My Two Favorite Productivity Tips

I have long loathed two topics of conversation. The first is the weather. Barring any major disasters, there just doesn’t seem to be too much to say on this topic. “Oh, can you believe it’s so warm this late in October?” “No, it’s so crazy.” Where is one supposed to go from there? The second is surrounding busy-ness. “How’ve you been?” “Oh, it’s been so busy around here lately.”

Friends, may I?

We are all busy. Every one of us, no matter our life circumstance, has a lot going on. Our own busy-ness simply can’t be a go-to conversation topic, lest we fall into the trap of comparing our lives and mistaking busy-ness for importance.

And with all that out of the way, let me just tell you that the last two weeks of my life have been busy. Eek! I said it. I know. But it’s true, and I won’t go into what has consumed my calendar because I bring up my own busy-ness for a different reason.

I am a time-management and productivity junkie. I love being awake and out in the sun, and if there is a productivity life hack that is going to let me squeeze more goodness out of a day, I’m going to try it. Especially because my get-up-and-go attitude comes with a giant side of FOMO, which typically leaves me saying yes to one or two more commitments than I can realistically take on. That’s not a complaint; it’s how I’ve always been. I’ve got to work with it. Today I’m sharing two of my favorite tips for productivity and time management.

If it takes more than 20 minutes, it’s not a to-do, it’s a project.

Holy moly, people. As a lifelong list maker, this one is a game changer. And perhaps the answer to why a lot of my to-do’s remained undone at the ends of my days. Twenty minutes is a reasonable amount of time for me to dedicate to almost anything on a given day. Your number of minutes might be different. But figure out what seems like a good amount of time to cross something off your list, and call anything that takes less time a to-do. If it will take longer than that time, it’s a project, and you’ve gotta break that task down.

I needed to order dinner for a group of 25 for an upcoming evening, and I knew exactly where it would come from and the specific foods I wanted. I put the call in and it was done in 20 minutes. To-do. And I know that my on-going kitchen/pantry/dining room/living room reorganizing is a project. It’s a huge task, and would never make an appearance on a daily to-do list. But. There are some in-between-sized tasks lingering on my list. They were masqueraded as to-do’s but were actually projects once I snapped awake and listened to Whitney. So when I write “swap out son’s closet” on my to-do list, I’m setting myself up to fail. I don’t have the uninterrupted time it takes to get that done in one go. I need to break it down: sort t-Shirts, sort pants, get out long-sleeved outfits, store summer outfits, size up in PJs, etc. Those I can do here and there, and with enough smaller chunks of time, the project will be done in manageable increments.

Schedule 30 minutes into each day to work on a project you’ve been avoiding.

Which for me, right now, is the ongoing struggle to get things that don’t belong in certain rooms out of said rooms. It’s daunting. It involves a million more trips up and down stairs than I care to take. It’s completely overwhelming. This little sparkly piece of advice kicked my butt into gear, and also made me think of Elise: Just start. Also, Mary Poppins: “Well begun is half done.”

Now, each day, I set my phone timer for 30 minutes and walk around the house, moving crap from one room to another. That’s so much less daunting than thinking, I really should work on that giant project I don’t want to spend hours working on. About half the time, that 30 minutes ends and I am over it. I move on with my life and find something way more exciting to do. And the other half of the time, I keep going, not too much longer, but long enough to make a bit more headway. After only seven days of chipping away, I’m so much farther along than I imagined I’d be at this point.

Got any other productivity tips on making projects happen? You could give me my next life-changer!

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