Living in Madrid transformed my working habits and schedule. I went from working 5 days and 40 hours a week, to working 4 days and 25 hours a week. When I left my teaching job in Madrid to pursue building my own business, I did so to continue a flexible, balanced lifestyle. Besides working on or in my business, I want to make it to yoga classes, sunset beach walks, afternoon reading at cafes, and give time and space to creative activities. This meant I needed to learn how to work smarter, not harder. Through a combination of trial & error and ideas from books, I’ve compiled the best of productivity hacks (my favorite is #5!). Above all, these processes and tricks increase my flexibility and success – and I still take three days off a week for creativity!
When you wake up and get the day started, there should be minimal barriers between opening up your laptop and actually starting. Checking your inbox, catching up with clients, staring at yesterday’s open documents all create barriers to actual work.
Turning on your computer should be with an exact purpose: “I need to jump right into X.” Most importantly, writing your to-do list the night before ensures you have a purpose and defined goal. A day of productivity!
Complete the hardest, most time-consuming task first! Beginning your workday with unrelenting focus (productivity hack #1!) allows you to push that energy toward the most difficult task. You’re setting yourself up for success for the rest of the day AND you are more likely to complete the rest of your to-do list. The feeling like you accomplished a big load is powerful! My personal rule: no lunch break until the “hardest task” is complete. Talk about a motivator!
When I run into a problem or disruption while working, no matter how small, I naturally grab my phone and check social media. Who’s with me? After 15 minutes of mindless scrolling, it’s harder to get back in the zone.
Instead, I leave my phone in a totally different room so I am forced to stand up and walk to grab my phone. For instance, when I hit a problem or distraction now, I stare off into the distance for a minute or two and get right back in the zone. It has made a world of difference for my productivity!
Okay. If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro method, it’s amazing. To start, you set a 20-minute timer (like actually, open up a tab and put on a timer!). For the next 20 minutes, you complete a task that you may be dreading or procrastinating on – you know, that annoying task! After that, you can move on with your life. More on the effectiveness of the Pomodoro Technique as a productivity hack here.
Honestly, I hate structure and routine work weeks. However, this a routine I can get behind! It ensures I actually get done what I need to in a week while not over-planning. I made this up very recently and it’s been key to my flexibility!
Then, grab the first index card the morning of (doesn’t matter what day of the week!) and keep it with you until completed. I usually make it a rule to complete by lunch. On subsequent days, you grab the following card. You can even get through two cards on days when you are just on a roll!
On Friday-Tuesday, I must start the process and complete all three cards in order for everything to be completed on schedule.
If you try this method, shoot me a DM and give me your thoughts! I’d love to know how it worked for you.
To sum up, I brought my transformation work/life schedule from Madrid to the United States, and know adopting these tested productivity hacks into your routine will allow you the flexibility to spend more time on creative and personal endeavors! Like more time to obsess over KILLER 2020 design trends!
Work smarter, not harder.