I don’t know about you, but September always gives me that back to school feeling and this year is no different. During Summer, I feel like I’m socially busier than usual and my personal and professional productivity levels start to slip. By that I mean that I spend less time in the gym, working on my personal goals, and staying organized around the house. As Fall is just around the corner, it’s time for me to step it up. Here are a few ways that I’m going to be my most productive self in order to finish this year off strong!
Wake Up Early
Waking up can be hard, especially if it’s not something you’re used to. For me, this is how I ensure that I have a productive day. During the week, I wake up at 5am and on the weekends I wake up between 6:30 and 7am. I work for a hedge fund, so I start work at 7am since we’re on East Coast time. Before work, I like to go to the gym for about an hour. The great thing about this is that the gym is usually empty and I have it all to myself. Waking up early and completing a morning workout really helps set the tone for the morning and ensures that my productivity continues throughout the day.
I like to set 3-5 goals for the day. For me, this is a realistic number and something I can reach without feeling disappointed or like I let myself down. On my desktop at work, I use the “sticky notes” to type all of my goals out for the day. Since it’s on my screen, I am able to cross them off once they’re completed and it also serves as a great reminder for the tasks I have yet to complete.
I am a huge list maker and make lists in my phone for everything from my goals and tasks for the day to what groceries I need to buy on my way home from work. I like to write them in order of what time I need to get them done and then put a star next to the most important tasks. This helps me prioritize which tasks need to get done first, which ones will be the most time-consuming, and which ones I can put off until I’m less busy.
Learn How to Say No
I am so bad at this. Like, really, really bad. However, the older I get, the easier it’s becoming to say no. Partially because I’m actually busy and have legitimate excuses! Ha! It’s never easy letting someone down, but you need to look out for yourself and your well being first. If saying yes to someone is going to decrease your own productivity for the day, you need to be able to say, “No, I’m not able to do that today.” If you really feel bad, offer an alternative day or time that does work for you.
Manage Your Time
Make a schedule or a timeline when making your lists. Certain tasks that you want to get done will take up different amounts of your time. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get things done, but also make sure you have a deadline to ensure efficiency. I’m a visual person, so writing it down and having it in front of me is a great way to manage my time. I also set alarms and reminders on my phone. I especially do this while at the gym in the morning to make sure I finish my workout on time and give myself enough time to get ready for work.
Learn to Delegate
Another thing I’m horrible at. I’m someone that won’t take on a task that I can’t finish, so learning that it’s okay to ask for help has been hard for me. At work, learning the art of delegating has been life changing. After getting promoted earlier this year, my list of responsibilities increased quite a bit, so asking for help and allowing my team to take on some of my smaller tasks has been really helpful. This also goes for tasks outside of work. When I’ve had a long day, the last thing I want to go is go home and do laundry or clean the house. Within your budget, see what tasks you can get a little extra help with. I’ve seen deals online for maid services and have used on-demand laundry apps before. There’s also Amazon Fresh or Instacart that’ll do your grocery shopping for you.
A lot of the time, I feel like meetings are so unproductive and most of the information can be relayed via phone call or e-mail. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, try to schedule a time to have a phone call while you’re driving from place to place or use your morning treadmill time to compose an e-mail explaining everything. Being able to multitask can really make a difference and save you a lot of time. If you do need to have a meeting, make it clear that you only have a certain amount of time to meet and stay on topic.
I am not one of those people that will spend all day Sunday meal-prepping for the entire week, but I do like to meal prep occasionally to keep grocery costs down and lunch and dinner hassle-free. Trader Joes really is a lifesaver when it comes to this. They have items such as organic microwavable brown rice and quinoa and pre-chopped veggies that save so much time in the kitchen. During the week, my go-to meal is usually a protein bowl of sorts: handful of kale, quinoa, black beans, and avocado topped with jalapenos and cilantro. It takes me about 5 minutes to make it, so while I’m at it, I make a few of them to stick in the refrigerator for a quick meal next time I’m hungry. This also keeps me eating healthy!
These are tips that work best for me, but if there’s something you do that you’d like to share, feel free to leave in the comments below! I’m always looking for other ways to stay productive and efficient!