Increased Productivity = More Money in My Pocket

Bust a MoveThis Thursday marks my 3 week anniversary of quitting my full-time job. While I’m still somewhat adjusting to the new schedule (and freedom!) this choice has brought, I’m also navigating the waters of being semi-self-employed. This means figuring out how to maximize my time, learning to turn down opportunities that might not be the best strategic fit for my overall efforts, defining times of the day where it’s all work and no play and getting my network on.

Given the increased flexibility of my new professional life, I’ve also found myself more motivated than ever to tackle various projects around the house. Given my status as a bona fide HGTV junkie, it’s been difficult for me to set clear hours for the DIY disasters projects I attempt while also making sure I keep up with all of the extras that will help my online efforts (I’ve got the assignment/deadline part down, but I’m sorely lacking in the commenting and social media departments).

After some careful contemplation, I realized one very obvious, smack-myself-in-the-face correlation:

Increased productivity = more money in my pocket.  Duh.

Those extra hours spent DIYing, running or catching up with friends are fun and are doing wonders for my quest to have a better sense of work-life balance, but they aren’t going to pay the bills. I’m a natural planner, so it’s time I define some rules around how I want to maximize my time, productivity and income generation.

If You Hustle, They Will Come

One of the easiest reminders of how hard work pays off is the influx of opportunities I’ve been presented with since testing the waters back in November (it was a calculated, carefully planned choice to make this transition). It’s really a quite simple formula, but for so many of us including me, it’s easy to forget the power of simply working your tail off.

I need to step up my game to ensure that I’ll still have future opportunities, and I need to make sure I’m doing so in a sustainable manner that will allow me to capitalize on the best options I’m presented with.

Stay Organized

I’ll admit that I waver in between a Stepford Wives-ish organized neat freak and a hot mess that needs ten reminders to keep her head on straight (attractive description/range, yes?). But the key to navigating my sometimes scatter-brained existence is to know this about myself; to know that I need an iron-clad organization system that will keep me on the straight & narrow.

My solution is an old-school approach: I love me some Post-Its. And while you might wonder how I can keep them all straight, I’d say that I’m not sure how but it just works for me. If something goes on “the” Post-It for the day, it will eventually be crossed off even if it means staying up until 1AM to do so.

I also love Excel and my iPhone calendar, but I prefer a gigantic wall calendar. I’m still toying with the idea of painting a huge rectangle on the wall with white board paint and creating a life-sized calendar to map out my projects. While I love the idea of this, I’m not so sure the BF would love a 12-inch reminder in bold, red letters for me to “COMMENT ON THE BLOGS, DAMNIT!”  (these are the most effective reminders for me)  :)

Turn Off Distractions

One of the best ways I’ve found to increase my productivity is to turn off distractions when I need to get my work done. Such is the case right now as I have the FB and Twitter off, my Gmail minimized and the office door closed. By reducing the amount of outside noise that competes with my attention, I’m more easily able to slay my to-do list and stay focused while crossing things off of it.

If you ever need to get some work done and have a tight turnaround time, shut off the email and cell phone–you’ll be amazed at how much you can bang out in a short period of time (five, 600+ word posts that aren’t garbage in 2.5 hours, check!).

Get Up and Dance

Seriously. Whatever you’re doing right now, even if there are witnesses, get up and bust out, at the very least, a little shimmy. Revel in the silliness of doing so long enough to forget the task you were working on (yep, forget it entirely–especially if you were stuck).

Now sit back down and be amazed at what that 20 second timeout just did for your focus. I find that when I randomly take breaks, whether it’s to dance, sing (horribly) or just daydream out the window for a minute or two, I have a renewed sense of focus and my productivity soars.

At the very least, I get a good laugh out of how ridiculous I am when I think nobody is watching…that is until I hear a random snort of laughter because my BF caught me (again) in the act.  :)

I chose the photo above because it best depicts what would happen in this scenario–I’m attempting to dance (more like just thrashing around wildly because I have no rhythm to save my life) while my BF just stands there, covering his face & shaking his head….

What are your tips for increasing your productivity?

 

Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis

The Happy Homeowner

The Happy Homeowner

We're a team of freelancers who are on a mission to inspire others to live a healthy, balanced life one cent at a time. Work from The Happy Homeowner has been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Wisebread, Lifehacker, The Dr. Oz Show, Good Housekeeping Magazine and many other outlets.
The Happy Homeowner

32 thoughts on “Increased Productivity = More Money in My Pocket

  • March 5, 2013 at 11:37 am
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    I'm definitely going to try that get up and dance thing! I'm having a hard time focusing on getting my writing in and being productive in that area. After work and gym I just don't feel like doing it. This post reminds me I need to focus and be productive so that I can reap the rewards. Good job on all of the opportunities coming your way.
    My recent post The Amazing Quest Round Two

    Reply
    • March 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm
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      You definitely should–it's a lot of fun!

      I'm currently dragging after the dentist…fighting the biggest urge to take a nap right now!

      Reply
  • March 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm
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    I'm not self-employed, but my work is pretty independent and flexible. I find that my most productive days are ones when I really schedule out what needs to happen that day and week and give myself deadlines. I'll make an appointment to use an instrument on a certain day and know that I must get my samples prepped a number of days in advance to be able to that appointment, for instance. I try to schedule as much as I can with calendars that are shared with other people so I'm less likely to flake out.

    If I were to implement this strategy in blogging, I would probably find an accountability partner to check in with regarding my daily or weekly goals.

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      • March 5, 2013 at 10:01 pm
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        Haha I wish I were to that stage in the blog! Sorry, I'm not ready to enter into that type of relationship. :/ Maybe when I get back into a blogging routine after my exam. I have only written like 1 post in the past few weeks because I wrote so many and had awesome guest posters like you! I need to figure out a sustainable routine.
        My recent post Top Causes of Bad Debt

        Reply
        • March 6, 2013 at 11:39 am
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          Haha…no worries! I'm still trying to figure out a sustainable schedule/path of action for myself so maybe we could reconvene? How did you exam go??

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      • March 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm
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        What's that saying–something like idle hands/minds are the work of the devil? I'm totally butchering that, but that is definitely the case with me. I need to keep busy and move from one thing to the next or I'm doomed to find a random distraction :)

        Reply
  • March 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm
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    I could not agree more Jen! Having that balance can be a challenge, but it's vital to have. My big things are your last two points. Being on the computer all day can be a double edge sword of being very easy to get distracted, but you also need to take those short breaks to keep you going. Having our little ones running around leaves plenty of opportunity to take those breaks. :)

    Reply
    • March 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm
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      Haha…I bet they do! I can only imagine what my house would look like with kids running around in it. The thing is, I'd be right there with them, wreaking havoc the whole way…haha :)

      Reply
  • March 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm
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    I totally agree about turning Facebook off! If I'm not careful I can play Bejewled Blitz for an hour and totally waste my day away!

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    • March 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm
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      Hahaha…I'm addicted to the iPhone game (first one I've ever played/downloaded!) Drop7…it's ridiculous how long I could play that stupid game

      Reply
  • March 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm
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    Marshmallows or other small treats. If I need to read 100 pages of heavy text for work I'll set out 10 marshmallows and let myself have one each 10 pages. =)
    My recent post PoP Income Statement – February 2013

    Reply
    • March 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm
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      Netflix has been the near death of me lately….way too many late nights zoning out with garbage on…hahaha….

      Reply
  • March 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm
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    Dang, 5 good posts in 2.5 hours, holy crap that is amazing! It definitely helps me to turn off all distractions, except for some music and get down to business.
    My recent post 5 Great Ways To Blow Your Tax Refund

    Reply
    • March 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm
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      Haha…only when in "the zone!" This happens when the stars align, but usually I can crank at least 3-4 in that time :)

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  • March 5, 2013 at 9:58 pm
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    I'd have to say that you hit my tips right on the head. My biggest distraction is Google. I'll write for the blog and then my mind wanders and I have to Google whatever it is that I'm thinking about.
    Dancing is another activity I do. When I sit for too long I become antsy so I turn up Pandora and dance for a song or two so the blood will flow.

    Reply
    • March 6, 2013 at 11:20 am
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      Ooh…I'm a "La Google" junkie–whenever someone doesn't know something, I always proclaim it's "time to ask La Google!" :)

      Love that I'm not the only random dancer out there!!!

      Reply
    • March 6, 2013 at 11:20 am
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      That's great that you've figured this out–I'm still trying to decide morning or night. Knowing your own rhythm is important for being more productive

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    • March 6, 2013 at 11:21 am
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      Oh yes; same here. I am a total space cadet unless my to-do list is churning out tasks :)

      Reply
  • March 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm
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    I'm an HGTV junkie too! I am most productive in the morning, so I try to crank out as much work as possible in the mornings. That is my number one productivity tip, be uber-productive during your peak hours.

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    • March 7, 2013 at 9:42 am
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      That's an excellent tip! I still need to figure out my most productive hours…haha :)

      And HGTV….oh, HGTV 😀

      Reply
  • March 6, 2013 at 10:57 pm
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    Stepford Wive Neat Freak/Hot Mess I switch back and forth between these depending on what mood I am in lol. And I think the gigantic white board would be a pretty cool idea in an office! When I need to get stuff done I leave my phone in another room and sit in complete silence. Before I know it I get to writing, lost track of time, and get stuff done. Being productive is a great feeling!

    Reply
    • March 7, 2013 at 9:43 am
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      It definitely is!! I love the feeling of knowing you conquered the to-do list and can relax or do whatever you want (at least for a little bit) before it starts all over again

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  • March 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm
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    I actually do have a timer that goes off everyday at 10 am to remind me to get up and move (usually dance, lol). It works, I get a small break and come back to the computer refreshed.

    Now, I forget some times to turn it off. It's not funny when it goes off in the doctor's office or during a meeting. Eeek! YOu see, it is set to music. It is quite funny when the other person reacts.

    ~Allie
    My recent post Being Virtual Assistant: WAHM Making It In Transcription Services

    Reply
    • March 7, 2013 at 4:25 pm
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      Hahaha….love that! I can only imagine their reactions. Maybe a little candid camera action in your future? :)

      So happy to hear from another fellow dancer, too!

      Reply
  • March 7, 2013 at 8:15 pm
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    I'm reading the Four Hour work week and getting great tips there on how to decrease distractions. Yes, turning off FB and twitter is one of them. I also had to cut down the reading and commenting on blogs until I had other work done first, which is why I've been around less. At first I felt guilty, but I like having my time back.
    My recent post One Step at a Time: Part Two

    Reply

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