Working as a motorsport coach, journalist, blogger and marketer means my days are full of different elements of work, phone calls, meetings, article writing and so on. Over the past five and a half years of #freelancelife, I’ve had to train myself to be productive and organised. Here are some tips.
Batch your tasks
This is something I learnt from Tim Ferriss’ Four-Hour Work Week. If you have a lot of similar tasks to complete, get them done in batches. Do all your phone calls in a certain time frame, send emails within a specific hour, and do all your social posts at once then schedule them. Every time we become distracted, it takes an average of 15 minutes to regain complete focus so if you can do all similar tasks at once, you don’t lose that flow.
Turn off distractions
Because it’s so difficult to regain focus, you need to turn off anything that might break your flow. When you’re writing a blog post or trying to get a report done, close Facebook, put your phone in another room and stop watching the TV out of the corner of your eye. Humans can’t multi-task, no matter what some sexist shit tell us. We can’t. Focus on one thing and don’t let distractions break your concentration. Turn off the internet if you have to.
Clear your workspace
This is especially true for me but a clear desk equals a clear mind. If my desk is clear then I don’t feel like that clutter is praying on the peripheries. Start with that state of undistracted zen and see how you get on.
Work with pretty things
I’m a stationery geek and having beautiful notebooks and pens in my life makes it so much easier to get on with work. If I enjoy taking notes, I’m going to do it more efficiently.
This not-so-humble pen set is from Rooi, which is full of gorgeous, minimalist stationery. Surround yourself with notebooks and pens that make you want to plan your day, which brings us onto the next point.
Make lists and notes
I have a bullet journal that I plan out my life in. I have to because I’m working on so many different projects at any one time. Because my journal is beautiful and neat, I’m excited to check stuff off each list as tasks get completed.
For my coaching course, I use this Kate Spade notebook for all of my notes and assignments. I find it easier to learn if I write these things down by hand rather than taking notes on a laptop or on my phone.
That being said, don’t over plan. That can be a productivity killer as it’s a form of procrastination that tricks us into thinking we’re being more productive than we actually are. I’m so guilty of this!
When I’m on deadline for an article or magazine issue, I tend to squirrel myself away to get stuff done but this causes burnout. There have been so many times where I’ve been staring at the screen trying to get some words out but nothing will come. What I should do here is take a break, read a book, go for a walk, make a cup of tea, anything other than try and keep plodding on. The time I’d save by getting away from my computer and coming back refreshed would be huge!
Ever feel super fuzzy and aren’t sure why? You’re probably dehydrated. Keep a big bottle of water near your workspace and sip it throughout the day. Herbal and fruit teas can also help to hydrate too but fizzy drinks, coffee and other caffeinated drinks will have the opposite effect.
How do you stay productive?