A Few Productivity Articles Worth Skimming

Note: I will continue to add to this blog post whenever I come across an article I believe is worth sharing. Feel free to keep checking back regularly for updates! 🙂

Here’s a blog post that gives practical, actionable information, such as when to do your laundry. The writer of this post also happens to be my friend and fellow entrepreneur! Check out these 5 habits here:

5 Habits That Will Make Your Life Easier

One revelation I’ve had recently is that being productive does not equate to good time management. Here’s a New York Times article by Adam Grant that helps shed some light on what productivity actually means:

Productivity Isn’t About Time Management. It’s About Attention Management.

Here’s one article (4 minute read) that caught my attention, since I’m very much into aesthetics combined with functionality:

Your Productivity Hinges on How You Arrange Your Desk

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A Timely Guide to Planning Your Week

Most of us attack the week one day at a time. If you work in corporate, you get to the office on Monday, track down a cup of coffee, and then try to figure out what all is going on.

Consider how things could work out better if you have a weekly plan for your life before you wake up on Monday morning. And don’t just plan your work-related items, plan everything else too. Figure out what needs to be done and prioritize those items.

For your best results, avoid living life as it unfolds. By taking control, you’ll increase your confidence, stay ahead of your work, and actually find more free time to do whatever you like. Give it a try for a month and see if you enjoy the benefits.

Follow these steps to create a plan for the week:

1. Have a weekly planning session. Sunday is the logical choice. You’ve decompressed from the previous week, but it’s still fresh in your mind. The workweek starts in just one day.

Make a list of tasks for each area of your life. The areas might include work, personal items, and family. Your items will vary with your unique life.

An example: WORK

– complete marketing project with George
– interview applicants for marketing supervisor position
– contact packaging vendor to discuss printing issues – find contractor to repair floor on production area

2. Assign priorities to all of the tasks. Assume that you can’t get it all done. Which items must be done and which can slide until the following week?

Assign one of three levels of priority to each task. You might use 1, 2, 3, or A, B, C, or Red, Yellow, Green.

Start with your number 1 priorities and complete all of them before moving on to the number 2 and 3 priorities.

3. Schedule these tasks into your calendar. Begin this process no later than Sunday evening. You should know how you’re going to spend your Monday morning. Don’t wait until your alarm clock wakes you up.

Avoid over-scheduling. I cannot stress this enough. Once you fall behind, it becomes impossible to catch up. Leave room for the inevitable emergencies and requests from the boss. Schedule 50% of your time and leave the rest available.

Using a planner will allow you to move all these obligations out of your head. Put them down on paper as soon as possible.

4. Get busy as soon as you can on Monday morning. If you can work ahead, great! Keep your plans fluid. What you’ve put in your planner is your best guess, but you have to start somewhere. Things will change as the week progresses.

5. Review each evening. Spend just a few minutes each night making necessary adjustments. As tasks are completed, you’ll have the flexibility to move things around. Perfect your new plan of attack each night. Make this a habit. You can do it before leaving the office or do it in the comfort of your living room. Just ensure it gets done.

6. Have a weekly review. What did you do well? What could have been better? How well did your weekly plan work? What improvements can you make to the process?

Reviewing your week and making adjustments is one of the most powerful ways to improve. Address your mistakes and recognize your successes.

By planning and prioritizing, you can hit the ground running. You’re also assured of getting the most important things accomplished. Start next week by making a plan and following it religiously. Your life will change for the better.

Following Your Anxiety to Beat Procrastination

In my last post I claimed that I had finally “figured out” how to schedule my time, and yes, that was true at the time (about a month ago). But I think I was a little too quick to make that kind of a claim.

Yes, I really did feel like I had my life under control just a month ago, and it felt great. I was productive, waking up early in the mornings, exercising, starting each day intentionally..

But that kind of “ideal” lifestyle gradually evolved into a less ideal one as the days and weeks went by. Hence the lack of new blog posts for a whole month.

The good thing is that I finally told myself tonight that I cannot go to bed until I’ve finished writing a new blog post. So here I am.

It’s actually very late at night, past midnight, but I knew that if I didn’t take action ASAP it’d be difficult for me to make progress on my big life goals. I believe that it’s worth making certain sacrifices (in this case, the amount of sleep I’ll get tonight) if you know you will not regret the results you’ll get from sacrificing some of your comfort. I just wouldn’t do it every day.

Just before I started typing up this blog post, I read a bunch of articles online that talked about time management, productivity, habits, and related topics.

But first, just a sidebar before I talk about what I just read…

It’s actually really frustrating for me right now as I’m typing these words because my thoughts aren’t flowing and it’s like my brain is stuck. It’s like some form of writer’s block, where my sentences are choppy and I wonder how I used to be able to write so much so often and my range of vocabulary words seems so elementary now.

That being said, I will still finish up typing this post because I want to respect myself and my already-made decision to finish this before going to bed. Actually I’m technically already in bed, using a lap desk, leaning against my pillow against the wall, looking forward to finally resting from the long day. (Note – I fell asleep right about here after I wrote this paragraph, so I actually finished writing this the next day.)

Anyway, one thing I thought was insightful and helpful from one of the articles I read was that if you find yourself procrastinating on something and you sense resistance or anxiety about the thing you’re procrastinating on, that’s a good indication that that is the very thing you should do first.

This makes sense to me because if you think about it, who in their right mind would “procrastinate” when it comes to watching their favorite shows? Netflix and YouTube have never struck me as anxiety-inducing, but rather, they have a way of helping us numb away the scary “real” things that we should actually be working on. 

But after that numbingly wonderful Miranda Sings video is finished, you’re back to square one: overwhelming huge mountain of intimidating task giving you anxiety and way more stress than you need (not that you ever “need” stress).

Let’s look at it from the other side: you’re about to procrastinate by doing something that seems productive such as wiping down your kitchen counters (why not), or taking some papers out to the recycling bin to help you “declutter” and “organize.”

So you proceed to “take care” of these good, productive tasks, when deep down you know you will still have to face that looming project you’ve been avoiding. Despite all the little tasks you get done, your stress level rises, you’re less happy, you’re more irritable, and any ounce of motivation that was in you leaks out.

Then you continue to look for petty (but oh so productive) tasks. Maybe you even plan out an ambitious schedule for yourself for the next week to complete that project of yours. And then maybe you don’t even follow the well though-out, ambitious, color-coded schedule that you labored so diligently on.

Meanwhile, you’re MORE stressed, MORE unhappy, MORE irritable, and EVEN MORE unmotivated. And this vicious cycle repeats itself over and over again.

Does this sound familiar????

My point is, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed about something that you’ve been putting off doing, that’s probably an indication that it is a very important task or project that needs your undivided attention right away.

So if you’re feeling anxious right now about something you know you have to eventually do, my suggestion is to “follow” your anxiety right to its source and face it head-on. Make that a priority and just start.

In most cases, starting is the hardest part, but once you’re fifteen minutes (i.e. the time it takes to get into the “flow” – I read that somewhere) into it, you’re in the zone, you finally make some progress (however little it may be), and you experience a decrease in stress and irritability, and an increase in happiness and motivation.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. 🙂


How to Save Both Time + Money by Investing in Yourself Now

Today I want to address something that I feel a lot of people, especially young people, do not see or realize. I really hope that reading this blog post will change or shift how you view time and money, and that this will save you from so much wasted time in the long run.

It makes me so sad when I hear of people who, at the end of their lives, have all these regrets of not doing things that could have brought them closer to their dreams. Instead they can recall plenty of “safe” experiences. Experiences within their own comfort zone.

Okay, please don’t get me wrong – I am all about living in and treasuring the present moment, which is so good for your mental health and saves you from so many nonexistent life stressors. There’s always two sides to everything.

On the “other side” of focusing and enjoying the present is the matter of doing things with a long-term view. The reason why this is crucial is because this can make all of our future present moments so much more happy, stress-free, and enjoyable. Interesting huh?

What do I mean by “investing”?
To most people, investing usually has something to do with personal finance. That is true, but the investing I’m referring to now is specifically focused on yourself. That is, investing in yourself.

What does investing in yourself mean?
Investing in yourself means you spend extra time and money on something now with the full expectation that your present actions will save you an even greater amount of time and money in the long run. You put in the work and money now for a shorter period of time, and therefore speed up the process of getting to the results and success you want.

How do you invest in yourself?
There are two main factors: TIME and MONEY. Maybe you’re thinking the money part is unnecessary because you can still find ways to be successful by figuring things out for yourself or by taking advantage of free resources. You may be right in a certain sense, but I would also beg to differ.

Sometimes just by spending that little extra money, we shave off bits of time here and there, and really though, when it comes down to it, time is money. You can have all the money in the world but if you die tomorrow, the money is useless. Not trying to be morbid but just pointing out the facts.

Since time is money, and we care more about time than money, BUT we can also spend money in a way that can help us save a lot of time,so that during our lifetime we can have more time do the things we love and enjoy, it’s so important to invest in things that can speed up the process for us in whatever it is we want to achieve.

But how do we know what to invest in?

Decide what is most important to you in life.
It all comes down to this one question: Is it really worth it to spend extra time on something in order to save extra money? In other words, in any given situation, which limited resource would you rather spend – your time or your money? I would argue that time is much more valuable than money, though of course one can always think of extreme scenarios which I will not get into.

Example: Wait in super long line at a gas station with lower gas prices, or save 30 minutes of your life by spending a little more money at another gas station? Add up all those extra 30 minutes in your lifetime and you’ll probably get back a ton of time to do more productive things.

Oh, and by the way, I recently learned from an online course (can’t remember which one cause I’ve purchased many.. also check out this site if you’re into personal development and would consider investing in a course) that if you spend 15 minutes learning the same thing/topic every single day for a year, after just one year you will be an expert on that topic. I don’t know about you, but I was pretty mind blown by this statement.

My point in mentioning this 15 minute thing is to show how just a little bit of time here and there on minor things can actually add up to a lot of time wasted, even if it did save you some money.

Of course there are always ways to still make the most out of those “wait times.” If you have no choice but to spend extra time on something due to your financial situation, you could use that extra idle time to listen to podcasts, read books, practice a language, make important phone calls to eliminate tasks on your to do list, or anything else – you can get creative here.

Another (random) example: Buy a better, more expensive knife, and spend less time cooking. In this case, you’d have to decide if you believe that investing in the expensive knife is worth it, or if you’re happy with spending more time on cooking because perhaps cooking is your way of unwinding and you find it very therapeutic.

There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s really about what will make your life better. YOU know yourself best so I trust you can make those little daily choices in a good way. 🙂

There’s also this thing called outsourcing.
I recently learned about a strategy that many entrepreneurs use called outsourcing. One great example of someone who outsources is Tim Ferriss.

Outsourcing essentially means that you pay other people to do certain tasks for you so that you have the time to focus on your most important tasks. For bloggers, one of these most important tasks would be content creation, rather than something like pinning new pins on their Pinterest account. This explains why virtual assistants have become more popular, to handle the smaller and probably more tedious tasks of the one paying them.

Okay, that’s cool Amy, but how does this apply to my own life?
Great question. Well, this outsourcing thing can be for things like house cleaning, laundry (yes, there are people who always have their clothes washed, pressed, and folded by someone else), gardening (don’t tell me your family never had a gardener before), grocery shopping (apparently Amazon bought Wholefoods so you can literally have quality groceries delivered to you), taxes..

Speaking of taxes, two of my friends just got their taxes done by pros at H&R Block and it literally took about an hour or so to get it all completed. If they had done their taxes completely by themselves, they wouldn’t have as much time now to work on things they really need to work on. For one of them, it’s applying to prestigious writing/journalist jobs to advance in her career. If anyone is looking for an amazing writer to work with, hit me up and I can get you guys connected!

Two days ago I decided to try out this outsourcing phenomenon thing, so I paid 10 bucks (plus one dollar service fee) to have someone research 40 strategic niche hashtags, write 5 Instagram posts, and create 2 branded graphics, because I found myself having a difficult time keeping up with my Instagram account. We’ll see how this goes.. This is just a fun experiment but money doesn’t fall from trees for me (yet.. ha) so I’ll probably still post on my social media myself for some time… maybe.

I used Fiverr for this gig, and have also looked into Upwork. There are freelancers who do pretty much anything you can think of. It’s pretty cool.

It’s also quite affordable to hire people from Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, and other countries, which at first I thought was equivalent to taking advantage of them for cheap labor. But then this guy Jimmy Naraine pointed out in his productivity course, which by the way is currently on major sale, that actually, $1 in these countries is worth way more than $1 in the U.S. And say, if you go to New York, 20 bucks is pretty much worth nothing.

What about saving money for the future?
I personally really like this part of investing in yourself. For me, investing in myself has looked like purchasing online courses that have helped me tremendously in blogging and even productivity in general.

I paid the extra money after much deliberation, and as I went through the courses I was like, WHEW I’m SO glad I bought this course, because who knows how long it would have taken me to figure out things that others have already spent months and even years laboring on to find the best techniques and strategies.

So you’re basically paying for all that time that others have spent racking their brains in their quest to success.

The reason why I invested in a few courses, some more costly than others, is because I had the view that these courses would educate me in a way that would speed up my progress working on things that would, ultimately, help me earn far more than the original costs.

You probably have already invested in yourself in ways you’re not aware of. Maybe you went to college to get your Bachelor’s degree and took out loans while you were at it. Maybe you or your best friend are in med school and racking up a ton of debt. How is such insane debt justifiable? Well, I believe all those who graduate from medical school would expect to have a six figure starting salary which would inevitably compensate for the large investment cost (tuition).

So, take some time to think about it – investing in yourself. Sam Brown does a great job explaining why she makes investing in herself “one of [her] biggest priorities.”

I have also been listening to a bunch of podcasts every day at work (yes, at work, with my headphones, and yes I do get all my work done very well), and one that I highly recommend is The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo. After listening to many of her podcast episodes and hearing all the ridiculously unbelievable success stories of her students, I am now dying to invest in her expensive ($297 per month) but apparently life-changing course, Self Coaching Scholars. Definitely on my wish list.

UGH. MONEY. It’s not that I love money, but it’s just that I feel like a dry sponge waiting to absorb (maybe inhale is a better word) as much valuable information as possible so that I can apply new awesome things to my real daily life. And I use that analogy because just this past week my mom commented on my recent podcast/books/onlinecourses obsession with, “You’re like a sponge.”

Which reminds me, one of my nicknames used to be “Patrick” as in Patrick the pink starfish from Spongebob Square Pants, because of my ignorance of many commonly known things. I guess that makes me like Patrick since he likes to hide under a rock.. Yup.