11 Productivity Insights to Help You Stress Less & Live More
Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Want to know something empowering, and also slightly intimidating all at the same time?
We ALL have the same 24 hours in a day.
Yep - you have the same hours as Oprah.
Which is why I say: AWESOME and intimidating.
When looking at the amount someone like Oprah accomplishes, it can be hard not to wonder why you’re not seeing those same results yourself, as you question where on the black market she bought those extra minutes??
(Pretty much my own thoughts the other night.)
Because owning that balance that empowers me to still have a life outside of work is SO important to me, and yet I yearn for a future existence that I realize demands I do more with my moments now.
Maybe you feel similar?
Like, you want balance and peace, but you also want to become the being you were born to be...
You want love and laughter, but you also want to do everything possible to access the very peak of your potential power.
(...Without letting pesky procrastination get in the way, ay?)
Below are 11 productivity hacks I believe (and pray!) can help us do it all, and produce more of those meaningful moments in AND out of the “office.”
(God knows I need them this week as much as you do!)
Just as my mentor, boss, and soul-sister Shila Morris says (that struck, and stuck with me), is, “Streamline leaves more time for the dreamline.”
And we ALL want more time for the DREAMline (whatever your dreamline may be!), don’t we?
So, let’s make it happen!
(Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that, if you go through them to purchase, I will receive a commission. All items were linked based on my authentic adoration for the product, but please keep in mind that whether or not you are inclined to explore them is completely up to you!)
Step #1. Create a zone that’s zone-in-able.
What does your workspace look like?
No really, look around, what do you see?
Having your home as your new office can do one of two things:
1. Hinder and hold you back like a hostage.
2. Help you hack into new career accomplishments like never before.
All depending on how you choose to set the stage for yourself.
Creating a zone that’s zone-in-able is an important first step in setting yourself up for success both inside and outside of the office, but especially in the WFH environment.
For me, this means essential oils on deck, minute-made meditation cards within an arm's reach, Liquid IV at the ready, gluten-free pretzels on the shelf (I’m not GF, I just like the crunch better), and an excessive amount of sticky notes in my right hand drawer.
So, what about you?
Does your space seem like something you want to spend your day in?
Do you feel comfortable creating there?
Because trust me, you want to feel comfy cozy- especially considering you’re most likely workin’ that work-from-home-mullet (business attire on top, sweats underneath the desk) while you sit there.
Take advantage of the opportunity (if you have it!) to be in YOUR space, by making it fit for your needs, hopes and dreams!
(#2) Set the MOOD.
Whatever that means to you!
Light a candle.
Crack a window.
Make a motivational playlist.
Maybe you’re like me and listen to Cardi B if you really want to kill it on the task at hand or maybe you just let those good tunes (and good times! ;) roll all day long.
I get it - it’s a VIBE.
So set yourself up by ensuring those #goodvibez are in the room with you, and you’ll be much more likely to feel motivated, activated, and energized throughout your day.
(#3) Fire up for golden hour.
You know what this means…
NOPE, golden hour isn’t just for selfies!
Once upon a time, Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.”
This then motivated many successful people (including self-help guru Brian Tracy) to interpret Mark’s statement as a metaphor for effective time management, and infer that eliminating your ugliest, most dreaded task at the start of the day would best serve your success.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t WANNNNAA start my day with what I dread.
Want to know what I do instead?
(Hint: it’s NOT whining ;)
My favorite thing first.
Well because our favorite things fill us with fulfillment and energy.
Which then helps you gobble that frog like yo’ mama’s meatballs and ‘sketti - with ease, excitement, and delicious satisfaction.
Most of the time that means starting my morning with meditation, maybe moving through a few stretches, and making my way into writing.
I’d say MOST of the time it’s writing, (whether it be a newsletter for a kick-ass client or my own personal blog) but it truly differs just depending on the day.
As well as (of course!) coffee!
Then, after the coffee hits, that’s when my golden hour sets in.
Because I find that when I start the day my favorite way, I fill myself with the fuel to flicker my flame into a glorious GLOW state.
And once I’ve got that glow?
THAT’S the time when I chow down on the toads.
So, how about you?
What part of the day do you do your best work?
Are you one of those nocturnal ninjas of the night, or a morning motivated mamacita?
Or maybe somewhere in the middle?
Whatever your time to shine is, seek it out as an opportune moment to accomplish some of the more difficult duties of your day, and ensure your golden hour gets you ahead of the curve.
(#4) Keep Your Calendars Close, and your color-coordination even closer.
Need I say more?
You’ve got enough stuff stored in that beautiful brain of yours, your to-do’s don’t need to add unnecessary clutter.
Or worse, cloud the things you care most about!
Whether you use an online calendar, a cool notebook, or the notes in your iPhone - just write that shiz down dogggg.
Looking for an added layer of organization?
Try color coding!
LOL seriously though, you should see the rough drafts of my blogs.
They look like this a lot of the time.
That’s just me though, not necessarily what I would suggest.
What I DO suggest is that you color code your calendar.
Prioritizing those actions absolutely necessary to accomplish that day in one color, and keeping secondary actions in another, can keep your long lists from overwhelming you, and empower you to keep your most vital tasks in front of mind!
(#5) Quiet Distractions.
Press that magical MUTE button on your distractions...besides this blog of course.
(Hey, if you get it sent to your work email it’s BASICALLY working anyways, right? ;)
Research done by the World Health Organization reveals that, “Adequate nutrition can raise your productivity levels by 20 percent on average.”
Have you ever noticed that some foods give you focused, feel-good energy while others don’t?
It might be because foods with a high glycemic index (think: all of the white-yellow carbs we love, like rice, potatoes, and corn) cause your glucose (and therefore your energy and alertness) levels to rise and drop rapidly.
AKA: they cause a “sugar rush” and then a crash.
Whereas,“Foods with a low glycemic index number gradually release glucose into your bloodstream. This gradual release helps minimize blood sugar swings and optimizes brain power and mental focus.”
Still trying to wrap your brain (and belly!) around it?
Take a look at this super simplistic chart:
The green pizza-shaped part (um, excuse me, was that intentional???) includes foods with lower glycemic index, with red revealing #eats with a high GI index, and that yellowish-orange signifying those foods that fall right in the mid range.
You see, carbs are not the enemy here.
But you DO want to tune in to what kind-o-carb can give you energy that lasts, especially on those longer days when you’ve got lots to do!
*Pro tip: Pairing protein with a carb can keep you from the “crash.”
As celebrity psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen, says, “Having protein at each meal helps to balance blood sugar levels...limits the fast absorption of carbohydrates and prevents the brain fog that goes with eating simple carbohydrates, such as donuts.”
(#7). Set timers and work in short bursts.
Put your hand up if you’re a procrastinator!
(I think we all are at one point or another.)
While working “on the clock” can hard drive us to meet deadlines, I find it’s often the tasks I need to accomplish outside of my 9-5 that I have the hardest time with.
Like hey hunnay - this is your “time off” okayyyy?
(That’s what my brain says.)
But the sad-or-exciting (whatever way you swing it!) reality is: the world of 9-5 is dead.
(Well, at least that’s what Salesforce says.)
Meaning that: the amount of people who can rely on a 40 hour work week are getting fewer and farther between.
The world is merging towards a workforce that is less about how much time you spend working, but how much you accomplish within the time you ARE working.
As Salesforce president and chief people officer, Brent Hyder, says, “An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks.”
Before you scare yourself too much wondering WHAT’S WRONG WITH FREE SNACKS MAN, here’s what I think this means for us (+ pulling ourselves from the filthy paws of procrastination):
It means we need to make our minutes matter.
Allow me to explain:
Another study (sourced by Mel Robbins) shows that when we spend even just ONE minute working on what we were trying to avoid, 80% of people will continue on with that activity at hand.
So set a timer.
Save yourself the energy of thinking over it and then double dipping (and therefore depleting!) that energy source to then (eventually!) DO it- and just start doing it straight away!
Sounds easier said than done?
(And I’m trying this technique for the third time tonight so I’ll let you know how it goes on IG. ;)
Anyways, this also works for staying focused on those long days.
As I believe many of us delve well beyond that 9-5 to fulfill our work, passion projects, side hustle responsibilities, and everything else we need to accomplish for the day.
Dreading doing an hour of something after a long day at work?
Set up sessions of focusing in shorter bursts!
Dedicate 20 minutes of your time instead.
20 minutes, completely focused, just GOING for it.
You can do anything for 20 minute right?
This is the same!
Trust me and TRY IT!
You just might be surprised with how much you get done.
Yes - this means setting “scrolling” timers too.
Hit up Siri- she’ll surely keep you accountable!
Really though, it’s crazy to think about just HOW much time we can lose when we’re not paying attention.
Wondering whether or not YOU waste time on your phone?
Set up Screen Time.
(Warning: you might want to wait to do this when you’re in a GOOD mood.)
LOL leave it to Apple to provide us the means to mindlessly scroll, and then make us look bad by also giving us the metrics.
@Apple - you’re a real one!!
Build in BREAKS.
Breaks build your resiliency and replenish your mental storage capacity.
No REALLY, research reveals that brief diversions from work vastly improve focus.
In other words, take the dang break!
Not only is it okay, it’s scientifically-backed to help you accomplish more in the long term.
Whether you want to take time out of your day to workout, walk, or meditate, an intentional break can completely transform your attitude, as well as your ability to focus with clarity throughout your day!
So allow yourself a little time to lose it and let go every once in a while.
Now, this is not me suggesting you schedule in your mental breakdowns.
But I think it’s certainly a good idea to save space for one if need be!
Incorporating a wellness walk within your work hours (even if it’s just for 5 minutes!) can greatly improve your mental wellness and capacity to continue crushing it when you return to work.
(#8) Prioritize and protect your time.
Speaking of some time to yourself…
Someone I spend a LOT of time with (my bff, boss babe, partner Megan Jensen) once told me to “protect your time.”
Yep...you know what this means…
Knowing when to say NO.
Politely, and with a smile, and a ‘thank you for offering.’ (*wink wink*)
Because trust me, I KNOW the dread that comes with declining an offer or an ask, but guess what?
If you’re stressed about ALL the things (because you’re simply overloaded), you won’t do one thing well.
(Okay maybe ONE thing...but you know what I mean.)
You won’t do as many things as there are on your to-do list well, is what I mean.
Which slippery slope slides us into:
(#9) Set yourself up to SLASH THAT SHIT - with a to-do list.
Common, who doesn’t like to slash some stuff?!
Especially after one of those “long days” at work.
If you have yet to discover the significant satisfaction that serves your spirit when slashing through a finished task, I suggest you give it a try straight away.
Seriously, sliding a slick jelly pen over something you’ve FINALLY finished is a feeling like no other.
(My hand has a quaint lil quiver just dreaming about it. ;)
So check your boxes, and (if you’re REALLY a rebel) maybe even check them twice!
Which takes us to today’s 10th tip:
(#10) PRAISE THE LAWD!
CELEBRATE that slash when you do!
Not celebrating in the go out and get sloshed kind of way.
But in the neuro associative way, that calls you to celebrate yourself through praise.
To explain the “Sparknotes version” of this scientific phenomena:
When you do something great, and then celebrate, your brain releases a chemical cocktail that scientifically shifts your brain and body into wanting to do it again...and again...and AGAIN.
You get it.
Just like a puppy, who gets trained with a treat or toy.
Praising yourself can literally wire the neurological pathways in your brain to want to WORK for more of that feeling.
So STOP what you’re doing and...
Pat yourself on the back.
I know it feels weird, but you’ve got to at least TRY it for me!
Plus, you’re one step away from finishing this blog, (and thus bettering your work life balance!) which means you’re DUE for some congratulations! ;)
Last but not least we have:
Truly LIVING makes you more productive, 1000000%.
Well because what REALLY motivates us is feeling like we have something to work FOR or towards, am I right?
So here’s what I suggest:
Utilize these 11 productivity hacks to make MORE out of your moments, so you have more time to “schedule in” the stuff that truly matters to you.
Hug your mom, say YES to that wild adventure with your bff, shoot the shit with your sister “just because,” spend time alone doing nothing but listen and lay with your own thoughts, embrace your excitement through praise when you do something awesome, and have yourself a freaking BALL!
Because that’s the stuff that will not only push you to produce, but to attract a life truly worth working for.
P.S. Feeling like you need a few more tools to support you when you DO feel stressed? I’ve got you! Click through this quick read where I reveal 3 routes to get you out of your own way today!