After tools, I get most excited about little tricks I discover for saving time or getting more done. These are six of the discoveries I made last year that you may want to try:
#1 Make your environment inviting
I am extremely cold averse. As I was setting up a writing office in my basement, I kept thinking about the cold and about how unwilling I am to use my scrapbooking desk because it’s right by a door that lets all the cold air in. So I bought my own space heater that can direct warm air my way and HELLO, I’ve my fanny in my warm chair ever since.
Maybe temperature isn’t your problem, but lighting or seating is. Make the needed change and see if you aren’t more productive.
#2 Use a year-long wall calendar
I bought a jumbo, full-year, dry-erase calendar for the wall above my desk. Suddenly a year didn’t seem so long–especially when I added important dates like vacations, blog post deadlines, and goals. The advantage of seeing time this way is I am less likely to procrastinate! It’s also easier not to overload your calendar when you see the big picture. I originally planned to write two blog posts a week. When I saw it on the wall, I realized that would mean much less accomplished on my homeschool curriculum. I cut back my planned blog frequency for most weeks to one.
#3 Get more sleep
When I did Body for Life, I cut my sleep back to seven hours. I really did feel great during that 12 weeks, but I convinced myself that I only needed seven hours of sleep. Truth is, most of the time, it ended up being six to six and a half. I was wrong about what I needed physically and emotionally. As hard as it is for me to be sleeping by 10 p.m., I have been sleeping from 10-6 consistently for some time now and I feel amazing! I feel really stupid that I was making such an obvious mistake. I no longer feel exhausted by afternoon and am still productive.
#4 Randomize tasks when motivation fails
There are times when I just don’t feel like doing what I’ve scheduled for the day. This is especially true the later in the day it is and the more tasks I feel I need to do. At these times, I go to Random.org or use the iPhone app and generate a random number using the number of tasks I want to address as my range. The rule is I have to do at least something on whichever task I land on. If I can’t do that task for some reason, I do the next one on the list. This method has the advantage of helping me to complete tasks I would ordinarily procrastinate on.
Give it a try!
#5 Do the most important things in the morning
I kept thinking I didn’t have time to write curriculum (one of my most important things) in the morning. I work out, eat breakfast, chat with my husband, do personal devotions, and shower first thing before doing chores and homeschooling. I saved my writing time for the afternoons and it worked! I was motivated and energetic to write in the early afternoons. The problem was that something else always seemed to crop up in the afternoon, so I couldn’t write. I realized that those other activities wouldn’t interfere with my writing time if I did it early morning.
So I decided to workout in the basement and immediately go to my basement writing desk. It worked! I consistently get an hour of writing in during early mornings. I did have to give something up and that was chatting with my husband. For many people that wouldn’t be a wise tradeoff, but my husband works out of our home. I talk with him all day, including a little later in the morning. He enjoys reading his Bible and the paper while I write.
#6 Organize by day
I used to do certain types of tasks on particular days of the week and I got away from it. It makes life so much easier and more efficient. When a finance-related email comes in, it’s dated for Mondays. I can do them all in batches without adding a context tag or wondering when a good day is to do them. I am also doing blogging tasks on Thursdays. Everything else that isn’t urgent is ignored. What an amazing feeling of peace that gives me! To top it off, I feel like I have an abundance of time to get my tasks done. Trying to do a big mix of tasks adds to my feeling of overwhelm.
What productivity hacks are you crazy about?
This post is part of a 5-day series on productivity favorites. You may enjoy the other 5 Day Hopscotch posts from iHomeschool Network bloggers. Check them out!
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I’m a huge proponent of doing the important things in the morning – and I’m also a big believer in having a welcoming environment. I’ve found that I think much more clearly if my workplace is clean.
As far as blocking off days for particular areas of work, I’ve found that’s somewhat helpful to me. It works for certain things. But for others, like cleaning, Parkinson’s Law comes into effect. I’ve found I’m better off doing 10-15 minutes a day everyday. Also this works since I hate cleaning, haha.
Ha on the cleaning. It’s not most people’s favorite task. 🙂 I think it’s so important to avoid trying to use one approach for doing everything. Time blocking is great, but not for everything.
Great and practical tips here, I’ve found being rested allows me to get more done. It’s why getting a good night sleep and taking and taking regular naps is apart of my life.
Isn’t that the truth! I don’t know why I resisted getting more sleep for so long. I guess I thought I would get more done, but truth is I got LESS done.
I thought the same thing for a long time:)
I’ve said it before Melanie, but I LOVE this series. I’m in the process of going back and re-reading it right now. ;p
Kathy, I’m so glad you like it. It’s a favorite writing topic of mine. Thanks for taking the time to comment.