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Organizing Yourself for a Productive Day

We all have busy schedules. Although there are 24 hours in each day (are there really?), we always find ourselves asking, “Where did the time go?” If you tend to get behind on your daily to-dos, fear not! Use these steps to help yourself get back on track…

Create a daily list. Friends and family always begrudge my infamous to-do lists (often described as “intense”); however, they can chuckle or grimace till the cows come home because my trusty to-do list is what keeps me productive…which, in my line of work, is essential.

Keep your to-do list in one place. Do not write a list on a piece of paper AND use a list app to keep track of your daily tasks. This will make you feel disjointed and frazzled. It's okay to categorize your to-do lists by subject, but you want to be able to see everything that needs to get done in one place.

Keep it real. It’s very important to only put tasks on your to-do list that are realistic. In other words, don’t mix in long-term goals (like editing your photo library) with your daily must-dos. It’s fine to have long-term projects written down on your list application or in your notebook, but it’s best to separate them into categories so you don’t feel overwhelmed (i.e. house, work, travel, etc.—see our previous post on “Organizing Your Lists”).

Don’t procrastinate just get it done! Do the things you don’t want to do right off the bat. For me, I have a difficult time sitting down to write. If you have items on your list that you’re dreading, procrastination actually slows you down even further because you’re wasting mental energy thinking about it. It’s best to seize the opportunity to complete that unwanted task and feel the satisfaction of crossing that baby off your list! For example, if I have to write an article or blog post, I do this first thing in the morning so I’m not thinking about it all day while completing other (sometimes less important) items. Also, your brain is sharpest in the morning. If you wait to complete the most difficult tasks till the end of the day, you will most likely spend more time than you should, or choose to put it off yet another day.

Stay the course. Don’t stray from your list. If you find yourself trolling Facebook or Pinterest while tasks are still pending on your list, STOP. Social media can be a huge time-suck and will ruin your plans for productivity. After you complete a difficult task (if you can control yourself) set a timer for five minutes to allow yourself to browse the interweb. Otherwise, stay away until all tasks are complete!

Put one or two tasks on your list that are routine, or you enjoy doing. For example, it may sound silly but I usually put something on my list like “make coffee” or “walk the dogs.” These are non-negotiable routines that I do everyday, list or not.

Chunk you work. If you have trouble getting started on a task, use the Pomodoro Method—a time management system using a timer to break down work into 25 minute intervals separated by short, timed breaks (usually about 5 minutes).

If you find yourself stressing about the task(s) at hand...don’t think, just do! Thoughts or angst about completing tasks are just a waste of energy. Completing tasks that are hard will build your stamina and help you be more productive in the future!

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