It can be difficult to dedicate a lot of time to things you love when you have a full time job, unless of course you love your job (the dream!). If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you might know that I’m researching a book, a project which I’ve undertaken on the evenings, weekends and pretty much any other spare moment that I have. I want to ensure to dedicate a good chunk of my time to it, alongside any other creative projects and past times, so I’ve structured a routine that helps me stay focused. These are the 6 things I do to increase my productivity:
I wake up early
This is pretty essential if there’s any hope of me getting anything done. Some weeks, I have to work in the evenings, so a lot of my productivity takes place in the morning and early afternoon. Since I work into the night, I try to wake up early enough to be productive, but not so early that I cannot function later in the day. It isn’t easy to find the right balance, but it is a small price to pay in order to achieve my goals.
I use the Productivity Planner to structure my time
This planner, created by Intelligent Change, is ideal if you are a freelancer or working from home. I use it to help me divide time between this blog, researching my book, and anything else that I know I need to achieve that day. The Productivity Planner uses ‘the Pomodoro technique’, in which you divide your tasks into blocks of 25 minutes, known as a ‘Pomodoro’. The idea is to estimate in advance how many Pomodoro it will take you to complete a task, and then try to keep within that time frame. I find that it makes me more efficient, and allows me to look back on my day and feel satisfied with what I’ve achieved.
I create an environment that is quiet and comfortable
I almost always set up my work space at a table or a desk, and put on some classical music. I find that anything with lyrics makes it far too tempting to sing along, which is a pretty unwelcome distraction when you’re trying to concentrate! There are some great classical playlists on Spotify; one of my favourites is ‘Music for Concentration’. I also find that I am most productive when solitary, unless whoever is in the room with me remains exceptionally quiet!
I take a lot of tea breaks
I keep my breaks quite brief, no more than 10 minutes to ensure that I don’t lose focus. It’s also crucial for me that I don’t spend any of this time watching TV or YouTube. I can get easily carried away, and before I know a whole hour will have passed by. However, a quick breather is a great way to keep my mind sharp, plus it gives me the excuse to drink a whole lot of tea.
I take notes as I go
It is usually in the midst of a task that I will be best poised to decide any further steps I need to take towards my overall goal. For instance, when I am researching my book, I find that plot points will begin to form in my mind. I am excited, because my story is starting to take more shape, so I make sure to note down my ideas right there and then, before they get away from me! It’s important that I always have a notebook to hand.
I take a ‘lazy day’ every once in a while
At least once a week I make an effort to unwind by doing something relaxing and leisurely. As much as I wish I could dedicate all of my spare time to creativity, it wouldn’t actually be very productive to do so in the long run. Taking a day to watch some Netflix, go on a walk or two, and catch up on my reading helps me to recharge and prepare to plunge right back in.