Picture: A sunset in Carlsbad, CA was taken by me
It’s no secret that I think have a strong productivity system is KEY to maximizing our work flow as well as the general structure of our day to day lives. I’ve talked about productivity, organization, and planning quite a bit on here, but for the month of November, I’ve dedicated the entire month all about productivity and productivity systems.
Today’s post will not only highlight a lot of information about being productive, but it will also be an excellent gateway into my second post this month. Not to give too much away but I will be helping YOU build a system from scratch (and launching something I’m personally very excited about).
While I’m not a trained productivity professional (But I am as close as I can get to that seeing that my degree will be in planning hehe), I have spent years in the space and am asked quite frequently for guidance from my friends and family around me. It’s a part of my “brand” at this point. My interpretation of productivity: it’s not just about working (says the workaholic) it’s about finding a balance between getting sh*t done while still being happy and doing things that fill you with joy. It’s all about maximizing your time to do the things you love. While I pride myself in my system and ability to stay on top of all my things, it is still a struggle to remember that I need to take care of myself. I use the productivity skills I’ve picked up to try and work self care and self love in my daily routine. These systems take effort, but the reward is so worth it.
One of the most important things to take away from this post, if you do take anything from it, is that you can create a system but you have to show up every single day for it. A system is only as strong as the person who implements it. Your system has to meld into your daily life and essentially turn it into a habit. You have to commit to it, and I know it sounds like a lot but in a short period of time it because a natural thing that you just do. When you look at all of the planning/productivity sources out there, it’s probably really overwhelming, but that just means you have to choose something and roll with it. It’s a massive experiment (a really fun experiment if you ask me). I recommend making a list of everything you want to keep track of right now (school, work, events, habits, etc) and then do your research for planners (digital and physical), productivity spaces (notion), and everything under the sun. There are instances when I hear people say “I wish I had your organization” and yet they don’t act on it. I didn’t just create this organizational world from thin air, it was effort and patience and that’s all you need. I know for a fact that if you are willing to put in just a small bit of effort, you can create something that will maximize your time and your life! It’s all about being disciplined and training yourself to adapt.
One of the best things, if not the best, about productivity is that it is adaptable. You know your system is correct when it works for YOU. And like us, our systems can also grow and adapt. For example, when I first got my hands on Notion, my database was a simple way of keeping track of school. Now, it is a complex system that keeps track of school, work, goals, trackers, lists, finances, and so much more. This was partly due to the fact that I got more comfortable with Notion and I started seeing what others could do with it, and partly because I wanted to keep track of more things digitally and I happen to be able to do that right on Notion. It’s also changed due to having to take on more responsibility. In high school, my life was pretty consistent every day: wake up, get ready, school, swim practice, homework, dinner, sleep. Now that I am a college student and living on my own, I have more to keep track of: classes, managing my meal plan, maintaining relationships, keeping a clean living space, feeding myself, etc. I have more to manage, therefore my system also has to manage more.
Productivity and planning is so diverse. There is online and physical ways of being productive that come with planners, notepads, apps, journals, etc. And we all have our own happy medium. For some, their system may be minimal with small bits of aid on paper and/or online. For others, they might use digital and physical planning tools (Me!). And some may be fully, 100% digital or fully, 100% physical. Either way, so long as their system works to maximize their life, that’s all that matters. Like I said before, it’s an experiment. Start with something and if you find it’s not working or you need modifications, play with something else. You will find something that works for you and you’ll be soaring. I can honestly say I have never stopped building on my system. It works perfectly for most parts of my life, but then I tweak it here and there to fit various needs for the various parts of my life. That switch becomes effortless too, you just have to lay the foundation and the rest is history.
Productivity isn’t just planners and stationary, it’s all of the things you have to keep your life and mental health in order and on track. Yes it is planners, but it is also journaling, self-care, and tools that shape a life with ease. Productivity can encompass so much of your life because it can touch every part of your life if you so choose. To me (because I’m a planning psycho), productivity shapes my life. It helps me keep my ducks in order and gives me a lot of control over my days. It also allows you to create your dream life by placing habits, activities, and mindsets that help you become the person you dream to be. It keeps you focused, driven, and at ease all in its MANY forms.
You don’t need a whole lot to build a system (although I will say when you hop over to the dark side there’s no turning back). A good to-do list and calendar can get you VERY far. It’s how I started. A planner with a weekly view and a monthly view worked for me for YEARS until I was introduced to the DayDesigner. A to-do list helps you see your day out and increases your likelihood of actually getting stuff done, and scratching (or ticking) this off is SOOOO satisfying. A calendar helps you see all of the major stuff that has high importance (like exams, presentations, deadlines, sign-ups, etc) and events that take up a chunk of time (like appointments, get togethers, classes, meetings, etc). If you have those two things in some form, you are set to get started, and once you feel like you want to organize a bit more, you can simply build on those.
Your technology (especially phones) plays a huge part in your productivity either through hindering or enhancing it. In order for it to be beneficial, the mindset has to shift from it being a crutch to a tool. I find that this relationship is most prominent on phones, as most of the time we associate laptops with work and productivity, especially if a lot of our productivity lies within our laptops. Like anything else in our life, we have to foster healthy habits with our phones, like keeping it on do not disturb while we work, purging our social medias and apps regularly, limiting screen time, and so much more. I’ve found that deleting Instagram and other distractor apps from my phone is much more beneficial than I realized. I didn’t realize how much time I spent scrolling until it was gone. Now I fill my time with more things that fill my cup. Without having those distractors and using my phone as a tool, I have found that it makes it easier to fall into those deep focus/productive states. Through the Pomodoro method (working for 45 minute periods then taking a break throughout my work day), I enter a deep focus state a lot faster and I spend less time on my breaks scrolling and instead reading or doing something relaxing. Tune in and observe what kind of relationship you have with your phone and see how many changes you feel you should make.
For more about developing more positive phone relationships, check out this post!
The last thing I have to say has more to do with your own personal enjoyment. I’m a big fan of romanticizing life, as it helps with building the life you want to live and shifting yourself into a more positive mindset. You can romanticize your productivity system set up by making it cute and cozy in an aesthetic you like (cue the super cool reddit feed of cool Notion templates). Of course, don’t let that distract from functionality but I’m a firm believer that something can be cute and functional. If your system doesn’t make you feel excited to use it, change up its look and you just might have found your fix.
I hope you have some guidance and more knowledge about productivity, and if you want more, stay tuned for my next post. It’s a big one!
Don’t forget to stay vibin