You just ate your last Almond Joy from your niece’s Halloween stash, and now your parents are asking about your Thanksgiving plans. Yes, Thanksgiving is a few days away, not to mention Hanukkah and Christmas. While I love this time of year, I find it hard to stay on task while I am planning where to go for New Year’s Eve. Here are some ways to keep you focused during the holidays.
Since you cannot move your classes’ times or outside projects, it is important to know when you work best and plan for it. Personally, due to my hectic schedule of school and multiple jobs, I plan work sessions in the mornings when the world is quiet. Being an early-bird works best for me in that I have the time and energy to focus on my bigger projects. By the time I end up hitting the wall, the rest of the world wakes, and then it’s time for me to break and recharge.Levo League has some great tips on, ways to start your workday right.
Have a organizer, and use it!
The key to owning a planner is using it on a daily basis. Taking 5-10 minutes at the start and end of your work day to create a to-do list helps you to stay organized. Use the list throughout the day to help assign, update and prioritize new tasks.
I love a good old fashion a paper planner, here are some great options I have used:
- Sage Grayson: What’s Your Biggest Time Waster?
- Bluesky: Blue Sky have great planning and organizational products which offers functional and stylish Calendars, Planners, Notes and Journals, Business Accessories, Binders, Filing and Presentation Products.
There is an app for that!
I love my planner, it helps me keep track of my task, but not my time; so if I need to track a project or my social media breaks, I use my phone. For most tasks a simple timer will do, but in order to track my progress on a project or help me manage my time while running errands, something more sophisticated is needed.
Here are some online resources I found and use:
- Lifehack: Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools
- Harvest: Time Tracking, Invoicing and Expense Tracking
- Evernote:Organizer and Workspace
- Google Calendar:Free online calendar, it’s easy to keep track of life’s important events all in one place.
- Trello: Infinitely flexible. Incredibly easy to use. Great mobile apps. It’s free. Trello keeps track of everything, from the big picture to the minute details.
Loss some weight.
No, this does not involve a tread mill, it means tackling the biggest tasks first. Working on your bigger tasks when your mind is fresh will make the rest of the day go by much faster.
Sweat the small stuff.
Once you have tackled some of the bigger projects, knock out some smaller tasks, they are quick and often easy. This will help you to feel even more productive.
This may look as good on your resume as some think, and it not an efficient way to work. While writing this article I searched for a clear definition on how to multitask and I could not find one. So if no one knows how to do this correctly, why do we feel a need to say we do it all the time? It would seem a better candidate would be able to focus and understand a clear hierarchy for making things happen. Employers who hear multi-tasker may think less of applicant’s attention to detail and ability to focus.
Here is what I found about multitasking:
- Freelancers Union: Why multitasking is terrible for your business
- NPR: Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again
Hide from the outside world.
I know if you log out of your email or set your phone to silent, you may miss something! I hate to say it, but if it is that important the person will find you no matter where you are hiding. Batching your email and phone calls into 3-5 short sessions a day will help eliminate unwanted distractions. Once your concentration is broken by the latest comments to your friend’s Facebook post it is hard to get back on task.
My optimal work environment depends on the task at hand. If I am writing or brainstorming I need a quiet environment, but if I am in a creative, go-mode the more music and movement the better. Find what environment you need for the task at hand and set your day up accordingly.
I love Pintrest as much as the next creative person, but be honest, it is a black hole for wasted time. To ensure you do not get lost in the latest free fonts, set a timer no more than 17 minutes every 52 minutes. These play sessions will help you relax and recharge, making your productive time more efficient.
Plan ahead for unexpected stress.
Since your schedule can be crazy, plan for it. Take a few hours on your day off to wash your laundry (be ambitious, iron and put together some outfits so you can just shower and go), prepare some crock-pot meals or buy some easy, healthy prepared meals that can be cooked in the microwave or oven. Creating week long meals that can be frozen and eaten on demand has helped me save money and time, while keeping off unwanted pounds.
Here are some links to help you start today:
- Menu Planner: Meal Plans, Shopping Lists, Pantry, and Recipes all in one app.
- Greatist.com: 77 Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes
Clean your desk, wash your coffee mug and organize your chaos. Starting your day with a clear and direct understanding of your tasks will help set you up for success.
Getting the most out of your day can be as easy as knowing what you want to accomplish in a given timeframe. These are a few ways I have learned to create a work-life balance. What are some ways you have learned? Share with us in the comments!
Author of this post: Mayshanna Pandora Briscoe is a Freelance Graphic Designer, Mixed Media Artist and Aspiring Blogger. She has a B.A. in International Business and A.A.S. in Advertising and Graphic Design with a Certificate in Web Technology. When she is not in her studio she can be found experimenting with a new recipe, posting pictures of her design life or food on Instagram, or making memories with her fan club (aka her friends, family and dogs).