7 Ways I Manage My Time, Maintain Productivity, and Get $h!t Done
After I left my full-time law firm job I vowed I’d never again wear “business clothes” or work at a desk. I’d be a free spirit wearing sweatpants, sitting on the couch, and working with Bravo in the background, all while growing my empire. That fantasy lasted me all of a few days before I learned that 1) Bravo reality shows are way too compelling to be background noise, and 2) the couch is a terrible place to be productive at anything, except being unproductive and snacking.
So imagine the irony that for my birthday earlier year I asked my husband if we could convert one of the spare bedrooms in our house until a full-blown office for me. And I am currently sitting at my desk, in the exact same model Herman Miller Aeron chair as my firm office, wearing ‘real’ clothes, as I work this morning and almost every day. #adulting at its finest.
In our industries - fitness, blogging, social media - we regularly work remotely, because most of us don’t have a traditional office to go to. This is great because yes, we can work at home in our comfiest sweats, but we can also be on an airplane to somewhere sunny, at our favorite local coffee shop, at the studio in between, the possibilities are endless. But without the discipline of being in an office, coupled with our busy lifestyles running from one meeting or commitment to the next, time management is *everything* to getting work done.
1. I calendar everything. No, literally, EVERYTHING. I calendar my entire day, from what time I’m waking up, when I need to leave the house, drive times, breaks for eating + catching up on emails, and even time to cook dinner. I plan my workouts for the entire week on Sunday (though they’re usually consistent week to week). I meal plan + prep on Sunday so we’re not scrambling for food (and it’s healthier, cheaper, and easier to stay accountable to my macros). Excessive? Maybe. But does it ensure that nothing falls through the cracks? 100% yes.
2. I make appointments with myself, especially when I have projects to finish. I am so guilty of sitting down to ‘work’ and then being SO overwhelmed by what I need to do that I end up half-assing a dozen things, or worse, just sitting amongst the chaos, totally unproductive.
What works best for me is to assign myself time in the day to accomplish a certain task. For example, every week I sit down to work on blog posts and social media content. I block off time in my calendar that says just that “Blog Writing + Social Media Post Planning” and in those hours that’s all I do. Tomorrow I have to draft a document for a client, so I set aside an hour in my work time to do that.
3. I have designated email, text and social media time. This one is new, but I’m really enjoying the freedom of it. I give myself 2-3 windows a day to reply to ALL emails, texts, voicemails and to hop on social media. I used to be the kind of person who would wake up and scroll, send an email and scroll, get a drink and scroll - it was terrible. I would instantly reply to texts and emails and feel guilty and apologize for my delay in replying *face palm* if it took me a few hours, or worse, all day.
It took me a minute to learn that no text, email, message, post or comment is so urgent it can’t wait a few hours, so I set a boundary in my own life.
Yes I miss posts I’d otherwise love to comment on, from people I genuinely love online and in real life. Sure, I’m not as active on social as I should be to be authentically growing my following. And sometimes I flat out miss the joke in a group text. But guess what? The world still turns, my real friends still love me, and I screen time in down substantially. Wins all around.
4. I put my phone on airplane mode at the gym or when I’m working out. I used to be one of those people who could hop on an elliptical or spin bike, and sludge away for an hour a day,and then go lift weights genuinely happy off of all the endorphins. But life got insanely busy and my workout times became so short and sacred that I have time for nothing but that. Get in, work my butt off, push myself as hard as I can, get out, preferably without having to wash my hair (ladies, you feel me on this?!).
I see people at the gym ‘resting’ between sets, chilling on the bench, playing on their phone. It is my biggest pet peeve because if you’re going to take the time to workout (or insert any other activity), BE IN IT! Get the most of it while you’re there. The same mentality applies outside of the gym.
When I’m doing something, I’m present. I get it done the best I can, and move on with my day.
5. I do the hard stuff first. You know that thing you really don’t want to do so you keep putting it off? You’re reallllly dreading it, so your hope is that if you avoid it, it might go away, get done on its own, not be important, or not intimidate you so much. Yeah, not so much.
Just rip off the bandaid! Do it first, battle through it, and reward yourself with something after that you actually want to do.
I schedule the thick, heavy, or not-fun tasks at the beginning of the day and the fun stuff at the end to keep pushing me through.
6. I make time every week for the future. Some weeks are so busy that I’m treading water to stay afloat. Know that I am SO grateful for that level of success and faith from my clients, and I don’t take it for granted because I also have weeks where I’m twiddling my thumbs listening to the birds chirping. But ultimately I want to be creating MORE for YOU so that you can grow your businesses, understand operations, nail your finances and expand your offerings.
So what do I do? You probably guessed it - I calendar time every week to work on future projects. Yes, I could be buried in documents to review, agreements to draft, workouts to program and playlists to make, but I will put it ALL on pause for a few hours every week to make sure I am moving my ball forward. Do some weeks get more future planning than others? Absolutely! But I never stop planning for the future just because the present is busy.
7. I manage my own expectations. Ok guys, let’s be honest. Sometimes everything just goes sideways and every calendar, plan, idea, phone silencing is tossed right out. Yup, there are real emergencies but there’s also mental health, self-care, lack of motivation, lack of inspiration, projects taking way longer than projected, ADD moments, a one-year old husky puppy, a family life and a social life.
Life happens. Let it.
Don’t beat yourself up for days that aren’t as productive as you wish they were. I’ve done that and can tell you it’s pretty unproductive and very damaging to yourself. Acknowledge that some days you’ll feel like you conquered the world, and others you’ll manage to brush your hair. Celebrate them both anyways. Show yourself grace.