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10 Simple Ways to Be More Productive Today

10 Simple Ways to Be More Productive Today | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Welcome to week two of Project: Purposeful Productivity! Last Monday we kicked off this new series by talking about goals (one of my most favorite topics!), and today I wanted to run down a list of oh-so-simple things you can start doing right now to be more productive. I think we often feel like we need to entirely overhaul our current schedule or routine in order to increase productivity, but I’ve found that many times a little tweak here and there can make a huge difference! The list below contains some little things I’ve tried that have really helped me make the very most of my time throughout the day.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

1. Set goals.

After talking about the importance of goals last week, it’s no surprise that this one tops the list! Goals help me stay focused and motivated. I make better use of my time because I have something that I’m working toward rather than just stumbling through my days and weeks aimlessly. I start with great big goals and then break them down by months, weeks, and days to make them more manageable. You can read about my entire goal setting process in this post.

2. Develop evening and morning routines.

I’ve found that building good habits is huge when it comes to productivity, and two of the key times this comes into play is at the beginning and end of the day. For me, a productive day starts the night before. When I take the time to get the house in order (clean up the kitchen, straighten up the main living areas, etc.) and make a plan for the next day, I’m ready to hit the ground running when my alarm goes off in the morning.

Similarly, I find that my day goes more smoothly when I start out with a solid morning routine. When I have a quiet time, work out, and have a good breakfast with the Cs first thing in the morning, I tend to be a lot more productive than on the days I lay in bed and look at my phone for way too long, then end up running late, skipping breakfast, and feeling sluggish for the rest of the day.

10 Ways to Be More Productive | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

3. Go to bed early, and wake up early.

Guys, I totally used to think that this didn’t matter. I was a night owl. I felt like I could be so productive in the evening because my kids were in bed and I had all sorts of time to myself. I would stay up until all hours of the night trying to get things finished, which usually meant that my stuff was done but I was absolutely exhausted the next day. Then a few months ago I decided to make a major switch. Instead of going to sleep at 12 or 1 am and dragging myself out of bed at 7 the next morning, I completely stopped working in the evening, went to bed by 9, and woke up at 5. I could not believe the difference it made!

At first, the thought of waking up at 5 sounded absolutely horrible to me. But when it all came down to it, I was actually getting more sleep and I had much, much more energy throughout the day to get things done.

4. Make a list.

This sounds overly simple, but I definitely I accomplish more in a day when I have a list vs. when I don’t have one. Sometimes I do time blocking. (If you’re not sure what that is, there is an explanation and a free printable to help you in this post.) Other times I just make a list on a piece of paper or in the notes app on my phone. Having a list of things you want to accomplish in a day can help tremendously because when you finish one task, you know exactly what you need to work on next. (I find that I am also less likely to forget things that I should be doing when I have a list!)

10 Ways to Be More Productive | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

5. Do the dreaded task(s) first.

I’ve often heard this referred to as “eating that frog,” thanks to this book. We all have those one or two things on our to-do list that we don’t look forward to doing. When we “eat the frog” and get those tasks out of the way first, we don’t spend all day procrastinating and looking for ways to avoid them. If we knock out the difficult items at the beginning of the day, it frees us up to do the more enjoyable tasks and ultimately accomplish more.

6. Try the 25/5 rule.

I’ve sometimes heard this referred to as the Pomodoro Technique, but basically you set a timer for 25 minutes and commit to focusing only on the task at hand for that period of time. No playing on your phone or being distracted by other things– just 25 solid minutes of focused time. Then when the timer goes off, set it for five minutes and allow yourself to do whatever you want during that time.

I was surprised at how much I accomplished when I started using this little trick. I was more likely to stay focused during the 25 minutes because I knew I would have that 5 minutes of down time at the end of it. I also couldn’t believe how quickly the 5 minutes of down time seemed to fly by, which probably means that when I thought I was spending 3-5 minutes looking at Facebook or Instagram, it was probably more like 15!

7. Have a designated place to capture your thoughts and ideas.

I don’t know about you, but I am SO easily distracted! I will be working away at a project and all of the sudden I’ll remember something else I have to do that day, so I’ll drop project one, and head off to project two, which reminds me that I have a third thing I need to do too. Then at the end of the day I end up with 5 or 6 half-done projects and nothing completed! Instead of jumping from thing to thing, I’ve tried to designate a place to collect all of those to-dos and reminders (this can be in an app on your phone or in a paper planner– just have one definite spot!) so that when I think of something, I can make a note of it, finish what I’m doing, and then come back to the other ideas later. Honestly, my scatterbrained self has really had to work at being intentional about this one, but when I do it consistently, it really is a big help.

10 Ways to Be More Productive | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

8. Batch your tasks.

This one takes some thinking ahead, but I find I always accomplish more when I batch my tasks. Let’s say I have three blog posts I need to write. Instead of tackling each one individually, I shop for supplies for all three at the same time. I make the projects for all three at the same time, photograph them at the same time, edit the photos all together, and then do my writing all at once. I am always amazed at how much time is lost when switching between tasks (it’s more than we think– we are so easily distracted!), and batching minimizes that and helps us to use our time wisely.

9. Delegate.

Anyone else suffer from superwoman (or superman) syndrome? <Raises both hands in the air.> I, admittedly, like to be in control of everything, so I figure if I do the tasks myself, I have the most control and they’ll get done the way I want them to. The reality is, though, that there are many things that I do that could be done just as well (and often better!) by other people. Or sometimes it’s not essential that it be done perfectly, and I just need to let go a little bit. There are plenty of things around the house that even the Cs (ages 4 & 6) could be responsible for. Sometimes Donnie and I need to reconfigure who does which tasks for the family depending on our schedules and abilities. Then there are those committees where we keep saying “Oh I can take care of that” when really we should be spreading out the responsibilities a little more. We don’t have to do it all! Delegate!

10. Put “down time” on the calendar. In pen.

I know. You’re probably thinking, “Abby! You even schedule your down time?! You are ridiculous!” I am ridiculous. For many reasons. But hear me out on this one. Sometimes I get so attached to my to-do list that I’m constantly “go go go” all the time, and that is a recipe for burnout if I’ve ever seen one. Putting down time on the schedule makes me stop and take a breather and get reenergized. It also keeps me from trying to multi-task too much. Writing a blog post while “spending time” with my family won’t really result in much quality time with my loved ones or quality content for my blog. If I choose to put the work (and my phone!) away and really give all my attention to my family or even just kick back with a good book, I will come away feeling rejuvenated and ready to accomplish more with the rest of my time.

10 Ways to Be More Productive | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

{photo by elle and arre photography}

Nothing on this list is rocket science. They’re all easy little changes, but I know they’ve made a big difference for me when it comes to productivity! I should also say that I usually am not doing all 10 of these things super well all at the same time. 

We all go through different stages and phases of our lives, and some will be more helpful than others at various times. If you’re looking to boost your productivity, I would choose one or two to work on, see how they work for you, and go from there. Productivity can definitely be a process, but if we’re striving to be purposeful about how we spend our time, we will get there!

What are your favorite productivity tips and tricks? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Have a wonderful day!

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

40 Comments

  1. Great ideas, Abby!

    I am also obsessed with goal setting and productivity, so they all rang bells of familiarity 🙂

    I wrote this post about the Pomodoro Technique – you may find it useful! https://www.sarahevelyn.co.za/productivity-101-the-pomodoro-technique/

    At the moment I’m finding lists and getting to bed early / waking early a challenge. Thanks for the incentive to work on it!

  2. Noemi @ Wealthy in Health says:

    Since this morning, I have a VA so I’m working on the “delegation” part. I have had my own worktable and since then I work much better, so these tips are working totally :)))

  3. Christina @ Embracing Simple says:

    Good morning Abby!!

    LOVED this post. I developed a morning routine a few months ago and have found it to be the single greatest tool in increasing my productivity level. For instance, this morning I woke up at 4am before my 15-month-old is up for the day to crank out some freelance work and blogging. Not only am I more productive before my family is up for the day because I have a quiet house to be able to focus, but I feel like I’m a much better Mom & Wife when I make that time for myself to pursue my passions 🙂

    Congrats on your upcoming planner launch, it looks like such a gorgeous planner that will make staying organized easier for so many!

    Have a great Monday!!

    Christina

  4. I am transitioning from being a full-time, k-8th music teacher into being a full-time momma. I LOVE all of the advice you gave in this article.

    Do you have a post about going from a teacher to a mom? Did you have any postpartum? I am not an early riser but I desire to be. We just have so many middle-of-the-night wake-ups, I actually don’t get any block of sleep until 4-8pm. (I also emailed you a longer explanation called, “God can move mountains. “)

    I sincerely feel like the Lord wants me to blog. I secured a domain name. I really want to do what you are doing and more! You have really inspired me but, geeze, figuring out how to be an effective stay-at-home mom is really making me feel like I don’t know which way is up or down. I have faith and God’s grace but, an extra word-from-the-wise would be really helpful right now.

    The planner looks beautiful! Consider me stoked!

    Thanks, Abby!

    1. I heard it said it takes about 3 months to feel like you can be normal again after a baby comes on the scene so give yourself grace. Also they begin to consolidate sleep as the months go by so you can start getting better chunks of shut-eye at night. My 11 month old still wakes up once a night but I’ve learned that if I go to bed when she does (or soon after) I am not so tired the next day.

  5. Funny enough I just started my morning routine this morning – waking up at 5:30 or 6 to nurse the baby and just staying up for the day from that point on! I got SO much done this morning before she woke up at 8 it was amazing. And I can’t wait to check your planner out. My current one runs out in January so I will be hunting for a new one!

  6. Great post!! Agree with every point made

  7. I’m loving this series! Using my time more wisely is one of my biggest goals. I’m working on time blocking and had a whole game plan ready this morning until my husband decided to stay home to catch up on some rest and we ended up having a spontaneous breakfast date 🙂 It was totally worth it, but my plan kinda went out the window. Tomorrow’s a new day though right?! Super excited about the planner too!

  8. Christene says:

    Abby I am so excited about your new planner! I have had the same thought so many times. I try lists, a planner, an app, anything and I feel like I’m trying to make something fit my idea for a planning system that I have in my head. Nothing ever seems to work just right for how I think or want to plan out my days. I’ve always said to my husband “I wish I could just create my own planner that has everything that I specifically want in it.” I can’t wait to see what you have come up with and try it out for myself! -Christene

  9. I canNOT wait to get your planner! So excited!!

  10. Diane And Diane DIY says:

    Great tips, Abby! I am such the list maker and get so easily distracted because of the ” I got to take of this now or else I will forget” problem I have. Thank goodness for my hubby to keep me on track and remind me where I left off.

    I am looking forward to your planner. Congratulations!

  11. Great tips! I wanna try that 25/5 technique. I always want to do a lot of things but find it challenging to accomplish all the tasks in my list. Maybe, this is the solution to my problem. 🙂

  12. Andi Putri Yasyfin says:

    Really great idea! Whenever i read your post about goal and organization i feel like i wanna do it too. Definitely worth to try 🙂

  13. Hi Abby,
    I’ve been enjoying your blog for only a short time. You keep me coming back because everything is useful and PRETTY! Some might think that’s ridiculous, but if it’s my free will at work here, I choose pretty. And speaking of pretty, I was wondering if you plan to gear your planner to be more useful for teachers? We purchase ours for the school year during the summer~and if you didn’t already know, there’s a TON of us out there. (We are magnets to Pinterest, maybe you’re already there too? ) So I already custom made mine (which isn’t that pretty, but tailored for my teaching needs). I didn’t like the color/design choices out there, but something tells me I’d ditch mine for one of yours~except I do need it geared towards my special ed teaching needs. Let me know if you can steer me in the right direction if you’ve already made these. Thanks so much and keep the pretty in everything please.
    Kris
    Wixom, Mi

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Kris! The planner isn’t for teachers specifically, but it will have yearly, monthly, and weekly planning and goals pages. I’d love to make some printables that are more specific to teachers sometime! If you give me an idea of what types of things would be helpful, I’ll add it to my “to make” list! 🙂 Have a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

  14. OMG!!!! your awesome Abby!!! you’ve made a planner (wishes do come true) yay yay 🙂

    Thanks for a great article, I made notes!

  15. Kristie Hill says:

    I have been thinking about living and working intentionally a lot lately. It’s my new word to live by. So much of my time was wasted. No more! Can’t wait to see your planner, Abby.

    Now I just have to work on going to bed earlier…

  16. Oh wow, I am the worst at number nine. I definitely have that “superwoman syndrome,” as you called it! I’m kind of a control freak, and I like things done my way, and no one else’s, so it is really a struggle to just let go and let others take over sometimes. Thanks for the tips!

  17. Hi Abby,

    Wonderful post and such great advice and tips! I work an evening shift job so any kind of tips and tricks that are new to me I try to create into my life but then end not doing it fully! I guess it’s the motivation and such I need work on. I too do the same thing when it comes to having to many projects and by the end of the day have 5 1/2 done projects done….instead of having maybe 2 or 3 FULL projects done. I am looking forward to your 2016 Planner and I am totally interested! Great job & keep the amazing work! You are an inspiration 😀

  18. I love this list- it is so helpful! At work, sometimes I just focus on the task that seems most important that second and then get pulled to another task- so I totally get that feeling of just having half finished tasks! I feel like I spend the day spinning and leave with the feeling that I didn’t really finish anything. When I am purposeful and make a punch list of the most important items and complete those, I am so much happier! I learned a trick that at the end of the day to make a list of the top 5 most important things to accomplish for the next day and have the list written and on your desk it will help keep you focused as you go through your tasks.

  19. Excited about the planner!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, Michelle! I’m excited too! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  20. Kristy as Giftie Etcetera says:

    I adore most of this advice, but I just can’t get on board with waking up early. I substitute coffee for that one!

  21. Lauren Baxter says:

    Some great tips abby!! It’s funny because you sound exactly how I am (hehe) easily distracted, like to be organized etc. So this new Intentional Life planner might be just up my alley 🙂 can’t wait to see more!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor
    xx

  22. Such a GREAT post Abby! Loved it all! I’m going to try that 25 minute timer thing today! As soon as I get off your blog which is always hard for me to do.. ha! 🙂 Can’t wait to see your new planner! xo

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Lol! Thank you so much, sweet friend! I hope it is helpful! Have a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  23. Abby,
    I love this post because it reminded me of the things that I use to do when I was young and had children at home. Somewhere along the way I lost my routines and along with that really taking time out just for me. Thank you for the reminders.

  24. Hi Abby! I came across your blog last night when one of my Pinterest friends pinned a link to your article. I am a HUGE lover of lists, color-coding, and organization, so when I read your article, I knew I would love the blog. I e-mailed myself the to-do list and today when I came in for work, I spent some more time looking around your website. I am starting a new job next week and just printed out several of your daily/weekly goal sheets and the 2016 calendar. I made myself a binder to get started in the position and am so excited that everything is organized and that I have a to-do list guide to be able to hit the ground running. I’m not usually one to leave comments, but I just wanted to say thank you for your posts. I’m happy I stumbled upon your blog and will definitely stick around to keep reading!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much for your encouraging comment, Jordan! I am so glad that the printables were helpful! Best of luck with your new position– sounds like you’re ready to rock it! Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  25. Love this post! I am bookmarking it and coming back to it regularly because I have GOT to get my life back in order. I got sick and was hospitalized some months ago and it threw me off big time and my life has turned into a disorganized mess…ugh! I am starting with two goals…..bed early and wake early as well as well as morning and night routines. Here goes nothing! Today is day one of the rest of my life….whoot whoot! It is going to be awesome! Thanks for this site! I love it and it is just sooooooo encouraging!

  26. Dagmar ~ Dagmar's Home says:

    I have been working insane hours since I started my blog in 2009. I’m up until 2 AM six days a week, and the fall into a coma one night and sleep about 10 hours. It’s 3 AM as I write this 🙂

    Thanks for reminding me that I need to change this bad habit, Abby. I enjoyed your latest webinar with Donnie this week – great info.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful for you!

      ~Abby =)

  27. These are fantastic! I have to say I’m one of those that goes to bed early and wakes up early. It’s funny how much I can get done by doing that simple thing. I love the tip of scheduling down time. This is something that I’m going to implement! Thank you for this inspiring post!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Jenn!

      ~Abby =)

  28. Lovely post! I’ve been retired since 2012. I love handwork embroidery knitting reading etc. I used to be a Maths teacher. Now I am just lost. No deadlines, no impetus. Nothing I do is important enough to finish. I have too much time and most go to waste. But this is not how I like living! Any ideas jow to get such an engine started again and to keep it running? Kind regards!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      What usually works for me is to find something I’m really passionate about! If I can find something that really interests me, that keeps me motivated and gives me the drive to keep pursuing it. It can be tough to find your “thing,” but you’ll get there eventually!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Namari Myburgh says:

        Thanks! I’m out on that search….

  29. Kendra Wasberg says:

    I have been trying to be better organized in my life but I seem to have tons of piles of printables and don’t do anything with them. Need some help. Maybe I should purchase a planner instead and write things down in that; therefore, I need to force myself to be more active in this task at hand. Any suggestions would help.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Kendra! There is definitely an element of “training” yourself to use whatever resources you decide upon. When you start a new planner or a new printable system, it’s easy to forget about it. You could try to set a timer on your phone for specific times each day to check in on your planner? That way you’ll start getting used to looking at it and using it and it will become a habit. I hope this helps! Have a great day!

      ~Abby =)

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