2020 was a tough year for most of us. And, after one whole year, we are still stuck in the same place! The pandemic has affected us in many different ways. One of these is our constant everyday struggle of trying to stay productive while getting by these tough times.
Aamna, Co-Founder and CEO of Binks, an online tailor for women, was fortunate enough to hop on to a super-helpful Insta Live session with Shailaja V., a blogging and productivity coach who has a rather unconventional take on productivity. We’re sure you’ll benefit from her nuggets of wisdom and some actionable tips on staying productive during these challenging times.
We have curated this article based on the productivity, time management, and mental health tips Shailaja shared during her live session. These tips can be applied to both our personal and professional lives. Let’s dive right in!
1. Productivity ≠ checking things off your to-do list
Yes, you heard that right! Productivity is not about getting as many things done in the day. What is the point or productivity if you are not feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally well by the end of the day?
In fact, productivity can even be getting one thing done in a day, especially during these tough times. It can be something as simple as watering the plants or doing the dishes. This way, instead of making productivity the bad guy, you’ll embrace it as your good friend.
2. It’s OK to focus on everyday routine rather than plan major life goals right now
Instead of beating yourself up for not planning major life goals or doing great things in life, just try to focus on your everyday routine. It’s okay not to plan and work on big things at all times. When the right time comes, you can start working towards bigger goals in life.
3. Have your own night-time wind-down ritual
Burning the midnight oil every day and getting two or three extra things done in the night is not exactly staying productive. It is essential to embrace joyful productivity. And one of the best ways to go about it is to have a night-time ritual for yourself.
Set 1 or 2 hours aside for yourself before you go to bed. Read a few pages of a book, fold laundry, or do whatever makes you feel relaxed and helps you wind down for the day.
4. Try calendar blocking
Try using Google calendar to set aside time for every task that you intend to get done. This will be of great help if you are constantly overwhelmed with everything you have to do, but somehow never find time for the right things.
5. Rely on everyday steady things
When everything around you feels unstable and uncertain, your daily routine is something that you can always rely on. Think about it – your laundry, dishes, and your everyday chores are the only constants in your life! So, if nothing else sticks, rely on these mundane chores for stability.
6. Create high-impact & low-impact task lists
Instead of an overwhelming to-do list, try creating high-impact and low-impact task lists for every day. Add 2 to 3 things to each list and start your day with the high-impact tasks.
Remember that your high-impact tasks need not always be something massive. They can be anything as simple as working out or spending time with family. And, try to get the high-impact tasks done earlier in the day when you have the highest amount of energy.
7. Carefully distribute your attention
It’s OK not to be there for everyone, at all times. Your attention is a precious resource, and hence, be careful where you spend it. Prioritize the people or tasks you want to first give attention to, and the rest can wait. Having clear priorities and cut-off times can help you with this.
8. Try accountability tools like Focusmate
Shailaja introduced us to a brilliant productivity tool – Focusmate. If you’ve been struggling to focus on important tasks, then accountability can be of great help. Focusmate pairs you up with an accountability partner over a video where you can work on your task for 50 whole minutes without getting distracted – brilliant, right?
9. Have daily, weekly, and monthly reviews
Reviewing your progress daily, weekly, and monthly can be of great help. But, try not to feel guilty about not getting things done. This is because sometimes we underestimate or overestimate the time that we might need for a task. Hence, be gentle with yourself and allow yourself some grace.
10. Take up simple 5-min tasks between two high-energy tasks
Working on high-energy tasks back-to-back can be exhausting. To tackle this, you can try doing low-energy, 5-minute tasks in between. For example, you can clean your drawer or fold your laundry. This will stop you from getting overwhelmed while making you feel accomplished about doing something useful.
11. Use your phone primarily as a phone
Excessive screen time is a major problem we all face today. This is mainly because we end up using our phone, not as a phone. Instead, we use it as a pacifier, a procrastination tool to get rid of boredom.
To stop yourself from mindlessly scrolling through social media, try using your phone primarily for phone calls. A great tip here would be to have a fixed place for your mobile phone so that you have to walk to that place each time you want to use it. This will turn your phone into a landline device and help you get rid of unnecessary distractions.
12. Adopt the practice of observation
The practice of observation requires you to observe your behavior for a few days. But, the catch here is that there should only be observation – no guilt, no willpower, no self-control, etc.
By observing yourself every day and not forcing yourself, you can create more sustainable habits. After observing for a few days, you’ll find yourself instinctively rethinking your choices and start building healthy habits.
13. Find your why behind every new habit
When you try to build a new habit, or get rid of an old one, try focusing on the why behind it. When you are intrinsically motivated and have a strong reason behind building/breaking a habit, you’ll likely be much more committed to the change and less prone to slipping.
Another quick tip here is to focus on a complete identity change instead of imposing ideas on yourself. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t have white sugar,” try saying, “I don’t eat white sugar.” A simple identity change can do wonders for your personal and professional life!
So, there you have it – tangible, practical tips on how to adopt joyful productivity while taking care of your mental health. For more such interesting and fun sessions, head over to Bink’s Instagram page and follow us there.