How to Develop a Productive Morning & Evening Routine
All of us have a morning and evening routine, whether or not we want to acknowledge it. As humans we tend to do the same things repetitively and automatically, but this doesn’t mean we are doing the right things or the most productive things. Learning to control our habits and routines is a crucial step to living a more productive life, but this process doesn’t have to be complicated or require us to add a bunch of different to dos to our lists. My philosophy on routine building is to start with what you are currently doing, eliminate the unnecessary and swap time wasting tasks for productive ones. So let’s get started helping you develop your own defined and productive morning and evening routines!
What do your morning routine and evening routines look like right now?
Think about all the things you do in the morning between the time you wake up and leave for (or begin) work and then all the things you do in the evening in order to prepare yourself for sleep. Make a list to help you work out all the details, but most importantly, ask yourself why you do each item. I don’t doubt that the majority of tasks on your list are important, but, I do question whether everything you do is necessary to be completed in the morning before you begin the bulk of your day. Some examples of common unnecessary tasks performed in the morning and evening include:
Preparing/Planning meals: unless you’re cooking breakfast or setting up dinner in the crock pot to cook while you go to work, your morning is not the time you should be meal prepping, nor is your evening. Ideally, your lunch should already be prepped and in the refrigerator waiting for you and if you’ve waited until the morning of to decide what dinner is going to be, you have significantly increased the chances that no matter what the answer is, the result is going to be take out. Try prepping the meals for the next day while you prepare dinner so you are using your time in the kitchen wisely.
Choosing clothes: These should have been laid out the evening before, not the morning of.
Working out: Despite all we hear that working out in the morning is the best thing ever, there isn’t much scientific research to back that up and some research has found that working out in the morning when your cortisol levels are naturally at their highest doesn’t work well for some people. Likewise, nothing makes it harder to sleep than a late night workout before bed, so plan for your physical activity during peak daylight hours if you are really interested in improving your health.
Cleaning up: The habit of leaving messes to sit until the morning is one that you desperately need to break, but that doesn’t mean you should stay up late doing chores. Try to pick up after yourself during the day and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and trouble.
Completing work tasks: If it really can’t wait until you get to work, you’ve dropped the ball. Try not to spend your evenings or mornings on tasks that belong to your 9-5.
Watching TV: News is one thing, but waking up and turning on the tv or falling asleep with the tv on is another terrible time wasting habit that can cause morning stress or evening restlessness. Same goes for your computer and tech gadgets. I won’t say you can’t check your phone before bed or when you awaken, but don’t let it keep you up or keep you from getting out of bed on time.
What’s missing from your morning or evening?
As we evaluate what we are currently doing as part of our unofficial morning and evening routines and what unnecessary tasks need to go, we also need to put thought into what we are missing that may need to be added. The purpose of a morning routine is to help you start your day with a framework of success, and the purpose of an evening routine is to help you end your day peacefully. So what aren’t you doing right now that could support those ends and furthermore what could you choose to do in the morning or evening to move you closer towards success with your goals. Sometimes there are specific actions we can take in our mornings or evenings to help support our goals, but other times just the simplification of our routines and the elimination of wasteful habits can be the best way for us to support goals. Here is a list of tasks to give you an idea of things you could add to your morning or evening routines.
What does a productive morning or evening routine consist of?
A productive morning or evening routine will look different for each person, but if you can outline a simple routine for starting and ending your day and strive to stick to it, you will find that your mornings become less stressful and your evenings become more restful. Here are a few tips on what to do and not to do when building your routines.
Subtract before you Add: Before you consider adding any activities to your routines, make sure to take away some things first by rescheduling those tasks to different parts of your day or eliminate them completely.
Use Common Sense: You know your needs and energy level in the morning, so don’t mess around with what really matters to you and helps you to set your day up for success. I am a believer that even inessential tasks can be important if they significantly affect your mood and outlook on the day.
Create Boundaries: Your morning and evenings are pinnacle parts of your day that should be protected so that you can start and end your day properly. Put boundaries on other people and certain tasks, even if that means setting yourself some rules, so you respect whatever time you can devote to setting up and ending your day productively.
Don’t Do This
Wake Up Earlier or Go to Sleep Later: Unless you really have zero time to complete even a basic morning or evening routine, don’t feel pressure to force yourself to change your sleeping pattern. Yes, we all wish we woke up earlier, but what we want in theory and what our bodies need in practice are not always the same. Your routines should fit into your life by swapping time wasters with more productive tasks, not by changing your schedule entirely.
Take on Too Much New: There are a lot of opinions on what you should do in the morning and evening to set yourself up for a productive and successful day, but it’s not your responsibility to try them all out. Eliminating time wasting behavior will be difficult enough to manage in the morning and evening without adding the complication of adding new tasks as well. I think a simple 10 minute routine can be as productive and set you up for as much success as a whole 60 minute routine.
Aim for Perfection: When it comes to developing a new morning or evening routine (or both!) you can’t expect that you will stick to the routine 100% of the time. I think setting a goal of completing your routine in it’s entirety 3 days a week is a good start. Working up to 5 days or your workdays would be excellent. And don’t forget, you can take time off from your routines or create different ones for the weekend and that’s perfectly acceptable as well. Don’t set yourself an unnecessary standard for these routines because it is literally too early and too late in the day to expect perfection. You are only human after all!
I sincerely hope this post stimulated some ideas for you to develop your own morning and evening routine. If so, I’d love to hear about it down in the comments!
How to Theme Your Work Days to Optimize Productivity
Most of us have a never ending stream of tasks and activities we perform at work and struggle to get ahead on our to do lists. If you are jumping from task to task blindly you are wasting precious time and mental energy. Although some of our work may be varied, I bet that you have some repetitive tasks or projects that could be managed so that you get more work done in less time and help you do better work or produce higher results. No, I’m not talking about batching your work, although I a way that this part of todays topic. I’m talking about theming your workdays. Having a plan for each day of your work week to tackle similar items or spend dedicated blocks of time on important projects without interruption so you have the breathing room to do your best work. As you may already know from watching my Work Week Vlogs, I have been theming my work days since I went full time for my business, but this was a practice I also regularly employed in previous positions that helped me do excellent work, beat my deadlines and demonstrate myself as a capable employee who was able to take on bigger and better positions. So, let me teach you a simple process you can use to create a themed work week with virtually any job position!
What Does it Mean to Theme Your Work Days and Why is it More Productive?
If this is a new concept to you, theming your work days means that you are designating a specific day of the week to complete a specific task or project. For example, in my themed work week Monday is dedicated to writing blog posts. Now, writing blog posts won’t be ALL I do on a Monday, but it’s my focus for the day so that I am batching this work. When we batch work, we know that we save time because we are doing a specific activity repetitively and not jumping from different types of tasks which causes a time lapse when we need to stop doing one thing and change mental direction and focus to start another thing.
Think about a production plant where workers down a line are each doing one specific task over and over. It’s more efficient to work this way from a productivity standpoint because the worker remains focused on one thing, and it almost becomes an automated process for the worker. One summer I worked in a data processing facility and spent eight hours (with breaks of course) at a computer typing information from paper forms into a computer program that gathered and tracked the data. I’d start the day with a stack of forms and as I completed my work new stacks would be delivered to my work station. I did one series of tasks over and over robotically, in a room with many other data entry workers and we processed a lot of information very efficiently! Although some of us may have a job like this where we do one specific task or series of tasks over and over all day, most of us have more varied positions that give us the flexibility to choose what we will work on from various tasks we have been assigned. Because there is this strong element of choice and self determination, jobs like this make us feel less like a robot, but also trigger some of our most basic human flaws.
Our inability to prioritize can cause issues with deadlines, the lack of structure can cause us to waste time thinking about what to do next, and fear of failure can cause us to procrastinate on certain tasks. All of these basic human flaws waste both time and mental energy because we are jumping from task to task without focus. In addition to that, when we work without focus, not only are we wasting time and mental energy, but the quality of our work falls. Focus is an important part of productivity and finding a way to create structure in your work both inside and outside of the office can lead you to do more work in less time and truly work smarter, not harder!
How to Theme Your Work Days (even if you think you can’t)
If you are thinking that theming your work days sounds like a nice idea but that your job is different and can’t fit into a themed week, consider these steps.
Step 1: Keep a list of all the tasks and projects you complete each day and compile them for a week or two. The list doesn’t need to be detailed and it can be kept on a separate sheet, your computer or in your planner, but just make sure to make a quick note of all the work you do each day and the general time frame for when you worked on it.
Step 2: Review your list at the end of the tracked time period with a pile of sticky notes and a pen. Review your list first for tasks related to dedicated projects and write down the project on a sticky note with a few bullets underneath for different related tasks and mark down the number of days and total estimated hours you worked on that project. For example, if you worked on a presentation for an upcoming meeting and you ran some reports, sent some emails to get information, built a slide deck and created handouts your sticky note may read:
(3 Days, 4 Hours)
Step 3: Review your list for tasks you did more than once and write the task on a sticky note with the number of times you completed it and total estimated hours spent. These tasks do not necessary need to be identical, but the same general task. For example, if you ran multiple reports in the week that is one item, but the fact that the reports may have varied in terms of parameters doesn’t necessarily matter. The idea is that you were doing a task that could be batched. Make sure to cross out tasks from your list as you make a sticky note so you don’t duplicate.
Step 4: Create a hierarchy in your sticky notes by laying them out on your desk or on a wall so you can get a sense of your work. Layout all your projects together, and then the additional non project related reoccurring tasks can be ordered by frequency so you can see what work you did over and over.
Step 5:Make a sticky note for each day you work (example, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc) and stick them in a row to act as a header to a column. If you work 5 days a week, you should have 5 labeled columns. Looking at your work from step 4 think about how you could have mapped out your work from the previous week(s) more efficiently if you had assigned tasks to specific days. Start transferring tasks and projects from the hierarchy to the new daily column system, placing tasks and projects under the days they would have best fit. This is your chance to go back to the past and rework how things should have been done now that your week is over and you know what was accomplished and what perhaps wasn’t. Consider your reorganized week and determine if you can structure any of your days according to an optimized theme.
Not every task will fit perfectly into this map, but that isn’t the point. The point of the exercise is to visualize your work to see if patterns emerge for any days once you reviewed and laid out your week optimally now that it’s over. You may see that Monday would be a great day for you to run all your reports because optimally once they were out of your way, you could immediately move into completing other subsequent tasks or projects. You may also see that you can push certain work off to the end of the week because other tasks have priority.
Keep in mind through this activity that theming your work days doesn’t mean that all you can do on a certain day is a certain task. Remember when I said that Monday I write blog posts but that won’t be all the work I do? That’s because inevitably I need to reply to emails, place orders, make calls, and perhaps even tie up loose ends on a project as well. By setting blogging as my theme for Monday, however, I am providing myself a structure and telling myself that I will block out time in my schedule for my blog posts to be completed. Depending on your week, you may be able to dedicate a block of two hours on Monday to reports, and then spend the rest of your day doing your work as you normally would. You don’t need to have every moment of the day planned, but having some structure in place for when you will perform certain tasks can help you automate your work day and optimize it productively!
I would love to know if this concept of theming your work days is something you are interested in trying or have tried in the past. Let me know your experience and feel free to provide additional insight in the comments of this post so we can all learn from each other!
7 Ways to Optimize Your Workspace for Productivity
One of the easiest ways to support your productivity during your workday is to ensure that you have your workspace set up properly and optimized to support your needs and comfort as you are busy getting things done! Although each of our workspace situations may vary, if you work at a desk for a majority of your day these tips should help inspire you to set your workspace up for productivity to make you a more efficient and successful worker!
Workspace Optimization #1: Use a Large Desk
If you work at a desk, the best way to ensure you are able to easily accomplish your work is to use desk that is large enough for your work. Have you ever tried working at a desk that was too small? It’s absolute hell and a total productivity killer. I don’t want to make excuses for anyone who has a messy desk, but when your desk is too small, it becomes difficult for you to pull out all the materials you need to work without having to constantly remove items from your desk. Even if you work on a computer all day, inevitably you will have some physical items that you need to touch while you work. Notebooks, paperwork, a phone, reference binders, and more are a normal part of most of our days in the office, and if you are a crafter or creative artist, you need even more space on your desk to lay out your tools to work comfortably. If you are feeling cramped at your desk, consider upgrading to a larger desk or adding a second desk to create an L shaped workspace giving you enough surface area for everything you need to get the job done!
Workspace Optimization #2: Choose a Functional Office Chair
For years I opted to use a tufted dining chair for my office because I liked the way it looked, but it was such a bother getting myself comfortable and moving around at my desk. Eventually, I opted for a more office appropriate swivel chair on wheels with a nice high back to support me comfortably as I work. I found the most attractive one I could within my price range, and ended up with this model, and it has been an absolute dream to sit in! A functional office chair like mine gives me the ability to move seamlessly around my workspace, to adjust the height of my chair so I am not straining, and to sit comfortably for longer periods of time.
Workspace Optimization #3: Obey the Laws of Workspace Ergonomics
Another way to optimize your desk area for your complete comfort is to consider your workspace ergonomics. In order to prevent eye, arm or back strain, set your computer and chair up so you are looking straight at the screen with your hands resting comfortably on the keyboard. You should be able to sit up straight comfortably, with your back supported, arms resting naturally on the desk, and neck straight so that you don’t have to hunch over to work. Since I use a laptop, I have a few different risers that I use in different situations to accomplish this. I use this laptop riser along with my external keyboard when designing but I’ve recently acquired this simpler riser that lifts just the back of my laptop during long periods of writing. To learn more about setting up your workspace ergonomically, read this article.
Workspace Optimization #4: Keep Frequently Used Items within Arms Reach
Again, I don’t advocate a cluttered workspace where you leave everything out on your desk, but I do think you need to make sure your frequently used items are within arms reach and everything else is properly stored away. This will obviously vary from person to person, but I keep writing utensils, sticky notes, notebooks, notepads, my planner, my printer, and more all around my immediate area. Some items are left out on my desk, others are kept in my desk drawers and of course, I have a credenza immediately behind me so that I can swivel around in my chair and grab papers off the printer or access an item stored inside.
Workspace Optimization #5: Create a Comfortable Workspace Atmosphere
If you have ever worked in a big office, you may have noticed that the temperature is usually kept pretty cool year round and the lighting usually has something of a blue cast to it. In terms of creating a workspace atmosphere that supports productivity, it’s essential to work in a room that is cool, not too cold and not too warm, and to use bright daylight lights. These choices are deliberate because your employer is trying to make sure you are kept wide awake during the workday! A cool temperature helps to keep our bodies awake and alert, instead of warm and cozy which can trigger drowsiness. Using bright lighting is another way to keep workers awake as well as prevent eyestrain, as “daylight” lighting triggers our bodies to remain awake while helping improve our eyesight. If you work from home, its pretty easy to keep the temperature within that cool zone, but make sure you also switch out the lights in your office for daylight bulbs as most homes default to soft white bulbs that are less optimized for work!
Workspace Optimization #6: Motivate Yourself with Aromatherapy
Workspace Optimization #7: Create Focus with Music
Again, this is a suggestion that may not fit every workspace scenario, but I find that one of the best ways to get focused on my work is to have some music or background noise playing. I prefer classical music or white noise to combat the quiet of my home office during the day, but if you work in an office and find that odd noises here and there disrupt you, you may want to give this optimization a try as well. Sound has a powerful way of subconsciously motivating us to work and specifically helps us focus when we are creating our own bubble of sound around us.
I hope this has inspired you to optimize your workspace for productivity! I’d love to hear about which optimizations you may already use or want to put into place in the future, so leave me a comment down below!
Theme Your Year with a Song NOT a Word | My Anthem for 2017
At the start of 2016 I set myself an anthem for the year. I’m someone who has an affinity towards music so I thought it was a good idea to give myself a song to focus on for the year that would theme, influence and inspire me. Last year I chose Bird Set Free by Sia and it had an awesome affect on me I never expected. I’ve already posted a few times about 2016 being a transformative year for me and how I let go of many things I felt holding me back, so looking forward to what I have planned for 2017, I decided I need to choose another powerful and meaningful composition. For a long time I worried I wouldn’t find the right song for 2017, but one day sitting in the car waiting for my husband to come out of a store, I was brainstorming a list of Disney songs to quiz my husband on (don’t ask) and I found it. With tears streaming down my face, I immediately knew it needed to be my anthem for 2017!
Go the Distance [from Disney’s Hercules] Michael Bolton
It’s such a meaningful song on so many personal and professional levels, and I know turning to it this year will inspire me to go the distance and not accept defeat.
What is your Anthem for 2017? Let me know in the comments below!
What You Can Expect from Strange & Charmed in 2017!
Hello My Charmed Ones! Welcome to the first post of Strange & Charmed for 2017!
Since this is our first day back to work for the new year, I thought I would ease into my content a bit and share with you some of the vision and plans I have for the blog, my brand and business in 2017. As some of you may already know, last month I shared a survey about my content and platforms, something I had never done before, to help me get your feedback on the direction of my content and what you need more information and guidance on from me. Since then I have mapped out a plan for the new year that I’d like to share with you today.
In terms of my branding, not much is changing. I’ve been optimizing the site a bit since last month, some changes like the new header I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but much of the change is pretty minimal. What I really want to convey to each of you, however, is the concept for the Strange & Charmed Brand moving forward.
Strange & Charmed is a Productivity Lifestyle Brand who’s main goal is to help women work smarter, not harder! I really want to make 2017 the year we learn to live our best lives to successfully fit in more of what we love and say no to the tasks, activities and stressors that do not serve us. If this is a struggle that you face as a full time employee, mother, or business owner, the Strange & Charmed community is a resource to serve you!
BLOG & YOUTUBE CONTENT
My blog and youtube content have greatly evolved over the last few years, and will likely continue to evolve to best serve the needs of the community and express my interests, research and curiosity within the field of productivity. There are many of you within my community who have seen this change, understood what I’ve been up to, and continued to evolve with and support the content which I truly appreciate. For those of you who may have been caught off guard at any changes or are unsure whether the content on this blog, my youtube channel and social media platforms are applicable to you, let me explain what you can expect in 2017!
The goal of my content is to help and inspire women to lead more productive, fulfilling lives. To do this, my content will always share information, strategy, tools and advice on different productivity topics. I look forward to filling my platforms with content that is functional, actionable and relevant to help you execute and find success in your life, whatever that success may look like to you. I plan to create content on planning, time management, technology, personal development and business topics that will teach you new skills or illustrate concepts you may be new to you.
I intend to keep up my current content schedule with blog posts going live on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 9am eastern, and YouTube videos going live Sunday at 10am eastern.
Over the past several years, I’ve created a catalog of digital products and tools centered around productivity, planning and business. These products include digital workbooks, print on demand planner inserts, eCourses, digital programs and master classes. Throughout the year I take feedback from my customers and update many of the products and spend time each year development a few more. This year I look forward to expanding my flagship business program Empire Building in the biggest update to the course since it’s release in 2015! I also plan to add to my collection of eBooks/digital workbooks and master classes with some new topics that I hope will continue to support your productivity and goals!
KEEP UP WITH ME & MY CONTENT
If you like what you’re reading about the future of my content and plans for my business in 2017, make sure you are following me all over the internet so you don’t miss one ounce of the value I have in store for you!
With a new year ahead of us I have been giving a lot of thought to creating a clean slate for 2017. Although January 1st is an arbitrary day, dates of significance like these can be powerful markers to help us find a fresh start and progress with the goals we have for our lives. Here are ten things I am going to do before the new year to ensure I start 2017 off with my life and mind in the right place.
1. Unsubscribe from email lists that you no longer want to receive.
I frequently sign up for newsletters from my favorite shops and influencers but from time to time I find that instead of reading the emails I receive, I end up hitting delete automatically. Once I reach that critical turning point, I know it’s time to remove myself from the list. Email is a significant form of clutter in our lives, and even though it’s not something we see per se, it’s definitely an element of disorganization that we feel. Remove that weight from your shoulders and take some time to go ahead and remove yourself from any email subscription that no longer serves you!
2. Set up your planner.
It shouldn’t surprise you that this is my favorite way to start a clean slate! I’ve already set up my planner and organization systems for 2017, so if you are looking for inspiration head on over to this video and take a look at the tools I’m using and how I plan to stay organized in the new year.
3. Define your goals.
Goal setting is an important part of my productivity process and it’s a practice that I like to engage in whenever I am starting a new chapter in my life. I am such a fan of goal setting, in fact, that I wrote a whole workbook on the topic called You Got This! If you need help setting your goals for the new year, I’d highly suggest purchasing it in my shop. Of course it’s a digital PDF so you can buy it and start reading asap. I’ve already had so many positive reviews of the book from people who wanted to get their goals organized, so make sure to let me know how your process goes if you use my method!
4. Review reoccurring subscriptions.
Netflix, Hulu, magazines, mail order monthly lifestyle boxes. There are so many different reoccurring subscriptions that I’m sure many of us are subscribed to and the new year is a great time to review those subscriptions and cancel any that you aren’t enjoying or have completely forgotten about. If you aren’t sure what subscriptions you’re part of, take a close look at your credit card bill and you might find a few you can get rid of.
5. Remove old contacts from your cell phone and replace with new information.
True story, up until just a few weeks ago, I had contacts in my cell phone from co-workers at my previous job that I quit over a year and a half earlier. Take a scroll through your phone contacts and see if you have some names that can be removed, and of course, make sure to also take this time to update any information like doctors, emergency contacts or school related numbers that may have changed.
6. Put your new insurance cards in your wallet.
At the end of the year I tend to have two sets of insurance cards in my wallet, one set from the current year and one from the new year. Make sure to identify the proper cards and discard or file the old ones so you have accurate information on you as soon as the new year begins!
7. Update your profile picture on social media accounts.
Has your hair colored changed this year? Perhaps you got glasses or lost some weight recently? If your appearance has changed significantly in the last year, spend a few moments changing your profile pictures to something more recent- that is, if you want to be recognized of course!
8. Send thank you cards to customers, clients or colleagues who have been helpful to you this year.
None of us could fully do what we do without the help of others. If you had support this year from key individuals, make sure to show them your appreciation by sending them a note or card. It will go a long way to helping you build great lasting relationships and will ensure that their support continues in the new year! If you run your own business and need to do some key business planning for the new year, check out this free webinar I hosted.
9. Review your budget from the past year.
If you had a budget or financial plan for the past year, spend some time reviewing it to see what worked and what didn’t. If you need that budget to continue into the new year you will want to have a good understanding of how you can do better to achieve your financial goals and stay on track in the future.
10. Consciously let go of any and all tensions from the past year to move on to the new year with a clean slate.
Like most things in life, the perception of a clean slate is all in your head. Take some time to reflect on the past year, identify issues that may have caused you stress or tension that is still lingering and consciously let go of it. It may help if you write down these tensions on pieces of paper and then burn or tear them into pieces to symbolize that you are not going to carry this energy into the new year. Whatever you need to do to release that tension, make it happen so you can feel light and free going forward.
I hope this list helps you make the most of the new year! In addition, I also have another free planner printable to help you stay on track for the new year. My Magnificent Seven DIY Dashboard, that will help you identify 7 habits you want to establish in 2017!
NEW January Planner Printables and Freebies You won’t want to Miss
Hello My Charmed Ones!
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate, and of course a lovely December and holiday season! I have a special gift for you to help you start out the New Year productively, so that you can start working smarter, not harder from day 1. In case you haven’t heard yet, I redesigned my monthly dashboard for 2017 and this year it has become much more functional. After creating these dashboards for you each month, many of you have given me great feedback to help me create better designs. This years concept is one that was highly requested and I do hope is functional for your planner as well.
Introducing the 2017 Monthly Dashboard Dividers! That’s right, this year the dashboard didn’t just get a facelift, it has also been reimagined into a divider for your planner. This two sided dashboard printable comes in both A5 and Personal size. The front side is a beautiful white marble pattern with the monthly calendar printed at the bottom corner. The back side is a redesigned dashboard with space for you to add your monthly Mantra, your theme for the month, a quote or saying you’d like to focus on. I’ve increased the space for important dates, and left the monthly goals and books as these were a great favorite for many of you! I suggest printing these out double sided on card stock or thicker paper than your standard inserts so they will stand out a bit more and hold up longer!
Your January tech wallpaper is also ready to go! I’ve updated the calendar to 2017 so you can add some style and function to your favorite gadget. Same good old design as last year- after much feedback that you loved the patterns and designs I created, I am keeping them around this year.
I hope you enjoy these free goodies and I’d love to see how you are making use of them in your planner and digital devices, so please snap a photo, tag me @misstrenchcoat on Twitter or Instagram and use #CharmedGTD in your description so the whole community can get inspiration from you!
To help you set yourself up for success in the new year and teach you how to Work Smarter, Not Harder, I have assembled the ULTIMATE PRODUCTIVITY RESOURCE GUIDE filled with 40+ productivity videos, blog posts, books, downloads and MORE!
Last week I shared an AMAZING LIST of 100 Life Changing Actions to Turn into Habits, and now I want to share the habits and strategies that I will be challenging myself to take on in the New Year! When it comes to creating habits, there are many options to choose from, but it really comes down to what you are trying to accomplish and which habits will be able to support you as you make progress on your goals. I also believe that when it comes to selecting habits to change or build, you shouldn’t strive to work on too many at once. In fact, I think it’s best to try things one at a time- trust me, making one small habit change is enough to throw off your entire routine so giving it your complete focus and attention is a best practice.
My Goal: Wake up earlier during the work week.
Habit: Make the bed once you get out of it!
How the habit supports the goal:
(1) Making your bed in the morning is an easy way to start your day productively and motivate yourself to do more. I’m hoping that committing to this during the week will motivate me to want to get more done in my mornings.
(2) Since I work from home, staying in bed or going back for a nap in the afternoon is a serious temptation, but when you make your bed it becomes harder for you to give in because you put effort into making sure your bed looked nice and you don’t want to undo that work, right? That’s the idea!
My Goal: Expose myself to new ideas.
Habit: Finish 1 book a month
How the habit supports the goal
(1) I am not someone who has a hard time going through books, but I do tend to read in spurts so one month I could read 4 books and another I may start 1-2 and never finish any. So for 2017 I want to challenge myself to finish at least one book a month so I am consistently exposing myself to new content and ideas.
(2) Reading is probably the #1 way I learn anything! Of course, I like to enjoy books via Audible.com and listen instead of read. This helps me absorb more information and understand content better. http://bit.ly/audible2free
My Goal: Lower my overall stress
Habit: Perform 1 Self Care activity per day
How the habit supports the goal
(1) I tend to work pretty intensely during the day. I may not always put in 8 hours, but I may accomplish 8 hours worth of work in 4. This leaves my brain mentally exhausted at the end of the day and usually, if I have a lot going on that I’m juggling, stress creeps up on me. Taking time out of each day specifically to do something relaxing for me, is a way I can combat this so I don’t get overwhelmed as often as I currently do.
(2) Making yourself your number 1 priority is a great habit to get into. There are not many things I do every single day, but by doing something for me everyday, I will support this mindset and develop boundaries with other priorities and tasks.
My Goal: Start memory keeping
How the habit supports the goal
(1) I am not someone who has a great record of memory keeping, however, with certain life changes (turning 30 and purchasing my first home) I’ve been wanting more and more to find a way to keep track of memories ongoing. I think the easiest way for me to start doing this consistently may be simply writing about my day in a journal.
(2) This year I tested the waters with journaling and although I wasn’t completely consistent, I was able to record some important events from my year that I can now look back on. To a great extent as well, my monthly blog post Entrepreneurial is my way of documenting my business life regularly, and I am very glad I started that this year and have those posts to look over!
My Goal: Stop forgetting the little things
Habit: Write things down
How the habit supports the goal
(1) I know this may seem very similar to my last goal/habit but it’s a little different. Learning to stop relying on your memory and start writing down details is a hard process. I have come pretty far with this habit already, but I still find myself forgetting things all the time. Tasks, ideas, plans, etc. It’s very frustrating and to combat this I must start writing everything down!
(2) They say you learn better when you write something down, just that one small act helps to improve your cognition. So, I’ve pulled out a desk pad to leave out and even when I am doing passive things like talking on the phone or watching tv or a video, I try to doodle or take notes!
I’m often asked about the secret to my success. Why I’m so productive, how I get so much done, why I was able to make myself successful when the odds are stacked against me (and you, the odds are unfortunately stacked against all of us)? It’s hard to pinpoint what I do that makes me different, but after talking to so many of the members in my community, I’ve learned that I have some systems in place in my life that I stick to and use as tools to guide me towards the success I seek. One of those systems is Goal Setting!
Every year come December I begin the process of goal setting for the year ahead. It’s a pretty simple process really, that has evolved over the years for me. I started by just keeping a list of “New Years Resolutions” as many of us do! Then, after realizing that I rarely completed many of the tasks on the list, I switched up my methodology and created action steps that would help me achieve the goal. My processed has refined over the years and turned into a complete goal setting/project planning process where I literally map out everything I’d like to achieve for the year on a timeline and keep project plans handy to ensure I’m making progress. I know this may sound like I have the contents of my days prescheduled for a year in advance, but that’s really not my style. I use a framework for deciding, breaking down and managing my goals that is simple, logical, and fits directly into my planner, which is the best part, really!
Eventually, I codified my process. First, for my own memory since this is an annual undertaking, and second, to share my process in an easily digestible form with the rest of my community. What resulted is known as YOU GOT THIS: A Strategic Goal Setting and Planning Guide to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Organize Your Life! It’s a PDF Workbook you can purchase from my shop RIGHT NOW and work through over the next few days and weeks to prepare yourself for a successful year ahead. It’s a streamlined 31 pages in length with 9 worksheets/checklists to apply the lessons in the book to your goals and life, PLUS I include a very handy Resource Guide with extra links to additional educational tools and planning supplies that I recommend for anyone who is truly looking to go deep to ensure a successful year!