Disclosure: This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of the Paper + Packaging Board
If you’re anything like me, you’re easily distracted. Especially when it comes to the things you don’t want to do. I blame it on my creative mind, but more than likely I like to avoid the things that I don’t love to do.
You know what I mean. The things like chores, emails, making phone calls, and scheduling appointments… all things that no one enjoys doing but have to do regardless?
Yep, those things.
But, if there’s anything I’ve learned about juggling life’s tasks, it’s that being productive can be the most valuable skill of all. Especially for those who are in creative industries; whether you’re a blogger, writer, content creator, photographer, designer, or something else. Even those in “non-creative” fields might feel the same. We all live busy lives, juggling family, friends, work, and our interests beyond the office.
For me, productivity has been top of mind in 2018. Overwhelm is quick to set in when you’re juggling two jobs. For me, that’s my full-time gig in the tech industry and blogging. Fortunately, over the past few years, I’ve been able to figure out what helps me as a visual thinker, and what doesn’t. Curious about my tips? Read on!
Write things down
They say that writing things down helps you remember them better. And I know from experience; this is most definitely true! That’s why I always try to create my to-do lists, flow charts, outlines, and sketches with good old pencil or pen, and paper. For me, paper products help to increase my productivity and encourages me to be more organized. Plus, with my favorite writing instrument and paper, I’m able to easily show others what I’m thinking about, too!
Even in today’s digital world, half of all college students happen to agree with me that they remember better when writing things down, too! While setting reminders on my phone and note-taking apps are great, I’ve lost a few to-do lists and important notes that way. After learning things the hard way, I’ve found several tools like this Knock Knock Goals Notepad that helps me keep things organized and outlined for the day and week ahead. Plus, by using paper, I’m less tempted to pick up my phone and get lost down the rabbit hole of my favorite social media apps, videos, and messages.
Utilize a planner
Need something more than a simple to do list? I know I do! Having a business means that I have to record a lot of important information, keep track of various dates, and be able to look ahead on the fly. That’s why I’m so grateful to have found a flexible paper planner that allows me to fill in the dates as I need it. Instead of wasting energy on a planner that’s dated and only lasts a year, I can utilize the Panda Planner when I need it most, and skip the dates when I’m less busy or don’t have much to keep track of.
Plus, just like writing down my to-do list and goals, I’m able to remember better when I record something in my planner, and it’s convenient to carry around! You can leave your laptop at home, never worry about your battery dying, and save yourself from back and shoulder pain. And if you’re in school, I highly recommend this as a way to keep track of homework. I don’t know how I would have survived college without my paper planner!
Find what brings you inspiration
I, like the rest of the creative world I’m sure, goes through periods of highs and lows. Sometimes I feel very creative, and sometimes I feel entirely spent. It’s important, in those low periods, to be open to changing things up and look for inspiration in everything. For me, that means reaching out to other creatives, exercising, getting outside, and taking time for self-care. I find when I combine these things, my happiness meter fills up, and in turn, I feel more creative and energized!
For me, getting lost in a book or listening to a podcast from one of my favorite industry people is a great way to refocus, get inspired, and feel reinvigorated. In fact, I just started reading Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, which offers valuable insights for any professional on how to maximize your time. I’ve joined the Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds® #15PagesADay campaign to read 15 pages a day, and already I’ve noticed a huge boost to my productivity both in the office and at home!
Always be open to learn
Speaking of reading, are you opening yourself up to learn? While it may seem like you’re always strapped for time and running low on energy, I find learning new things to be a challenge for my brain and invigorating to my creative energy!
As Tetsuyama-san is famously quoted, “The day you stop learning is the day you stop living.” Whether you’re watching a YouTube tutorial, taking an online class, or trying out a new DIY project, don’t forget to invest time in your self to learn something new! And hey, you never know what might inspire your next creative genius moment.
Keep things organized
For creatives, organizing can be a bit of a stretch. I know I have a hard time keeping things neat and tidy. But unfortunately, no matter what you do for a living, some things just need to stay organized. In my business, that means a lot of receipts, documents, and tax information that I have to hold onto for much longer than I’d prefer.
For my sanity, I’ve set up a filing system that helps me keep better track of things, as you never know when you might need to find an old receipt or document. For filing, you might as well make it fun and cute, right? That’s why I love colorful, printed file folders, like these from Carson Dellosa. Bonus points for them being reversible!
Don’t be afraid to pencil it in
Sometime after elementary school, everything switched to pens, and I sometimes forget about the power of pencils. Sounds weird, but there’s something great about being able to switch things up quickly and easily with just an eraser.
I’ve gotten back into the habit of using pencils, like these from General Pencil Company, to work on blog post outlines when I’m still in the creative process of figuring things out. They’re also great to use for dates that are in flux, or way far in the future, like vacation plans, itineraries, and other events.
Express your gratitude
How often do we remember to thank the people that help us the most? I know I’m guilty of not reaching out and expressing gratitude. Sure, I can send a thank you email, but in this day and age where so we do rarely make a connection beyond a screen, I’ve made it a personal goal to start sending personal thank you notes. Yes, I’m talking about using actual cards and envelopes, like these adorable ones from Erin Condren, and popping them in the postal mail, stamps and all!
It’s a small gesture, but I know how much I love getting mail and I hope it can bring a smile to others, too! And even better, it’s been proven that writing a thank-you note and expressing gratitude is excellent for your brain! So next time you’re in need of a feel-good mood boost, think back to who might be worth taking some time out of your day to thank and get writing.
I hope these tips for increasing your productivity help get your creative juices flowing, whether you’re a fellow blogger, work in a creative industry, or are just looking for some new ideas. Most of all, don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all guilty of procrastination and “slacking off” from time to time, and sometimes that’s your brain’s way of telling you that you need a little break. Those are okay, too!
How do you stay productive? Do you have any tips and tricks for increasing your productivity and staying on task? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!