Alicia Grace Co

Productivity

How To Juggle Multiple Tasks: Practical Methods to Implement

How To, ProductivityMichelle SonyaComment
 
 

The modern landscape of working as an independent entrepreneur necessitates the need for juggling multiple small tasks on a regular basis. Whether your tasks are of diverse nature, or are simply fragments of one single project, making sure you get to tick each task off your list at the end of each day can be quite a menace. Add to that the impediments such as distractions and procrastination, and you're always left with a pile of leftover work that you never seem to be able to crack down on.

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The solution to this problem mainly rests on two pillars - planning and delegation, and every productivity hack you'll ever learn with respect to this is related to this two-step process. The obligatory simplicity of its contents makes the promise of entrepreneurial success. Let's break them down into more detailed steps down below:

Have a system in place

The first and most important step in the planning process is having a structure to your work mechanism. Carefully planning each action ahead will help you micromanage your tasks with a much higher efficiency. Sticking to a routine, in which you know exactly when you do certain kinds of tasks during the day (leaving room for contingencies of course), also sets in motion an automated process. And as you'll often find, lots of smaller tasks don't need much deliberation and can be done almost automatically, like filing your documents, checking and answering emails, etc.

Make detailed plans

You might have heard this very often and rightly so. It is crucial to the successful completion of ANY task, small or big, to plan them in the most detailed manner possible, with timelines attached. Making vague plans like writing "Must do this" on your to-do is better than no plan at all. You should be able to quantify your tasks and goals in numbers. The same or similar strategies are a vital part of every successful individual's daily routine. This is the way to maintain the goal of utmost performance within your mind at a constant frequency.

Use planners and other helpful accessories

Using the right tools like planners, timers, sticky tags, etc. help keep your task list sorted, keep track of your progress and save you a lot of time. When juggling multiple smaller tasks instead of one big task, it is fairly easy to get confused and lost in the commotion. In turn, this potential confusion hinders your much-needed focus and determination, thus massively reducing the productive quality. The right accessories are not just helpful, they're absolutely essential to both the planning and the execution process of your work.

Use Pomodoro technique

This technique recommends the use of a timer set to (usually) 25-min blocks of time to complete individual tasks. This is a great productivity enhancer because the idea of time literally passing by makes you focus completely on the task and eliminate distractions. It also ensures your commitment to each task individually instead of multitasking, which can more often than not greatly hamper your productivity. Prolonged utilization of this performance technique results in unparalleled efficiency at completing individual assignments. 

Categorize and prioritize

Not all tasks are equally important. Categorize them into MITs ('most important tasks' of the day) and the rest, prioritizing the MITs and doing them first. Doing the least desirable tasks also helps with more effective goal-achievement, by letting you save preferred work for the remainder of your performance hours. The evident result of this strategy implies increased productivity and work quality in situations where it usually recedes.

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Hire a VA

The part about delegation. Know when you need help and accept it. You're not invincible and having a team is often more helpful than being a lone warrior. If you can't afford an office assistant straightaway (or don't have the office space), virtual assistants and remote employees are a convenient option. Besides having a helping hand, having an assistant will also help with your people skills, which are essential for success at whatever you do in life. If you plan on eventually expanding your business, this is a great way to grow the root of your employee tree. Business owners that start this way often make the right hiring choices almost from the very beginning.


Juggling multiple tasks is a simple enough challenge when you have the right plan to guide you and the right tools to execute it. At this point, you've officially been introduced to the duo of success. All of the required organizational effort, simplified into but two factors. Get both these things right and you'll be well on your way to a productive nirvana!


About the Author: Michelle Sonya
michelle-sonya-headshot.png

Michelle is a recent computer science graduate from University of Maryland. Now living in Los Angeles, CA and loves it. When she is not writing code, she writes about fashion at her blog
https//www.thehifashionsite.com. Her other passions include art, 
history, running, yoga and the beach.

The Myth of Perfection (and How You Can Overcome It)

Productivity, Guest PostsMelanie ScrogginsComment

Perfection is a term we’ve tossed around for millennia. We strive to look and feel perfect because, in a way, we want to be perfect.

Whether we desire perfection for our business or our personal lives, there is something about making everything just right.

 Whether we desire perfection for our business or personal lives, there is something about making everything just right. But perfection is a myth, and one you should overcome if you want to achieve your goals. Learn how to do just that in this blog post on Alicia Grace Co.

Last year, I opened a business. I wanted to help people organize their homes. I wanted others to feel a sense of power and control in their daily lives, but I soon realized it wasn’t sustainable. I was the one organizing the spaces for my clients when it should have been the other way around. It didn’t make sense.

I quickly gave up my dream of owning my own business. I needed to bring in an income so I started looking for 9-5 opportunities again.

Over the course of that year, the idea of running my business kept prodding and pushing me. I wanted to pick it up and work on it again, but I didn’t know how to start.

I started and I failed. That’s it, I’m done, I told myself.

Fast forward, and here I am working on my business again.

The website is done, my client materials are almost finished, and now I’m in a completely new place I did not anticipate, yet I find myself scared. Again.

Scared of starting over. Scared of failing.

Then it hit me. I’m afraid to launch my business because it’s my idea. If it’s not what I think to be 100% ready, I don’t want anybody else seeing it. It’s ok if I judge my work, but I don’t want to leave it open to the scrutiny of others.

That’s what we do. We make something and are scared to put it out into the world.

I want others to be inspired and excited like I am, but the anticipation of sharing it only for them to see it as imperfect gives me anxiety.

Now, think about imperfection.

Imperfection allows us the unique opportunity to learn. Nobody survives perfection, but everyone benefits from imperfection.

If we were perfect, nothing would ever be good enough. Imperfection serves up the gift of growth, of new ideas and all sorts of possibilities.

Some of the best ideas are not original; they improve upon ideas that came before them. That isn’t because the new ideas are cheap, they provide a new way of looking at the same problem.

That’s the definition of progress.

As creatives, that’s what we do. We see problems and pursue a better way to approach them.

If we approached those problems aiming for perfection, we may never be able to solve another problem again.

When we start filtering everything through the eyes of perfection, we never seem to get there. We start to nitpick and criticize things we put a lot of work into.

Instead of unveiling our dreams, we isolate ourselves. Sometimes, we never share what we create because perfection is too far for us to reach.

Perfection doesn’t get to stop you from pursuing what you want to do. Perfection is a jealous master and it will never allow you the chance to progress. It will continue to keep you from ideas and opportunities you want to pursue.

For me, perfection no longer exists. If it did, I would never start anything.

Like all artists, our work is never done, and I think that is an ongoing battle of the creative.

Whatever tomorrow tells you not to do, today is begging you to do it.

To get out there. To say “this is me and this is what I have to offer.”


Have you ever run into a block because of the idea of perfection? How did you handle it?


About the Author: Melanie Scroggins
 About the author: Melanie Scroggins

Hey, I’m Melanie – the owner and creator of Mine Space. I’m from a small town in Texas but I currently live on the coast of Oregon in an RV with my husband and two fur babies. At Mine Space, my goal is to educate, empower, and encourage others to live a more simplified life. I truly believe that with less, you can do more.

Website | Facebook | Pinterest


How To Plan Your Week In Tough Times: 6 Tips

Planning, Productivity, Time ManagementAlicia GraceComment

Whether you’re having a bad week, month, or year, it can be tough as a freelancer to buckle down and get to work when your head isn’t in the game. And in a world of Facebook, Netflix, and kittens, there are a million ways for our minds to wander when we’re going through a rough patch. 

When you finally do get down to business, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the work, the marketing, the networking, the follow up, the numbers, the statistics—it’s all a little too much at times. The important part is to develop a process that works for you.

 
 Learn 6 ways you can stay on track and plan your week when you're going through a rough patch.
 

Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

1. Get It Out

You’ve got seven mental lists going at any given time, ranging from what needs to get done immediately for your current clients all the way to what you want to buy your family for Christmas. Your head can positively swirl with all the junk that needs to get done. The best course of action here is to get it all out. 

Grab a notebook and start a new list on each page. Get all the details out so you don’t have to kill yourself trying to remember it all. Once it’s on paper, it’s no longer cluttering your brain, and you reduce the risk of missing something super important. 

2. Break It Down

If you’ve got a full plate, but you don’t feel like starting on any of it, it’s easy to just write off the day as a failure and let the gremlins take you to a place of guilt and frustration. Don’t let valuable time slip away from you because your brain is making you feel lazy as heck. Break up your tasks into small, bite-sized pieces to make them feel like less of a burden. 

Try some of the awesome business software out there like Trello, Dubsado, or 17Hats. These project management systems can help you break down your tasks into manageable pieces, so you don’t get weighed down by how many things you need to do for every project. 

3. Just Do One Thing

I know, it’s easier said than done. Remember, any movement is better than no movement. If you’re having a tough time getting yourself to find the discipline to get started, give yourself a single, simple task and a timeline. You have one hour to get write this blog post. You have thirty minutes to write an email to this possible client. You have fifteen minutes to make this two-second call you’ve been dreading. Just prompt yourself to get one thing done. 

The excitement and relief you’ll get after doing it will make you feel so accomplished, that you may just start a second task! 

4. Phone a Friend

When you’re stuck in a rut or feeling depressed, the best thing to do is to talk to someone. You may not feel like it, but friends can be wonderful motivators. Challenge yourself to reach out. Get coffee, or just invite them to your house for coffee so you don’t even need to get out of your pajamas. A little bit of social time will go a long way. 

Once you’ve got your friend’s ear, let them know how you’ve been feeling and about your lack of motivation. I guarantee they’ve been through the same thing before at some point. They might even have a great hack for you to break back into the game. If nothing else, your friend’s sympathetic mumbles of “been there” will help you remember that this is temporary and you are not alone.

5. Treat Yo’self

It’s all about action and reward. Did you get a post written? Good. You get a cookie. Did you make that call? Excellent, take a ten minute break. If you train yourself to know that once you finish a task, you get a little reward, you’re much more likely to start getting things done. 

6. Remember That It’s Okay

You may not be putting in the 12-hour work days you were doing a month ago, but don’t beat yourself up because you’re not a machine. Just put one foot in front of the other and know your limits. It’s okay to have a tough time. It’s okay to feel depressed. What’s not okay is doing nothing about it. Even if you didn’t accomplish anything but taking a shower, remember that’s a step forward. Give yourself the love and self-care you need to feel better, so you can get back to the life you love. 


About the Author: Kelsey O’Shaughnessy Podgorski
 About the Author: Kelsey O'Shaughnessy Podgorski

Kelsey is the owner of Noted & Noticed, where she helps non-writers and sort-of writers create kick-ass copy to grow their businesses and nonprofits. Kelsey has been writing for nearly eight years and loves to help people get creative in telling their story. To learn more, visit Kelsey at notedandnoticed.com.


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Automation: A Super Tool for Woman Entrepreneurs With Anxiety

Productivity, Time Management, Organisation, EntrepreneurshipMarissa PaneComment
 Automation is a super tool for entrepreneurs to combat anxiety with. Learn the best ways to make the most of it.

As a woman entrepreneur with anxiety, I often get asked how I’m able to do #allthethings so effortlessly. After I get a good laugh in, because let’s be honest, nothing is effortless, I usually follow-up with one small but mighty word: AUTOMATION!

The process of automating as much of my business as possible is a lifesaver, especially during those bad mental health days. If I sense that I’m going to be under a tremendous amount of stress soon or if I notice that I’ve been becoming more anxious, I can prepare for the storm that’s about to hit by simply getting as much done as possible today, as opposed to tomorrow.

I’m sure you’re wondering how to do that or you think my ‘strategy’ is common sense. Read on to learn some of the many ways you can automate your business.

Trust me when I say that you will regret not automating these things sooner the next time you’re falling into a depressive rut...

Top ways you can automate your business

  • Schedule your social media posts ahead of time (!!)
  • Plan out your entire to-do list for the week on Sunday
  • Set up IFTTT to post a native photo to Twitter instead of just a link when you post to Instagram
  • Set up IFTTT to post your Instagram photos to a specific Pinterest board
  • Schedule a plethora of pins to go out each day via Tailwind
  • Write your email sequences BEFORE the day you want to send them out and schedule them to go out automatically (!!!)
  • Turn on an auto-response to your Facebook Page messages that redirects inquiries to your email
  • Schedule your blog posts ahead of time (!!)
  • Use your email marketing system to automatically send freebies to your subscribers
  • Use your email marketing system to tag or separate your subscribers based on their interests
  • Install Grammarly into your web browser to avoid silly grammar mistakes
  • Link your scheduling software to your Google Calendar so you never miss an appointment AND you’ll avoid becoming double booked when all your systems are aligned.

Shall I go on?

Basically, automation is the bomb diggity and I actually had to pause and think really hard about all the things I have automated because I’m so used to the systems running that I truly forgot about the many ways I use it!

Automation is the ultimate goal-crusher

Now, I know I said that these automation strategies are a tremendous help to entrepreneurs with anxiety, but these strategies can still be a lifesaver if you don't have anxiety.

Perhaps you’re a busy momma who is trying to tackle a side biz while raising a toddler and slaying it at her corporate office. Or maybe you’re a dog daddy and all you want when 5pm hits is to cuddle up next to Rex and binge-watch your favorite Netflix show.



It doesn’t matter what situation you’re in - automation will save you time, energy, and money!

Yes, it saves you money too! Most of the automation services out there are free, so why pay a VA to do the nitty gritty work when you can set up a month’s worth of social media posts in an hour, simply hit PUBLISH, and watch the magic happen?

Now that you’ve got all these ideas buzzing around your head, I’m sure you’re looking for an action item. Where do you start? What do you do? Ahhhhh!

Below is the step-by-step plan to start automating your Twitter posts:

  1. Create a Hootsuite account (It’s free, yo!)
  2. Link your Twitter account to your Hootsuite account
  3. Add a “Scheduled” Stream
  4. Add a “My Tweets” Stream
  5. Compose your first tweet in the text box on the top of the screen
  6. Click the calendar icon under the text box
  7. Choose your desired date and time
  8. Click Schedule CONGRATS! YOU’VE SCHEDULED YOUR FIRST SOCIAL MEDIA POST!

It may seem like the tiniest step ever, but once you start blocking off time to schedule days, weeks, or months of content, you start to see the amazing time-saving effects automation has on your business.

I recommend scheduling some time out of your day to brainstorm social media posts. Think about overarching content ideas - not word-for-word posts. Then, once you’ve compiled your ideas head over to Hootsuite and let those ideas inspire dozens of tweets!

If you want even more bang for your buck, reposition those ideas into Instagram captions and start scheduling your Instagram posts as well. It can all be done in Hootsuite, so utilize your time wisely and do all you can while in that platform!

I can’t wait to hear what part of your business you began to automate, today! Yes, I said today! Start implementing these ideas now and report back with your results!


About the Author
 About the author: Marissa Pane

Marissa Pane is a life coach for entrepreneurial women with anxiety who are ready to implement smart marketing strategies into their business so they can gain the freedom to take care of themselves again while their business continues to thrive. Her passion for mental health began in 2012 when she started her recovery from anorexia, major depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. You can find more about Marissa and her mission on SPIESFitToFight.com and inside her Facebook community, Decaf Doers: A Collective of Ambitious Women With Anxiety.

Web | Facebook | Facebook Group | Instagram | Twitter


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How To Stay Focused While Working on the Computer

ProductivityAlicia GraceComment
 
 Learn how to stay focused when you work on your computer.
 

Have you ever noticed just how many distractions there are at your desk? Take a look around you and think about it. Is your phone sitting there? Do you have music or the television on? Do Facebook/Instagram/Twitter demand your attention? It seems like we are always connected, and therefore easily distracted. So much so, that when it comes time to sit down and get some work done, it’s very difficult to focus.

Maybe you haven’t really noticed the distractions because it has just become part of your routine. Maybe you don’t have an option with some of these distractions. Maybe you want to minimize the distractions, but feel like it just isn’t possible.

Recognize your distractions

Start by taking stock of the distractions. Grab a piece of paper and start writing down your minute-by-minute schedule. Note what you are doing, what time you start, and what time you stop.

My typical workday

8:00 am: Start working (you can get more specific if needed)

8:45 am: Check social media

9:05 am: Start working

9:20 am: Mom called

9:45 am: Work

10:00 am: Email pops up on phone - check and reply

 Learn how to stay focus when you're working on the computer.

10:10 am: Work

10:30 am: Eat a snack

10:45 am: Work

11:45 am: Lunch

12:15 pm: Check social media/email

12:45 pm: Work

12:55 pm: Text from spouse

1:00 pm: Work

1:30 pm: Browse internet

2:00 pm: Work

3:30 pm: Social media notifications on phone

4:00 pm: Work

4:45 pm: Clean up desk area

5:00 pm: Finish working for the day

Results

Work: 4.5 hours

Distractions: 3.5 hours

Lunch: 1 hour

I know not everyone’s schedule will look the same, maybe you will have more distractions, maybe less. But either way, do this. Write down what you do and when you do it. Note how much time you spent actually working and how much time you spent on distractions.

Now, analyze what is distracting you. Was it really necessary to check your social media 3 times throughout the day? Because you know that just checking that one notification leads to browsing through Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, so it isn’t a quick break. It’s easy to lose 10-15 minutes if you pick up your phone to check that one thing. Same with browsing through the internet.

And I love my mom, but was that phone call vital at that time, or was she just calling to chit-chat? I find that, especially working from home, it’s hard to make others understand and respect that you are "at your job” since you are sitting at home rather than at an office with a strict phone policy. Same with that text from your spouse.

So what can be done?

Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb”

On the iPhone, there is a setting called “Do Not Disturb” or DND (and I’m sure there are equivalents on the other major smartphones). The setting for DND can be found in the settings app, and you have a few options for setting it. The first is turning on the scheduled toggle, and input your work time. As of right now, you can only enter one start and one finish time, so in the previous example I would set it from 8 am to 5 pm. If you don’t want to schedule this, you can also manually turn it on and off by swiping up for the dock, and pressing the crescent moon icon.

If you are worried about missing a call that could possibly be an emergency, then set it to “Allow Calls From” your favorite contacts list. This lets their calls come through immediately. Although if mom is in your favorites list, it won’t block her chit-chat morning calls. Another option is to only use the “Repeated Calls” function to only allow the second call from the same person to come through within three minutes. My husband and I always have a rule: If I call you once and you can’t answer, that’s okay but if I call you again right away, you need to answer. The repeated calls allows that second call to go through.

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Turn off your computer’s internet

Depending on what you do, you may be able to turn the internet off on the computer. If you are working on a word document, a powerpoint, or any other project that does not require the internet, turn it off. You can’t get distracted browsing the internet if you can’t connect.

Personally, I can’t do this for my part-time job because it is a web-based program that I log in to. What I will do, though, is set up a new Google Chrome user just for work and I don’t bookmark any of my social media or other websites. The only bookmarks on there are work related.

You can do this even if you are a blogger. Write the bulk of your post in a word document, then copy and paste it to your blog to finish adding your images and any other formatting. This lets you focus on just your writing, and not everything else at the same time.

Block out your time

As a blogger, I know that social media is an essential part of running my blog. I also know that it can get very distracting and I end up wasting time on there some days. Start blocking out your time so you give yourself the chance to do what you need on social media, but limit yourself to as little time as possible.

For example, here’s a glimpse of my daily schedule:

8-9 am: Social Media, check emails, etc.

9 am-12 pm: Part-time job

12-1 pm: Lunch with my kids

1pm-4:30 pm: Blogging, social Media, check emails, etc.

My mornings are more structured than my afternoons because my husband and I both work from home. In the mornings, he watches the boys and lets me sit down and focus completely on my part-time job. The afternoons are his turn to focus, so I work on some of my blogging and social media posts as I can while also taking care of the boys.

I used to try to do it all here and there, but I was getting too distracted. So I blocked out that first hour every morning to get my social media in line for the day, check and respond to any emails, take care of bills, all of that type of thing. Then I focus solely on my job. I turn my phone to DND, put on some headphones to block out the noise in the house, and focus.

Choose your music wisely

Have you ever noticed yourself getting distracted by the noises around you? Especially when working from home, it’s very easy to hear the washing machine stop so you get up to switch it, or hear the kids arguing over a toy, or the garbage truck just came so the cans can come in, etc. Unless you do a job that requires answering the phone, get some good headphones. Preferably noise-canceling if you can.

But it’s not only blocking out ambient noise, the music you listen to can create noise as well. If you are trying to write, such as blogging or responding to emails or a business proposal, music with words can often become distracting. How many times have you typed what you hear? It happens to me all the time.

I started listening to soundtrack music, and it makes such a difference. I enjoy music from all my favorite movies and tv shows. There are no words, it’s just instrumental. If you are looking for some good ones, I suggest John Williams, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, and Howard Shore.

Power Snacks

A rumbling stomach can cause a big distraction. Get yourself some power snacks that you can keep at your desk for when you hit those in-between times and need a quick fix. But choose your snacks purposefully. You don’t want to fill up on candy and end up with a sugar crash later, or chips and end up hungry again in half an hour.

Keep protein snacks at your desk. Things such as granola bars, mixed nuts, a banana with some peanut butter, etc. Usually, the snacks with protein are the ones that will keep you full longer, and give you that boost you may need to make it through the afternoon.

PS: Don’t forget to make sure you drink enough water throughout the day as well.


About the Author: Stephanie Lynch
 Author: Stephanie Lynch

Stephanie is a native Floridian living in Texas with her husband and two young boys. She blogs at www.youaremysonshine.com about all things kitchen related such as recipes, organizing, cooking tips, and everything in between. If it happens in the kitchen, Stephanie covers it. Also known as: boy-mom, wife, daughter, sister, photographer, nerd, adventure-seeker, beach-lover.


How To Seize Control of Digital Distractions

ProductivityAlicia GraceComment
 Learn how to seize control of digital distractions and take back your life in this blog post. [aliciagraceco.com/blog]

The hardest part about being your own boss is staying focused. When you have to manage your social media, conversations, and emails all at the same time, that can get real messy real fast. Digital distractions are especially tricky as they’re there ALL. THE. TIME. and so often, you don’t even realise it until it’s too late.

Part of the problem is thinking that you’re multitasking when you do things like writing content while on the phone. But the truth is, you’re damaging your own productivity, and you’re not delivering the high quality that you really have the ability to produce. Multitasking only works when one of your tasks is automatic and doesn’t require brain power. You can, for example, clean your glasses while you’re on the phone. Replying Facebook comments while writing your next big blog post? Not so much.

Why do digital distractions take over?

Most of the time, we use them to procrastinate from work and pressure. Have you ever found that the more work you have to do, the more tempting it becomes to check Facebook? This, I must admit, rings so true for me, and I used to find myself scrolling through social media even when I knew that I wouldn’t find anything interesting.

The good news is that now that you understand that this is the real reason why things like social media are so distracting, you can step up and put yourself in control.

How you can take charge of your digital distractions

Start small

Quitting cold turkey may work for some people, but for most of us, it’s better to cut down on your digital distractions one at a time.

Start by checking your emails at specific times throughout the day, then start signing out from Facebook and Instagram when you’re working. The key is to give yourself some time to properly get used to it, rather than giving yourself a shock to the system. Once you’ve made this into a habit, it will be smooth sailing.

Set aside time for focused work

The best way to get work done efficiently is to block out time for it. Make an appointment with yourself for content creation, and turn off all of your digital distractions. Mute your phone, close your email tabs, and sign out from Facebook. The one thing you can leave turned on is your favourite Spotify playlist.

Use this time to do your most important work first that requires the most brain power, and make sure you minimise all distractions.

Decide on when you’re going to check social media

On the flip side, you should also set aside time for social media. Studies show that we take an average of three minutes to adjust when we switch between tasks, and if you’re periodically checking in on Instagram every other hour, that can add up to a lot of time wasted.

The thing is that for a lot of us, especially those with businesses, checking social media and email is actually really important. Instead of doing this throughout the day, pick specific times and commit to them.

You could, for example, decide to stay away from social media when you wake up, and dedicate 30 minutes to engaging with your community (and, let’s face it, scroll through Buzzfeed) later in the morning, and another 30 minutes in the afternoon. This is a much more effective method, and also ensures that your engagement remains authentic and focused, rather than sporadic throughout the day.

Turn off at the end of the day

This last tip is so so important. As #bossbabes, we feel like we’re connected to our businesses 24/7, but this means that we have to turn off at the end of the day even more. Tune out from social media at night, at least an hour before you go to sleep. This will help you set boundaries between your online and offline lives, and also help you get quality sleep. Technology should really stay outside of your bedroom.



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Prioritising Your Life, One Task at a Time

Life Hacks, Productivity, Time ManagementOlivia Sánchez8 Comments

My first semester of college was rough. Not because I was missing my family or the level of academic study was difficult. The reason my first semester was so difficult was because I didn’t know how to prioritize my day. I would get up whenever, go to be whenever, and while I was serious about my education and its importance, I did miss a few assignments. You see up until that point, other people had prioritized all of my tasks and activities for me: my parents, my teachers, my coaches all told me what to do, when to do it and gave me plenty of reminders along the way. As a result, my transition into making these decisions on my own was a little bit (read: a lot) more rocky than expected. But the good news is that I learned from it and have passed that knowledge on to others, including first time college students. Here are the Top 5 Lessons I learned and that anyone can utilize to make their Adulting just a tiny bit easier. 

Lesson #1: Write it all down

 Prioritizing your life, one task at a time.  [Blog post.]

This is by far the biggest mistake people make! They rely on their brain to keep all their important items in order and what gets me is that they are surprised when items get forget. Sometimes it’s a simple as forgetting to buy milk and having to go back to the store. Annoying sure, but not really critical. But what happens when you forget an important meeting with your boss, miss your child’s school performance, or worse, forget your spouse’s birthday and don’t have a present for them? Yikes!

Now a lot of people think “I don’t want to have to get a planner to write all these things in. I hate planners. It’s just another thing to carry… Blah blah blah.” Okay then, if you don’t like planners, then don’t get one. Get a little notebook you like and make yourself a daily to do list. Or be like my husband, write one big list, cross things off as you go, and add new items at the bottom. It’s more about getting that To Do list out of your head and in the real world, where you can see it. 

Lesson #2: The Biggies

The Biggies are the really large categories you use to classify things. For example, a student’s Biggies might be School, Family, Work. My Biggies are currently School, Work, Family/Friends, and Home. And essentially everything that I have on my To Do list Falls into one of those 4 categories. By breaking things down into these categories, I can clump things together. Not only does it make it easier to write these items down, I can more easily focus on one area a time. 
So how do you utilize The Biggies to prioritize? Personally, I assign days to each area of my life. Sunday and Wednesday are Home days, so on those days, anything I have in that category gets priority over say the Family/Friends category. By breaking it up this way, I’m able to give my uninterrupted focus to items I need to get done in a single Biggie. I’ve also seen people assign certain Biggies to certain parts of the day, like doing their Home items at certain times of the day. It’s really about what works best for you!

Lesson #3: The 4 Ds

Now that you’ve got your Biggies laid out, how do you know what to do first? The method that I employ, and that I feel is the simplest, is inspired by the Eisenhower Box. Basically, I assign, and write, each of my Biggie Tasks into one of 4 categories; called the 4 Ds: Do, Decide, Delegate, & Delete.

Do items are High Priority because they going to happen that day, and must be completed. 
Decide items are Medium Priority, meaning they are important, but you’ve got some time to complete. Schedule time for these another day.

Delegate items are also Medium Priority. The way to think these items as “I’m waiting for something to happen or someone is going to do it for me. I’ll need to follow up later.”
Delete items are Low Priority. Whether they get done or not, it won’t affect your end goals. 

Here’s what mine looks like for my School Biggies:

Do – High priority items!

  • Read chapter 15 and take quiz (due tonight)
  • Discussion Board Post (due tonight)
  • Homework Assignment (due tonight)

Decide

  • Read chapter 19 (due Friday; Assigned to Thursday)
  • Group Project #1 (due next month; group meeting Friday)

Delegate 

  • Group Project #2 (due next week; completed contribution & waiting on other members)
  • Group Discussion Board (due next week; ask partner to write final copy)

Delete

  • Group email (no response needed)
  • Campus email (glance but no response needed)

You’ll notice that I put some notes to the right of my items. This helps me keep track of where I am on a task. While this is meant to be done everyday, I realize that’s unrealistic; you’ve got to have a life too. Once a week works well for this method as well. 

Lesson #4: Do the Hardest Thing First

This is my favorite lesson, even though it is by far the hardest one and took me the longest to learn. We naturally avoid things we don’t want to do and that is the root of procrastination. By doing the one or two items you’re dreading first each day, you don’t waste energy on the dread. For me, cleaning the bathroom is my most dreaded task, but of course, it can’t be avoided. On Sundays, I get up, clean the bathroom first, and then move on with the rest of my Biggie items for the day.

This works well for items that are Difficult or Time Consuming projects. Even if you don’t dread doing the item, energy is still wasted by putting it off, because you have to put in more energy later to get it done. 

Lesson #5: Flexibility is Key

In a perfect world, you’ll be able to accomplish every item in each and every day. But of course, it’s not a perfect world, and stuff comes up to derail your whole plan for the day. Flexibility is key!

This was another tough lesson for me to learn because I’m a Type A overachiever and perfectionist. It is really, really hard for me to leave a task undone and/or less than perfect; and I’m sure there are many other people out there just like me! But with some practice, you can learn to pivot your day as things change.

Now these lessons won’t solve all your problems and it will take time for you to get accustomed to thinking this way. For me, it took a few weeks to get the hang of it. But it is so worth it and had made my life so much more manageable. We all know that adulting is hard. Sometimes there is so much to do and it feels completely overwhelming! This is understandable and hopefully, these tips will make managing it all a little bit easier.


About the Author
 Olivia Sánchez

Olivia Sánchez lives in DFW, Texas with her husband and their two cats, Serenity and Midnight. Currently, she is an MBA student, works full time for a staffing agency, and assists her husband in managing his business, 8Bit Education. She love learning something new, writing, and education. She is passionate about education and her community.

 

Morning Routines: The Secret to Achieving Your Goals

Goals, ProductivityAlicia Grace1 Comment
 Morning routines are the little big secret to achieving your goals. Learn why.

Mornings set the pace for the whole day, at least for the first part of it, and starting your day right can set you up for success.

Roy F. Baumeister says in his book that our willpower is strongest in the morning, making it the most important time of your day. The first hour of your day determines the rest of it, and you should build a strong foundation for it. The key to this is your morning routine.

Yeah, I know - brushing your teeth and chomping down toast doesn’t seem like a goal-getting technique. It’s not.

But the kind of morning routine that energises you and helps put you in a positive mindset is.

Having an intentional morning routine places control of your life directly in your hands, and by starting this the moment you wake up, you will be empowered to conquer your goals throughout the day.

Why is this?

A morning routine lets your brain breathe

Your brain has been resting for 8 hours, and it needs some time to warm up properly before you can put it to good use. Morning routines create a sense of normalcy and stability, which is very important for your cognitive health. Every decision that you make takes up a little bit of your energy and glucose, and you really don’t want to tire your brain out so early in the morning! Yes, deciding whether you should wear your hair up or down uses precious energy. It’s called decision fatigue, and it’s why people like former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes (the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire - yes, with a B), and Mark Zuckerberg choose to wear the same thing every day.

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Many things are going to need your mental energy today, and it’s good to let your brain work on autopilot for some things while you are still waking up, so that you can save your energy for the more important stuff.

It prepares you for success

Taking a few minutes in the morning to plan for the day will do wonders. It helps you focus on your goals for the day, and gets your mind ready to achieve your goals. Knowing what you are doing each day is very important as you will have a mission, rather than starting your day not quite sure what you have on your plate.

Remember what Roy Baumeister said? Your willpower is strongest in the morning. Use that.


Convinced that morning routines are important?

Good news, you can create your perfect goal-getting morning today.

To help you get started, I have a few tips:

  1. Incorporate something for your body, like having a healthy breakfast.
  2. Do something that makes you happy. I like browsing Instagram, hehe.
  3. Try not to rush. Waking up 5 minutes earlier can mean enjoying your cup of coffee in the morning, and not rushing out the door while chewing breakfast.

And as for my top tip?

Write down your current routine so you know exactly what you are doing, then plan out your ideal morning routine. You can write this down anywhere you like, but I’m a paper planner-lovin’ girl, and designed a Daily Routine planner in my Productive Life Kit for you.


The Science of Creating A New Habit

Habits, ProductivityAlicia GraceComment

Habits affect so much of our lives. A good habit can help you be more productive achieve your goals. There are some habits that many of us want to start, like going to the gym more. My personal habit goal is to drink 8 cups of water each day. But creating a new habit can seem a little tough. I’ve tried it so many times: you start out strong for a few days, then you miss one day, and suddenly you’re back at square one.

Starting a new habit shouldn’t be that difficult. Starting (and sticking to!) a new habit can be boiled down to a science that’s really easy to understand.

 Learn how to create a new habit and actually stick to it! Good habits are so important if you want to achieve your goals.

First, you have to understand that we’re creatures of habit, and everything in your routine now is a habit. That’s why it’s so hard to change your behaviour. When you want to start a new habit, you’re not just introducing something new into your life, but you’re also taking something away. Let’s say you want to go to the gym for an hour twice a week. You have to figure out what you need to reduce from your life to make that possible. Maybe it’s time you would have otherwise spent watching Netflix, or relaxing in the bath. Think about what you’re giving up, and decide whether the new habit that you want to create is worth it. What will you gain from it, and what benefits will you get? Know your WHY, and don’t just do something because you know you should. Go to the gym twice a week because you want to work on your health or lose some weight, not just because it’s a good thing to do.

Once you’ve decided to create a new habit, it’s time to get down to business.

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When you’re starting a new habit, it can seem a little daunting, especially when it’s something completely new. Research shows that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Commit yourself to your new habit for just 21 days to start with - that will be much less scary, and easier to think about. Once you’ve actually done it for 21 days, you’ll find that the habit has already stuck, and it’s just a matter of continuing.

Building on this theme, I know it’s really tempting to start a few new habits at the same time, but the key is to focus on just one! Starting a new habit requires quite a bit of effort, and it’s really important to get a new habit properly into your life before trying to start a new one. Just like you’d only really focus on one big project at a time, you should only work on creating one new habit at a time.

good-habits-planner.jpg

If you struggle to keep on track with your new habit, the best thing that you can do is to automate it. Schedule that gym session into your calendar. Set a reminder every few hours to drink that glass of water. Pack a yummy lunch so that you’re not tempted to skip it.

Think about what exactly you need to do in order to create your new habit. If you want to wake up earlier, you have to sleep earlier. Is there something that is stopping you from actually doing your new habit? Make sure you address it first. Similarly, think ahead about what obstacles you may face. What if you need to stay late in the office on gym day, or you need to go to a friend’s birthday party? Things like these can interfere with your habit-forming goal, especially during those early 21 days, but they don’t have to be your pitfall. Try to think of solutions so that you’re not stressed when interferences come up. Could you go to the gym on another day, or work out longer during your next session?

Something else that is so important that people often forget is to track your habits. Make sure you know if you are actually keeping up with it, and on the days that you miss out, try to note down why. That will help you to address it in the future and stay on track. You can do it however you like, but my favourite way is with pen and paper. That’s why I created this Habit Tracker.

Lastly, and importantly, set a reward for yourself so that you have an incentive to go through with your plan. It can be something simple, even colouring in a square on your habit tracker, but your brain will find it so much easier to start something new.