6 simple ways to increase your productivity

October 21st, 2013

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1. Turn of Push Notifications

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The best thing I’ve ever done for my productivity was to turn off push notifications on my phone (and my laptop). If you’re an internet/social media junkie like me, being connected can quickly become top priority. However, if your phone tells you every single time someone comments on a facebook thread that you also commented on, pretty soon you’ll spend your whole day on facebook. It can be a pretty vicious cycle. One easy click to facebook or instagram, and next thing you know, 30 minutes has passed by. Do yourself a favor and just check a few times a day. Trust me, you’ll get much more done. To make this change on your phone go into Settings>Notification Center and you’ll be able to customize which apps on your phone can send you push notifications.

2. Make a list and stay on task

(download my daily planner)

When you’re busy (and aren’t we all busy?) there are a million to dos swimming around your head. It’s pretty easy to forget what you need to get done and even easier to be distracted by something that seems more pressing at the moment (like checking facebook, or grabbing a snack). The best way to keep yourself on track is to make a list of all the tasks you need to complete and then prioritize those. When you are finished with one task move quickly onto the next by checking your list instead of trying to recall what you should do next. If you can manage to stay on task and not lose precious minutes/hours in between tasks trying to remember what else needs to be done than your productivity will increase significantly.

3. Have a Weekly Schedule 

(download my blank weekly chore schedule)

If every minute is precious to you, then you don’t have time to waste on duplicating tasks needlessly. Schedule one day a week for Errands – mail, bank, grocery store etc. If anyone in your family asks you to run an errand for them, let them know that you can, but you won’t be able to until your errand day. Same thing with cleaning, filing, scanning, laundry etc. If you can assign certain tasks to certain days and really stick to your schedule, then you’ll be much less likely to waste time running to the post office 3 times a week, dropping off dry cleaning more often than necessary, and going to target daily (even though you’d probably like that one).

4. Plan your meals & grocery lists

(download my meal/menu planner)

People say cooking their own meals takes too long. But really what they mean is that planning and executing meals is a big task that is really easy to ignore and going out to eat is easier. It is easier to eat out, but it’s not really saving you any time. If you can sit down for 15 minutes once a week, plan out all your meals and corresponding groceries (keep it simple), and then go to the grocery store and procure all the items, you will save time (and calories, and money). Quick and simple meals can be made in 15-30 minutes if you have a plan and have all the supplies you need. This is much faster than picking a place to eat, driving there, waiting for someone else to spend 15-30 minutes to cook it, eating it, and then driving home.

5. Treat email like a task and utilize rules/folders

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Just like push notifications, I try to not let my email dictate my life. I do not check email while I’m working on a task or group of tasks. If I checked each of my emails every single time I got one, I’d get no work done. So instead I check them as part of their own task, and then I do my best to respond to each of them as needed – not leaving things to be done later as much as I can help it – and then I move onto my next task.  This way I only spend 15 minutes checking and responding to emails several times a day, instead of spending 5 minutes every 20 minutes. You do the math. I schedule my email task several times during the day, and then only once in the evening.

Another great way to limit your email from sucking away your productivity is to take any sort of “junk” email – promotions from your favorite stores, blog update notifications, news and entertainment site updates etc. and filter those all into a separate folder or folders. Then check those once a day for any can’t-miss items and sales.

Merlin Mann has a great project – Inbox Zero and he talks specifically about “processing” vs. “checking” email – his video is worth listening to/watching if you get tons of emails and want to be more efficient with your email processes.

6. If all else fails, turn off the internet 

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I’m addicted to the internet as much as the next guy, but when deadlines get serious, I just have to turn the internet off and get down and dirty with photoshop and illustrator. Try it sometime, you’ll be amazed at just how many times you mindlessly open up your browser or email in an attempt to procrastinate what you’re supposed to be doing. Now if I could only turn off the kitchen, I’d get even more done!

 

Summer Fun Activity Board

May 28th, 2013

This weekend I attended a fun and totally girly weekend retreat. We wanted to do a fun craft to get our creative juices flowing, and had recently seen Kelly Brown show off her Summer Fun Trackers on Studio 5 including a pin board with goals for summer activities. We took her idea and ran with it  each creating our own board and customizing them with lots of fun embellishments.

This is us all crafting and having a good time getting our hands dirty:

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We used the new MME Rhonna Farrer line – Find your Wings & Fly - and everyone just died over how awesome the papers and especially embellishments were. Love this line – easy to use and so stunning!

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Our cork board was 16×20 and we covered it in fabric (stapling the back), and fit twelve 3.5″x5″ squares on the front. It fit perfectly into an empty 16×20 frame.

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I cut the “Summer Fun” out on my Silhouette Cameo  using their free studio software, and we used the xyron X to turn all the letters into stickers – it’s the best little tool ever!

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Then I totally made the project mine by using all the amazing embellishments – chipboard, brads, washi tape, alpha letters, layered stickers and a few enamel dots.

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Add a little twine, and some push pins and this project only took about an hour.

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Now all I need to do is actually schedule and accomplish all these fun summer goals AND take pictures to document everything.

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And once summer is over, I can pull off all the cards and turn the whole thing into a mini album.  I think it would also be great to tuck in a little journaling card on the back of each card so that every photo/activity has a story as well.

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Isn’t that an awesome way to get your summer activities planned and memories recorded? Plus is an adorable decoration in your house all summer long!

Thanks Kelly for the awesome idea!

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Weekly Chore Chart *Free template Download

May 7th, 2013

Just a quick weekly chore schedule/chart that includes a section for activities/events/rewards etc. below. This is great for kids who are home from the summer and need to get some chores done before playtime and activities in the afternoon.

This chart can be printed out and written on, it is also a fill-able form when opened with Adobe Acrobat. So you can type in the information for each week and print one for each child.

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Click on the image above to download a PDF version of my printable carpool schedule. The downloadable PDF in this article (and across my entire site) is free for personal use only. If you would like to blog about this free download, please accompany any images from my site with a credit and link back to this article. As a courtesy please do not link directly to a downloadable file but rather to this page. At this time, no customizations of this or any of my forms are available. Forms are a free download AS IS. Also since you’ve made it this far, please subscribe to my RSS feed,  facebook page, and instagram so you can find me again! And don’t forget to tell your friends!