If you’ve ever met me in real life, you know that I’m OBSESSED with productivity.
From grocery shopping and cleaning the toilets, to weight loss and running a business, I want to know how to be a productive person in each and every thing I do.
Before putting my career on hold to become a stay-at-home mom, I worked in corporate marketing, and while my specialty was with B2C direct marketing, I really enjoyed the project management part of my job. I loved creating complex project plans, and felt a real sense of accomplishment when I was able to take a campaign with a million different moving parts and figure out how to move it from design to execution as seamlessly as possible.
I liked finding order in chaos.
And I was good at it.
So when I found myself unable to find the time to complete simple tasks like taking a shower and folding a load of laundry during the first few months of my daughter’s life, I felt like I was failing.
Everyone told me to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ and ‘let everything else go’, and as much as I knew their hearts were in the right place and wished I could turn off my Type A personality and take their advice, it’s just not in my nature to do that.
I’m simply not wired that way.
I eventually settled into my role as a mom and figured out how to work more productively with a baby in tow, but as time wore on, I started to feel…bored.
My body was physically exhausted, but my brain was desperately craving the mental stimulation it had grown so accustomed to when I was working 10+ hour days at the office.
And that’s how Meraki Lane was born.
I have poured my heart and soul into my little corner of the internet for over 5 years now, and the one question I get asked the most is: what are your best tips to increase productivity?
The answer is surprisingly simple.
My desire to own my own business while still having the time to be a good mom and wife just sort of taught me how to be a productive person.
I utilize every single minute of my day.
I get stuff done.
And I stay on top of it all with one very simple tool.
It’s called the Productivity Planner, and I would be totally lost without it.
I’ve tried several different planners and agendas over the years with varying levels of success, but the Productivity Planner far exceeds the others.
It’s easy to use.
It keeps me accountable.
It inspires me.
It keeps me in a constant state of achievement.
It fits in my purse.
And it’s a lot less expensive than other planners I’ve tried!
The main concept of the Productivity Planner is to achieve more with less by organizing your tasks into timed intervals that are broken up by short breaks. In doing this, you can improve your attention span by training your brain to be highly focused on ONE task for short bursts of time.
Sounds pretty logical, right?
The idea is to identify 3-5 actionable tasks to focus on each day and then block off 2-3 hours to focus on ONE item for your list before moving onto the next, allowing all of the remaining, unimportant stuff to slide. By honing in on one specific task rather than many ambiguous ones, we avoid falling into something referred to as ‘Analysis Paralysis’, making it easier for us to get things done.
Here’s how the Productivity Planner works
At the start of your week, take 5+ minutes to write down the 5 most important tasks you wish to accomplish, as well as tasks of secondary importance and any other action items that are weighing on your mind. I like to complete this part of my Productivity Planner on Sunday nights after the dinner dishes are done and my daughter is in bed as it helps me organize and compartmentalize all of the thoughts that are competing for my attention so I can formulate an action plan for the week ahead.
Each day starts with an inspirational quote (my favorite so far is by Mark Zuckerberg: ‘Some people dream of success… while others wake up and work hard at it.’) with a space to write down:
- Your most important task of the day
- Your 2 secondary tasks of the day
- Additional tasks to be completed if you have time
Each task has a space for you to write down your target time for completion as well as a space for you to fill in the actual time it took you to finish, allowing you to become more in-tune with how long certain tasks take so you can better schedule your time in the future.
So simple, yet so powerful!
This is my favorite section of the Productivity Planner as it allows me to reflect on everything I’ve accomplished and evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what I can do to make sure I’m more effective and efficient the following week.
I have tried so many different planners over the years, but the Productivity Planner has far exceeded anything else I’ve ever used for 2 main reasons:
- It keeps me focused
- It keeps me accountable
The idea of writing a list of action items at the beginning of each day is not a new concept for me. I’ve been doing it for years. But my lists used to be 10-20 items long, and I spent the bulk of my time tackling the simple, mindless tasks to try and keep my head above water.
I was focusing on all of the wrong things, which significantly impacted not only my productivity, but my ability to reach my goals.
But once I got into the habit of writing down my biggest priorities for the week, breaking them down into actionable daily tasks, and identifying my weekly wins, it forced me to focus only on the things that contribute to my bottom line, and it continues to keep me accountable.
By starting each day with a narrow focus and scheduling time to devote to my most important tasks, I no longer feel like I’m drowning when I wake up in the mornings.
I get more done.
And I get it done a lot faster.
Walt Disney once said, ‘The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.’
So what are you waiting for?
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