For the first part of my Focus series I want to talk about productivity, specifically the methods I use to keep myself on track and on task. Given the goals I’ve set for myself this year, getting things done is an absolute necessity. Productivity used to be a big downfall of mine. But over the past few months I’ve honed in on the ways that work best for me to accomplish things, and I wanted to share those with you!
My biggest downfall when it comes to productivity is that I am a serial over-planner; be it art, household DIY, chores, you name it. It used to be that I’d get a burst of inspiration, and one of two things would happen:
1. I’d make a huge, unrealistic lists of tasks to accomplish, not complete many of them, get discouraged, and ultimately not get much done. Or,
2. I’d start multiple projects at once, lose steam with them, and none of them get finished.
Not exactly productive. In fact, the opposite of productive. I knew I needed a change, and I started doing two simple things that truly changed the way I work.
1. Allow Yourself to Overplan
I know you may be thinking, Ummm, how is that helpful?? But trust me, it’s a crucial part of how I accomplish anything. I knew that I wasn’t just going to be able to STOP over-planning, so I bought two notebooks. The first is for art. In it I write down EVERY idea I have for an art project. Just to get it down. Even if I never look at it again, knowing that I have the idea is down is a comfort. The second is for projects, where I do the same thing; jot it all down. Just the act of writing it down somewhere calms the part of my brain that was exploding with inspiration; like I’ve tricked it into thinking I did something just by the act of putting it to paper. Give yourself the outlet to plan, plan, plan. From there, look over the lists and decide on what you truly want to focus on. Which leads me to my other top productivity tip:
2. Make A Daily Top 3 To-Do List
This is the game changer.
Instead of making a daily to-do list that includes everything I can think of, I pick the top three things I want to make sure I accomplish that day, whether it’s towards a specific goal or project, or just in general. I do not include daily or repeating tasks in this list (like dishes, grocery shopping, etc.); the Top 3 is for things outside of my normal routine. Even if you aren’t a serial over-planner, but just struggle with long to-do lists or feeling like you’re not getting enough done, I highly recommend trying this method out. I am not exaggerating when I say that it completely changed my productivity levels both in art and other projects. Sometimes I’ll plan out my Top 3 in advance, at the beginning of the week for each day. Other days, I write them in the morning of. But no matter when I make the list, it is so much easier to only focus on three tasks vs. trying to cram in every task I can think of. And be flexible with it! On days I know I’ll be really busy, I only have a Top 2. Make it work for you.
I know they seem like simple methods. And they are simple methods. But they changed my productivity levels in such a positive manner. By allowing myself to be the crazy inspired over-planner but ultimately going about things in an organized, simple fashion, I stay focused on the things that matter, and end up getting more done each day.
What are your favorite methods for staying productive?
FOCUS is my One Little Word for 2016. This series shares the ways that I’m applying it each aspect of my life.