Many of us wear a few different hats in our life from business owners, wives, mamas, volunteers. The list could go on and on. And each of those responsibilities require multiple tasks each day, which can make us feel stressed.
Honestly, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done on a daily basis. So, today I’m sharing my tips and tools on how to get those to-dos checked off your list and be your most productive self.
How to Focus and Get Things Done
Create an Environment for Productivity
Depending on what type of environment you thrive in, it’s important to tailor it to your specific needs. If you work better in a tidy, quiet space to stay focused, make sure that’s available before working on important tasks.
For others, a little background noise is better for them than complete silence. Just make sure the background noise isn’t something that may distract you. Music is something I enjoy listening to while working. More on that later!
Distractions can come in all forms. One of the biggest distractions for most people today is our phone. With all the apps, particularly social media, our attention span can be zapped quickly from push notifications and all the other crazy things our phones do. To focus on the task at hand, I put my phone on airplane mode or leave it on silent, away from my desk.
If you’re working at home, let your significant other, kids or roommate know you’re going to be working for a designated amount of time in your room or office. That way, they know you need some space during that time.
It doesn’t quite work like that if you have toddlers, so plan around their sleep schedule if you can. Or if you’re able, have someone watch them, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
Set Designated Break Times
Our brains lose focus over time, so it’s important to give them a chance to chill for a sec. I do an hour or two of focused work and then take a short break. Knowing that I have a break at a certain time, really helps my ability to focus. I love taking a quick walk outside and making a coffee to refuel.
Schedule Your Time
Time management is so important to be able to check things off your to-do list. A great practice is to plan your week on Sunday evenings.
Start by writing down all the tasks that need to get done that week for both personal and professional. Then schedule those tasks around other events that you have coming up that week. Though a few curveballs have the potential to pop up, we learn to adjust and reroute. Creating a plan sets you up to have the most successful next seven days possible.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I like to essentially task dump all the things I think I need to get done on a piece of paper. Everything that’s clouding my brain from house chores to business tasks. Then I prioritize them. What absolutely has to get done that day? If some can wait until the next day, put those on your to-dos for the following day or even further out.
There are so many amazing resources and apps to help manage your time efficiently. But I don’t like to over complicate it. Below are a few resources I like to use to keep me on task and organized throughout each week. Plus a few that have come highly recommended that may be worth incorporating too.
I like to schedule tasks on my Google calendar for each day. For instance from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., I’ll put on my calendar “edit YouTube video.” Then from 11:30 a.m. to noon, I’ll block time for checking emails. This helps not waste time throughout the day and gives me time to focus on specific tasks.
Did you know there are playlists for helping you focus? I love to listen to the Spotify focus playlists to avoid distractions. If you like a little background noise, I highly recommend this. Brings me a little zen during the workday. 🙂
Toggl Track – Tracking Your Time
Toggl Track helps me track how long I spend on each task for different projects. What’s nice about this application is that your data syncs across all your devices from your cell phone to your desktop etc. At the end of each week, you can determine which tasks take you the longest, so you can allocate the most accurate amount of time for those in the future. You might also realize you’re spending too much time on another task and make adjustments where needed.
Todoist – Organizing Tasks
Todoist helps organize your work and personal life. I mentioned how I brain dump onto paper. Todoist is essentially that except it’s in an app. Any task that’s in your brain, you can write down in the app and organize into categories. Plus you can set up recurring reminders for weekly tasks and assign tasks to others with Todoist.
Forest – Keeping You Present
The Forest app is specifically for making sure you don’t check your phone while doing important tasks. Like many, I’m guilty of unconsciously checking my phone often throughout the day. This could potentially throw off focus and productivity. So if putting your phone on airplane mode doesn’t work well for you, Forest might be a great alternative.
Forest stresses the importance of staying present in our daily lives. The way it works is pretty simply. You plant a virtual tree in the app. To keep the tree growing, you must keep the Forest app open for the set time you input. It can be as little as 10 minutes all the way to 120 minutes. If you get out of the app, your virtual tree will die. Though not a huge consequence, it’s exciting to see a forest of trees growing because you kept your focus. You can also do this when you go out to dinner with friends or your significant other.
Over time, it trains your brain to be more conscious of checking your phone and be more present with the tasks that need to get finished.
Check lists, time management and ways to focus may not be the most glamorous or sexy thing, but it’s essential to our daily lives. In order to reach our goals, we have to stay focused. Now I want to hear all of your productivity hacks or apps that help with productivity!