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Kris Carr

Abundance

5 Productivity Hacks to Improve Work Life Balance

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 “be more productive” and you’ll get over 892 million results!

We all want to increase productivity because we think it will help us be more successful, improve our work life balance, 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 personal life outside of work! As a result, we often push ourselves way past our limits and work long hours, resulting in poor work life balance.

Look, I’m all for being driven as long as it doesn’t drive us into the ground. Remember—we’re humans, NOT conveyor belts!

Productivity is meant to simplify our lives, not leave us feeling even more exhausted or stressed.

Whaddya say we take a step back and look at productivity from a different angle? 

5 Stress-Free Productivity Tips to Improve Work Life Balance

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

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 physical and mental 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 when should my work hours begin and end? (This one is especially key for all of you entrepreneurs and self-employed folks out there!)
  • When is my energy at its peak for tackling complex/creative tasks? I call these “golden hours” and I protect ‘em like crazy. For me, golden hours are my first few hours in the morning. Right now, I’m using them to write my next book. When I’m done, I’ll protect them for writing speeches, creating sales pages, or other big-thinking creative work. The big idea is to do your most important work when your energy is highest. 
  • What existing commitments do I have that I can’t change? Are there any I can adjust to make room for new work and personal priorities?
  • What does a productive day usually look like for me? When do I usually feel most alert and focused?
  • 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.

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. 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 will reduce stress and leave 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 for good work life balance.

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 or while taking a walk? Relaxation fuels creativity.

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. Without buffer time, a small blip quickly 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 some quality time to take care of ourselves. 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. My personal favorites include:

  • 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. For more sleep tips, check out my Ultimate Guide to Better Sleep here.
  • Center yourself: How you start your day sets the tone for your overall success. Doing just 10 minutes of mindful meditation every day can be a game changer. Check out my video on how to make meditation easier here or treat yourself to my Self-Care for Busy People meditation album here!
  • Protect time off: You can’t maintain a high level of productivity if you never take time off! They can be vacations or staycations, but it must be time to disconnect and refuel. Find a work life balance that works for you and whatever you do, schedule and protect it like your life depends on it!

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. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

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, benefits packages, and paid time off, plus quickly addressing roadblocks that hinder our team’s achievements.

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!

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. Work life balance looks different depending on your season of life. The goal is to create a business that’s life-proof so that your contributions can expand and contract when sh*t happens, without restricting your results. I hope these tips help you move in that direction. 

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,

Add a comment
  1. Brooke says:

    Wow Kris! Both this blog and the love notes reading: nourish yourself hit the bullseye with me this week. University is tough and I’ve been bingeing on whatever I can get my hands on – especially TV series and choc chip cookies (Eek). You’ve kindly given me a reminder that I need to get my A into G and balance chilling out and being proactive. Helpful as always 🙂 Thank you

  2. Beryl says:

    Headspace is really great, Trello too!

    Thank you again Kris <3

  3. Vivian says:

    Kris,
    This blog really hit the spot at this time in my life. It is so helpful to read how others who are successful have such similar issues in their life. Thanks for being so preciously human! Thanks also for taking the time to give us all the great tips and links to very useful tools and talks!
    So appreciate your work and lifestyle
    Vivian

  4. Catherine says:

    Love these tips…Love your sharing…. I feel ever so grateful for your insights! Thanks so much Kris! These productivity tips arrived at a perfect time xox

  5. Zoe says:

    Really great tip. I am an artist and always have loads of projects on the go. Like you said, sometimes you can’t see the wood from the trees so end up getting less done!! So many ideas can be completely overwhelming and you don’t know where to start. So I am taking your advice and SIMPLIFYING!! We will see if that improves my productivity. I already feel a weight lifted off my shoulders 🙂

  6. Jaclyn says:

    Thank you Kris! This blog hit home on so many levels. Personally I’ve become paralyzed from my To Do list….not enough getting done for a variety of circumstances and I can’t even seem to relax when I get a chance because I’m thinking about everything that I feel still needs to get done before winter hits! Also, at work we are just looking for project management tool – I’ll definitely be checking out your suggestions! Thank you for being the shiny start to my day! <3

  7. Katie says:

    Just what I needed to hear as I have a housewarming party and a big camping trip coming up in the next few weeks. Determining what HAS to be done versus the “nice to haves” to complete that perfect picture I have in my head helps to prioritize and takes some of the pressure off. Another thing that helps me when I’m in that space of feeling paralyzed by indecision or lack of motivation- just start doing SOMETHING-no matter how small. Could be dishes or paying a bill but it gets the ball rolling and sometimes I’ll just stop at that. I’ll throw some easy stuff on my list that is easily accomplished and makes me feel better about the day. Thanks!

  8. Kathy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your ideas, Kris. I am a teacher who is loving summer break, but dreading a return to the job I love because I allow it to take over my life. I will reread this in October when I feel like I’m drowning in work. I love you!

  9. Donna says:

    Oh Kris, how I wish I worked with YOU! It truly is exhausting working for an entity who doesn’t recognize valuable employees, is always asking for more, yet giving less – and who doesn’t appreciate how truly awesome I really am!
    You give me the courage to carry on – while “they” may control my work schedule, they don’t control my life!

    • Kris Carr says:

      And you don’t have to work for them forever. There are more options available to you dear Donna. ox

  10. Samantha says:

    Kris, once again you hit the nail on the head; you really struck a chord with me on this one. Living with cancer, I sometimes feel that I should be going, going, going… Living life to the fullest. What exactly does that mean? Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s actually healthy to just slow…it…down. Rest. That’s a new concept for me, but I’m pretty sure that my body, mind and spirit are the better for it. I get so much inspiration from you and the ways in which you live your life, take care of yourself, and take care of others. I think for me, I need more quiet time at night to unwind. I end up staying up too late watching Rescue Me! 🙂 I would also love to start my day with some meditation as well (I usually find time to meditate later in the day). Thanks for these much-needed reminders. You’re a beautiful soul Kris! xoxo.

  11. Hi Kris,
    Thanks so much, I really needed to hear this. I love the idea of smoothies for dinner, ha! In fact, I just had mango chia pudding for lunch, which I guess is a similar concept. And thanks for the Trello recommendation; I’ve just signed up and it looks great! I’ll be sharing one of your lovely tweets from this article.

  12. magie says:

    Thank you Kris for that blog. it came just in time, i have been sooo stress with to do list and too much ideas, that i actually went to a full stop for 4 years, couldn’t handle it anymore. As of yesterday, thing happen in my life to line up with my decision to go back to being productive, creative and i was felling a bit anxious at how i will conquer this problem, this time. And first thing this morning i got inspire to read your blog!
    Feel better now!
    Life is magical! 🙂

  13. Cindy says:

    Perfect timing, just had a conversation with my sister that she was overwhelmed.. Will do pass this along to her and re- read for myself. You are the best!!!

  14. Isa says:

    Hi there!
    Well it is amazing as this topic seems to have been written thinking of me!
    I have a lot of problems concerning stress and trying to do everything I would like to do and since my last burnout that seems absolutely impossible!
    I haven´t still accepted the fact that my life needs to be diferente from what it was and the mere fact of stoping and do a meditation pause seems to do wonders “at my head”!
    That is my major solution and my major passion!
    Kris I want to work with you! You seem to be the perfect, absolute perfect boss for me! 🙂
    And it is a dream of me to change what I do!

    Thank you for being here for so many of us!

  15. Monica says:

    Thx! Kris and team — luv all your sharing, but this one may be a fav of mine for some time to come! When you’re ready to add “number 9” to your team, send me a note and I’m all over it! What an amazing experience it would be to help you support this much needed presence in the world!
    I never comment, but felt I had to this morning — I found you because of my Mom who is a 20 year, 4 different and unique types THRIVER! (SO happy you replaced that “other word” in our vocabulary!) (Breast 20 yrs and 4 yrs rearing its ugly head again, Hodgkins and then Non-Hodgkins and lastly she conquered Lung in January) Yes, she is a living miracle! She is my hero and in her support we have utilized ALL that you have shared in every way to keep her thriving both physically and even more importantly, mentally!. She celebrates her 84th!!!! on the 28th next week and I can honestly say what we (both) have learned from you is such a gift and I am so thankful for you puttin it all out there to the world for all of us! God bless you, your team and your vision. with luv and devotion… Thank you dear Kris.

  16. Alyce Kass says:

    Before I opened this email I thought to myself ” you should not be opening emails you need to focus on the million things that need to be done!”. I feel God’s care for me in synchronistic moments! I will focus on one goal today, prime walls. Thank you Kris for your words of wisdom:).

  17. Kendalyn says:

    Holy moly, talk about divine timing. This is something that has been on my brain a LOT lately, especially when trying to fit in time to run/expand my business while working a 9-5 job and teaching fitness classes. The more I make myself a priority and carve out time to meditate and be fully present the more I notice an ease in the flow of my day-to-day. I wish everyone I know would read this blog post, these are amazing tips. Thank you, thank you!

  18. Alice says:

    Can you hire me out here in Kansas? 🙂

  19. Kristan Pietromonaco says:

    Love it! Love it! Love it! Girlfriend I just pulled out my not one list, but stack of scribbled lists. I crossed off a ton of stuff, condensed it all down to one short list and then took a nap. That’s what your blog did for me. Thanks!

  20. Tanya says:

    Thank you for everything you share with us. This article was just what I needed today… Also, thank you for the suggestions about affordable, natural brands (makeup, hair, body, etc). I’m a busy, working mom and have wanted to use better-for-me products but felt I didn’t have the money just to try items out. Your suggestions have saved me time and money. I’ve tried three of the products you’ve mentioned and have loved them. Thank you.

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