“Either you run the day, or the day runs you. – Jim Rohn.”
Productivity is paramount to me. Over the past few years, I have invested a significant amount of time and energy into studying the habits of world class performers. I have become obsessively curious as to how some individuals seem to be able to accomplish so much compared to others. We are all granted the same 24 hours in a day – what makes some so much more productive? What are the tools and strategies they have deployed? How do they structure their day?
If you have listened to my solo episodes on the podcast, you may already know that the way I choose to spend each day really matters. I rise early, follow a stringent morning routine and power though my day. I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact, trying to balance and fit in everything I want to do can be really challenging. I often feel I am pulled in a million directions, and if I’m not careful the all too familiar feeling of burnout, can rear it’s ugly head.
Upon my quest to be become my best, most impactful self, I have tried and tested numerous strategies to manage my time more effectively and achieve maximum productivity. Too often, I would find that I would never be able to get through my to-do list. I felt that with every day that would pass, more and more items would get tacked on. I felt that I was constantly taking one step forward, two steps back.
CALENDAR PLANNING TECHNIQUE
Through my research and from trying and testing many different methods, I landed on a simple calendar system which has helped to increase my productivity exponentially. This system has also prevented me from experiencing burnout and finding myself constantly overwhelmed and overworked.
Whilst I still maintain and am a big advocate for keeping a to-do list, I have recently recognsied the benefit of working off a calendar. I plug in all meetings, appointments, commitments etc. into my calendar, which provides me a very comprehensive and structured plan as to how to work through each day. Each category has been assigned a colour – for example all corporate work is in ‘blue’, whereas all work for Boss in Heels is ‘purple.’ This way, when I open up my calendar I have a full visual representation of how I plan to run my day.
The five key categories I have assigned are:
- Corporate work: Incudes all work related meetings, appointments, commitments and tasks.
- Boss in Heels work: Includes all meetings, appointments, commitments, podcast interviews, tasks including writing blog posts and responding to emails.
- Personal commitments: Includes dinners, coffees, social events.
- Health & Vitality: Morning routine, lunch breaks, workouts, walks.
- Self-care: Includes free time, beauty appointments, massages, infrared sauna, time to just chill out.
The below example is not an image of my own personal calendar, however provides you with a visual representation (Image sourced via Pinterest):
Since working in this manner from my calendar, it effectively means that I am forced into allocating a specific time to spend on each meeting / appointment / task. For example, allocating two hours from 4-6pm to record two back to back podcast interviews, means I realistically know I can complete those tasks within the allocated time period. Whereas if I make a broad statement such as “I want to record two podcast interviews today” however don’t have a plan or dedicated time to do it, it may or may not happen.
It’s important to note that all items that are plugged into my calendar are outcomes rather than task based. For example:
- Responding to emails: What emails specifically do I need to respond to and action?
- Recording podcast episodes: How many episodes am I recoding and what are the topics? Are they guest or solo episodes?
- Social media preparation: How many posts do I need to prepare and on what?
By making these items outcome based, it ensures I have something tangible upon completion of the allocated time that has been set.
Whilst my calendar looks completely full, having the various categories colour-coded means I am able to ensure I schedule sufficient time for clean rest and down-time. I treat this these commitments and show up for myself just as I would to any other appointment, meeting or commitment that I’ve made. I have found that since utilising this system, I have reduced feelings of burnout and exhaustion significantly.
It is important to note that things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes life happens, or we have to pivot and adjust our day because of something unexpected that happen. What I have tried to work on is learning to be kinder to myself and being able to adjust and move things around when required. I find that I am able to work to plan 90% of the time, and the remaining 10% I need to remain flexible to change. If this happens, I simply review my calendar again and plug in a new time for the particular task which had to be moved.
TOOLS FOR INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY
What are some of the systems or tools you utilise to increase productivity? I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave your comments below!