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Ideas for Productivity

I tend to be the type of person that is always really stressed if I’m doing enough work, and how long things are taking, and if what I’m doing is effective.

Last year around June I was working very hard and wanted to accomplish many things by the end of the year. But when I stopped and looked back on the last six months, I had nothing to show for it. There were many things I never got around to doing and I just couldn’t figure out what I’d been working so hard at.

So then I decided to do something that has really helped me in a lot of ways: I created a weekly list of goals I wanted to accomplish – not just with writing, but with other things I wanted to accomplish as well. This helped me:

1) Measure my progress

2) Feel like I was being productive when I was checking things off

3) Keep myself accountable and realize where my problem areas are

4) Accomplish things over time that I kept pushing off because I felt I didn’t have time

For example, taking an online course about Transmedia. I really wanted to learn about this, but it never felt like a priority and I kept pushing it off until I had more time. But I soon realized, I will never have time for these things because there will always be higher priorities or I will always be busy. Instead I need to make time for it, even if it’s just 30 minutes or a couple hours a week – which will get me much farther than pushing it off .

I added all the things that I wanted to do but didn’t seem to have time to each week: reading more often, making notes from all of the non-fiction books I read, courses I wanted to take, getting things done on my to do list. I had to really think about: what are the ways I can fit this in? Where am I wasting time that could be used for something else?

Every month I now make a check list for each week and update it as necessary.

For example, I’m trying not to eat sugar anymore because it hurts my stomach, so I added that on. And now that I’ve started reading during my commute to and from work, I don’t have it on my check list anymore because it’s integrated into my life.

It can be tough to get something like this going, but it really did help me get on track with what I actually wanted to accomplish.

Note of caution: Beware of overdoing it. I started out small, maybe five things to do a week. Then it increased to 15 and I found myself making such a strict plan that it was giving me anxiety because I couldn’t get it all done.

Once in a while I give myself a week off (not too often) from my list and I think about if I’m heading in the right direction, what’s working, what’s not, and I let myself have a break. Taking a break is so so so important!! I’m still learning even now the difference between working hard and burning myself out and how to balance it all.

Start small. Use some pens and notebooks you enjoy. And be excited about being productive.

Checklist I started off with for each week in July:

Checklist That Was Too Rigid for my Schedule (August):

  • Fiction Book I wanted to read (Great Gatsby)
  • Non-Fiction Book I wanted to read (Trust Me I’m Lying)
  • New meet up that I wanted to attend
  • Work for 2 Hours on this website
  • Masterclass Lesson (Filmmaking – Jodie Foster)
  • Journal
  • Do things on my to do list for 1 hour
  • Copy down notes from books I liked for 1 hour
  • Meditate 3 times a week for 10 minutes
  • Work on health for 1 hour
  • Writing for 15 hours a week

 

How I’m Doing Things Now

  • Using Good Reads to manage the list of books I want to read/buy
  • I’m reading to and from my commute to work (or anywhere) and I read about an hour before bed so I get tired. I stopped adding this to my list since it’s now part of my every day routine.
  • My morning routine that I *try* to do every day is do a quick exercise for a few minutes to wake up, journal for a few minutes, and meditate for 10 minutes. If I miss the last two I try to do it before bed
  • I haven’t gone to as many meet ups or social things as I’ve wanted to because I’ve been trying to focus on work and art
  • I make time every day to work on my current projects 
  • Where I can I will get things on my to do list done or continue studying an online course

At first the rigid schedule really helped me get on track with being disciplined and being productive. But I over did it for a bit and then realized I needed to focus my priorities on the 5 goals I wanted to completed that year and focus everything on that.

I’ve recently realized there is not enough time in the day to literally do everything.

I hope this helps if you’re feeling stuck or like you’re not sure how to tackle this issue. I would love to hear if anyone else has any tips for how they stay productive!

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