It’s 7:54am and I have a full week ahead and several months of travel ahead. This week will be the most important to get the work I need to get done for the rest of the year as my productivity will be limited with jet-lag, being tired, possibly even sick. Over the next several months I will be traveling extensively across 13 countries and want to ensure I am ahead of the game—these variables are important to consider when you’re aware of the upcoming situation. It’s how you stay aligned with your competitors, or if you’re like me, ahead.
Since many people ask how I get so much done after watching my Instagram Stories I thought I would just make this into a post and series. Well, here are some of my biggest personal productivity rules I abide by. Considering it is incredibly long already, I will be jumping right into the facts instead of adorning you with the superfluous details. Ready? Let’s go!
Set your timer for 45 minutes and answer your emails only 2-3 times a day. For my job, emails are incredibly important and thus need responding to 3-times a day. First in the early morning for blog-related things, then for work right at the start of office hours, then at 5pm for work again. If I am commuting, I will continue to answer “easy” emails that don’t require attachments or my computer in any way.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get things done in a day is putting way too much on their plate and either burning out or missing personal deadlines. I curate weekly goals instead of daily ones. Come up with 2-3 big weekly goals you want to achieve and put together a series of smaller goals to achieve them throughout the week.
I go into scheduling a week around 2-4 client meetings, 1-2 blog meetings, 1-2 blog shoots (max 90 minutes), 3 full days in the office, 3 workouts (45 minutes each), 2 evenings for only blog work and 1 phone call to my dad & brother (same call, business purpose). Once those are scheduled in, everything else must be schedule in around those. But remember, not everything will go to plan! It might rain on the day of your shoot or your client changes plans last minute. Be flexible about a backup time and date and don’t stress if you have to push it to the following week.
Do all the tedious things (e.g. your accounts) early in the week and day to get it out of the way. Pushing exciting things for later-the adrenaline will keep you pumped! Sometimes I have to shoot things before a day of meetings, but that will motivate me to wake up early and jumpstart my day.
Do what works for you! My brother takes a 30 minute break every 3 hours to keep himself energized and fresh. I prefer to work 8 straight hours and then take an evening off doing my own things. Figure out what makes you the most productive and build your goals and plans around that.
use each minute
I’m highly productive when I’m in between meetings because I love the idea of running around London and Paris to negotiate/strategize. This means I’m twiddling my thumbs in the commute. In that time I reply to texts, answer easy emails, catch up on Instagram, read the news. Disclaimer: ask my friends, sometimes I won’t reply to texts until a few days later. I’m human and my priorities may be different depending on the week. I wrote a post about how I make my commute productive too!
Kind of feeds off of my point above. I have very slow internet at home, so I will upload a video onto my YouTube channel as I go to take a shower and get ready for the day. If I’m doing mindless photo editing, I will listen to the news via The Daily by New York Times (you can find a list of my favorite podcasts here). As my coffee brews, I will put away clean dishes from the dish rack. When I’m on the phone with my mom, I will do my nails. Figure out where you have “blank spots” where you can multitask without effecting the quality of your work. Once you figure that out, you will naturally recognize your “blank spots” and ensure that you use that time well.
I know some people are against multitasking, but use it where it needs to be used. If you are one of those anti-multi-taskers then assess your steps. A few months back I visited a friend who believes in the “natural cadence of a slow paced life,” and doesn’t think multitasking achieves anything. I would, however, NEVER multitask when it comes to client work or a meetings. There is a time and place for it.
timing and communication
One thing I noticed since moving to London is that people are late all the time. I have a few friends who have zero concept of time and it gets aggravating when you have personal admin to tend to. I believe it is important to communicate your schedule to those people. One thing I started doing is giving people timeframes of when I can meet. If a friend wants to meet for coffee, but you have to do laundry desperately, ask when they are available. If they say something like “Saturday afternoon” reply with “great! Can we make it between 1-3pm?” I let them know that I have to leave at 3pm and then go from there. This way your friend is accountable and recognizes your time as valuable and you can go back to your tasks. BUT don’t let this hold you back, you’re more than welcome to spend the afternoon of the day with them.
accept the sacrifice
I knew early on that I am career-oriented and that meant I was going to work a lot of hours to achieve my very big goals. This meant that some days I will just have to say no to certain plans or have sleep deprived days/weeks. I have a friend who doesn’t have the work ethic that I do. She has a blog and a great career that she really wants to excel in—she accepted that her blog will never be at a high capacity and she is fine with that. She uses the blog as a creative outlet for herself. So figure out who you are and what you want. Not everyone is built the same.
take time off
Each trip I take is usually for work, but I tie in blog content if it fits the brand. I organize my itinerary around meetings, content creation and then time off for each day. If I sleep-in one morning, then I’ll go to a meeting and shoot content after. If I want the evening off, then I’ll wake up earlier to either meet my client or shoot something.
Each week, I give myself minimum 6-hours of “me time” where it’s not for the blog or work. These 6-hours does include gym time, so I have a little under 4 hours to do whatever I please each week.
Then once a month, I go completely off radar for at least 2 days, which means I don’t worry about planning or scheduling (don’t even open Instagram).
Finally, once a year I take 7 to 10 days off (this year when I was home in May).
don’t waste time
With the height of social media, we tend to get stuck in this vortex of comparison (I am planning on writing a post about this comparison trap). I know people who wake up early, but go onto their phone and 3 hours later they’ve spent much of their mental energy in this social media comparison blackhole—that is a waste of time. Take active steps to defeat it. Don’t check your phone right when you wake up and download apps that limit you from going on those apps. This will eventually become routine and you can take off the training wheels. This can be applied to anything you seem to waste time on. I have a friend who gets sucked into watching the Food Network, so he puts his TV on a timer and after 30 minutes it shuts off and he is back to doing other things.
be accountable for your own actions
I will address this in another post as well, but one thing you should realize if you’re over the age of 6 is that making excuses or throwing yourself a pity party will only earn you some eye-rolls. Hold yourself accountable and remember that the reason why you are late or missed a deadline is most likely entirely your fault. Remember when I mentioned above about how I’m prepping things this week because I am aware of the “variables” that will limit my work ethic in the future? Use that method. “I lost track of time,” “I have had problems with my baby,” “I forgot,” “I’ve been emotional.” When it comes to productivity, you should be aware of what will limit your chances of achieving your weekly goals, compartmentalize and then persevere. Always realize that everyone is fighting the same battle you are, if not, a harder one. If you are consistently letting someone down by either being late or not meeting expectations, then re-evaluate what you are trying to achieve and either take a step back or take on issues head on. More often than not, you are preventing someone else from being productive.
With the blog, I set up an editorial calendar 3 months in advance. If a collaboration comes in, I make changes. If I am unable to meet the deadlines, I simply say no or work diligently to accomplish it. With work, I never take on new clients if I don’t have the labor to fulfill tasks.
few things to note
These “tips” are completely based off of my lifestyle and may not be conducive to your lifestyle, job or priorities. I do have an assistant that helps me manage my work schedule and pre-prioritizes things like my work meetings and work emails. This helps me focus my energy on greater things. Thirdly, these are things that work for me for now and I am aware that not every life’s phase will allow for these–I take my career and goals very seriously and am sharing just what people have asked for. Finally, a lot of these tips are adaptations from women I admire in either my own industry or other aspects in life (i.e. motherhood, students, business owners, etc).