8 tips for productivity
We’re back with another Top 8 list to celebrate Get Ahead VA’s 8th birthday, and this time we’re talking productivity! If you’ve ever wondered how you can get more done in the day without feeling overwhelmed, here are 8 useful tips from Senior Virtual Assistant Melanie McDowell.
- Schedule your days
Forget about writing to-do lists – they’re always too long and you never get to the bottom of them. Instead, I prefer to schedule every day, or even better, write out my next day’s schedule the night before I go to bed. Attaching a specific time to each task helps you keep on track and avoid distraction. Don’t forget to schedule in down-time, and time for travel between locations. When you first start scheduling, you might find that you put far too much into one day, so scale it back to what you can realistically achieve. I used to beat myself up for not ticking lots of things off my list, but it’s tremendously rewarding to see what you can actually get through in a day.
I listen to a LOT of audiobooks and I learn so much from them. I listen when I’m driving, when I’m cooking … even when I’m applying my make-up in the morning! Any time when I’m alone and I would otherwise be in silence, I listen to an audiobook (unless I’ve scheduled in silent meditation time). There are some fantastic books out there on productivity, creativity and philosophy, as well as biographies of high achievers and the usual novels that we never seem to have time to read. Podcasts are great for a quick fix if you don’t want to invest time and energy into a long book.
- Write down your goals
I have a sticky note on my desktop that reads, ‘Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.’ Periodically throughout the day I ask myself, “How is what I’m doing right now moving me closer to my goals?” Years ago, I had a director whose sole focus was increasing shareholder value. He used to stomp through the office shouting, “How is what you’re doing right now increasing shareholder value?!” He was rather extreme, but I do like the thinking behind it. Keeps you focused.
- Get enough sleep
One of the many books I have read this year was called Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams. It is utterly terrifying. The impact of sleep deprivation (even just one or two hours less than you need a night) on your health, concentration, decision-making, productivity … is staggering. It’s so important to understand how much sleep you need, and to make sure you get it!
I have a fantastic journal called Best Self Journal, where I write my daily schedules, my daily gratitude, and my goals and tasks. I have mine in a lovely leather cover to remind me how valuable it is, and it has been an enormous help in keeping me focused and reminding me what I’m working for, where I need to improve, and all the amazing things I have to be grateful for. Whatever sort of journal you use, scheduling your day, writing down your goals, reviewing your day’s tasks (what went well, what needs improving) and listing your daily gratitude is incredibly valuable. I highly recommend it.
- Focus on the things you can control and let go of the rest
I have been studying Stoic philosophy for years, and this is a saying that I have stuck on my fridge. Getting worked up about things you have no control over is utterly pointless. You can, however, control how you respond to things.
- Learn to say no
I’m still working on this one, but knowing when to say no can help you to manage your time better, so you can spend it on the things that really matter to you or that will help you towards your goals. I have spent far too much time giving people free crochet lessons because they’ve asked for them – there goes all my free time!
- Make time for your own health and well-being
As clichéd as it might sound, I believe that setting aside time each day to focus on your mental and physical well-being really does have an impact on your ability to perform your best in all aspects of life. To quote from Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning: “Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development.” My own routine goes something like this: “Move your body, put something good in your belly, quieten your mind.” I prefer to do this in the morning, and it usually consists of either a quick walk in the woods near my home or a yoga workout if the weather isn’t great, followed by a 10-minute meditation and my green tea ritual – all in perfect peace before anyone else is awake. Don’t think you have time? See point 1: schedule it!
If you need business assistance from Melanie, or from any of our virtual assistants, please get in touch on 01483 332220 or email@example.com. Our highly experienced VAs love to take on the tasks you don’t have the time or the skills for, or simply don’t want to do. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.