A friend of mine remarked that my daily schedule must be very empty for me to accomplish all that I do. “You have a simple life, right? That’s why you have so much time.”
While I do try to simplify my life, that doesn’t mean it’s empty. And my productivity is as much dependent on simplicity as it is on organization and routines.
This week I have shared my schedule so that my friend can understand the differences. Today I will share the common themes that make my productivity possible.
Common Themes to My Productive Life
Underlying everything I do are certain habits and traits. None of these were innate, and most took time to get in place.
I have made a conscious effort over the past few years to simplify my life. This involves clearing my schedule of things that do not bring me fulfillment, getting rid of clutter, and changing the way I do many things (from dressing to cooking to cleaning). It means cutting back to part-time work, and refusing to relinquish the boundaries between work and life.
I am a very organized person. That doesn’t mean that everything is in neatly labeled boxes, or that there are no piles around my house. What it does mean is that everything has a place (even if it is in a big box), and that I can put my hands on anything I need quickly.
Organization doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to work for you. I find that organized for me means I don’t have to dig through piles of stuff to find what I am looking for.
Routines, to me, are things that allow me to get the things I need to get done with a regularity that eliminates excess work. My routines are not rigid, but rather support the things I have to do.
Most of the things I do routinely have been purposely put into my life for a reason. For example, putting clothes out the night before saves me the last-minute rush of finding out that something is not ready to wear.
Taking Advantage of Bits of Time
There are always bits of time here and there. I may choose to decompress, or I may sneak in five minutes of gardening. Or read a book. It’s amazing to me how little bits of time, consistently taken, add up to major progress.
I don’t believe in multi-tasking, but I do believe in what I will call multi-threading. For example, I can be “doing laundry” while working on the blog. What it means is that I start the washing machine and go off and do something until I hear the buzz.
Or I can be doing something with my body while concurrently doing something with my brain. (Brain-brain and body-body are multitasking. A definite no-no.) For example, I can listen to podcasts while I am walking. Or I can practice a vocal piece while doing housework. Or I can crochet an afghan while watching television. (No, crocheting a big piece is not brain work. Pure muscle.)
Making Things Easy and Convenient
One thing I have discovered about myself is that if things aren’t easy and convenient, I won’t do them. So if something isn’t working, I try to find a way to make it easier or more convenient.
A recent example had to do with the disposal of weeds I pull in the yard. I don’t want to put them in the compost pile, but the garbage can that holds the bags had been locked up in the shed. Too much effort to go to the shed, pull out the can, drag it to the weeding site, then put it away. It increased the job time by 100%. So I would wait until days my husband would mow, then pull the weeds and leave them to be run over by the lawn mower.
Needless to say, this irked my husband. Something about weeds in the lawn (Has he LOOKED at the grass lately?!?) So I told him that when the can was in the shed, I wasn’t going to use it. Our solution: the can is in the garage, and I use a re-purposed kitty litter bucket to pull weeds. When the bucket is full, I dump it in the can.
Being productive isn’t about sneaking extra hours in the day, or some miracle method. For me it’s about sticking to regular activities, being organized, and making things easier on myself.
Photo by Bohman