This 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.
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