We’ve all had days where it seems nearly impossible to get anything done. You take one look at your to-do list, and all you want to do is head back to bed while the tasks continue to pile up. If you’ve struggled with maintaining consistent, productive days, then it’s time you reevaluate where your time is going.
Sometimes, it’s not the task we fear, but the start.
I’ve had a hard time creating a consistent work schedule that didn’t make me feel overwhelmed. I’d continuously be filling my daily to-do list with far too many things, and while forcing myself to tick everything off, I was sacrificing the time I needed to recharge.
You have to acknowledge when it’s time to switch off for the evening and balance your day with the things that genuinely make you happy. If you’re trying to create a schedule in a creative career, the lack of strict deadlines might make it hard for you to stay on track, and that’s why you have to build a solid plan that works for you.
Here are a few ideas that will help you get started.
Write out what your ideal day looks like
This step genuinely helped me pinpoint the areas of my life that needed changing to have those consistent, productive days. I started out by writing out what I’d like to be doing every hour of the day from the time I start work until it’s time to switch off, taking into account any breaks during the day.
By giving yourself a clear picture of what you want your day to look like, you’ll have a much easier time slowly implementing these habits and tasks into your daily routine so that you’ll eventually create a pattern that works.
Pay attention to the time it takes you to complete tasks
This was a big mistake of mine when I was trying to cram so many tasks into a single hour block. I would convince myself that I’d be able to do double the work in the same amount of time, and that’s only ever going to end up in either failure or feeling incredibly exhausted.
Pay attention to how long a task takes you or how long you want to spend on a larger task so you can slowly make progress. Take this into consideration when you’re making your plan so you’ll have a realistic and balanced day.
Plan ahead and prioritize your workload
Start the night before. Once you’ve got a good idea of all the things you will be able to fit into your day, write out a to-do list for the following day. I generally like to keep time-blocking out of my calendar until the day of so I know how to switch things around apart from any meetings or deadlines.
By starting the day with a solid plan, it will take some of the pressure off of you, and you’ll be able to focus on completing your tasks. Try starting your to-do list with the most important tasks because once you get those out of the way, you’ll find it much easier to get to everything else.
Don’t clutter your to-do list or calendar with busywork
We all have those tasks we need to remember to do, but we don’t want to stick them in our daily to-do list because all it’s going to look like is clutter. To avoid this, I create a small list of three tasks underneath my daily plan to tackle a small number of simple things that I’ll be able to do to keep the week moving along smoothly.
Whether that’d be doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, or cooking, it’s time spent away from your creative work, and planning for this will help you integrate it into your workday without feeling swamped.
Decide on a starting point
This is undoubtedly the most important one I want to leave you with. My biggest hurdle that I’ve only recently overcome was the fear of starting. When the workload looks like it’s going to be too much to handle, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’ll just “do it later,” but it’ll most likely make the situation worse.
Deciding on a place to start the night before or the beginning of your day will help get the ball rolling and keep you from having to worry about everything else for a little while. I usually like to write: “To complete first” next to a high-priority task the night before, so I know where I need to begin. Decide on your starting point, and you’ll be on your way to an incredibly productive day.
I hope these tips help you to plan and achieve your perfect productive day!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post! Let’s stay in touch.
Anisa Nasir is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and family. She’s the writer behind As She Writes.