I am continually told by my peers that I am just soooo productive. To be honest, I don’t always feel that way. I work really, really hard and that’s probably the biggest part. Long hours don’t necessarily equal productive… but I always get it done. I do often find myself working at night, and sometimes I think that I don’t really have much of a life. BUT I am getting better at it, and I do have a few good productivity tips & tricks, which I am sharing today. I apologize in advance if a) these tips make me sound ruthless or bitchy (I assure you that’s not the case – I’m frequently told that I am too nice), or b) this advice is too blogger/freelancer-centric. I hope everyone can get something out of it! So here goes, my tips + tricks for being more productive.
Make Mondays Great Again.
If at all possible, I completely clear my calendar on Mondays. The only “meeting” I have on most Mondays is with my personal trainer. I try to also not make any evening plans on Mondays. That way I can either a) write uninterupted in the evenings, or b) do something I really want to do like catch a movie or go on a date or see a friend spontaneously. As a result, I’ve started to really enjoy my Mondays. I get ahead on work, and then have a night to myself to relax and enjoy. It starts the week out on a positive and productive note.
Cut back on meetings altogether.
I should note that I place a very high value on my time. This may sound a little bit ruthless, but I made a decision that for Q4 (October – December) this year, I am not taking any meetings unless they are with a dear friend or directly tied to a work project or campaign (aka, something that I am being paid for). The meetings problem is very real as a blogger. And as a New York based blogger, I probably get 4-5 requests for meetings… per day. Everyone is based here, which is awesome, but everyone wants to meet, and a lot of these could be phone calls or emails. Woof.
These meetings are typically a) with PR companies who want to talk about/show their brands, b) with younger bloggers who are seeking advice, or c) networking opportunities with people in the industry. If I had unlimited time, I’d love to take all these meetings… but you know what? I don’t. I really struggle with feeling guilty and sad saying no, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t work out and I wouldn’t be able to do the other things that I am attempting to do (date, volunteer, and spend time with my friends and family). I’m also an introvert, and every meeting I take leaves me feeling a bit more depleted. This no meetings rule has felt particularly indulgent, and sort of awesome. Sticking with it after the holidays is probably unrealistic but in the meantime, my weeks have felt a lot more manageable and I’ve just been happier/less rushed in general.
The reality is that most meetings can be phone calls. Or, even, emails. I am very aka (slightly OCD) on top of my inbox. Saying no to meetings kills me but I always let the person know that I am happy to chat/answer questions via email. It may not make friends, but I have my friends… and I want to be able to actually see them… not spend my entire day in meetings and then wind up staying up until 2am writing/getting my actual work done. I did this for the better part of the first six months that I went full-time on my blog, and I was really exhausted by it.
Work in batches.
First, identify the key areas for your job where you spend the most time. These are the big areas where I spend my time:
- Editing Photos.
- Setting up blog posts in WordPress.
- Quickbooks & Accounting.
- Legal stuff – Reading + Signing Contracts.
- Email. (Bloggers get so. much. email.)
- Shooting content (Either with my photographer, or still life content that I shoot on my own).
I make it a point to work in batches and focus only on one task at a time. So I’ll spend an hour responding to emails, and then close out email. Then I’ll put on a podcast and edit all my photos. One day a week is photo shoot day, in that I will meet up with Lydia (my photographer) and shoot three outfit posts… on that day I will also shoot beauty posts, + Instagram flat-lays with my own camera. Once I receive photos back, I spend time setting those up (cropping them for instagram, resizing them for the blog, uploading them and entering alt text, tags + SEO information, and then finding links for the products. You get the drill. And I try to only go into Quickbooks once a week to batch-enter all of my receipts, send invoices, and record payments. Working in batches is really, really helpful – it keeps me focused and saves time – I’m not constantly hopping all over the place.
Take mini breaks.
I like to work sixty minutes on; ten minutes off. So I’ll work for an hour… and then set my kitchen timer for ten minutes. Usually those ten minutes are spent cleaning, or doing tasks like prepping returns or organizational stuff. I’ll actually set my kitchen timer for ten minutes and unload the dishwasher/put away clothes… tidy up my workspace, etc. I find these mini breaks a) keep my space much more tidy, and b) energize me.
Prioritize your calendar.
Every week, I look ahead at what I have to do. The first thing I schedule is my shoot(s) with Lydia. We have a standing day that we shoot (Tuesday afternoon) but I often have other things that we need to shoot in addition. The next are my personal training sessions. I see Alex twice a week. From there, I fill in additional workout classes. And lastly, I fill in necessary “personal upkeep.” I try to schedule a blowout on the morning of my photo shoot day, and so on and so forth. Those are my main priorities/necessary evils and then I fill it in with the other stuff (desk time, events, volunteering, seeing friends, etc).
If the thing requires someone else’s help, do that thing first!
I always make it a point to respond/do the things that I need someone else’s help on first (aka getting image selects back to Lydia, requests for my assistant Kelly, things I need answers to from brands). I know that I can always work late or get up early to do something, but I can’t rely on others to have that same investment in my blog. So I always give other people as much time as possible!
Use an editorial calendar and plan, plan, plan!
This tip applies mostly to the bloggers/social media managers in the room. My editorial calendar is my holy grail. It is always open and I live and die by it. I record all deadlines, social media reminders by channel, and so on and so forth. I would be lost without it. I color code my posts by type (to ensure they are spaced out when possible) and bold sponsored posts so that they are easy to spot (and I don’t try to move them around). Lastly, I record my revenue (loosely) to the right so I have a rough idea of that… it’s just a good practice as I have monthly revenue goals and I can better tell what’s coming in that way. I’ve been asked on Snapchat to share it, so I made a sample editorial calendar which you can feel free to use! I used a similar format when I was at BaubleBar too and it was really, really helpful.
I really hope this is helpful, and I would love for you to share your own productivity hacks in the comments!!
photos are from my Career Contessa feature.