How in the world do you get so much done every day?
That, my friend, is the golden question.
I’m sure we all know people who appear to be “Super Mom.” You know, that lady who puts Martha Stewart to shame with her parties, always pays the bills on time, and works months in advance on super cool projects. Maybe that mom doesn’t really exist, but it’s easy to look at people who are accomplishing tasks and wonder, “How in the world are they able to get so much done every day?”
That was me at the end of last year. I was tired of just “getting by” and trying to accomplish “everything” without ever really accomplishing anything. Between raising kids, a growing blog, freelance photography and recipe work, and just finding couple time with Dustin, I was exhausted and in desperate need of new, productive habits. I spent a few weeks before the close of 2014 reworking the year to come (2015). Not in a controlling way, rather brainstorming ways to get more done with the limited 24 hours I’m blessed with each day.
I certainly can’t claim to “do it all” (I don’t think “doing it all” is even possible), but I’ve been able to develop five small habits that are making a huge difference in my daily productivity and quest for simplifying life.
These small habits have revolutionized (seriously, no joke!) my days and allow me to get more (important) tasks done and even spend time reading and enjoying my family. By developing these small habits, I’ve been able to daily feed my family real food (even spend time prepping food in advance), blog, work freelance photography and recipe jobs, and enjoy family time.
5 Simple Habits to Get More Done Every Day
1. Delete social media.
Wait! Don’t run away. I promise this is the hardest, yet most rewarding habit.
I’m not saying social media is inherently bad. Rather, I think it’s pretty amazing. Think about it for a second…
My family is spread across the United States, but thanks to social media (mainly Facebook) family members are able to watch, comment, and share in my life. They were “there” for the birth of my children, special birthdays, and the day I launched this blog. Pretty amazing, huh?
But, here’s the thing. Even a good thing can be dangerous and unproductive.
Facebook (and other social media platforms, but let’s talk about Facebook) is like a drug. Yep, a drug! Facebook can have the same effect on a person as a lethal drug- the highs of seeing your friends, or even people you don’t really know face-to-face, comment and like your photos and posts. There’s something addictive about this behavior–constantly checking for new comments and likes, and feeling the need to constantly click on the little red notification button. Trust me, I’ve been there. And truthfully, it’s such an addictive behavior that it’s easy to fall back into the same social media addiction–just like drugs!
Because Facebook is like an addictive drug, it’s easy to spend way too much time being “productive” on Facebook and less time actually accomplishing real life tasks: making dinner, prepping food, work, bills, playing with the kids, running errands.
In the name of getting more done every single day, hitting the delete button on your social media drug of choice is the first habit that must be developed. Yep, it’s going to be hard and painful. I’m not suggesting that you delete your social media accounts, rather here are my two recommendations:
- Delete the Facebook App (or other social media) from your phone. My phone is always with me which makes it far too easy to access my Facebook App. “Oh, I’ll just pop on Facebook and connect/network with friends.” Soon just “popping” on social media turns into 5, 10, then 20 minutes. Imagine what I could get done in that amount of time? A lot!
- Log out of Facebook (or other social media) on your computer. I spend a lot of time in the morning on my computer answering emails, writing blogposts, and editing photos. It’s so easy (too easy) to just click on a new tab and open Facebook. The moment I see the little red notification number in the top right corner, I’m hooked! Soon, I realize 30 minutes has been spent commenting, liking, and watching cute chicken videos. By simply logging out of Facebook (and other social media accounts) the drug-high effect disappears. When I click on a new tab and open Facebook, I’m now welcomed by a screen requesting my username and password. This act is powerful and instantly reminds me that I have tasks to complete before I can enjoy Facebook time.
If you’re feeling discouraged, read on. I promise you’ll like number two!
2. Set up a social media schedule.
Now that you’ve deleted your App(s) and logged out of social media (cough cough, Facebook) on your computer, it’s time to set-up a schedule. Social media is a beautiful thing, as I mentioned in the first habit, when used with appropriate balance. Let’s create social media balance…
- Take a look at your calendar and create a social media schedule. We’re actually going to schedule the time you can browse social media. For example: I have weekday evenings from 9:00-9:30 blocked for social media browsing on my Google Calendar. During this time I can log-in to my account(s) and connect with family and friends, watch chicken videos, and browse Pinterest. At 9:30 I have to log-out and say “good-bye” until tomorrow.
3. Download or brain-dump before going to bed.
When I wake-up each morning I feel a bit lost. I’m not quite sure what I need to do, and all I can think about is a warm cup of coffee and a hot shower. Feeling lost in the morning is an open door to wasting valuable time. To solve this problem I now download or “brain-dump” before I go to bed. Next to my bed I keep a day planner where I write down everything I want to accomplish the next day. And I mean everything, even if accomplishing that many tasks feels overwhelming and/or impossible. Having a list of tasks to accomplish the next day helps guide my morning and keeps my day super productive.
4. Focus on three important tasks each day.
With an official task list in my day-planner, the next morning I’m able to focus on the tasks at hand. To start, I take a look at my long list from the download/brain-dump session after pouring a cup of coffee, making breakfast, and taking a shower (the non-negotiables). There are only so many hours in a day, so I choose the top three tasks to accomplish each day. For example:
1. Write a blogpost.
2. Pick up stamps and mail packages at the post office.
3. Make freezer breakfast burritos for the month.
While more tasks may actually get done, the VITs (Very Important Tasks) of the day are the non-negotiables. If nothing else gets accomplished, I know these tasks are going to get done because I’ve made them a priority. Without making your important tasks a priority each morning (and numbering them 1,2,3) they probably won’t get done which only leads to frustration and defeat.
5. Wake-up early.
I’ll admit, waking up early isn’t in my DNA. I
love have a deep passion for staying in bed well past the initial sound of the first alarm clock. And yes, that’s how much I love sleeping, I need multiple alarm clocks. The mornings are the most productive, profitable hours so I’ve learned to embrace them and, while it pains me to say it, I’ve learned to love the early morning hours.
Of course, early is a relative term and means different times to different people, but the most important take-away here is: wake-up early!
I make it a priority to accomplish my most important tasks (VITs) before noon each day. This means the early morning hours, before my kids start running around and chickens start squawking, are the most important hours of the day. I also enjoy listening or reading a book each morning while I make breakfast, along with a quiet time. My current book choice is The One Thing which I listen to via Audible.com (an amazing time-saving resource).
I promise, this habit will be hard and painful to develop, but the reward of getting more accomplished each day- the most important tasks- is incredibly satisfying!
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These are great tips especially writing things down.. Love my journals and planner so I enjoy these much more than social media. But totally agree the addiction is dangerous and one has to know their limits. I too deleted Facebook from my phone and limit time in two planner groups via only my tablet. Which I don’t pick up until after 6 pm. I am still finding ways to limit unproductive surfing but getting tips like your article keep me motivated that I can continue to improve.
Awesome, Melody! Thank you so much for sharing!
I just found your blog today and for someone with ADD, these are really helpful hints. I love the brain dump idea and my social media does tend to take over my day. I’m getting ready to launch a new blog this fall and I need all the organizing tips I can get! 🙂
Awesome, Nikki! It’s great to hear you’re enjoying the blog and this post! Best of luck on your new blog–what an exciting time!!
Hi Kristin. I found your blog on Pinterest. Subscribing today! These are great tips, especially the social media- it is my biggest problem. I also love the concept of brain dump and it works well when I remember to use it. I think I’ll add it to my nightly routine list so I remember! I have to ask, what type of planner do you use? I’m searching for something similar. Thanks 🙂
Hey Amanda, First, welcome to the Live Simply email family :). The planner pictured is called, “The Blog Buddy.” I use the Google Calendar (available to any Gmail user) for daily life and my editorial calendar. I love the color-coded option on the Google Calendar!!
These good ideas, although for the work I do for my husband’s law firm plus my own blog I think I might have to start with a list of 10 must do things. I also have social media as one of the techniques used for getting my husband’s buisness more well known, but I need to find a way not to get distracted while doing things for him. One thing I have not tried yet, but have heard is great is Hootsuit, because I can set up posts weeks in advance and then they will all just post when I set them to. Have you tried anything like that?
Hey Emilia, I wish there was a way to work on a Facebook business page without going through a personal page, because that’s how I get so distracted! Lol, so I completely understand. I’ve used Hootsuite in the past, but found Facebook often penalized the posts with very few views. Now we use the Facebook scheduling tool (built into all business pages), so scheduling can be done at one time for multiple days.
I am loving the concept.I checked your facebook page and noticed you are up to date in posting and at least 3 times a day. That said how do you manage it? I am a blogger with pages and groups and the thing I am having the hardest time doing is trying to learn more about blogging – technical, monetize, etc. I never seem to have the time. If I don’t connect with my facebook page consistently, won’t my fans lose interest?
Or, am I missing the point. Meaning it is more important to get your email list built up than Facebook.
Thank you for allowing me to think out loud per say
Hey Marilyn, Great questions! I have an assistant who posts on social media for Live Simply. I hired an assistant once the workload of Live Simply became too much for one or two people (Dustin and I) to handle on our own, but before that I was scheduling posts a few days in advance via the FB scheduler. I still pop on FB for Live Simply (via the FB Pages App) twice a day to answer questions and interact with readers, but this behavior isn’t as time consuming for me as actually opening my personal FB Newsfeed.
My best advice is to pull together everything you’d like to share on social media for the week and then schedule that content over the weekend. That way the posts will go live at the designated time, and you can just check in to interact with readers.
This post explains more about my assistant, growth, etc: https://livesimply.me/2014/11/27/authentically-make-money-blogging-without-selling-soul-readers/.
Thank you for these great tips, I went to logout of facebook and totally got absorbed in for 10 mins, you are right it is addictive and I didn’t even realise it. The social media schedule is a great idea. Thanks
Hey Bianca, So true. I didn’t realize just how addictive/entertaining social media can be until I started to intentionally log off. I even had withdrawals for a few days, but then I realized how much time checking and browsing was costing me.
Great post. Thank you for all the ways your advice and experience has helped me navigate these new, healthy waters. I am curious about the book beneath the cup in the last photo of this post.
Thank you, Lynda. The book is a blog day-planner called, “Blog Buddy.” Here’s the link for the planner: http://blogbuddyplanner.com/.
I think is was a great post and had a lot of helpful hints to increase your productivity. For Lent I did a digital detox and just posted about my experience: https://beingmrsalcott.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/lenten-digital-detox-how-to-simplify/. We had some similar ideas and I offered some new ones too.
Awesome, thanks for sharing!
I love this post, thank you so much for all the advice I’m definitely going to give it all a try! I’m forever wishing there were more hours in the day and going to bed feeling like I haven’t got enough done, hopefully this will help me to be more productive. Thank you!
Thank you, Katie-Jane. I felt the exact same way! These little changes have made such a huge difference.
I’m totally with you on the whole social media thing! In fact, I took it one step further and stopped going on Facebook at all. I found that it was not a healthy habit for me. I can understand it being beneficial for some people, such as makalove, but I used it in bad ways…like looking at pictures of my ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend lol. Plus I think that it’s hard on self-esteem, especially for girls. Who really needs to be trying to take the best picture and look hotter than what’s-her-face on their friends list? Not me! I’m so glad I quit Facebook. I don’t even notice it anymore.
The day planner thing is something I just started doing as well. I am a total space cadet and will forget things easily, so having it written down day-to-day is one of the most beneficial changes I have made. I love my planner!
I’m glad these things work for you. I do wish this post was worded more toward THAT, though. Not everybody works the same way, and it’s kind of presumptuous to assume that what works for you will work for anybody else. I don’t want to invalidate what works for you, but I think it’s always a good idea for folks to hear other ideas. So here are the ways your suggestions do and don’t work for me, along with some other ideas folks might benefit from! 🙂
I am only able to leave my house for a few hours at a time, and that rarely happens more than two or three times per month. My kids are long since moved out and my husband is frequently out of town for business for several days to a week or more at a time, often with only a couple of days home in between. I am alone A LOT. If it weren’t for the all day interactions of social media, I would get even LESS done because my isolation and depression would leave me huddling under the covers feeling useless. I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring social media, texts, etc. if I’m doing something important, but I have to take frequent breaks while I’m up doing things, so whether I’m cooking or cleaning or whatever, I’m not going to be on my feet for more than 15 minutes at a time, and then I give myself a 15-minute break. That’s when I hit the phone to respond to things, etc. (I really just NEVER look at my feed on Facebook! I get notifications from people whose every post I want to see, but there are only a few of those. Mostly I only look at a couple of chronic pain support groups and a secret group that consists of my dozen or so closest friends.)
To-do lists are my salvation! I have a traumatic brain injury and it has impaired my memory. I literally cannot be sure I’ll remember the smallest daily tasks like brushing my teeth or taking my meds without reminders. I use my phone for this because I can set reminders that will beep at me with a notification. Every day has a basic list already set up, and at night I transfer things that didn’t get done to the next day’s list if I just didn’t have the spoons to get it all done. I’ve used lots of apps for this over the last few years (and even before smartphones I was using Google Calendar for this). Each person will find a different set of features to their liking, but I have gotten great use out of all of these: Google Calendar, Wunderlist, Any.do Task List, Trello, Google Keep, GTasks, and Habit Bull.
As a life-long night owl, I’ve been greatly relieved to see the spate of recent studies showing the benefits of being a night owl, including that, when able to keep a schedule that works for our natural rhythms, we may be even more productive than early risers. If you’re a night owl trying to force yourself into a daytime schedule, you may well find yourself even less productive than you would be on your natural one. I don’t do anything “before noon” except sleep. (My natural rhythm seems to be going to sleep between 5 and 7 a.m. and waking between 1 and 3 p.m.) My most productive time of day is around dusk or later, and I use that time of day to get my most pressing tasks completed. I don’t think “waking early” is an ideal to strive for; I think it’s far wiser to sleep and wake when your body tells you to, and manage your time as wisely as you can while you’re awake.
Thank you for sharing these great tips, makalove. I’m so glad you’ve found what works for you!