Have you ever gone to bed wondering what you got done all day? You remember being busy - maybe even productive. Yet you're not quite sure what you did, and if any of it was stuff you were supposed to get done today.
This year of simplifying has helped me realize that routines are my steez. Not that routine rules my life - not by any means - but having some of it helps keep me productive when I need to be, for as long as I need to be. In order to make time for self-care, reading, writing, dates with my boyfriend and cuddles with my bulldog, I have to use my time in the office or in front of a laptop wisely.
I've been exploring different ways to be more productive, and studying my own habits a lot more closely. We have to find the systems that work best for us, right?
Something that's really helped me lately is so simple yet so effective. I've been keeping a time journal - nothing fancy, just a blank page in my notebook where I track times alongside what I do. I don't make it too complicated so that I'm not hard on myself when I don't stick exactly to the format.
Sometimes a day of meetings go by and I'm recapping at night.
Sometimes I'm tracking what I do down to the minute.
I note when I'm distracted.
I note when I go to the bathroom.
I jot down as much as I can but don't get overly descriptive. What I've seen so far is so eye-opening!
The simple act of writing down what I do during the day absolutely helps me stay on task and productive more than I do when I'm not. I don't want to see hours of wasted time in my time journal, so my conscience puts in more effort to put in work. It brings me back to my to-do list and strategic dashboards more often each day.
I know when I get tired and am more likely to get distracted. I know Mondays will always be more productive than Thursdays, when I've worked out early every day that week and am just spent.
Time journaling has helped me recognize my most and least productive times of the day, and from that I've been able to carve some routines with flexibility that work for me. Sure, meetings come up and life happens, but I now have an anchor of sorts that pulls me back not just to my to-do list, but to my personal and professional goals.
To simplify our lives and make space for what matters, we have to understand what we're allowing to take up our time and focus!