The past few months have required me to really step up my own systems of productivity, efficiency, and self-care to feel effective, balanced, and inspired.
I’ve been on the hunt for tools and resources to help me feel energized and productive.
Below are the most life-changing ideas that I’ve implemented into my routine.
1. Morning Pages
Morning Pages originates from Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.
In her own words, Morning Pages are:
“...three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
Essentially, this brain dump first thing in the morning allows me remove the mental clutter that could lead to an anxious day. This also provides me with a chance to remove the mental to-do list that I allow to live in my head and overwhelm me throughout the day.
The most important part of Morning Pages for me comes after the To-Do list dump - Writing out goals, affirmations, wins, and gratitude.
(Too often, the only things we think about are “to-dos” and “shoulds.” Try writing down what you're already crushing and give yourself credit before moving ahead with the day, and see what changes!)
2. Calendar Blocking > To-Do List
I have a confession - I’ve relied too heavily on Post-It notes to hold onto important dates, to-do list items, and scheduling changes...and sometimes, I lose them...which adds stress.
I finally made the switch to a Google Calendar a couple months ago so I could have a fully up-to-date schedule in my hand and on my laptop at all times, and I am so happy I did.
Amy Landino’s YouTube channel is full of inspiring content about productivity, and her video called “Get More Done With Calendar Blocking” confirmed that I absolutely needed to start using a Google Calendar - not just for my schedule, but for my to-do list.
She says that your to-do list means nothing if it doesn’t have a scheduled time and place in your day to make it happen, and Google Calendar makes it easy to block out time for everything you need and want to do.
Being a visual person, (and one that is THRILLED to color-code anything and everything), this has been life-changing.
3. Remove Physical Clutter
In my search for productivity inspiration, I found myself watching “Decluttering Videos” on YouTube. (Watching YouTube is sometimes the opposite of being productive, but not this time!)
Watching other people go through rooms in their homes, getting rid of things they don’t need anymore, and having their spaces professionally organized motivated me to immediately get up and purge my own closet. (I ended up donating 7 trash bags worth of clothes and shoes.)
Then, I purged the Flute Room and completed cleared out my closet and shelves. (I removed at least two trash bags worth of old paperwork and things that I haven’t touched or unpacked since moving out of Florida!)
Removing the physical clutter renewed my energy and made me feel 20 pounds lighter. Less physical clutter means less mental clutter which means more energy and clarity for better things!
From there, it led me to understand how important it is to have the right systems in place for staying organized. Only have what you need and love, and have a system that makes it simple to stay organized - everything needs a home, otherwise it becomes clutter! (Especially paper!)
4. The 5-Second Rule
I saved the best for last.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that when we’re in a struggle to achieve the things we want, we can sabotage ourselves by overthinking and waiting for motivation.
According to Mel Robbins, if we have an impulse to do something, we have exactly 5 seconds to marry the impulse with an action before our brain talks us out of it and we betray the impulse.
“The 5 Second Rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.
The moment you feel an instinct or a desire to act on a goal or a commitment, use the Rule.
When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.”
The act of counting down backwards from 5 shakes up the thought-betrayal process and changes your brain to help you take action rather than second-guess!
The 5-Second Rule has made it possible to change my habits and overcome motivation and dread issues, and the more I take action in the moment, the less mental clutter I have weighing me down.
Impulses that I Did NOT Betray Because of the 5-Second Rule:
Answering emails before they pile up
Doing the dishes
Taking the trash out
Anything related to cleaning and being tidy
Getting out of bed without snoozing
Writing this post
Even issuing compliments to strangers!
Do it now, do it anyway, don’t wait to feel like it. 5-4-3-2-1-GO!
Mel Robbins’s Famous TEDxTalk explaining self-sabotage and the 5-Second Rule:
How do you stay organized?
What tools or ideas have changed your perspective on productivity?