It can be really tough keeping up a high level of productivity, especially when you’re starting off a business venture that may not see you earn money straight away. It can be disheartening but I have found the best way to keep motivation up is to just keep on going, surround yourself with motivation in some form or another to help. I’ve had the odd ‘bad day’ here and there. Being a parent means the kids always have to come first and as their primary care giver, it’s up to me to drop what I’m doing if they're in need.
Personally I find one of the biggest suckers from motivation can be having to do the housework or having to put your creativity on hold while you tend to the other 'must dos'. Below are some suggestions that may help you be more productive.
Lists can be overwhelming, so it’s important to start the day with a small list so you can celebrate your achievements when they’re completed.
1. Write smaller lists:
If you’re a parent or the primary house worker you will need to include things you HAVE to do as well as things you WANT to do. Lists can be overwhelming, so it’s important to start the day with a small list so you can celebrate your achievements when they’re completed. Including things like ‘make the kids lunches’ or ‘fold and put away laundry’ as these too are jobs that you need to congratulate yourself on completing to give yourself a boost. Spread out the ‘boring’ house work through the week, and I save one day a week to catch up on things I have missed. If you like following structured routines, check out The Organised Mum Method. They have devised a rota that makes it easy to keep on top of chores by doing small amounts daily, and of course you can customise their advice to your needs.
2. Allocate time:
Within your list, give yourself time slots. It can be all too easy to veer off track if you don’t watch the clock, especially if you’re on an inspirational journey through Pinterest! Don’t forget to allocate time to eat, and step away form your screens. Maybe just 10 minutes is enough time to check your emails, where as 90 minutes is needed to develop preliminary ideas of a project or to walk the dog (remember being productive isn't just about doing paid work.)
When you wake up with something to look forward too and are excited to do, you put your best most enthusiastic work into the project.
3. Get up earlier:
Especially important if you’re creative! One explanation for getting up early being more beneficial as opposed to staying up late and doing it after your day’s work is as follows. When you wake up with something to look forward too and are excited to do, you put your best most enthusiastic work into the project, be it me-time personal development (mindful meditation, yoga, writing in your diary) or you’re building the foundation of your new creative business (drawing, writing blog or zine articles, playing music) thus more likely driving its success. You’ll continue the day feeling energised and positive, which will in turn positively affect other areas of your life those around you.
4. Go to bed earlier:
Following in from getting up earlier, it makes sense, right? Humans have healthier more biologically productive sleep in the hours before midnight. If your day job allows, go to bed early. Like 21:30 early! (That’ll make getting up at 05:30 a lot easier!) Think how nice it’ll be to just go to bed when you’re tired rather than having the pressure of staying up late because you’re ‘a grown up’. You can enjoy a nice refreshing shower and a coffee and plan your new passive income business while you mediate in the quiet peace of the morning; instead of collapsing on the sofa, tired and grumpy having cleaned up after the kids (again) and force yourself to stay up and binge on Netflix because it’s too late for your brain to be focusing on being innovative and creative.
5. Carry a pocket notebook and pen:
It sounds obvious but so many people don’t take advantage of those little fleeting moments of inspiration. The act of writing or sketching in a physical book may help cement the idea in your mind’s eye. Plus you’ll have a cool little book of ideas you can file away for a rainy day’s inspiration. If you're a big stationary fan like me, you could organise a nice shelf of inspiration journals on a shelf in your office so you can keep different visions or collections together.
Reflection is most effective straight after the task to help cement findings in your mind.
6. Reflect and debrief:
This is a great way to do better next time and improve on your methods. Go back to your to-do list and spend a couple of minutes on each looking at what you did, see if you stuck to the time you set yourself and how successful you think you were. Reflection is most effective straight after the task to help cement findings in your mind. The longer you think about something, the stronger the neural pathways in your brain relating to that talk will be and the easier you'll be able to recall it when needed.
7. Look through your shelved ideas:
A great source of inspiration for a rainy day. Half finished concepts or doodles and ideas toyed with for some reason that lost momentum. Perhaps you could put a new spin in it? Do an evaluation of its failures as a project and work out what to improve on. Doing something is better than nothing and if nothing else you can get some closure on old ideas that you've been holding onto because you don't know how to develop them. It can be cathartic to just let them go, free up your mind and move on.
8. Don’t be intimidated by other people's success:
There’s a lot of amazingly ‘successful’ people out there, and there’s plenty that aren’t. It’s easy to become jealous or start pitying or doubting yourself, but that’s the first step towards failure, not productivity. You may not be as good as hand lettering as that person on Pinterest, but maybe someone out there likes your style better! If you really want it, 'niche down' and get good. Practice. Equally, if you're not getting anywhere with something after concerted effort AND you're not enjoying it, stay productive by moving onto something else (even if just temporarily.)
9. Set yourself a challenge:
By deciding to follow a drawing challenge on Instagram or tell yourself you will have a website up and running in 2 days' time, you can hold yourself accountable. Tell someone else too as it will drive you to not look foolish in front of them if you fail. It doesn't have to be a work challenge, it might be a challenge to be more productive when it comes to cooking. See if you can save time by batch cooking.
Good karma and gives both the maker and recipient warm fuzzy feels and you might even make some new friends!
10. Make something for someone else:
If you’re in between projects and struggling to create something, or maybe you want to practice a new technique, ask someone else if they’d like something from you for free or surprise them. Follow a simple brief for something you can work on to complete for them in a couple of days. Maybe you could write a poem, do a drawing or write a review for them. You could even bake a cake for them. I call it a ‘Love Job’. Good karma and gives both the maker and recipient warm fuzzy feels and you might even make some new friends!
11. Allow yourself time to do nothing:
It's important to allow yourself time to relax and refuel your creativity and energy. Take time out for some self care, a day trip somewhere new or a new book. If you have children, spend time doing something special or different from the norm with them. It’s lovely seeing how their minds work and can be really inspirational to see their freedom. Remember that old saying 'You can't pour from an empty cup'? It's an important one. Look after and be kind to yourself.
I get all too well how difficult and stressful life can be. The most important thing with productivity is to be realistic and kind to yourself. Don't set yourself up to fail. You can find success in the smallest of achievements.