We hear it all the time: You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce. Actually, everyone, everywhere has the same amount of hours in day.
We also all have ambitious plans to get up early, go to the gym, finish that screenplay, make pasta from scratch and then...most often we don’t. We get caught up in other tasks or sleep in or just eat ramen.
How can we take advantage of 24 hours the same way Beyonce does?
Here are 5 things I do to keep myself focused and productive throughout the day without losing my mind.
Post it notes! Post it notes are my FAVORITE. I keep several stacks by my desk and use them as my to-do lists. I write down everything I need to get done--not just that day or morning, but ANYTHING I can think of that needs to be done that week. I like to get ahead.
As the day goes on and tasks get completed I cross them off. Hopefully by the end of the day the whole note is complete and I can tear it off and start a new one! I love the feeling of triumph when I get to take off a sheet.
Keep track of time. We all need a break, even me, especially if I’ve been working for a few hours straight. You’ll be happier and more able to focus if you give yourself a break. I don’t schedule WHEN I will take a break, but I do keep track of how long they are, and keep them to 15 minutes or less.
There’s that handy clock in the corner of our computers. When I need a break I glance up and see it’s 10:47, so I know that at 11am I better be back on task. Those 13 minutes are mine to spend as I choose: YouTube, Instagram, looking at silly memes. But when 11:00am hits I’m back to work.
Don’t let new stuff bump old stuff down the list. Unless something urgent comes in requiring your immediate attention, stay focused to the list you’ve already made. Otherwise the list has no power and you lose all structure for the day.
You can add something on to do later, but if you were going to edit your video this morning and a new script comes in for you to review--edit first, THEN read. You are in control of your day and your hours, stick to the plan.
Get up early. Or stay up late. Most of us are generally more productive at one time day or other. For me, it’s mornings. If I sleep “late” meaning past 8am and just sit down to do work at 9 or 9:30, I already feel like I lost half my day.
If you know you’re able to focus better at night, sleep late. Honor that time and don’t make plans that will interfere with your schedule.
Take a day off--or two! As freelancers we make our own schedule and it feels like sometimes that means we work all the time. 7 days a week. Checking email, posting on social media, writing, thinking about projects, everything. But taking a break and letting yourself reset will make you more productive in the long run.
It took me a long time to stop answering emails the MOMENT they came in, even on the weekends. Now, unless it’s a production emergency, I wait to answer. Maybe a few hours, maybe longer. If it’s the weekend, I might not answer till Monday. Treat this as a real job and take a five day week.
What are your favorite productivity hacks?