How to Be More Productive in Work and Life (5 Stress-Free Tips!)

Hiya Gorgeous!

Please be unproductive. Ha! Has anyone ever said that to you? I certainly haven’t received that luxurious request. Quite the opposite in fact. Google “how to be more productive” and you’ll get over 200 million results!

We all want to increase productivity because we think it will help us be successful, make an impact and have more freedom. If we could just be more productive, we’d finally be able to finish that project, get that promotion and do everything we’ve always wanted to do but never had time for. Right?

This probably hits especially close to home if you’re an entrepreneur like me. We’re always looking for new ways to optimize how we use our time—it’s not easy to grow a business while maintaining some semblance of a life outside of work! As a result, we often push ourselves way past our limits, sacrificing our well-being in the process.

Look, I’m all for being driven as long as it doesn’t drive us into the ground. But between the pressures coming from our work hard, play hard society AND the high expectations we have for ourselves, we simply create more than we can process. So we’re left wishing we had another hour, day, week, month, year… life.

Hmmm, there’s obviously something wrong with this picture.

Remember—we’re humans, NOT conveyor belts! Whaddya say we take a step back and look at productivity from a different angle? It’s meant to simplify our lives after all, not make them more exhausting and stressful.

The 5 practices I’m sharing today have helped me accomplish everything from simple daily tasks to building a thriving 7-figure business, all while maintaining a good work/life balance. They’ll help you use productivity to make space for pursuing your deepest desires and doing what makes you happy. Because what’s more important than that?

Here’s what you can expect to learn:

  • How to be more productive at work AND at home—you can apply these tips in all areas of your life!
  • Simple ways to maximize time and headspace for better focus, faster results and more joy.
  • Why it’s even more essential than you might think to get clear on your priorities (and how to do it).
  • What time off and self-care have to do with productivity.
  • How to build in time for the unexpected challenges so they don’t throw you off course.
  • How paying people to take care of themselves supercharges your own productivity.

Ready to discover these surprisingly simple, joyful productivity tips? Let’s dig in!

How to Be More Productive: 5 Stress-Free Tips

1. Design your ideal week.

If you want to learn how to be more productive, you’ve gotta start by examining how you manage and use your time. Because even if you have all the time in the world, it’s still possible to be unproductive.

When I say design your ideal week, I’m talking about more than just blocking off space in your calendar (although that IS part of it!). It means looking at the week ahead holistically—including your responsibilities and commitments, AND the stuff you do to support your mental and physical health—then laying out a schedule that optimizes the time you have.

Ask yourself these questions when designing your ideal week:

  • What times do I want to go to bed and wake up? (A consistent schedule can help improve your sleep, too… win-win!)
  • What days do I want to work, and what should my stop and start times be? (This one is especially key for all of you entrepreneurs and self-employed folks out there!)
  • What existing commitments do I have that I can’t change? Are there any I can adjust to make room for new priorities?
  • What does a productive day usually look like for me? When do I usually feel most alert and focused? When do I tend to get tired or have more trouble focusing on more complex/creative tasks?
  • Where in my schedule would it be most beneficial to have breaks? What should my breaks look like (taking a walk, meditating, stretching…)?
  • What tends to distract or pull me off task? Is there anything I can do to avoid or better manage those distractions?
  • Where am I most productive? How can I set myself up for success with my work environment (consider lighting, noise, decor, how you sit/stand at your desk and so on).

Put together a first draft of your ideal week and try it out. Stick with it for at least a couple of weeks before you decide something needs to change (change often causes discomfort, so give yourself a chance to adapt). Then, don’t hesitate to make adjustments if something isn’t working or your needs change.

Remember, this is YOUR ideal week, not your boss’s, partner’s, kid’s, etc. It won’t always be perfect or easy, but it should be in alignment with your natural flow. Following your routine should give you a sense of security and freedom. *Queue deep sigh of relief… ahhhhhh.*

2. Take a “less but better” approach to your to-dos.

In our quest for productivity, we often end up piling more onto our plates before we’re able to metabolize what’s already there. Tell me if this sounds familiar: One day, you get a lot done and feel great about yourself. The next day, your list barely budges and you feel sucky. I think we’ve all been there.

Or maybe this scenario sounds more like you: If you have three things to do and you manage to accomplish them all, you feel awesome and do a happy dance. But if you have 15 things and only get those same three done, you feel like a bum who can barely make a dent.

You’re not the problem here, toots—it’s your to-do list. Forcing constant accomplishment is like expecting yourself to be an assembly line. So let’s talk about how to be more productive with a less but better mindset.

This practice is based on a concept from Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (which I highly recommend, by the way… it changed my life!). He talks about doing less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution.

Keep your to-do list short and sweet, it’s that simple! Rather than loading it up with a mess of tasks you can’t possibly complete, focus on the stuff that really matters and moves the needle on your Big Sky Goals. A more manageable list = less stress = more energy for productivity in the areas you care about!

A less but better approach is about aiming for the big wins that create a domino effect in all areas of your life and/or business.

And if you need some help getting your priorities straight, you’re gonna love my new ebook…

Do you have dreams you want to explore (hobbies, side hustles, going back to school…), but can’t seem to find the time or headspace?

Do you have a full-fledged business idea that sets your soul on fire, but you think it’s too risky, too hard, too far out of reach?

Or do you already have a business, but you feel stuck and don’t know how to reach your ultimate potential?

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  • How to overcome fear of failure so you can finally take the leap and start the business or project you’ve been dreaming about.
  • What to focus on in the morning so you can prioritize the work that actually impacts your bottom line (and sideline the tasks that don’t!).
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3. Build in buffer time.

We can’t be productive 100 percent of the time. We also can’t will ideas and solutions to come to light just because we want them to! In fact, sometimes the harder we try, the further our productivity (and good ideas) plummet. It’s not convenient, but it’s the truth.

That’s why we need to build in buffer time—for when we’re stuck, things don’t go as planned or the crap hits the fan (trust me, it will)! Having buffer time is a way to give your brain SPACE. Like brainstorming without a looming deadline, doodling your way through a challenge or just resting. Good ideas have a way of bubbling up when you just let your smart noggin relax and do its thing. Haven’t you ever wondered why you get your best ideas in the shower?

So next time you feel stuck or stagnant, don’t harass yourself for not being productive enough. Instead, step away from the task at hand and breathe. And if you want to take it a step further, proactively work buffer time into your schedule. That way, it’ll be there when you need it (and you probably need it even when you don’t realize you do, so give it a shot!).

Buffer time is also a must for when life throws you a curveball, because if you pack your schedule too tight, one small hiccup can turn into a full-blown disaster. For example, let’s say you’re on a team of people preparing for a new product launch. You map out your timeline leading up to the big day and divvy up the tasks with respective due dates. Then, one of your teammates gets sick and misses a deadline by a couple of days. And of course, the next step is contingent on the previous one! Without buffer time, a small blip quickly creates a domino effect that pushes back the whole launch. Ouch.

On the other hand, if you plan for the unexpected, productivity doesn’t suffer if someone falls behind. Your buffer is your safety net—it’ll help you bounce back quickly if you miss the mark for any reason (which is normal because we’re human, remember?!). Let your buffer catch you, then jump right back in.

4. Prioritize simple self-care.

Sometimes we’re so busy thinking about how to be more productive, we forget to take care of ourselves in the most basic ways. I’ve been there! But you know as well as I do that when you throw yourself out with the bathwater, it all goes to hell. Your ideas dry up. Your relationships suffer and so does your health (mental and physical). To avoid that hot mess, commit to supporting yourself through simple, consistent practices.

These are some of my personal favorites:

  • Wind down earlier: I know what it’s like to try and cram in a bunch of tasks at the end of the day, but getting enough quality rest is essential for productivity. Start your nighttime routine a bit earlier to prepare yourself for sleep—put devices away and wean yourself off the late night putter! For more sleep tips, check out my Ultimate Guide to Better Sleep here.
  • Protect time off: You can’t maintain a high level of productivity if you never take time off! For me, that means planning for at least three week-long breaks throughout the year. They can be vacations or staycations, but it must be time to disconnect and refuel. Find a balance that works for you and whatever you do, schedule and protect it like your life depends on it!

These are just ideas from my toolkit. Try them out or use the self-care practices you already love! Whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Self-care comes in many different forms—yours doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s as long as it replenishes and grounds you.

Psst.. If you’re an entrepreneur, self-care should be a part of your business plan. That’s what I call holistic entrepreneurship. Your business is an extension of you—if you’re not healthy, it can’t be either. And at the end of the day, your well-being is far more important than any amount of productivity or success.

5. Pay people to take care of themselves.

While I couldn’t do this in the early days of my business, I’m so grateful I have the ability to do it now. This tip is especially critical for all of my entrepreneurial friends out there, so listen up! I know from personal experience how easy it is to fall into the do-it-all-yourself mentality. Your business is your baby, so relinquishing control can be really uncomfortable. But you can’t be your most productive self if you’re trying to do it all.

The trick is to hire folks you trust so you can be at ease with sharing the responsibility. My Crazy Sexy Team consists of full-time folks, freelancers and consultants—all of that unique experience and perspective makes for a top-notch crew if I do say so myself! I wouldn’t be able to be as creative, focused and productive as I am if it weren’t for my incredible team.

But while saying how much you appreciate your team members is valuable, it’s not everything. So at Crazy Sexy Wellness, we make sure that sentiment also comes through in the way we pay and treat our people. That means offering competitive salaries and benefits packages, plenty of perks and, perhaps most importantly, LOTS of paid time off (remember what I said about protecting time off in tip #4?!).

Productivity doesn’t appear out of thin air—it grows where people feel valued, rested, secure and inspired! If you want people to thrive, set them up for full-body, holistic success. Listen to their ideas, respect their independence and show them how much you appreciate them by contributing to their self-care.

This tip isn’t just for work teams—it’s really about getting comfortable with delegating in all areas of your life. Your team might include your babysitter, hair stylist, therapist, partner, moving company… you get the idea. Whoever helps YOU be more productive needs your support to be productive (and happy and healthy!) too.

There you have it, my take on productivity!

I hope these tips help you get more done without creating more stress! Keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all productivity plan. Your ability to get ‘er done will shift as life shifts. Babies change the game and so does sickness, family needs, unplanned renovations and car troubles. Our lives should be able to expand and contract based on what comes up. Be kind to yourself. Less but better. I love you.

If today’s tips resonated with you, don’t forget to grab my free ebook, How to Build Your Business without Burning Out: 10 Keys for Avoiding the Mistakes Most Entrepreneurs Make! It’s a must-read whether you’re already an entrepreneur or have always dreamed of starting a business, or if you have a burning passion you’ve been waiting for the right time to pursue (hint: the time is now!).

Your turn: What are your favorite productivity hacks? Or if you’re feeling unproductive these days, what’s standing in your way? Let’s support each other in the comments below!

Peace & simplicity,

Kris Carr

P.S. [Free ebook] How to be more productive without burning out—more tools for your toolbox!

Whether you’re starting or building your own business, or just want more time for your passions and the people you love, you’ve gotta check this out! My new ebook, How to Build Your Business without Burning Out: 10 Keys for Avoiding the Mistakes Most Entrepreneurs Make is full of practical, doable tips that’ll help you boost productivity and joy while ditching stress and overwhelm. Go learn what it’s all about here!