10 Tips To Increase Your Business Productivity

January of every year is a time that there is a fresh sense of purpose for people all over the world. Resolutions, strategies, new habits, goals and so much more.  Just like you, I tend to get excited and come up with some pretty good plans as January approaches.  Then by the end of the first week, generally, I have fallen off the wagon and have completely forgotten all about those things. Today, I am going to share with you some simple planning methods that you can use to get more done.

Why do we feel that we can only start these new things at the beginning of the year?  Shouldn’t we be constantly growing and creating better methods and strategies to make our life more of what we want? I think so!

Everyone is doing it… Planning that is. 

 

It’s no secret that we are seeing a booming trend in Bullet Journaling and Planners within the last few years, and I think it is amazing!  I am just like each of you and LOVE to look at all the pages of beautiful work they have created for their planner.  (If you have a couple hours to lose in a day on wasted tasks, just go to Instagram and search #bujo or #plannergirl to see what I mean.  Consider yourself warned, lol)  I do tend to get a tad envious when I see beautiful planner pages, but I also recognize that I just do not have time to do that type of thing.  I need steps to do simple planning, quickly and efficiently.  Heck, if I didn’t set aside a couple hours every Sunday to routinely do my planning for the week, I would probably never have time to even get anything into my planner.

I must have my Passion Planner to answer any type of scheduling question… always, just ask my family.  I live and breath by that thing, even consider it a part of my body most days.  Recently, I read a blog post that a gal had written and it shared her story of losing her planner, and I won’t lie… I broke out in a sweat. LOL.  Yes, I’m THAT addicted to organizing my days but because of this, I have also mastered some simple planning tips that I am going to share with you.

Whether you are just getting started on this journey of organization or you are an avid Planner Gal like myself, these simple planning tips are sure to enhance your productivity and mental clarity.  If you are new to this weekly planning routine, pick the two things that you want to add to your planning sessions and focus on those for a week.  As you master those, simply add additional methods.  If you are an overachiever like me, you’ll go all out and just start doing them all at once.  HOWEVER, trust me, doing too much at once can cause burn out – even if it’s just in your planner – so go slow and grow with it.

 

1. Schedule your planning day.

For me, this is currently on Monday mornings.  I have my quiet time and cup of coffee, and then dig into planning my week.  I honestly look forward to it.  Depending on our schedule for the weekend, I truly prefer to do it on Sunday afternoon because that is the start of a new week to me mentally.  By planning on Sundays, I am able to wake up on Monday morning with a fresh vision and plan to tackle the week.  I’ve just recently started my planning day on Monday mornings, but I can bet you that it’ll go back to Sundays very soon.  Why wake up on a dreary Monday morning with that big task waiting for you to complete, rather than doing it on a leisurely Sunday afternoon snuggled up on the couch?

The day of the week that you chose will vary based on your own life naturally, but I really suggest that you chose a day PRIOR to when you “start your week in full swing.”  For example, if you are someone that only works Thursday through Monday then you may want to do your planning on Wednesdays.

 

2. Make time for your planning day and actually do it!

At a quick glance, it may appear to be the easiest thing on the list.  In reality, it may be the hardest for some of you.  Have you ever made a deal with yourself that you would start planning routinely, bought yourself the perfect planner, and stuck with it only for a few days at most?  Yep, I hear that all the time actually, so no worries… you are not alone.

The key to creating any habit is repetition.  For the first couple weeks, I want you to set a timer in your phone (yep, grab it real quick) for a certain time of day when you generally have down time in the mornings and have it repeat daily at that time.  Title it, “Look in Planner, Beautiful.” 

 

2. Pencil in the routine commitments first.

We all have them memorized, so this part should be quick and easy.  I won’t go into a lot of depth about this, as I think it is something that we probably all know first hand.  At the start of every planning session, pencil in every commitment that you have on a daily or weekly basis.  This may include lessons for your children, work schedule, meetings/hours, church, date night, etc.  The one thing that you may overlook as a routine commitment is family meal time.  WHY, oh WHY, do families across America not eat together as a family anymore?!?!  Yet, we don’t understand why our strong family foundations from past generations are falling apart? SMH. {stepping down off my rant platform now}

For me personally, I schedule out the entire time slot (see time blocking below) for those commitments.  At a quick glance, this allows me to see that nothing else will be focused on during that time.  This frequently includes travel time even.  I have a few locations that I routinely have a 1/2 hour drive just to get there.  When you factor in a couple times during a week, the travel time for that adds up quickly.

Now, grab your appointments for the week and pencil those in.  

 

3. Time Blocking

Once you have all your commitments in, then we need to focus on what else must be done for the week.  With what we’ve done in step 2, we now can see the bigger picture of our week.  This is where we need to become very strategic with how we utilize the rest of the time during the day. Remember: SIMPLE PLANNING is our goal, so do not overcomplicate this area.

For me personally, this is when I set aside my planner and grab a notepad to jot down the things that are crucially important for the week to get done.  If you have a side business, this may be the hours that you plan to work on content creation, snapping those amazing photos that you will use, or creating videos.  If you are a stay-at-home mom, this may be things like laundry, cleaning, working out, bible time, etc.  We each have our own life and lifestyles, so this will absolutely personalized to you.

Decide how much time you realistically need to get that task accomplished, and block it out on your calendar.  By doing this, you have now created a real and valid appointment time in your calendar.  Easy peesy, see!  Time blocking allows you to get more done, in a shorter amount of time, with direct focus on that one task.  Keep going, get all those things that you need to do added to your planner and commit to them!  You’ve got this!

 

4. Color Coding

Oh boy, this is where I get all excited and googly eyed.  I LOVE color coding and what it has done for my planning.  In my home, you will find a color coded planner, color coded school notebooks & folders, a monthly planner utilizing the same color coding system, and my university assignments are all color coded too.  Pathetic right?  NOPE.  I can look at any one of these things, and within seconds know what things will happen just simply by seeing the colors that are present on whatever I am looking at.  It just simply frees up my mind clutter and makes life so much easier.

Truly, I promise it’s not hard.  Grab a sticky note or something to write on.  Write down everyone in your family that has commitments and appointments.  Now, simply assign everyone a color.  Whaalaaaa… you have yourself a color coding system!

Here’s a peek at mine…. 

 

5. Key or Legend Page

Breaking down things further, let’s create a Key or Legend Page (whichever you prefer to call it) that you can use to put things into categories on your To Do list.  Think through the things you do weekly such as phone calls, emails, errands, appointments, etc and jot those down on your paper. Then let’s think further about deadlines and things that may occur within a deadline.  For me, it is broken done into these subcategories: in progress, explore, deadline, migrate, etc. but make those specific to your world.  For each of those items within your Key, draw a symbol next to those items that you can easily do when working within your Master Task List.  

 

6. Index Pages & Page Threading

This is the newest thing that I have personally added into my planning routine and it has been a LIFESAVER!!!  However, being real, it’s only a lifesaver IF you remember to use it.  I set it all up last year and kept forgetting to use it and never could remember where I wrote something.  After all, I am human too right, lol.  So the idea is basically like a book index and really so simple.  If your planner doesn’t have page numbers already in it, this would require you to number the pages.  Use my free Index Page printable to create your Index, and then use page threading to keep up with where things are.

Page threading is still the same concept as you would find in an index of a book.  Let’s say your writing your page threading down for January, so within January you have monthly plans, weekly plans, and a finance tracker for that month.  You would write down the page number that each thing is on, all within the same box so that you can cross reference when trying to find something. A typical line for that example above may look something like this: January 2017 – p. 10, p.22-26, p176, 177.  Anything related to January would be threaded into that one specific line.  It is really easy, but hard to explain I’ve put an image above for you to look at from my planner.

 

7. Get Things Done list

Ladies, listen… you can conquer the world, but not all in one day.  It’s just not possible so please, stop trying and feeling like you’ve let someone down.  You are gonna kill yourself trying to do it all and your family needs you.  Every day or every week, whichever you prefer based on the tasks you have to complete, chose THREE things that go on your GTD list.  (GTD: Get Things Done) Have a specific place that those things go in your planner, so that you always know where to start your day.  Added bonus: It helps a ton to batch your tasks, so rather than making twelve trips out to do errands during the week, block out a chunk of time (see above: time blocking) and get them all done at once.

 

8. Have only one darn planner!

I don’t know how many pictures I see on social media of people having multiple planners.  Gals, I hate to be the one to break the truth to you, but if you need that many planners, your system is NOT working for you.  Find a way to make a functional planner that can all be included within ONE PLANNER SYSTEM, so that you aren’t adding extra mental clutter to your life.  

 

9. Set timers in your phone to remind you.

You know that handy dandy piece of technology that is pretty much a part of your body? Yeah, it has this fancy feature inside of it that is commonly known as Alarm Clocks… it’s the craziest thing ever.  Who would’ve thunk it? LOL. Open that pretty little phone of yours up, and set a timer right now for your planning day.

Now, while you are in there, go ahead and set some more for specific tasks that you commonly may forget to do.  For me, it is to take the darn trash out and call the bus on Fridays for bus schedule changes.  Yep, epic fail on my part…. two times this year, I have been at work and completely forgotten to call the bus barn to have my kids ride where they were supposed to. {Face palm}

Use those alarm clock features to set yourself up for success.  Maybe hubby comes home at 5:00pm every weekday.  Set an alarm for 4:00p daily to do a “run around the house with your head cut off picking up all the clutter” alarm – or – “hubby is coming home so get out of your PJ’s and brush your teeth” alarm.  I am literally laughing so hard right now because I can just see your faces as you read this and realizing that I truly GET it.

Here are my other alarms and what they are really titled in my phone (so you can laugh):

  • STOP! Head out to bus stop now!
  • The Voice is on, turn on the TV!
  • Take your medicine, goof.
  • Ummm, Jamee, take a shower. You stink!
  • Time to get sleepy.

 

10. Optional: Sticky Notes, Washi tape & Stickers

If you suffer from color coding syndrome like myself, or maybe it’s the pretty things syndrome for you, you may want to add some washi tape, stickers, or maybe sticky notes into your planning system.  I personally have solid washi tape on the edges of each specific month in my Passion Planner so that I can quickly see what I need if I don’t have time to get to my Index Page.  

 

A Note about Simple Planning with Functional Stickers:

I know that many people use their planners as a work of art, and that is perfectly fine, but just really ask yourself if it distracts you from getting more done.  Only you can answer that, but if you find yourself looking at your planner and your eyes bounce all over the page looking at the “pretties” rather than the tasks, I think that maybe it would be worth evaluating if that is truly what you want in your planner.  (aka more mental clutter)  But please, Please, please hear me when I say – I LOVE ART and am an avid ARTIST, so do not mistake that for me trying to discourage your creativity.  There is nothing more that I love than seeing creativity; simply asking you to really determine if the “pretty” is distracting your from the “tasks” needing your attention.

Remember, my goal for this post is simple planning to help you get things done.  That does require us to really look at our current systems to see if they are truly working.