One of the questions I get asked the most is about productivity. Maybe it’s that I’m now a mom of 2, running a business, creating my art in the kitchen to share, cooking for my family multiple times a week, and squeezing in those daily moments of self-care whenever I can, that makes people assume that there’s some sort of method to the madness that is my life right now.
And, I do have some tricks up my sleeve— none that are magic or perfect, but they’re intentional, creative and do help to save time and compartmentalize. I’ve always been an efficiency freak, and think of my time and energy as very limited resources. I’m always calculating the best and highest yielding ways to spend both, whenever I can.
It’s been a lifelong lesson for me that’s really escalated in the last 3 years since having babies and also still running Simply Real Health.
I’m not perfect at it, and every day I find myself having multiple moments of, “Ok, what’s the best use of my time right NOW?” I have to check myself constantly. And with age, I’ve also become much wiser about my energy being a currency as well, and being aware of the things that pour into and give me life, vs. the ones that drain it, commitment wise. People wise too (lol, but true).
Running a business is a special kind of job, that’s for sure, in that there are not a lot of boundaries, a lot of deeper work and creation that needs to happen, and a lot of focus that’s needed.
So it’s been a journey in all of those things the last 10 years. And I’ve learned A LOT in the process.
And now as a mom, with my work hours much more limited each day, I’ve become even more ruthless about what I’m doing and not doing within those hours. FOCUS on what matters most, has become my mantra.
The hard thing is, it can be easy to check random things off your to-do list: checking your email, responding to people/clients, responding to IG messages and DM’s, kid pick up and drop off, scheduling meetings. But doing the busy work and little things doesn’t always leave enough time for the deep work. Things like coming up with a business game plan for the year, creating content and recipes for the Cooking Club each month, content and live coaching for Simply Real Life, dreaming up, writing and publishing both cookbooks, and writing the Baby Food Files, just as a few examples. All of those things take deep work, not surface stuff.
Like you can easily stay busy in today’s world, but that doesn’t always mean you’ve been productive or made progress to your actual dreams.
Or the actual things that you were put on this earth to do or create or serve with.
6 tricks to be more productive and focused
So today I wanted to share a few things that help keep me in check, and help me focus on the most important tasks and things at hand.
1. Keep your phone in airplane mode until you sit down to your computer to work.
Or until you’re ready to work, in a different sense of the word. I used to keep it in airplane mode all morning until I sat down at my computer, but these days it’s more like until 8am. It prevents the incessant refreshing of your inbox, Slack and Instagram, which are generally NOT urgent. And can be a time suck… and an energy suck too, depending how those things affect you.
Putting your phone in airplane mode keeps your cortisol (stress hormone) low in the morning so you can approach your day in the mindset YOU want to, vs. it being dictated to you by other things. It’s also amazing how much easier it is to jump into your day when you’re not tempted to scroll first thing.
2. Turn your phone on airplane mode at a certain time every night.
Mine is 8-9pm. This gives me time to wind down, lower my cortisol and boosts melatonin so you can turn your brain off enough to sleep. It also sets a boundary between work and home life (so needed in 2022) so you’re not tempted to answer one more email late into the night.
There is rarely anything actually urgent after 8pm, so don’t fool yourself that you need your phone on you. All it does is reduce mindless scrolling and helps you have more mental peace, sleep better and wake up more refreshed.
3. Check your email at certain times of the day that are set.
Mine are around 10:30am and 3pm. Yes, this can depend on your job. But for the most part, sitting in your inbox refreshing it or keeping a tab open is giving your time to other people’s needs vs. doing some of that deeper work we need to do to go for our dreams. Make the space for that stuff!
4. When you’re actively working, use a time cube.
Or the timer on your phone. In this day and age, our brains have literally forgotten how to focus on ONE task at a time. Use a time cube and set for 5, 15, 30 or 45 minutes and work without distraction. This is so much harder than it sounds, and really makes you aware of how often we pop open a new tab, reach for our phones to scroll, reply to a text that can wait, etc.
5. Turn off all notifications on your phone for your apps.
Yup, Instagram and Facebook included! If you need something, you can always go in and find it. But being interrupted constantly though your day by your own device, is a recipe for disaster. Or at least for feeling chaotic and unfocused.
6. Outsource whatever you can, whenever you can as you’re able to.
If it’s something that only YOU can do, that’s where to focus. But sooo many life tasks and business tasks are just not that way. Some examples? Grocery shopping vs delivery or pick-up. House cleaner for a deep clean 1x/month vs. spending every weekend doing it. Cooking quick meals with an InstantPot vs. needing 1 hour (or more) to get dinner on the table every night.
More of my favorite helpful time-saving and life-giving resources:
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- The One Thing by Gary Keller
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- Related blog post: How I Plan & Organize My Day as a Busy Working Mama
- Related blog post: How to Find Your Bigger Purpose (an important first step to making the most of your time!)
- The Best Business Resources Guide: my top books, podcasts, apps and resources to start and grow your dream business, a free guide
Want more of my business favs & helpful tools?
Check out my favorite business tips & resources guide, too: the best books, podcasts, apps & sites to help you be the most efficient with your time!
You are amazing, Sarah! What incredible tips and a great refresher to focus on theory important things in life!❤
Mycare Ghana says
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