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,