I grappled with productivity and efficiency in 2018.
“I don't have time,” came out of my mouth too often. And, I had lots of proof that I didn't have a lot of time. I work as a dermatologist, it was my first year with a new baby who needed my attention, I do all the meal planning and other household management. Oh, and I work on this blog.
Yet, I had plenty of time.
I've spent the past several months trying to figure out how I couldmake 2019 more productive, so I can have more free time with myself and my family. I've spoken to friends and coaches, read blog posts and listened to podcasts on productivity.
Productivity is your ability to increase your effectiveness and efficiency – not just working more. Don't we all want to work smarter and not harder?
So here are my top 5 tips to make 2019 more productive.
#1. Commit to being productive
The first step is to get your mindset right. Get to it or stay unproductive.
#2. Find a system that works
This is the part that may take some time and tweaking. It took me several months to figure out what would work for me.
I've always used google calendar to organize appointments so that part was easy. It syncs to my iPhone's native calendar. I have 3 calendars: personal, work, and joint (with Matt).
The next two parts took time and effort to learn and use optimally. I initially tried a beautiful templated paper planner by Ink & Volt. I loved the planner and the templates – but I never used the planner. In fact, I have two of these beautiful planners with very little writing in it. Failure indeed.
I next tried the bullet journal. It seemed like the perfect solution! I would no longer “waste” pretty templated pages since I created the template. I even purchased some pretty washi tape and colored gel pens. The bullet journal works for many people. But for folks juggling a zillion things including a business, it just didn't scale well. I also would forget to bring my journal with me sometimes and then not have any clue what I should be working on.
At #FINCON18 two friends (Ryan Inman of Physician Wealth Services and Travis Hornsby of Student Loan Planner) told me I have to check out Asana. They told me I could use it not just to keep my to-do list in order but to also organize and plan my blog post calendar. Best of all? It's free for most people. And the free version doesn't suck.
So I immediately signed up for an account and watched their tutorials. But I still didn't really know how to use it effectively. I was pretty good about entering tasks into the app but then quickly forgot about the tasks since they weren't organized. A few months went by. Then I watched this video by productivity master Paul Minors of New Zealand (complete with awesome accent).
I use Asana as my digital bullet journal. It keeps all of my personal and business to-do's in order. My podcast buddy Carrie Reynolds also uses it and we are able to collaborate and plan our podcasts much more efficiently now. I also use Asana for my virtual assistants.
Before hopping onto Asana, I recommend watching this introductory video on why Asana is so awesome.
#3. Start a weekly planning session
I now use my paper journal for my weekly planning sessions and general scratch paper. Every Sunday, I take about 30 minutes and plan my week. I first start with a few minutes reflecting on the previous week. I acknowledge what I accomplished the previous week. And I acknowledge what didn't work.
I then review my tasks in Asana by browsing the “Calendar” project. This project contains all of my tasks.
The key to never forgetting about a task in Asana is to assign it a “due date” and add it to the “Calendar” project as soon as you enter it. I use the due date as a start date instead. Every task is in at least 2 projects – the project it belongs to and “Calendar”. Calender is a repository of all tasks assigned by quarter. I also have a “Soon” and “Later” sub-category within Calendar as well. I basically use the Asana system outlined in the video above.
During this weekly review, I move the tasks I want to work on this week into my “In Progress” project. I use the board view here so I can visually see all the tasks I need to work on this week.
Regardless of what system you use to organize your tasks, use this weekly session to review tasks, re-prioritize and plan the week. This is also when I meal plan for the week.
#4. Limit distractions
In the age of screens and social media, this step is absolutely pivotal to if you want to make 2019 more productive.
Want to be productive? Turn off notifications. Close the Facebook tab in your browser. Unplug.
Warning — it may feel uncomfortable to do this. You may feel anxious. You will soon appreciate this quiet time and be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Did you know that our smartphones are specifically designed to keep us using them? Ever feel a little anxious when you don't check your phone (or email or that notification that just popped up?). Screens are the new addiction and ruining productivity.
Take the time to really consider how to use technology vs. letting it use you.
#5. Take care of your body and mind
It's pretty hard to be productive if you're tired, hungry or not feeling well.
So yes, you need to get enough high-quality sleep, eat well and exercise regularly.
Final Thoughts on Tips to Make 2019 More Productive
Change is hard. But if you're committed to your goals this year, you need to boost your productivity. Take one tip from this list and work on implementing it for a month. Then, see if you can add another. As you feel your productivity increase, so will your motivation. That's a cycle you want to get caught in.
What are your top productivity tips? How do you plan to make 2019 more productive? Comment below!