With the end of the year near, we thought we would take a look into our productivity and time management over the last year and see what we can do to improve with the new year right around the corner! In this month's episode of Talk Clutter to Me, we are talking all things productivity and time management!
What is Productivity
First, let's take a look at what productivity is! To me, productivity is when you're given a set amount of time and you see how many tasks you can effectively complete in that amount of time. You have to balance your time and your mental health with productivity. If you try to be too productive, it can definitely tax your mental health. It's also important to remember that no two people are the same and we all have different productivity levels. Something that may take me 20 minutes to do could take another person an hour to complete. Things that can determine your productivity at a given task are experience, the type of task, how effective you are in your time management. It's important to take a look at what you're doing during a given task and what you are looking to achieve.
Change It Up!
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the same plan that works for me may not work for you. Also, something that has been working for you may not ALWAYS work for you and it's okay to CHANGE IT UP! Typically, I like to keep most things electronic when it comes to my time management. Sometimes though, I have had to go back to paper methods at different times as well. It's important to remember that it's okay to change it up and utilize time management techniques that are working for us. This is a normal part of our lives. For me, I need to change things up because my brain doesn't always like to do the same thing all of the time. It gets bored, so switching it up helps our productivity.
What Hinders Productivity
This brings us to our next topic, what hinders productivity. It's important to look at what could be hindering us so we can overcome those things and in-turn, become more productive. Different things that can hinder productivity include:
too many things
Do any of these sound familiar? Write down or make a mental note of what hinders your productivity? Then start to think about ways that you can overcome these things that are hindering you. Make a plan, find some solutions.
Methods for Improving Productivity
Now that we have defined productivity and looked at things that can hinder our productivity, let's talk about methods for improving our productivity. The first thing to remember is that NO ONE IS PERFECT ALL OF THE TIME! You will fall off, you will get back on. You will not always be perfect at being productive or managing your time well. As important as it is to be productive, it's also important to have unproductive days. You can even plan them to give yourself a break.
How to be Productive
This is the secret you've been waiting for, how to be more productive! The answer: we manage our time better! Now you're probably asking, Amanda, how do I manage my time better? Well, there is an entire world of possibilities, even some I haven't even tried, but I'm happy to share with you what has worked for me and countless others. Remember, not all of these things will work for everyone, but I want you to have an arsenal of ideas so that if one solution doesn't work for you, you have a plan b to try, because let's face it, the show must go on!
The first time management tool I want to arm you with is Google Calendar. This is a great time management tool because it's accessible on almost every electronic device so it's right at your fingertips at all times. It's seriously a life saver for me. If it's not on my google calendar, it doesn't exist in my life. It also helps remove all of the little events and things that are happening from my brain, freeing up thinking space and ensuring I don't miss a thing.
My google calendar (seen below) has about 19 different calendars on it, including personal calendars and work calendars. Why do I have so many? First of all, each calendar can have it's own color, so it's easy to see what that event is associated with on my calendar. Stop manually changing the colors for each event type. You can create a calendar for those events and it will automatically make them that color! Examples of different calendars for me are personal events, work events, health and wellness events (doctor appointments or gym dates).
Another great thing about google calendar is that you can not only invite other people to events, but you can also invite people to view/edit your calendar! For example, I have a calendar dedicated to Owen, my son. This is where I keep track of his babysitting needs. Not only do I have access to this, but also my husband, my parents, my in-laws and my assistant have access to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to covering for Owen. Every calendar or event is shared with only those who it is pertinent to.
Another tool I use for time management is called time blocking. Time blocking is very similar to a school schedule. You're basically dividing your day like a school schedule. You are giving yourself certain tasks during certain times of the day. Check out Jordan Page's website for additional information about traditional time blocking. I just adjusted her time blocking idea to fit my needs (you can see that below). Basically, I split my day into 5 time blocks and then during those time blocks I focus on the same tasks each day. I also make sure to schedule certain appointments only during specific time blocks to help keep things streamlined. I also set priorities for each day of the week. I find that if I try to do a little bit of everything every day I am less productive, so on certain days I focus on certain priorities. Once I have those tasks within that priority are done for the day, I can get a head start on another task or priority.
Bringing it all together
I know we've talked about a lot of different time management tools and there are no right or wrong answer. There are multiple ways to have better time management and sometimes it's a mixture of multiple tools. There are also things I haven't even mentioned, such as setting a timer for certain tasks and getting whatever you can get done within that time, take a break, and then move on. Another great time management tool is an accountability partner! This can be a great support for you as well! Take some time, review all of these options and figure out what time management tools are going to work for you and have a black-up plan!