How my new schedule made me super productive

After I failed my monthly goals in July, I decided I needed to try something new.  I have more tasks and work requirements on my plate now, but still the same 24 hours in a day.  So something needed to change.

So in August, I instigated a new schedule to see if that would help.  And wow did it ever!  This was why I managed to complete almost all of my August goals and started a few new projects.

The biggest surprise was writing 14k for my new WIP in just 3 days. 

Title Image: How my new schedule made me super productive. Image: woman working on laptop and phone

The Old System

Attempting to be organised

My original system was to make a note of my To-Do’s for the day in my diary.  My diary remains on my desk, open and was checked daily.

I would then (attempt) to get through them.  Often I gave myself way too many tasks in a day and didn’t always consider outside factors.  Like family.

My immediate family still can’t seem to understand I work from home and it’s WORK and so ring me at all times to ask for assistance.  Yep, even moving out of the country didn’t stop that.

My in-laws who we currently live with need help at times with odd things.  I am more than happy to help anyone when I can, but I never really factored in any of these interruptions.

A little scatterbrained

I also have a wandering mind and would often stop one task to chase another.  Or worse, get bored and leave a task half done to start something new.

I would leave post-it notes for myself on my desk, usually with cryptic clues that I would return to days later without a notion of what it was in reference too.

Spread around

There was no active method for staying focused so I would have information, notes and scraps all over the place.  Then when I came to work on something I usually had to dig through my growing piles of paper to finds those keynotes I’d made.

It meant I didn’t always keep up with my deadlines and then had to rush them in order to get them out in time.  Not good.

Overwhelmed

This all left me feeling stressed and overwhelmed most of the time.  Things can be stressful enough without adding it them so I knew I needed a change.

The New System

My new schedule system was designed to give me better focus.  We have lost our focus.  Videos can’t be more than 8 mins long before people get bored.  Everyone scan-reads articles.  We all open numerous tabs on our computers and flick back and forth between tabs… and it all leads to getting less done.  Well, it did for me.

Block tasks

The first thing I did was decide what specific categories I wanted to really focus on.  So I made a list:

  • Blogging
  • Writing
  • Business
  • Learning/Marketing
  • Admin

Assign a day

I then gave each day of the week over to one of these:

  • Monday – Blogging
  • Tuesday – Business
  • Wednesday – Writing
  • Thursday – Learning/Marketing
  • Friday – Admin

This meant that on Monday I was only to (really) focus on Blogging and everything that entailed.  This might be writing new blogs, prepping guest blogs, updating old posts, etc

A little wiggle room

Now I couldn’t stick 100% to this.  Obviously, if I received orders on Friday I wasn’t going to wait until next Tuesday to make and post them.

But all other business related work, such as sorting invoices, buying new stock, making new product lines would be done on the business day.

I also gave time for expected things such as chores, errands, checking emails etc.

Set an alarm

I wanted to have blocks of time where I would be working solely on these tasks.  I did this by setting alarms on my phone.

  • Start – when I should be at my desk working
  • Break – after an hour & a half I have a break, get a cuppa, do some yoga
  • Back to it – I need to be back at my desk working
  • Email/social media – another break this time to check on online things
  • More work – Another block of working
  • Food – Dinner (yes I need to have an alarm otherwise I’d never eat)
  • Last stretch – Another block of work
  • Finish – Stop and chill

These alarms stop me from having to keep checking on the clock or from over-working.  We all need breaks and food so this takes away the need for me to think about it.  I start and stop when the alarm goes off.

I do also have a 30min chime bell that reminds me to stand up and stretch.  Sitting for long periods is VERY bad for you.

The Results

It was tough at first because I was always feeling that pull to “check” on something or do a different project.  I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to stick with what I was doing.

In the end, I was blown away by how much more focused I became.  I was able to stay in the moment with each task and it quietened the churning noise in my head, you know the one that is reeling off all the things you need to do.

As a result, I was able to update much more of my blog and had more ideas for posts.  My writing as I mentioned went from barely anything to 14K in just 3 days of writing.  I had more time for my business and got even more courses completed on my “learning” days.

My thoughts

Will this work for everyone?  No.  But I didn’t know it would work for me until I gave it a try.  The point of changing a system is to find a better way.   My old system wasn’t working and I needed to try something new.

If this new system hadn’t worked, then I’d have trashed it and tried something different.  Don’t get stuck using a system that is not working for you.

We are all plate-spinning and if you have a lot of tasks, find the best ways to get them done efficiently.  Narrowing my focus to one specific project a day made me super productive.

If you have been struggling, I recommend giving it a try.  Don’t try and cram all your ideas and projects into the week.  Pick just enough to fill 5 days.

Give yourself the weekend to catch up on other things or to chill.  Just see how you manage with each day given over to a specific topic.

What makes you super productive?   Let us know your system in the comments below.

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It is ironic that this blog post was put up late.  That is because I hadn’t scheduled it properly and had a template one scheduled by mistake! :p

I hope you enjoyed this and I look forward to hearing about your own productive systems.

Have a great weekend & Happy writing

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31 thoughts on “How my new schedule made me super productive

  1. Pingback: How to gain better focus and get stuff done | Ari Meghlen – Writer | Blogger | Bad card player

  2. I kind of already work to this system. Thursday is blog day. Morning for writing, afternoon for other work, making dinner and walking the dog and then evening for social media.
    I agree with Bryan, I need to be organised or else I get stressed and irritable. I’m also a fan of yoga too. 🧘‍♀️ 😁

  3. I have to be organized otherwise I get anxious and when that happens I’m in a bad mood. It took me years to figure that out.

    When it comes to writing the one thing that I did that helped more than anything was stepping away from the computer. I write long hand. The old fashion pen and notebook way. I use to think that was crazy but not anymore.

    I write at the kitchen table.A landline phone nearby. No texting. It might as well be 1986 and that is fine by me.

    We live in a world full of distractions and we are the only ones who can fix it.

    Perfect, Ari. Thank you!!!

    • Thanks for reading Bryan. I know what you mean, my anxiety notches up if I am disorganised or distracted.

      I don’t write long-hand (unless I’m plotting) but I do shut off the internet and silence my phone. I want NO distractions.

  4. I’m always looking for new ways to organise myself and I don’t have many of the same constraints as other people. I think no matter how many commitments you have, or don’t, a system is the key thing. I used to think I was good at multi-tasking but I was just fooling my self (and not getting anything productive done!). Like you I now concentrate on one key focus a day, doesn’t mean that other things don’t creep in but I only tackle them if they are urgent and important (well, in the main, I’m a chronic procrastinator at heart). Great post.

    • Hi Jo, thanks for reading. I hear ya! I think multitasking is quite sneaky, it makes us feel like we’re doing great but we never are.

      That is so cool that you do the same, focus on one block task. True, things creep in but it’s easier to push them aside and keep focusing.

      How did you find your attention and focus? I found in the beginning it was hard to stay on one thing and I would have to keep pulling myself back when I start drifting to another task (attention span of a fruit fly!)

      But now, I get in a real focus zone and other things don’t grab my attention as much 🙂

      • Yes, it was hard in the beginning, and still is sometimes. I have to concentrate hard and I use a time tracker which is kind of motivating to see what I’ve achieved and what I’ve spent my time on. I think the key is in creating the habit in the first place…

  5. Wow… I’m wondering if I’m your long lost twin or sibling in another life… I’ve just found your blog and finally!- someone like me! overwhelmed, overtired crazy-woman ranting aside… I really like this schedule you have shared. It feels far more achievable and focused than what i’ve been doing in the past. Thank you for sharing your trial and tribulations- you bring hope to other writers fighting to please the muses and the mundane!
    PS – I love your thought dump idea as well… it’s 3am where I am and my Muse threw 3 different ideas at me – books, graphic novels and a painting – because, you know, I have so much free time.
    Thanks again! I’ll definitely start following you! Cheers!

    • Hi Rayna, thanks for reading. Maybe I am 😀

      Glad you’ve found my blog. If you decide to give this schedule system a go I hope it works for you, and do let me know. I am interested to see how other people find it.

      I have to say, due to my flighty attention span, the first week was trouble, had to fight myself to stay on task and not stray too other things, but after that it really pulled in my focus.

      Other things still creep in, as is life, but overall, I was very pleased with it.

      lol what are Muses like, eh? Why do they always seem to like flinging their ideas at you in the wee hours of the morning!!

      Wow do you do painting and graphic novels as well as writing? That is awesome. Your muse obviously likes to keep you busy 🙂

      Glad to hear you will be following the blog and feel free to reach out any time either in the comments or send me an email via the contact page 🙂

    • Thanks for reading. I hear ya! I look back and wondered how I managed anything when I was working a full-time job, running a part-time business and doing a part-time degree.

      Now I work from home it does make things easier to use a schedule like this.

      I suppose one way to do it while working full-time would be to use evenings for smaller tasks like checking/scheduling social media, checking and replying to comments etc and then blocking the weekend into maybe 5-hour blocks?

    • Thanks so much for reading. I too had a short attention span and when I started this system, I did have to be firm with myself and stop myself from reaching for another task or drifting. But after about a week, I found it worked so well.

      Do let me know how it goes for you, I’d be interested to see how people find this method

  6. This was very helpful. I have been trying to find a schedule for myself too. I’m about to begin homeschooling so this will be even more important. Hopefully, it’ll all click into place soon.

    • Thanks so much for reading. I was surprised how well this system worked, especially because I had got so scattered with my focus. I didn’t think I’d actually be able to stay focused.

      Took a few days of trying and reminding myself to NOT reach for other tasks, but it really helped.

      If you give this system a shot, I hope it works for you 🙂 Let me know how you find it, if you do try it 🙂

  7. I think it’s important to keep trying things until you find something that works for you. I have an elaborate color coding system in place. I’ve never been able to adequately explain how it works to anyone else, and I’m sure some friends and family think it’s silly, but it works for me.

    • You are so right, finding the best system for you is a necessity. It won’t work for everyone, but we need to change what isn’t working and try something new.

      I love colour-coding things. I’m glad you have a system that works well for you:)

      Thanks for reading 🙂

    • Thanks for reading Simon, hope it works well for you if you do give it a try.

      I make and sell jewellery online. I recently just transitioned to it full time. Before I worked in an accountancy firm office, and ran the shop.

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