As a creative and now entrepreneur, I used to absolutely hate structure. I thought it was boring and that it would eventually kill me and my creativity, but the reality is that now more than ever I rely on structure to move forward. So I set myself to find ways how to increase productivity. It’s the backbone of my work, life, and success.
The creative and successful women I work with on “Body Mind Soul Reset” come to me because they’re exhausted and overwhelmed with work, life commitments, and so on. And when we start to dig deeper into their day-to-day lives, often things look pretty chaotic.
As creatives and entrepreneurs, our work varies from day to day. We learn that our salaries may vary and that there’s a chance that unexpected things and last-minute work opportunities may show up… you just never know!
Having some structure in your day-to-day life means you won’t get caught off guard and will allow you to stay sane and have freedom to move things around in your schedule, if necessary.
But structure also means being strict and rigorous with what’s on schedule. It’s one thing to understand the concept, it’s another to apply it and live it day by day.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed and looking for a way to get things in order, here are 5 realistic ways that can help you create structure and even increase your productivity.
Get on the no train
My first tip on how to increase productivity is to get on the no train. This is a big one, especially if you already have a lot going on in life or at work and want to avoid burnout.
It is something I’ve learnt from one of my favourite business mentors, Marie Forleo, and thankfully we’re starting to hear more often due to the increase of mental health awareness in our society and in the working space.
When taking on a new project my rule is – don’t say yes to it unless it makes you expand and it really excites you.
As a creative and self-employed, I understand that when it comes to work, scarcity can make us jump on all opportunities but I often find that if I’ve taken on something just for the money and the actual job ends up being tiring and unexciting, it really affects me and the outcome.
Of course, this also applies to social and life events.
Start with big events and important life moments
It’s about making space for the moments that matter to you. These include weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, holidays.
Put them in your diary first so you don’t get caught by surprise or feel like you have to choose between your bestie’s wedding and a new job opportunity.
Then go monthly and schedule your non-negotiables.
What are the things you need to literally function and what activities are crucial for your mental and physical wellbeing? Include how often they need to happen on a monthly or weekly basis.
What’s happening that month work-wise that you already know of and perhaps might need extra support for? Plan for that too.
What about your day-to-day?
Is there a non-negotiable that needs to happen, besides brushing your teeth and eating? Perhaps that’s some form of movement, journaling, or meditation?
Two daily productivity tools that work great for me are my Google calendar and the good old pen & notebook.
As cliche as it sounds, I cannot live without a to-do list. Writing things down means I do not have to remember all the things and allows space in my brain. I write my to-do list the night before and follow through the next day.
I start with the tasks that MUST happen on that day to make the current projects move forward. This might be filming two classes for a new course or researching a protocol for a client. Then I schedule two other things that I’d like to achieve that day.
To keep my brain fresh and the ideas flowing I usually don’t spend more than 3h on one particular task at a time. Taking a 15 min break to do something totally different in between tasks can also really help, but of course, that may not be possible depending on your job.
Lastly, if like myself you have full control over your work or most of it, try to work in batches and ahead of time to anticipate deadlines.
One of the best on how to increase productivity is task batching. This will vary depending on the type of work you do (writing, recording, filming) but it simply means executing similar tasks at once and it is a great tip to improve productivity. This improves your focus, it gives you freedom of mind knowing that you aren’t last minute on a task and actually gives you the opportunity to take on some unexpected work (if you want to) because whatever needs to be out on the regular is finished and ready to go.
And this also applies to whenever you’re spending time in the kitchen, try and make the most out of it. Within that same amount of time, you can prepare enough food for 3/4 meals simply by increasing the amount of ingredients.
A good plan without strong boundaries is like building a house without foundations, there is no way it’s going to stay up. It just isn’t going to work.
Boundaries really hold everything together. Setting time aside to reflect and understand what matters to you, to your sanity, and translating it into action is key for your overall well-being in the long run.
Boundaries are for you in following through with what you said but also for others to respect.
Keep hold of your priorities
Last but not least, remind yourself of your priorities to help you stay on track.
With new work and social opportunities arising it’s so easy to get distracted and lose focus of the target.
Checking in daily or bi-weekly with your diary and notes will help you stay on track while keeping overwhelm at bay.
Focus on the essentials, the key components that nurture and move the beast forward.