep clean once a week and try to stay on top of it everyday, and you will feel so much better about everything else you have to tackle.
Other ways to declutter for a clear mind:
Organize your desk.
Clear your desktop.
Make folders and organize your documents.
Flag emails that you will need to follow up with, using the list function to prioritize.
Keep a notebook for to-dos, and a separate calendar for a larger view of your week.
10. Gratitude Lists
Practicing gratitude and starting your day on a positive note will help you implement the rest of the tips listed above. Take five minutes each morning to list anything and everything you are grateful for.
This list could be anything from family members to possessions. But, you get bonus points if you list obstacles and struggles or moments of battling adversity – these are things to be grateful for, too. Believe it or not, hardships teach lessons and have a huge part in shaping where you are right now in your life, and where you will ultimately go.
What routines and habits do you use to boost your productivity? Let me know in the comments!