There is probably quite a bit of irony to the fact I’m writing about being efficient, while currently being my least-efficient-self.
I’m normally an efficient, organised person. However, since the last 4 months have been pretty rough, I lost my edge.
So this article is to remind myself about what I SHOULD be doing and to give all you readers out there who may struggle with productivity and efficiency, a little boost too 🙂
Let’s jump right in…
01 – Take Breaks
I love how I’m starting with something that almost sounds counter-productive. 🙂 But trust me, breaks are your friend.
If you try and do too much in one sitting, you can find yourself struggling more. It becomes like wading through quicksand (Not as fun as it sounds).
So take SHORT regular breaks. The key word there is “short”. Don’t do 10 minutes work then give yourself a 30- minute break.
Instead, maybe stop every 30 minutes, stand up, do a stretch and go grab a glass of water then come back to it.
Which leads to…
02 – Hydrate
We dehydrate pretty quickly it seems so you want to stay hydrated. Not drinking enough water can lead to headaches, sluggishness, foggy head and fatigue. So replenish those cells with cool glasses of water.
If you time it to coincide with your breaks, you can drink a pretty decent amount throughout the day and you will seriously start noticing the difference.
Of course, I’m not a monster, throw in the odd tea, coffee or other beverage of your choice, but let’s not ONLY reach for the caffeine- and/or sugar-loaded options.
It doesn’t take much to drink some fresh water and it’s a quick way to stay healthy.
03 – Get Moving
Another task you can do on your break is move. Get out of the chair, go for a short walk, run up and down the stairs, do some jumping jacks or just wander around the garden.
In my 5 minute breaks, I do yoga poses. By the end of the working day, I’ve done a full session. 🙂
Even small amounts of movement are something. Though if you can throw in at least 20 minutes of exercise (even if it’s just walking) a day, then that’s something.
It gets the oxygen moving through your blood, great for the mind, clears your head. It’s great for brainstorming too! You’ll be surprised at how solutions to problems can come up when you take a walk and get some fresh air.
04 – Tidy your desk
Now I’m all for a messy desk. When I work, my desk is covered in post-its, pens, my diary, a plethora of stationery, some random things I’m working on, data sticks, the odd stone… (I like to collect them when I go to the beach).
A working desk is a messy desk.
However, I always tidy my desk when I finish for the day. Starting fresh with a clean desk is a great motivator. You already have all your supplies ready and you can jump straight in.
If you leave it messy you can lose time shuffling things about looking for that note you needed, or the data card with the new picture you wanted to post.
05 – Keep things close by
If you use things daily, then keep them close (and organised). I’m shocked to say I’ve met people who use things like pens and tape every day but store them across the room. It’s madness!
Unless you physically have no room… in which case, that’s another problem that needs addressing, keep your important items close.
I use coloured pens, my diary, sticky tape and my stapler every day. I also need envelopes and stamps, customs forms and airmail stickers.
All of these are either on my desk in their own dedicated areas or in the drawers under my desk, organised so that at a quick glance I can see if I’m running low.
You can lose valuable time if every time you need to print you have to wander around the room to find your paper. Or when you need to make a note, go searching for more post-its because you don’t leave a stash on your desk.
06 – Make a Plan
Either the night before or the morning, make a plan for your day. Try to be specific and be careful not to overfill it.
One issue with writing a plan the day before, I used to find, was that I would write it when I was feeling full of energy and put down 20 tasks.
Then I’d get up, see the list and be deflated. Usually managing barely any.
However, if I wrote a small list, say 3 items. I’d usually do them without much hassle and that would keep me motivated to do more.
If I didn’t plan any part of my day, I could lose hours “faffing” as I thought about what needed doing, checked emails, tinkered on social media and suddenly I’d have lost loads of time.
Which leads to…
07 – Stick to your plan
For the longest time, I allowed non-urgent things to slip in and spoil my plan. I’d cave to family members who would ring during my workday to “chat” or ask for advice that could have waited until the evening.
I would let myself be drawn into adding new tasks to my list before I had completed the ones I had specifically set.
Now I have a “Later” list. I add non-urgent, non-work tasks to this list so I don’t forget them but so that they are not constantly in my eye-line by being on my current to-do list. Then if I find myself with blocks of free time, I visit that list and take a few from it.
08 – Let go
By that I mean Let Go of what’s holding you back.
For example, what I did was I went through my massive list of “things I want to do” and slashed it. I took a long look at where I was, and where I wanted to be and then let go of all these things that were filling up space for things I DID want to do.
I have a lot of interests and want to do so many things. But in reality, I can only do so many things with the (hopefully long) time I have left.
But I can spend so much time looking over my list of things I want to do, I get nothing done.
Now, this doesn’t mean I cut away my bucket list. After all, a bucket list should be fun and interesting and something you do over a longer period of time.
Whereas, we seem to hoard the notion of doing random things or agreeing to things we don’t really want to do and fill our lives with it. Often at the expense of what we actually want to do.
For example, I recently removed “re-organise the Yule decorations” from my excessively long to do list. I can get a little crazy about things and I really felt this was a necessary task.
So instead of having it lingering around, constantly pricking at my mind as “something that needs to be done”, it’s gone.
I give myself permission to consider what’s a priority in my life and I’m aiming for doing that most of the time. Hence why some of my social media platforms have either fallen silent or are barely used.
We often want to do everything, but in doing that, we can lose time for what we truly love. For me, that’s spending time with my partner and our pets, writing, running my business, blogging and working on fun new projects.
What are your personal tips for being more efficient?