Let’s face it – not every day is the same when it comes to productivity. Some days you get a lot of stuff done and you feel super-productive. On other days, you get only some tasks crossed off your task list.
What I’m about to show you next is what my super-productive day looks like. Even though I’m not always able to reach this level of productivity (it was my day off from sports and I was on vacation), I naturally try to and I also want to show you how I was able to get so much done in one day.
Here’s what my super-productive day looks like
This next excerpt is part of my, “When I did what” time log, which I kept for a certain period of time for tracking purposes. Its main purpose was to reveal productivity patterns (when I was able to get stuff done), but I also used it to analyze why I was so productive.
With this data, I could learn about my personal productivity in a family environment and possibly create a similar day in the future again.
- 05:30: Woke-up
- 05:40 – 07:25: Wrote a guest post, listened to an Effortless English training program, replying to comments on guest posts (family sleeping) (1:55 h)
- 10.00 – 10.45: Proofreading a blog post for my blog (son sleeping) (45 min)
- 10.45 – 11.00: Reading a book (son sleeping) (15 min)
- 11.40 – 12:00: Submitting a guest post to another blog (family awake) (20 min)
- 14:30 – 15:15: Email follow-up sequence proofreading (45 min) (my son and my wife sleeping)
- 17:30 – 18:00: E-mail follow-up sequence proofreading (30 min) (son sleeping)
- 20:45 – 21:00: Social media: Twitter (15 min) (my wife putting our son to sleep)
- 21:00 – 21:10: Creating the task list for the next day (10 min) (my wife putting our son to sleep)
- Productive work: 4:55h
- Other stuff: Played with my son, went for a walk with my son (baby sitting in stroller), went grocery shopping with my family, generated new ideas for my blog (and for guest posts), and watched television with my family
This data is pretty straightforward to read.
First, there is the time when I worked on my blog and what tasks I did during my productive time. Then, in the first parentheses (at the end) I’m explaining why I was able to get that work done and at last, how much time I spent on a task.
Finally, I have added the productive time I was able to have for a day. The other stuff refers to everything else I did in on this particular day.
What made my day so productive?
As you can see, there was a lot of work included in one day. At the same time, I felt very good for accomplishing it all.
When I looked at my time log, I discovered the following characteristics:
- I knew my next action.
If I asked what your next action was, could you give me an answer within a couple of seconds?
Being aware of your next action is very important – especially in a family environment. You’ll never know when there is an available time block on your hands and when it occurs, you’ll have to take advantage of it immediately.
I knew my next action(s) and I was able to get to work as soon as my son took his nap. This helped me to get started with my tasks right away, instead of wasting my time on pondering on what to do next.
- I took advantage of time pockets
There is a lot of extra idle time in our days, but we just have to be aware of it. This extra time is also known as a time pocket – a moment for doing something productive.
In this particular day I was able to get certain work done when my wife was putting our son to sleep. This is just one example of a time pocket that existed that day.
I have also started to take advantage of mobility and cloud based services and this helps me to maximize my time pockets even further (I’m carrying my MP3 player or my Kindle almost whenever I’m on the move).
In order to see the time pockets, you’ll just have to stop and be aware of them. Good candidates for time pockets would be moving from one place to another, standing in the queue, waiting for someone or when there is a quiet moment in your home.
- I was focusing on the right tasks
My log for the day shows that I was working on only the important things and nothing else.
First, I was focusing on only one key activity when building my online business. This has proven to be a great way to reduce overwhelm and stress.
In my case, this key activity was (and still is) guest posting and I have found it to be a great way to grow my audience. Since I have been focusing on this method only, it helps me to cut out the unnecessary distractions and overwhelming things that I would otherwise have to do.
The second thing that helps me to focus is to just cut out the extra “noise” that would make me off track.
I know, it would be very compelling to be everywhere and do everything, but unfortunately this is just making me unproductive and distracted.
The sooner you cut out the non-essential stuff (projects, subscriptions to e-mail lists, unnecessary social media platforms …); your working day becomes much simpler and more focused.
- I woke up early
I have been an advocate of early rising and my log shows the benefits of doing so.
Waking up early has been the most important thing when it comes to improving my productivity and this routine has clear benefits.
When I look at my log, I see that the biggest productive time block was right after I woke up. That’s also the part of the day when I worked on my most important tasks.
If you are not an early riser, I’d strongly recommend considering becoming one. In fact, years ago I was a late riser myself, but I decided to change my habits and here I am writing this post (started around 05.45 AM), while others are sleeping :)
- I was flexible
Let’s face it: when you work in a family environment, you don’t necessarily have the big time blocks available for your work. Instead, you could have smaller ones sprinkled into your day.
The flexibility mindset is very important for a work-at-home dad and it makes your daily life much easier.
I remember that there were times when I was working, but I had to nurture our baby in the middle of a working session. Although my session was stopped, I also knew that this is part of the family life and I didn’t stress that much about it.
Without flexibility, your days would be more stressful and your negative energy would drain even the rest of the productivity you had for the moment.
- Fixed times for certain tasks
There is one thing that helps me to get certain things done on a daily basis: setting fixed time limits on how much time I’m spending on tasks.
In my situation, I’m using a 15-minute time blocks for reading a book and spending time on social media.
Whenever I start reading or spending time on Twitter (that’s the only social media platform I use by the way!), I put the timer on and spend only that amount of time with those activities.
If you feel that you are not getting certain things done (for instance, I had difficulties of finding time for reading a book on a daily basis), this is a great way to dedicate a short time block for the activity.
- Distraction-allowing tasks
Although I was able to get most of the tasks done when my family was sleeping, there was one task that I did when they were around: submitting a guest post to a blog.
This task is a good example of a task which doesn’t require your full focus and which tolerates distraction well.
I have also been able to submit a blog post for proofreading, promoting my posts on social media or checking my e-mail (cleaning up the inbox) – even with a lot of distraction around.
Try to identify these types of tasks when you are planning your day. I find it to be useful to plan my day knowing, that I can take care some of the tasks on my list – even if there is distraction around.
Hopefully by showing what my productive day looked like and seeing the analysis of if helped you to find ways to create your super-productive day.
At the same time, I understand that becoming this productive every day is not always possible, especially when you are a part-time work-at-home dad like me (with a day job); these days could be an exception.
On the other hand, with the lessons in this post, you can definitely improve your daily productivity and have a balanced day – with your work and your family.
Over to you: Share your experiences: when was the last time you had a super-productive day and why it was possible?
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