May Intentions: Productivity

I can't believe it's May! MAY! This year is flying by fast... I've been somewhat silent on my blog, Instagram, and quite frankly, my newsletter. This is not by choice, but because I've been busy with work and various projects. It's been about ten days since I last posted on Instagram, with very minimal story updates.

may intentions productivity tips

After taking a closer look at last month, I felt like I was all over the place, getting pulled in different directions, and feeling unbalanced. I felt a sense of mental clutter and a whirlwind of chaos. This month, as I was setting my May Intentions, it made me think about productivity and working smarter, not harder. Because, to get more done, be mindful of every day.

I'm all about productivity in this month, and the first part of productivity comes down to identifying productivity killers and eliminating those.

Banishing those distractions is key! Identifying distractions is the first step to avoiding them. Did you know what the five workplace attention destroyers are: Cell phones/texting, Internet, Gossip, Social media, and Email? I can relate to all of these. Being part of a remote team and working remotely on client projects, there is the constant distraction and productivity kills like getting pinged on Slack, Telegram, WhatsApp... I swear, by the time 3 pm rolls around, I feel like I'm going to shoot myself (not literally, figuratively) with all the darn chimes and pings and my Apple watch buzzing. These distractions throughout the day were causing me to be less productive, working longer hours to find that window of productivity.

To avoid this, I've started to scheduling hour blocks of productivity on my calendar for 100% focus. During this time, I place my cell phone and laptop on "do not disturb" which silences my notification. I've also been a big advocate of Brain Dumping. Put non-agenda thoughts into a brain dump list in my notebook. Whether it's a work or my thoughts, people bring up ideas that are important to them but not on topic. Instead of losing them, write them down. Don’t let the brain dump list be a black hole. Assign follow-up steps right at the end of the meeting or as soon as you are done in your productive hour.

Using Asana and Zapier for working smarter not harder and goal setting are a couple of my favorites. I'm all about lists and automation. These are two productivity saving resources that help me practice strategic procrastination. In order to focus on urgent or meaningful activities, let some other things slide. For example, open your mail just once a week; these days, nothing urgent arrives with a postage stamp on it.  It’s okay to toss less-pressing work in a pile for later. Asana lets me keep this organized!

Getting outside more also helps fuel productivity and recharge. An office with a view sounds like a recipe for mind wandering, but access to sunlight boosts productivity. In a study by the California Energy Commission, workers who sat near a window performed better, processing calls 6% to 12% faster and performing 10% to 25% better on tests that involved mental function and memory recall. Even better if you can get outside and get your daily Vitamin D! Since the weather is getting warmer here in the Pacific Northwest, I want to get out and do more hikes. Being out in nature also helps me feel balanced and recharged.

It’s not surprising that getting more done starts with a good night’s sleep, but it turns out getting too many hours is as bad as too few. Analyzing the sleep and work habits of 3,760 people over seven years, researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that under-sleepers and over-sleepers were both more likely to take extra sick days.

I'm excited to see how productive I'll be at the end of the month looking back at today. What are some of your intentions this month? Share with me here - @valeriefidan! 💕

Brain Dump 101

Does your mind bounce between things you have to do, and things you "think" you should be doing? And, let me guess you're a bit overwhelmed with hundreds of new ideas, but no time to implement any them all? Ugh. Meeeee too.

The thing is, our brains aren't wired to hold onto multiple strings of information at one time. It's like your internet browser with 30 different tabs open… (and I am totally guilty of having a lot of tabs open.) You can't concentrate, because you're constantly flitting from tab to tab, never accomplishing anything of true significance.

A way to untangle your mind is through "Brain Dump."  What? A brain dump is exactly what it sounds like—an opportunity to get everything out of your brain and onto paper. The header you need to create, blog pages you need to revise, grocery list, scheduling an appointment... all those random thoughts that create mental clutter. You not only create room in your head but you process and organize exactly what you need to do moving forward.

Brain-dumping is merely creating a list of unconnected thoughts on a page. I tend to do this every single morning. A million miles a minute is exactly how my brain works too, and I'm sure you can relate to this as well. The process is simple. I like to make a list of bullet points, then write an idea/thought or sentence next to each one. If I have more to say regarding a specific bullet, I keep writing. If I have something to add a little later down the page, I will draw an arrow back to the original thought.

I've discovered that this has helped me with staying productive and getting things done -- once you’ve emptied your brain of this extra mind clutter, you make room for new ideas and thoughts to take root.  If you're the type of person that has more thoughts entering your mind in the evening, I suggest brain dumping at night, and revisiting it in the morning. 

Do you practice brain dumping? What other productivity tips work for you? Share with me here - @valeriefidan!