Organize Your Mind: How To Be More Productive With Your Day

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I find myself scrambling most days.  In the mornings I’m scrambling to get my daughter ready for school, get myself ready for work, eat breakfast, get out the house and catch my bus, then commute to my job in the city.  Once I get to work, I’m almost immediately bombarded with tasks to be done, work-fires needing to be put out and clients to meet.  My day goes on like this until I can finally escape work and make the commute back home.  Once I’m home, I’m scarfing down a quick microwave dinner, showering, then relaxing for an hour before it’s time to go to bed and prepare to do it again the next day.

Weekends are just as busy with errands like groceries and Target runs, family obligations, and chores.  A two day weekend seems too short suddenly and the work week begins again.

Now that I’m a working mom with a full time job, full time child and full time husband, I’ve come to find life almost unmanageable.   I always envisioned my life to be very organized, put together and successful.   Most days it feels far from that, but I try, and I actually manage to get a lot done with the help of my husband.

So how can you be more productive?  Here are my go-to’s for making a busy week more productive:

To Do List:

  • This is my go to.  Everything I need to do goes on a list.  I personally do not have enough attention span to remember all the tasks I need.  I’ll go into a room with the intention to do something and completely forget what the task was.
  • For me lists are a way of organizing my life.  It’s not just enough to create one but it’s also important to follow through and get the tasks done.  The absolute KEY to productivity is to tackle your tasks from hardest to easiest.  Often I never finish a list but if I’m able to tackle the first most important tasks, then that makes the effort worthwhile.  I tend to procrasinate with the smaller easier and more enjoyable tasks to do.  It gives me an excuse, once I’ve completed “enough” tasks, to skip out on the most difficult ones.  If I tackle harder list items, I become more energized and have the motivation and energy to complete the easier ones.

Outsource

  • There are some things I can’t bring myself to do.  Adding them to my list, stalls me.  I never get to it and it keeps me from feeling accomplished for the day.  For those kind of tasks or items, I’ve found it easier to outsource them.
  • I absolutely hate washing dishes and ironing clothes. I’m also not a great cook.  It takes me twice as long to cook because I’m usually procrastinating trying to make it more interesting.
  • For washing dishes, I was 27 before I lived in an apartment that had a dishwasher.  I would let them pile in the sink until they were insurmountable and took over 30 minutes tot take care of.  Now that I FINALLY have a dishwasher, I’m fine to outsource them to the machine, while my husband still finds hand washing dishes faster and more efficient.
  • For ironing clothes, I just outsource to my local dry cleaner. Dry cleaning and pressing my best quality clothes tends to make them last longer and better. It takes me an hour to iron 7 collared shirts. I’m a perfectionist and like them neat, so I take my time. With the dry cleaner, I can just drop off and pick up, it cost a bit of money but it saves a lot of time.
  • For cooking, my husband is a better cook so he gets credit for all our amazing meals.

Down time

  • At the end of the day, we are not robots and can only be so productive. Don’t over do it! Relax, go on vacation and don’t let yourself burn out.
  • Burnout will kill your motivation. Burnout will keep you from achieving long term goals. So don’t feel bad when you need to take a break. Taking a break isn’t quitting. Taking a break is when you take a moment to gain the energy you need for the long haul ahead of you.
  • Never stop hustling but don’t let the hustle beat you out of the game.

Focus

  • Having absolute focus is a must.  I’m the queen of procrastination.  Even as I write this post, I’ve been procrastinating.  But you’ve got to reign it in.  You’ve got to cut out the distractions in life and keep your eye on the price.
  • The biggest distraction?  Social Media.  OMG whenever I post on Facebook or Instagram, I’m constantly checking how many likes and comments I get.  Because what’s the point of posting, if no one’s looking?  Then I get sidetracked by other posts that people are sharing and going down that rabbit hole.  But at some point, you have to realize what a TIME WASTER it is to be sidetracked randomly by things that are unnecessary.   RECOGNIZE your biggest time wasters, then make a plan to cut them down.  Yes, social media is fun and is even good for business, but I worked on cutting it out and blocking those apps until I absolutely needed it.
  • Learning to say NO to lesser important tasks also helped with my focus.  I don’t need to spontaneously take on every responsibility that is presented to me.  A random problem not caused my me at work, but requires my attention?  Nope, it’s going to the back of the priority list.  I need to stick to my priorities and keep from putting out other people’s fires.  This might sound like I’m not a team player at work but in reality, this will help keep you from being constantly relied on to fix other peoples mistakes.  It’s called, HOLDING OTHER PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE.  Of course this only applies to people at work, sometimes you need to create boundaries.  For family and friends, I’m running to help put out their fires.

Schedule

  • I’m terrible at scheduling,  It’s really not my thing.  But it is a MUST.  Keeping dates and a calendar can help you manage your time better and not miss important dates. It gives you the ability to plan ahead and avoid conflicts.
  • How many times have I missed a important day or ended up scrambling last minute to complete a deadline?  That’s not efficient nor is it responsible.
  • I used to think I could keep it all in my head but that is a LIE.  The most efficient people know they can forget or miss a detail so they make it a habit to follow a calendar to the letter.  “Let me check my calendar,” said every single person that respects their time and yours.
  • The worst thing, I think, are people who over schedule and over book.  Because, guess what, the person at the other end of the overbooking won’t forget how unreliable you were or that you were sloppy in following through.  They’ll know that you don’t use your time efficiently and that memory of you will be hard to erase.

All these things have helped me so much professionally and personally.  I’ve grown a lot over the years and these tips have helped me leverage my time with my money.  I’m able to manage being a mom, wife, and being career minded.   In 5 years I was able to have a child, get married and grow 3X my salary.  Productivity matters and will get you noticed.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, if you liked it please support by following, liking and sharing.

Check out my other posts:

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Top 6 Ways To Maintain A Work Life Balance When Your Job Is Stressing You Out

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My Favorite Motivational Mantra

My Favorite Motivational Mantra

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This is a classic motivational quote and mantra but when I first read this, I thought it was useless. Talent is everything. We should aim to be the most talented, the best. I was 22 when I first came across this poster.

Talent is nothing other than these 10 tools.  Inspire yourself to be better.

1)Being on Time: its really rare to meet someone who is always on time. Being consistently on time requires planning ahead and leaving early consistently. Nowadays people don’t see the value in timeliness but not leaving others to wait on you shows that you’re RELIABLE.

 

2. Work Ethic & 3. Effort: Is really about doing your best. Work is demanding and hard. But if you put your best towards everyday, you WILL get noticed. I’ve caught colleagues just slacking off when the boss wasn’t looking, allowing others to pick up this slack. I lost respect immediately. And eventual the boss will notice too.

 

4. Body Language: It took me while to get the hang of this one. How you carry yourself is very important. Make eye contact, initiate a handshake, stand with confidence, smile. About 60% of all communication is with body language. Make sure you’re saying something positive. My receptionist literally greets everyone like they are ruining her day. We had to train her to say “hello, how are you?” and offer them refreshment to offset her rough demeanor.
5. Energy: I have a physically demanding sales job. I need to have the same energy with the last client like I would with the first. I need to fill the room with positive energy and make it translate to what I’m selling. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and realized that they just weren’t feeling it? That’s bad energy, we don’t want that. Good energy starts with how you feel about yourself.  Only good thoughts allowed.
6. Attitude: ever heard the phrase “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it” That’s attitude. You say something in a million different ways. Positive energy and attitude is addictive and attractive. Negative attitude and energy is NOT. Complaining you have too much work or that your coworker is annoying doesn’t do anything to change the situation. Do that enough times and you’ll be dubbed the negative nelly at work. And guess what? Negative nellies get laid off during the first round and negative nellies don’t get promotions.
7. Passion: Know what your working for and why. Understanding your purpose for being at work will drive you in some of these other areas. Whether it’s because you love your field or merely because you need to put food on the table for your family, this is critical for success in any endeavor. Use that passion and positive thinking to fuel your performance.
8. Being Coachable: you didn’t come into the job knowing everything but you need to be willing to learn. When the company introduces new policy and program, you need to be able to learn. Your attitude plays a role too. Sometimes I find myself making excuses for myself why I can’t meet a certain goal. “It’s too this or too that.” When really my manager is trying to teach it to me and I’m my negativity is dismissing it. Being able to grow and learn will play a huge role in your success.  Positive thinking is a must!
9. Doing Extra: My secretary has an attitude of mine vs yours, when it comes to work ethic. She really feels like any task that is new, is a task being pushed on to her. “Why can’t X do this work, she’s been doing this all this time.” But taking extra work allows you to learn skills you wouldn’t be able to do in otherwise. It could be transferable to other jobs and can even make you irreplaceable at your job. I’m not the best, but am capable of doing everyone’s job and even training others about the job. That alone gives me more value. Maybe I stay late some nights, but I don’t worry too much about being put on the chopping block.  If you want to be recognized as a hard working employee, doing extra can really make you stand out and reach your goals.
10. Being Prepared: I’m not good at this one but it revolves around being able have a conversation with your boss or coworker and knowing your facts. A lot of managers want to know details. “What’s going on, why are your numbers showing x, why did this customer say x about you. You made x report, I have a few follow up questions.” Being able to speak and present on the spot because you know your stuff can be career changing. You never know who you’ll meet or impress so being knowledgeable about what you’re doing is key.

I’ve learned a lot but these inspirational thoughts in 10 lines stick with me and have helped me grow. Build a strong foundation for work and the building won’t fall when storms and wind arrive.