I always love the feeling of “start-up” that September brings. But as many of us know, September also brings a huge task-list needed to get everybody back into the groove. New activities, lessons & school schedules (with accompanying bills, paperwork and emails) add to the list of items that need to be completed each day. New routines take a little longer to streamline. And the bounty of the season is around us…berries, fruit, and veggies abound, begging to be picked and put away for later. My head can get spinning pretty quickly…if I let it!
Here are my Top 8 tips for getting on top of it all!
1. Empty my head.
When the many tasks start swimming, I find it really helps me to create a big list of all that is on my mind. This is best if it’s in no particular order, as the goal is to just get them down on paper. Prioritizing can come later- just getting it down is the first step!
2. Pick 3 for each day.
I have always loved the mantra “do the next thing.” Sometimes it’s doing what is right in front of you, and at other times it takes a little decision-making to consider the priorities. I try to choose three tasks every day that will keep me moving forward in a certain direction, especially if they are jobs that I don’t like to do and tend to put off. I don’t move on until the first one is done- and if it takes more than one day, so be it!
3. Keep it Simple. I can easily get overwhelmed, and tempted to procrastinate if I try to do something perfectly, or to the best of my ideals. A deep breath, stepping back, and asking myself, “What is the simplest way I can do this task?” helps me to keep perspective of what needs to be accomplished. With a time limit and a goal of getting it done (looking for results rather than perfection) I am much more satisfied with what I can achieve, knowing it was done within the realities of my available time without sacrificing other priorities.
4. Have good tools available. These are items I always like to have on hand to make the basic jobs of sorting, tidying and purging a little easier! Empty binders, dividers and page protectors, a sharpie marker & masking tape for labeling give-aways or items to store., empty files, ,a few empty cardboard boxes or good large plastic bags so that I can do a quick clean-out of a room, pens and pencils and loose leaf paper. With the right tools I can deal with paper piles quickly, add schedules and handouts to a binder or file before they get lost or buried, and easily call to book appointments or confirm schedules.
5. Use a timer. I love using a timer! 15 minutes intervals used to be my favorite length, but I have since increased my work times to 25 min, with a 5 minute break at the end. Whatever length you decide to use, stick to it! Don’t allow for interruptions or distractions, and stop when it is done! Take longer breaks after every couple of hours.
6. Use a calendar that works for you! We all have calendars and often have more than one. Stick with one, or two at the most that will be used and checked first thing in the morning and throughout the day. Sounds obvious…but we’ve all missed appointments when we either haven’t written down a plan, or forgot to check in the morning!
7. Take care of yourself and make time for fun! It can be tempting to pull some late nights to try and stay-on-top if it all. But being tired or a burnt out feeling only decreases productivity and robs us of a whole lot of joy! Schedule in “white space” in your daily calendar- times where there is nothing booked and you are free to do what is fun and restful each day.
8. Just DO it! …Sometimes just tackling the task head-on is the very best way to go. I like the expression “offensive mindset” for this- NO room for procrastination or excuses!
This month, I will share more how I have learned to increase my focus and productivity- which has freed up time for fun & creativity in my days.
Looking for more resources to be manage your time and stay productive?