7 Ways to Boost Summer Productivity

 

Summer has many positive “distractions” like vacations, kids in and out of camp, and one national holiday every month. It may not seem like this is the most productive time of the year. There are ways to maximize your summer productivity by taking advantage of these opportunities.

 

Prioritize projects and tasks

Natural breaks in the summer give you natural time blocks for deadlines. Use the breaks as the beginning and end of projects. Know what must be completed before a vacation and use your project management tools for calendaring these dates.

 

Tackle administrative tasks

Make a list of all the administrative tasks that you have not been able to check off this year. With a short window of time to execute, time block tasks that can be finished within a week’s time.

 

Learn new skills

Use the opportunity for quick deadlines to learn a new skill and complete professional development requirements. Listen and learn by video, audio, or webinar. Always wanted to knit or learn a new sport? Vary your learning with both professional and recreational study.

 

Plan ahead

Plan and schedule for the upcoming quarters. When you are back from one break, use that creative energy to think big about life and work. Assess goals, deadlines, and responsibilities. Review your strategies, plan your next steps, and add in accountability. Take this opportunity to reflect on what you might change with the changing current times.

 

Prioritize self-care

Take advantage of the summer extended daylight for exercise and meditation. Wake up to daylight and use this time for journaling or a walk. Exercise has many benefits for wellness. Try a new sport you want to try like pickleball. Choose relaxing self-care with a nap, reading, listening to music, or sitting by the water.

 

Clear clutter

Set up for success with a digital or physical decluttering session. Knowing that you have a time frame before the next holiday, use a daily time block to organize paper and digital files, and then create a system to efficiently manage these. Clearing clutter reduces frustration and overwhelm and creates clarity for your work.

 

Connect

Connections are our most important resource for support and well-being. Reach out to friends, family, colleagues, and clients to engage before or after work. Use holidays as connection points to meet up. Connect with a simple text of “I am thinking of you and hope you are having a great summer.” No matter how small, an act of kindness makes a big difference for others. Use this summer to connect through kindness with small thoughtful gestures for others.

 

Productivity is when you use your time best for the projects you have. Use this Summer to relax and recharge as well as move projects forward. Enjoy your breaks as natural ways to boost your energy and productivity.

Six Travel Tips to Keep You Super Organized

six travel tips to keep you super organized

 

This Summer everyone is traveling! Travel is our passion and we love getting away to the beach, taking an educational trip to a new city, and spending time as a family on vacation. Here are some of my favorite organizing strategies that will help you be super organized while on vacation.

 

Add apps for travel

Flights changes and weather interruptions are part of travel that can’t be helped. Start by updating and uploading all travel apps related to your trip. The best apps include AccuWeather, Flight Aware, and your Airline app. Add your hotel and restaurant apps for paperless access to your reservations. Consolidate all your travel apps in a folder on your smartphone or use the App in the Air Widget.

 

Use a packing list

Life is busy and travel is complicated. Give yourself extra days to pack and be more organized. A packing list saves you every time. You can customize your list on the Notes app with a check box to include your specific needs. Pull out your travel bag 3 days in advance and start dropping in what you need to fill your bag according to your list. Be sure you pack a little extra layer for warmth and extra shoes for comfort.

 

Stay as connected as you like

Choose to disconnect completely for a real break. If you choose to stay connected, be prepared to keep everything charged by packing a complete set of chargers for your smartwatch and your smart devices. Duplicate your chargers and keep these packed in a tech organizer. My favorite travel tech organizer keeps each cord secure.

 

Categorize to stay organized during travel

  • Frequent travel requires a complete personalized toiletries bag. A clear bag with toiletries helps you know you have what you need. Include a complete set of what you use stored in this bag. No overthinking what to pack and no need to remember your daily items with a designated toiletry bag.
  • Use packing cubes for categorizing what you pack. Different sizes of cubes organize and consolidate clothing. You can group items by day of the week or type of clothing. Packing cubes keep your suitcase organized while at your location.

 

Choose safe spots for important travel documents

Create peace of mind by keeping important documents safe while traveling. Use travel wallets and waist belts for your money, credit cards, global entry card, and passport. Be sure to use the safe in your hotel for jewelry and devices. You will want to make multiple copies of these important documents, as well as important documents in your wallet, to keep at home while you are gone, in your handheld travel bag, and held by a trusted person at home.

 

Pack your patience and be prepared

Pack your patience and plan for random moments of fun during your travel. Download to your Kindle, create a music playlist, and choose games to make travel time less frustrating. Our family loves Heads Up and we always pack a deck of cards.

 

Enjoy your time away this summer. It’s all about the memories you are making and the experiences you are sharing.

Summer Digital Photo Organizing

summer digital photo organizing

 

Summer is a great time to organize photos. It is fun to do as you relive the moments of the year.  We know the value of our work because our photos are our priceless possessions. However, it might feel overwhelming to organize photos because we all have zillions of photos on various devices. Not to worry! With a series of manageable baby steps, chunking the work into smaller units, we can organize our photos and enjoy these even more.

Tidy up as you go.

Deleting photos as you take them makes it easier to get organized. We often take multiple of the same shot and choose the best. Go back right away and delete what you did not use. You can also delete photos instead of scrolling through social media. You can make this manageable by deleting while you wait in line.

Categorize with digital albums.

Create digital albums for special events, holidays, vacations, and other times you want to keep a group of photos together. Create a shared album if you want to share a category of photos with others. Google Photos and Apple’s Photo app automatically categorize photos to search by person, location, or keyword. A digital photo album can be uploaded to printing sites to create a photo book. These can also be uploaded already grouped together as a backup for your photos.

 

Use consistent naming and categories

Organized photos use easy naming conventions for searching. Name folders with broader topics for groups of categories. An index will help you remember the names of your categories and the name convention. Information to use in a naming convention includes the year, names of people, the event, or the holiday.

 

Back up your photos in three locations

According to professional photo organizers, everyone should back up their photos in three places. Online automated backups include iCloud or google photos. External hard drives and backups on your computer hard drive are all possible backups. There are many paid online storage photo options. Be cautious about changes to these options for duration and pricing.

 

Share joy with your photos

There are many ways to share your photos once you have organized these.  Use widgets on your devices to keep photos on your home screen. Photo books are a special way to celebrate friends and family. Occasions like family reunions, weddings and annual albums are wonderful ways to remember all the special occasions all year long. Family text threads are an opportunity to share special moments at the moment. Organizing your photos gives you the opportunity and ease of sharing.

 

Summer Digital Decluttering Checklist

summer digital decluttering

 

Summer is a great time to do your digital decluttering. Digital decluttering is editing your digital space including your computer, phone, and devices. All this extra information builds up invisibly yet continuously. Take back some of your head space and computer space with these tips.

 

Your decluttering plan

Just like decluttering physically, know what you want to accomplish for your digital decluttering. Your goals might be to streamline your devices, eliminate extra cognitive load with too many apps and social media accounts, or know more about where your materials are located. Align your intention with time blocks to help you edit. It is easiest to start with a small amount of time and a  small project. While waiting in line, delete. If you are on hold for a call, edit. You will find small chunks of time work best for these decisions.

 

Digital decluttering spots

For work:

There is never downtime for work. Set up a time this summer when you can focus on organizing your documents.

  • Drafts of documents
  • Empty digital folders
  • Your computer desktop
  • Downloads from previous projects

 

On your devices:

Your digital clutter builds up without good organization. Check these items to be sure you keep what you want and you organize it.

  • Duplicate photos
  • Downloads
  • Delete and then categorize apps
  • Review paid subscriptions
  • Social media accounts
  • Review notifications

 

With email and your computer:

Be brutal with your email.

  • Sort your inbox and establish rules to move information into folders automatically
  • Delete and unsubscribe to email newsletters or advertisements
  • Review passwords
  • Delete files and organize your google drive

No matter how much you declutter, remember that the safety of your computer and devices depends on backing up. Set up an automatic backup system, being sure these run at least nightly, to keep your information current and safe.

 

 

Summer Decluttering Checklist

Summer Decluttering checklist

 

Summer is the time to let go of all that extra clutter that has built up during the school year. The kids are available to be extra helping hands while you bag up and donate items that you no longer need or use in your home. Declutter these items to be ready for summer fun!

 

Your decluttering plan

Start your Summer decluttering by setting goals and deadlines for your work. Establish which areas you will work on, when you will work, and when you want to be finished with decluttering. Having specific assignments with dates helps you stay on track and keep you accountable for editing and letting go. Start small with small spaces to declutter and small amounts of time like 30 minutes. You will keep moving forward without being overwhelmed. A simple system for sorting is to use clear garbage bags to move stuff to your car. Having a drop-off routine keeps your decluttering moving forward.

 

What to declutter

If the item is “good”, it can be donated. Items can be swapped online through neighborhood online groups. Define how many you want of certain items. Find a “home” to store the items for easy access and keep that category together in one spot.

Kids:

  • Swim toys, suits, and goggles
  • Kids outgrown clothes
  • Books for younger kids
  • Outgrown toys

Home:

  • Food from the pantry
  • Old magazines and school books
  • Patio, lawn, and garden equipment
  • Plants
  • Nightstands
  • Technology and extra cords

Personal:

  • Personal care and makeup, including sunscreen and bug spray
  • Hair accessories
  • Sunglasses
  • Summer hats and baseball caps
  • Swimwear and cover-ups
  • Travel gear and travel toiletries

 

Decluttering the hard stuff

Paper is the hardest stuff to declutter. Do your paper work when you are high energy!

  • Backpacks and school work that come home at the end of the school year.
    • Review your kids’ schoolwork and art projects together.
    • Together keep the best work and create a photo art book or add this to an archival bin for the year.
  • Mail and incoming papers
    • Recycle or shred advertisements
    • Set aside payments and action items

 

Getting started is the hardest part of decluttering. Put on an energizing playlist, grab bags for donation and get going.

 

To help you avoid the pitfalls of organizing, check out my ideas and those of my colleagues here.

 

ADHD Productivity Strategies For Getting Stuff Done

 

Ask people with ADHD how to get stuff done and you will be excited to learn that there are many ways to be productive. These can be less traditional, more customized solutions to getting started and implementing project management. Here are a few possibilities that work for my clients.

 

Strategies for getting started

  • Incorporate your time for getting started into your work time block. Set a timer for 15 minutes to get started. In 15 minutes you can find the materials you need and transition to the tasks required. It is best to allocate longer time blocks for work to be able to incorporate getting started and move into deep thinking.
  • Body doubling is partnering with another person who is doing work in the same space but not necessarily on the same topic. You discuss what you want to accomplish, set a timer and get started working. You can find a body double in your office or on FocusMate.
  • Set a meeting with your team to begin a task or project. Before the end of the meeting, start the first step. Beginning during the meeting is a lot like starting homework during class time in school.
  • Match your energy to your project. Choose the right time to do the highest priority work. Use your time best with this strategy.
  • Create a buffer time. Lower your stress with extra time. Allocate transition time in your schedule to transition. Schedule three times the amount of time blocks to complete a project. A buffer day is helpful for wrapping up loose ends.

 

Strategies for a task list

  • Use a new surface for writing reminders, like a bathroom mirror or dry-erase board.  This unique list keeps your list actionable and easy to see.
  • No matter whether it is digital or paper, breaking your tasks into micro-steps makes it easier to get stuff done. That is when you take any task or project and write it out step by step. If it is a task or project that is repeated regularly, make a template to follow each time.
  • Work in intervals to maximize your productivity on a task. Think of the Pomodoro Method with intervals of work and reset. You work for a duration you set (typical 45 minutes) and then reset (typically for 15 minutes). If you exercise, you are already skilled at this method from interval work like HIIT or running.
  • Externalize your getting started with apps. Automation helps you start a task with knowing what is next. Give yourself a heads up by assigning a date and time block for that task. This removes make a decision.  A project management app also integrates the materials you need with built-in organization.

 

Struggling? Try one of these strategies. Once you implement, track your progress and see how your productivity increases.

Make the Most of Every Day for those with ADHD

 

make the most of your day adhd

 

Organizing and productivity tips are everywhere online, on our devices, and in articles.  Having a productive, meaningful and balanced day can be difficult to accomplish. Choosing strategies and executing actions can be frustrating because of interruptions. Here are ways you can break through to feel accomplished at the end of the day.

 

Move from overwhelmed to in charge

  • It is easy to over plan and be overly optimistic about what can be accomplished in a day. Overplanning by packing every time block can be a cycle with no rewards. Start your planning with time blocks and allow for overflow options and time for last-minute changes. Overflow options include an end-of-day wrap-up section or designating Friday as a catch-up day.
  • Plan self-care every day. That time gives you the energy to be your most productive the rest of the day. That might be setting a boundary on starting and ending your day. A lunchtime walk or lunch with a friend can energize you.
  • Align your plan with your colleagues and boss through collaboration. When priorities are not aligned, or when others plan poorly, you have more interruptions to your day. A weekly project meeting and collaboration tools help you stay in charge of your day.
  • Know that your task list relates to the big picture and the meaning of your work. Reframing and destressing your task list, connecting to the reason behind each step, helps you feel like a contributor instead of a worker bee.

 

Use your calendar as your road map

  • Set up time blocks that work best for you. A time block can be 90 minutes or longer depending on how long you allocate and how you work best.
  • Keep your calendar where you can see it to be your guide daily. Set up a hybrid system with your calendar and your devices if an auditory reminder will keep you on track. Check your calendar routinely throughout the day to know what is next and what is planned for tomorrow.
  • Use transition time wisely. You may decide that you want fewer transitions in your day and assign themes to the day. That is when you assign specific related tasks to a specific day.
  • Meetings can be a valuable time to collaborate with productive strategies. Include time blocks to prepare, capture and complete tasks from meetings. Transition between meetings with a prep time to be prepared to contribute. Takes notes and add information to your collaboration tools during your meeting. End the meeting with a wrap-up of actions and assignments.

 

Minimize distractions that take time away from being productive

  • Be aware of your devices and the impact they have. Use airplane mode for your devices during time blocks. A five-minute scroll can turn into extended time away from work.
  • Be intentional about your use of social media. Determine when and how you will be online during the day.
  • Internet blockers help you stay on track. RescueTime assesses how much time you are being productive and on task.
  • For internal distractions, think about online body double help. For a virtual focused time, join Focusmate for virtual coworking.
  • Keep a specific task list, prioritized in the morning or night before, on your desk to remind you of your priorities for the day.

 

Get more done in less time

  • We all have a chronotype, where we are at our peak productivity time. Get more done by matching your best work time to the task requirements.
  • Batching your work helps you ramp up your productivity. Group similar activities together, such as bill paying, phone calls, email responses, or errands, to be more efficient.
  • Single task to get more done. Focus on one thing at a time to completion.
  • Use checklists to know all the steps in a process. This removes decision-making, giving you more time and taking less energy to complete a task or project.
  • Add routines to your week. Routines can be for both home and work, giving you the time pre-set and automated to get stuff done. Routines keep us happy and healthy.

 

Use lists wisely

  • Post-it notes, notebooks, and other writing devices are great to capture thoughts. Take this to the next step by consolidating your list on paper or in an easy-to-use app. The magic of a brain dump is that it clears your mind. The magic of consolidating is that you have a spot for all the tasks in one place.
  • Process and prioritize your list each day. You can be very optimistic about what you can accomplish. Specify the three Most Important Tasks (MITs) each day. Add three bonus MITs just in case you can accomplish more. Focus on these to feel accomplished at the end of the day. Make your MITs visual with a list on your desk.
  • Hold your own Weekly Planning meeting each with your list and your planner. Slot in tasks into time blocks that work with your energy and the task requirements.

 

There are many steps to have a productive day. Take away one of these strategies and work toward integration into your day.

The Power of the Pause to Support Your Goals

 

I often write about the power of a pause. A pause is an intentional stop between any time frame. It can be helpful when an emotionally reactive situation is about to occur or when you feel overwhelmed. Here are other situations where a pause can help you find clarity and help you set your goals.

 

Pause between seasons

Seasons are a natural transition for us each year. As the environment changes temperature, external elements unfold to move us forward. Those seasonal transitions are also a good time to evaluate your goals. This is instead of an annual assessment, think about a 90-day pause and assessment. Questions you can ask yourself as you pause are:

  • What worked?
  • What happened to make this work?
  • What’s next?

These reflections give you an opportunity to course-correct or amplify your efforts.

Pause when there are life transitions

Life transitions, such as moving, job changes, or family losses can be happy or sad. We may want to barrel through and get to the other side of that transition. A pause can help all types of support. It can be with emotional support therapy or coaching. Addressing your emotions and finding additional support can offer clarity and move you forward. You can add to your team knowing the support you need. A bigger team might include a cleaning person at home,

Initiate a strategic pause

An intentional strategic pause helps you at home and at work. Strategic meetings offer clarity in all forms. A family board meeting or annual summit with time together, away from home, talking about family values, connects families with communication and cohesiveness. Your business hosts an annual strategic planning meeting to interpret data from last year and know the next steps.

 

Pause for self-care

More people are speaking about their needs for a pause. If you have been moving at warp speed or feeling out of sorts because of the speed of life, here is permission for you to speak what you need when you need it. “Slowing down before jumping to action can set you on a much more meaningful path to action.” You will be all the better for responding in a way that is authentic to you and your values.

 

Here is your first step to empowering your pause. That is knowing when a pause is valuable for you. I encourage you to take a few minutes now and jot a few ideas down.

Ways to Thrive During the Especially Busy Month of May

Ways to thrive

 

The beginning of this year ushered in especially busy times. We are heading into the month of May with celebrations, graduations, and special occasions. Like Thanksgiving and the holidays, we have more to do. It is easy to get overwhelmed by all there is happening. There are many ways to thrive and be specially organized during extremely busy times.

 

Your planner is your road map.

Your planner is your most important trusted tool for being proactive in busy times. Keep your planner up to date as details come in about family celebrations and special events. Look ahead to the upcoming week and be proactive about planning for the weeks ahead. Each day prioritize a list of your three most important tasks to keep on track. Use a checklist to help with tasks and deadlines. Make notes, make lists, and set time blocks to get stuff done. Set a weekly planning time to be sure you are progressing in all areas.

 

Do your best to maintain self-care routines.

Taking care of yourself helps you do your best. Do the best you can to keep consistent wake-up and going-to-bed times. Drink lots of water to hydrate, get outside for sunshine, and walk as much as you can. Stay true to your exercise routine. Self-care will be your steady guide during busy, fun, crazy times.

 

Celebrate and be in the moment.

Moments we cherish happen when we steer clear of distractions. Stepping away from work, and being in the moment, gives us rare opportunities to connect. Celebrate every small win with gratitude. Share the joy with a handwritten card or special conversation. These moments build lifelong memories.

 

Build a bigger team

Being the party planner doesn’t mean you have to miss the fun. Ask for and accept help in all ways and forms. Teens can build a playlist and set up music, attendees can put up and stack chairs, and catering comes in all forms. Have groceries, treats, and party supplies delivered. Look around for ways to make everything easy for you and find support to get stuff done.

 

Being organized brings you joy during these bustling times. Never miss a minute of fun with these ways to thrive when especially busy.

How to Prioritize When Everything Feels Important

 

You have a lengthy list and  you want to be as productive as you can be. You have several projects to work on and you want to include self-care in your day. Everything seems equally important to do. What do you do to prioritize your list?

 

Align your goals with your tasks

Knowing your goal is the first step to prioritizing.  Take a few minutes to process what your goals are. Write these where you can see these every day to keep these in mind.  You will have both personal and professional goals so seeing and acknowledging all of these helps you prioritize.

If you have more than 5 goals, it may be time to refine your goals or consolidate your goals into categories.  The categories would also include single or multiple tasks or projects in that area. Improving  your health  might be a goal, and the action is to take a daily walk of 10k steps or run a half marathon.

You can simplify your tasks with one or two per goal. Working in micro-steps to a goal is one of the most successful methods. An example of this might be to market your business with 3 posts per week on social media, rather than posting on multiple sites many times a week.

 

Capture and categorize your tasks

You want to know all the actions before you start prioritizing. Capturing all the tasks is when  you write down all the actions you are planning or thinking of doing. It could be post it notes around your computer screen, a yellow pad with a long list, or a list in Click Up or Notion. Capturing tasks may be the point where you are overwhelmed and feel that you need to prioritize. It is an important step because you want to have all the possibilities.

After you create your lists, you can again categorize your tasks by topic. See the tasks by category helps you sequence, delegate and possibly delete actions. You can add categories like parking lot, pause, or waiting for pending tasks.

It is distracting when there are more tasks assigned to you with colleagues and your boss. Use a collaborative tool to capture all your team tasks and know what is assigned to you. Work productively with dates for deliverables.

 

Use dates to prioritize

A date is the most productive prioritizer. Agree on when your task is due, then add time to work on that task in a time block. Set aside time after a meeting to capture the dates and add work time in your planner. Once you know the amount of time required, you can set a date on your own as a way to prioritize.

During your Weekly Planning Time, review what is due this week. Extend the view during that time to look out a week or two as a heads up to prioritize and assess. Use time blocking to decide ahead of time and schedule work sessions that remove prioritizing at the last minute.

 

Establish routines for necessary tasks

Long term priorities often get little attention as due dates seem far off. Administrative and financial priorities need a routine schedule to give ample priority to the foundations of your life and work. A set routine for those tasks that are required but not date driven make it easy to accomplish these. You can set Friday afternoon for tasks like admin time, financial reviews or completing expense reports when less energy is available. Personal bill pay and financial reviews can be done on the 2nd and 4th Thursday evening or once a month on a Sunday.

Process and prioritize with your team

It may be unclear the next steps for a project. Your priorities should align with your team priorities. Host a clarifying discussion to be sure you are all aligned, what the next steps are and when the project will conclude. In processing this information, you can be best prepared to prioritize on  your own as well.

 

Choose a tracking tool that automates prioritizing

There are many tools to use that can help you prioritize. A Gantt chart can help you sequence priorities. Asana, Trello and Basecamp keep your tasks consolidated and your project on tracK. There are no perfect tools so choose what is easy for you to use and a tool you can use consistently.

 

No matter how you choose to prioritize, there may be a day that you don’t feel organized enough to prioritize. Take a step back, look at the big picture, and choose a strategy to help you know what to do then. Once you have prioritized, write your tasks where you can see them all day and all week.