Productivity Tips That Changed My Life
Everyone wants to be more productive. Even the most productive people I know strive to find ways to make their days more efficient and fulfilling. In today’s society, it is easy to let time push you around- between all of your daily obligations- time can get the best of you. I love reading books and blog posts about how I can be more efficient, get more done in a day, and just be more productive overall. Some advice can be really insightful, and some can be completely unrealistic. What I have come to find out is that it is an individualized process and you have to figure out what works best for you! But the tips below have completely changed mine and my family’s lives so I wanted to share. It has made a huge impact on:
1. My physical well-being. This is because it has provided me with a consistent routine for my daily diet and exercise. It has allowed me to stay fit and active without having to put in too much thought. I have been doing these routines for so long now that I am on autopilot, and when I get out of my routine it feels strange and foreign and I can’t wait to get back into it.
2. Our financial well-being. Two years ago, when we started budgeting, we had an “AH-HA” moment. You can read more about how budgeting changed our marriage, but in short, it made us more self-aware of our finances and of each other. We started realizing how much we were spending on eating out (almost $700 per month sometimes!), on gym memberships that we weren’t using, and wasting food that we weren’t preparing. Does any of this sound familiar? All of these things had an impact on your finances and we were determined to find a better way.
3. My mental well-being. If you are reading this, I am sure that you are aware of how stressful mornings before work and evenings after work can be. Essentially, you feel like you are just keeping your head above water Monday through Friday, and then maybe you are catching a break on the weekends. I know this feeling because I felt it every day too. When I finally starting doing some of these tips mentioned below, I found myself having more free time while still getting MORE stuff accomplished. How crazy is that?! Not to mention, I was exponentially less stressed because everything was routine and self-automated.
Here are the 5 things that I found most helpful:
** Please Note: these changes did not happen overnight. Typically, they happened one at a time, but they absolutely built on each other. Once we started changing one habit, it really encouraged us to change others. The first change is always the hardest, because you have to make a deliberate, intentional decision to make a change. Once you have made up your mind and said “I am going to do this to better myself and my family”, the rest is downhill! There will always be obstacles and bumps in the road, but once a habit has formed, your body craves to get back to that state. Ok, Ok, enough of my rambling- Here are the 5 productivity tips that have completely changed mine and my family’s lives:
1. Budgeting. Two years ago, my husband and I made the decision to get out of debt. The biggest transformation happened when we started to budget every month. Budgeting completely changed our marriage and showed us how much money we were actually spending on things throughout the month. This was quite the shock, particularly for my husband. I was the one who always paid the bills, so when we finally started budgeting TOGETHER, this showed BOTH of us how much money we were flushing down the toilet each month. I would say this was the first major change that we made, and it had a dramatic impact on almost every other aspect of our lives. We know, unfortunately, that money flows and intertwines into almost all aspects of our lives. My husband and I knew that we wanted to safeguard our marriage from the get-go, and our finances were the best place to start.
2. Meal Prepping Lunches on Sunday. My husband and I block of an hour or two every Sunday to prepare our lunches and snacks for the week. We both work full-time and found that this was the best way for us to 1) Eat healthy by not randomly eating out when we didn’t have something prepared and 2) Stay on budget and save money…by not randomly eating out when we didn’t have anything prepared. Are you sensing a theme here? Good, we did too! We found that by “batch cooking” our lunches for the whole week it not only helped us eat healthier and save money, but it also saved us time in the mornings. This makes every morning so much smoother when all you have to do is grab your food out of the fridge and go.
3. Laying out my Week in my Planner. I LOVE my Passion Planner! It not only allows me to plan out my work and personal schedule, but provides the flexibility and space for me to make my lists. I am a notorious list-maker and note-taker! My passion planner has been the perfect place for me to keep my schedule and all of my lists and notes in one organized place.
4. Setting out my Gym Clothes and my Work Clothes the Night Before. My preferred time to work out is at 5:30am (I’ve always been a morning person). This just works best for me because my workout is done first thing and I don’t have to muster up the motivation to try to do it at the end of a long work day. In order to be able to put myself on autopilot in the mornings to work out, I have to have everything laid out before hand- this includes my clothes and my 8oz of Gatorade. I also lay out my work clothes for the following day so I can come straight in from my work out, shower, eat breakfast, and have everything ready for work!
5. Meal Prepping our Dinners. In addition to making our lunches ahead of time, we also sit down at the beginning of every month and do our budget and our meal plan. Find out more about how we Meal Plan for the Whole Month! We use this calendar that we keep on our fridge to plan our meals. The prep work is already done so we only have to stick it in the crockpot, oven, or skillet and it’s ready to eat! By having this planned out ahead of time it took away the “burden” of making dinner every night and freed up more time for us after work.
Of course, it is not always feasible to plan ahead and there are always going to be things that come up that don’t allow you to follow “the plan”. Realistically, I follow these routines 95% of the time and it has had a dramatic impact on my physical, mental, and financial health!