How to be productive on a daily basis

We all have days when we’re not in our sweet spot of optimum productivity but my hope in sharing this post with you is that those days will be few and far in between the productive ones.

These are all things that have worked for me; even if just one of these tips helps you be more productive, I’ll consider the writing of this post worthwhile.

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Start your day with intention

When you start your day, decide how you want for it to go.

Do you need to make lots of decisions today? Do you need to just work and get things done? Do you need to connect with people and build relationships? Do you have to have hard conversations? (these are all aspects of a typical day for me)

Once you have the intention for the day, you might even want to dress for it. On a day of hard decisions/ conversations, I often wear red to the office 🙂

Always have a list

A list helps you focus on your priorities.It doesn’t have to be boring. Make it fun by using brightly coloured pens, write in fun notebooks or on a post-it note.

The reason we have a list is to help you focus.

If you only need to focus on two things today, then your list has two things. I suggest you only put 3 – 6 items on your list so that you’ll get through them. Your daily list is not the space for a brain dump – save the extraneous items for your master to-do list.

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Eat your frogs

Frogs are those things you find difficulty in doing. Eating the frog means doing those things first.

Usually these are things like dealing with the difficult client query first thing in the morning…

The point of eating the frog is this – even if your day goes pear-shaped, at least the important things got done early on.

Mix up rewards with work

For every x number of minutes you work, do something fun to relax.

I love tea. So I reward myself with a cup of tea (not every hour) after a block of really good work.

Taking that break refreshes you and gives you an energy burst.

You’ll have to experiment to find your optimum block of working time – mine is about 2 hours. I tried 45 minutes as I’d read all over the place and I’d always feel like I was just getting into the zone where things flow when it was time for a break. So I extended my work block and I am far more productive.

What are your tips to be productive?

Is this something you struggle with? Why?

{Mindset Monday} How to have a great work week

Next week we’re going to talk more about my own (good) habits, and then I’m going to listen to Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before, again…. and very possibly write a few more posts.

One of the things I tell myself (and others) constantly, one of my mottos, if you will, is that there are things you can control and things you can’t.

We all know this.

So I like to think about things I can control.

And one of those things is to be prepared.

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At work, I start off the week ahead on a Friday afternoon. Fridays are actually like Goals Night for me. I review the week that was, look at the week coming, check the important things that need to be handled, I follow up on outstanding things, clear my inbox and I plan.

The outcome is a to-do list for the week ahead, but definitely to know what I need to do on Monday morning so I can leave all the work behind me and enjoy my weekend 🙂

Have only 6-ish items on the list for Monday

I still follow my Eat the Frog principles of doing important and urgent things, and not adding more than 6 to the list. I might add more to the list during the day but that’s really just to get my brain clear, and not an actual intention to do it that day (unless super urgent).

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Be realistic

Be realistic both with your time and with your energy levels. If you have 3 hours of meetings in the morning and you’re a morning person, you’re not going to get much serious brain work done in the afternoon. You’re only frustrating yourself by thinking you’re Superwoman.

Keep a master list for the week…

but don’t worry about the future tasks til you need to, i.e. on Tuesday 🙂 Every week there is much more than 6 items i have to take care of for the week ahead. But the key is to leave unimportant things (for that day) undone while you focus on just that day.

That’s it!

Repeat every Friday afternoon, and you can leave your work at work every Friday but return on a Monday fresh and ready for people to bring it on 🙂 (I couldn’t resist!)

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Happy Monday – have a great week!

{Time management} How I’m eating my frog

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself getting very frustrated because I was not getting to everything I wanted during a day.

When I looked back through my notebook to see which items I kept moving, they were things scheduled for the afternoons when my kids are at home.

AHA!

I then realised that I should do what I tell my clients and …

a) go easy on myself and
b) set myself up for success
How I'm eating my frog |Organising Queen

I moved things around and I’m back on track again.

I do all the writing in the mornings and leave anything where I don’t mind interruptions and noise for the afternoons.

I also do any coaching in the mornings or from 7pm at night (South African time). Which reminds me, I have space for 5 laser coaching time makeover sessions over the next week. $47 off for the first 3 people who book their one-hour sessions, or $22 off for the first 3 people who book mini sessions.

Things like editing and taking photos, organising, tidying, cooking, etc.

This is eating the frog at its best. Making sure your most difficult activities, those requiring focus, are done first.

The rest of it will always fall into place… and you might even have some willing helpers.

I have an additional little trick I’m currently using to quickly get me into the zone, but I’ll share that with you later.

When I used to work in an office, I’d always make sure my main things were done AT THE OFFICE so that if I needed to do additional work later, it was something “lighter” like replying to emails.

Do you regularly eat your frog?

How are you setting yourself up for success?

Are you eating your frog?

Hope you’re having a great week so far.

This is a timely reminder for all of us to Eat the Frog.

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If you’ve forgotten about the principle, here is my article where I explain it some more.

By the way, your free printable, the Eat the Frog form, is waiting in your welcome pack when you sign up to the newsletter.

If you don’t like loose pieces of paper, ignore the printable.

You can simply discipline yourself to start your notebook each day by writing the date at the top, listing your 6 items, and THEN only adding the numbers 1 – 6, in terms of priority.

Let me know if you’re using the form by tagging me @marcia0608 or simply use the hashtag #goalswithmarcia or #organisingqueen on instagram.

My eat the frog notebook and a notebook giveaway

Remember how I always talk about eating the frog?

If you’re a member of my newsletter list, there’s an eat the frog form in your welcome pack.

However, I’m probably getting too old or something… but more and more I feel the need to simplify. How this translates is that while I love printables, I’m getting tired of loose paper and the punched paper in a file doesn’t do it for me …. too cluttery *ahem*

So when I saw these little notebooks, I thought they’d be PERFECT to write down my 6 “eat the frog” items daily.

They’re small enough to take up very little space on my desk, undated so I can skip lazy days and have just enough space for 6 daily items.

Best of all, I got two so that one of you can get one too.

Normally, my giveaways are open to anyone worldwide but I don’t have extra energy at the moment to be running to the post office and standing in queues… I do have ONE set of stamps in my wallet to post this to a South African address though.

Would you like one of these?

Which colour is your favourite?

Just for fun, tell me one thing on your current to-do list.

Mine? Make Christmas cards list!

{31 days of easy organising solutions} – eat the frog

I’ve spoken a lot about eating the frog before.

In a nutshell, it’s about attending to the most important, maybe more difficult tasks on your to-do list first, each and every day.

It sounds quite easy until you start doing it and then you realise how we’re wired to procrastinate and chase other more interesting things to do.

So too with organising.

You start organising your clothes and because you don’t want to face the mental side of organising (just why are you hanging onto clothes from 10 years ago?), you end up organising your nail polish, jewellery, anything but the clothes.

Focus and eat your frog.

You will feel great once you get it done.

Elizabeth Hagen tells her clients to imagine the Elizabeth Circle surrounding them. They’re not allowed to leave the circle until the work is done. Love that!

Where do you need to eat your frog today, both at work and at home?

My book, Live Organised, will help you set up the systems you need to make your life flow smoothly. Available on Kindle and as a physical book.

Chloe on procrastination

This week’s theme is perfect for the busy time I’m going through right now: procrastination.

I’ve noted that the more stressed and overwhelmed I feel, the more I procrastinate. I tend to be a perfectionist as well, to keep some sort of control I guess, and as Marcia says in the lesson, it’s often the main cause of procrastination.

The tips she gives to break procrastination are all great, but my fave is to do the most unpleasant or difficult task first, or as she often says, to “eat the frog“.

I often tell myself, “eat broccoli first, dessert after”, which means the same: once the task you dreaded most is done, you feel proud of yourself and the rest seems almost easy!

I’ve recently noted something very similar in my professional life (again): I had the chance to have a couple days without my boss being in the office all day.

She’s a mayor’s deleguee and we work together all the time since we’re planning a very big event.

We work great together usually, but when she asks for something, “not now” or “I should be doing something else instead” is NOT an acceptable answer.

When she spends the day in my office, I usually don’t do much besides what she asks for. Anyway, last week she wasn’t there for two whole days. On the first one I thought “Oh, the day is long, I can start with some easy tasks, complete some filing and some “relaxing” to-do’s. I deserve some mini-vacation!”

Well, the days aren’t that long actually, and I can’t afford vacations, even mini ones! I ended up not having done much and feeling frustrated for “wasting” a day.

I didn’t repeated that same mistake on the second day when she was gone, and at lunch break I had already written 4 articles for the town magazine, updated the website for the 3 coming weeks and finished the programme for our big event so that it could be printed as soon as she would give me the green light!

I can’t tell you how proud and satisfied I felt compared to the first day.

Lesson learned: I will start my day with the most important and most annoying tasks first, so that if my day gets crazy afterwards, at least this part is done. Filing can wait (not indefinitely, but you get the idea! LOL)!

Take care!

 

Chloe, I love how you recognised your time challenges both with your boss’s demanding style and with your own internal distractions the first day, but most of all, I love how you self-corrected.

Fantastic job – I’m so proud of you.

Do you procrastinate?
Have you ever thought about why you do so?

How to leave the office on time and enjoy your life

I get many questions from clients and readers and one of the most common questions is this one:

How do I leave work earlier? I am working so late every evening and I don’t have a life outside of the office?

Here are my suggestions:

1. Make a list at the end of every day

This will help you to hit the ground running every day when you get to work and actually be more productive once you’re there.

2. Focus on your priorities first

Use an Eat the Frog principle and do nothing else before your main priorities (frogs) are accomplished every day.

3. Set some boundaries

If you are currently working until 6 or 7 every night (or even later), then set a small goal that says you won’t work until later than 6 every night next week (or earlier if you can). Then stick to it.

The next week set your goal a bit earlier – 5.45 and then 5.30 until you’re working until 5 normally (or whenever you’d like your work day to end). You can work late now and again (if you absolutely have to) but don’t make it a habit.

4. Set reminders in Outlook

Set a recurring appointment for the next month.

The appointment should be made for 30 minutes before you want to leave your office and should say tidy desk and write tomorrow’s to-do list.

Coaching tip – If you find it really hard to leave, make an appointment outside the office so that you absolutely have to leave at a certain time.

When I find myself slipping into the bad habit of working late, I start scheduling earlier gym classes and I hold myself accountable to a gym friend. Or I make a hair appointment to force myself to leave the office.

If you put these four tips into practice consistently, I guarantee that you will soon be leaving your office earlier to enjoy the rest of your life.

Since it’s Friday today, why not resolve to start next week off on a good note.

Make your list now and set that appointment in your Outlook calendar.

P.S. Let me know how you do 🙂

The 5 minutes that will change your life – really!

How would you like to start every day off on the right foot?

Wouldn’t you like to feel a sense of excitement as you start your day?

You CAN if you do something for just 5 minutes a day.

This is not some crazy statement – it really is true. I promise 😉

If you spend 5 minutes every evening (or at the end of every day) planning the next day, your life will dramatically change.

So what do you need to do?

1. Grab a notebook or piece of paper

My Eat the Frog form works equally well.

The point is to have somewhere to capture your thoughts.

2. Ask yourself one of these important questions

* Which 3 – 5 things, when accomplished, will move me towards my goals?
* What is the best use of my time tomorrow?

3. Think effective, not busy

Busy means you’re doing LOTS of things. Effective means you’re doing the RIGHT things.

E.g. Yesterday, after I downloaded email, I had two choices – keep BUSY by reading newsletters and replying to all my blog comments & personal emails, or be EFFECTIVE by responding to a journalist who wants to interview me, and write my newsletter.

Guess which I chose to do? 😉

4. Write down no more than 6 tasks

Mary Kay, one of the world’s most successful businesswomen, said that the secret of her success was to only tackle 6 tasks a day. If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me 😉

I actually showed a client my own planner a few weeks ago. When I think I’m Superwoman and put down more than 6 tasks, I never get them all done. But when I put 5 or 6 tasks on my list, I get them all done.

Did you know you can spend time with me in a Virtual Organising Session? I show you exactly how I set up my own systems and we go through all the computer and email tricks you could possibly imagine. *email me if you’re keen*

5. Number your tasks in terms of priority

Only now (in step 5) do you number them. Don’t try and number them before you get them down – you might get stuck in analysis paralysis 😉

You’ll hit the ground running the next day when you start on number 1 and move through your list until you complete number 6.

At this point you can relax and enjoy your evening knowing that you’ll have a productive day the following day.

For many, many more tips, check out I need more time – guaranteed to give you another 5 – 10 hours a week.

Marcia Francois is a time management and business organising coach who helps small business owners make the most of their time. Visit http://organiseyourbusiness.com for your free 7-part audio series, 7 tips for time-strapped business owners.

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