Bit of a clickbait? Well, maybe, but it’s also true. Because I will give you my #1 productivity tips and a lot of extra info too. Because I like to talk. *halo*
My Productivity Journey
So I have always been a fan of lists. To-do lists were my jam, whether written in the Notes app on my phone, in my Reminders app, in Evernote, on sticky notes, or on random pieces of paper. I love making lists. I kept lists throughout my school years of the stuff I had to do on given days, because schedules just weren’t good enough—I needed a good logical list to work with.
- Bonus Productivity Tip #1: Bullet Journaling
When I was probably 17, my mother introduced me to bullet journaling.
Now, I like bullet journaling. I love the idea of having a bullet journal. And posts like this from Tara @ Tower in the Plains (she has a whole slew of posts on bullet journaling and they’re all awesome so check them all out on that link) were super inspiring.
I love how much scope there is in bullet-journaling. Everything in one place. Lots of room to expand or add stuff. You can fill it with Bible Reading Schedules, Books To Be Read lists, shopping lists, weightloss tracking, and anything you can think of. You can add quotes and legends and everything.
However, I find that bullet journalling is hard for me. It’s a great place to do random mind-dumps, but for everyday to-do lists, I need one simple todo list standing on its own.
- Bonus Productivity Tip #2: Paper To-Do Lists.
For a while I used schedules and to-do lists from the amazing Rachel @ Everyday Blooms. That worked very well for a long time.
Lots of listing place, water tracking, places for notes… it was really good.
But after a while I began to find it a problem that I had to a) redo the lists constantly or b) write them in ink so they couldn’t be erased but then be unable to customize them to a certain day.
So what I wanted was something I could reuse constantly and customize as I needed it.
- Bonus Productivity Tip #3: Trello
That’s when I decided to use Trello.
I used Trello for school for a while because my mother used it to make our schedules for us. I also used it for packing lists for the same reason. So I was familiar with how it works. I quickly whipped up a to-do list of all the things I had to do and started using it. Over the next few days I perfected my method.
Trello is a free app for phones and computers. With it you create individual boards (see above). In the individual boards you can make individual lists, as seen below:
On each item in that list, you can add things like attachments, checklists, due and start dates, and labels. I like to arrange my stuff by alphabetical order, but you can easily arrange it by most to least important or any way you like.
Now, what I have, is a To-Do list where I put in everything I need to to today. I add everything, even stuff like “put on jewelry.” It helps me remember what I did and also gives me a sense of accomplishment.
The second list is a Done list (I stole this idea from the lovely Erika @ Resting Life) and that is where I move all the items that I’ve completed (you hold a card and move it manually over to the other list.) I don’t mind adding too much stuff on my to-do lists because I can always leave it there for the next day. Every morning I move over the cards from Done to To Do unless its done for good and then I archive it (delete it). I even have a Frequent list where I can save cards that I use frequently but not every day:
For the things that I need to do sometime soon…
For the stuff I need to do sometime soon and is more pressing:
Now, I also have a schedule—
One list for every day of the week. I found that harder to handle because I couldn’t mark off the things as I did them, so I haven’t really used this yet. As you can see, I have checklists on every card for the stuff I have to do that is in that section (ex: devotions—bible reading, bible journaling, prayer, devotionals, etc).
My #1 Productivity Tips
As I tried to take my life back and be productive again, here’s what I have found to be very helpful.
- Find what works for you. Experiment. Try different methods. And it’s fine if it’s basic and simple—it just has to work. Extra tip: It’s okay to not have everything in one place. For instance, Trello is my to-do list, but I track my water intake with Plant Nanny, my walking with Pacer, my food intake with Lose It!, my reading with Goodreads, my to-be-read-this-month lists with my bullet journal, etc.
- Do it. Get up and DO it. Start using that to-do list or schedule. Take that first step and start doing it. Don’t wait for the perfect morning or week or month. Don’t wait for next month or next year or next week or next day. Do it now.
- Change your mindset. It’s okay if you don’t do everything. As long as you did something—and especially the really important stuff—then that’s all that matters. Tomorrow is another day. You have time. Today doesn’t need to be perfect. And checking everything off your list isn’t what makes productivity. A productive day can be consisted of just three tasks. It’s not measurable. Don’t let the list control you; control the list.
- Get an accountability partner. Erika and I have become accountability partners and I find it so helpful. Just texting her in the morning to say “good morning! Starting working on my list!” is motivating. Keeping her updated through the day, or at the end, is also super helpful. I’ve had a couple accountability partners over the years but Erika is the only one whose really invested in the relationship and she has been so helpful. So I won’t say “drop your partner and find someone else” but I do think that if things die down and your partner moves on, it’s okay to find someone else.
- Listen to something. Whether it’s a podcast, sermon, school video, music, or TV show, listening to stuff as you do mindless chores is motivating and keeps you from being distracted. Extra tip: Add it to your list so you can multitask and mark something extra off the list.
- TIMERS. Life savers, y’all. I use Study Bunny a lot (especially in university) and I find it useful since it has a little accountability “have you been distracted” message if you leave the app. (If you say yes you get a penalty). But a simple timer works fine too. Experiment with what timing you need. The pomodoro technique can be helpful, for instance.
- Take care of yourself. Shower and brush your teeth. Drink enough. Eat healthy. Sleep enough. Take frequent walks. Exercise. I promise it helps and it is so worth it.
- Relax. Take time to spend with family. Video-chat with friends. Read every night before bed. Whatever it is that floats your boat. It’s so helpful to unwind.
- Dress for success. Wearing jewelry, favourite clothes, or pretty shoes makes you more productive. Yup.
- Clean your area. Making sure your workspace is clean helps clear mental atmospheres so well.
- Spend time with God. His joy is your strength, remember? And you can do all things through His strength. All the time you can spend with Him is worth it.
- Keep a positive mindset. Unexpected problems? Roll with it and you’ll find that as you refuse to allow yourself to sulk and stress, you will naturally calm and become happy. Things are grey? Be sunny and you’ll actually be motivated to work. Your attitude has a huge impact on your productivity.
I actually have another post on productivity here…
And I still stand by every one of those tips I said in there. 😉
All right, guys. Hope this could be a help or an encouragement to you! Drop your productivity tips to me in the comments—I’m always looking for more!