Time is my currency. It’s how I measure my days, it’s the non-renewable resource I focus on the most, and it’s something I think about all the time — pun intended. I don’t know about you, but I am OBSESSED with all things maximizing my time and creating the most efficient workflows possible. While I certainly pulled back from burning the candle on both ends when I became a mama, that transition simultaneously pushed me to become even smarter with what time I was spending on work—actually, on everything, for that matter.
Whether it’s squeezing in a 20 minute Peloton ride before the day starts, batch-recording episodes of this very podcast, using healthy meal delivery services like Daily Harvest for simple and quick breakfasts and lunches, or outsourcing tasks that drain me… I’ve found little ways to upgrade the use of my time so that I can feel more free to shut down work and responsibilities at the end of each day, and just enjoy time unplugged with my fam.
But, I also realize that MY methods for being productive aren’t everyone’s go-tos, and that there are so many creative, versatile, and effective ways to practice time management that may fit better for your schedule or personality type or work-life demands. And so… as much as I can preach and share about all of my favorite ways to stay on top of my projects and keep moving forward, I feel like it’s even better to hear from a wider array of voices to get a fuller spectrum of options to pick and choose from.
So, in this episode I am SO thrilled to invite my very own dream team onto the Goal Digger podcast, to share their personal go-tos when it comes to productivity hacks. From my integrator to my community manager to my writers, I’ve asked everyone on the team to share what their top tips and tricks are for getting stuff done and takin’ names… oh, and also feeling empowered to STOP work and just live their lives every day, too—because that’s a massively vital part of the team JK culture. We work hard, we play hard, we rest hard, and we love hard… and we prefer to have a ball doing it all.
Have a Hard Time Focusing?
From my copywriter extraordinaire, Brooklyn Wagner:
“The first thing that I use is an app called Centered, and I love it because man, it really does center me. I actually like to call it an attention shepherd because it very gently and patiently guides me back into the fold every time I stray… I tell it the task that I’m doing. I tell it what app that I need to be doing it in like Google Drive, and if I leave that Google doc to look up a new garden beef tenderloin recipe, it notices, and it’s like, hey, come on back in. I need that accountability, even though it’s from an app, it’s from a computer, I listened to it and I realized, because I don’t mean to follow those things and lose focus and lose my efficiency or productivity.”
Want more advice to find and maintain your focus? Hit play on this episode for Brooklyn’s other hacks that help her get things done.
Close Open Loops
Everyone says to tackle your highest priority tasks first, but what happens when you end up with a list of low-priority tasks that still need to get done? Those present open loops in your brain. Kylie, the Goal Digger Podcast producer, talks about her strategy for closing open loops:
“And although you think you may be improving your productivity by only focusing on the high priority items on your list, these open loops actually negatively impact your productivity. It’s partially caused by the Zeigarnik effect, which refers to our mind’s natural tendency to focus on incomplete tasks. So the other day, I kind of had an epiphany. I unintentionally scheduled a full day to finally tackle a handful of those low priority tasks that had been hanging out in my list and in my brain for weeks.
And let me tell you, the feeling I had at the end of the day was kind of euphoric. The next day, I started work with a clear focused mind because I’d finally made those few annoying phone calls and lugged stuff to storage in the basement that had been sitting on my floor for weeks. And I responded to the non-urgent, but still important emails. I’ve decided that from now on once or twice a month, I’m going to schedule ‘Do It Day’. Any task still lingering on my list from the last few weeks. I’m going to take one day or one morning and just do it because now I know how good it feels to finally tackle those low priority items that seem to fog my vision when I’m trying to work on those big priority tasks.”
If you want to read more about closed loop productivity, Matt Cerna’s piece for medium.com is a great exploration of the topic.
If Time Blocking Overwhelms You
Madie is our brilliant graphic designer who touches almost every single visual aspect of the Jenna Kutcher brand. As a visual person, she prefers to plan her schedule by the time chunks she’s allotting for specific projects and see the colorful blocks of time on her calendar. But sometimes, seeing a four hour chunk of time blocked off for a project can be overwhelming and it makes getting started challenging. Here’s how she battles the overwhelm of a big chunk of blocked time:
“I really find it helpful to also just start at least one little task that has to do with that project beforehand, if I can. So if that’s starting a new design file or collecting some inspiration, if I can at least get it started, then the ball is already rolling and I don’t feel like I’m starting from ground zero when that block of time comes.
The other thing is really important is adding a buffer day, if you can, between when you need to design and when you need to submit that design, because it makes a world of difference in productivity. I find I actually worked so much better if I know I have some time, so I’ll just start drafting and I won’t worry about it needing to be perfect yet if I know that I can go away and come back to it later on. Knowing that I have some time to step away and come back, it relieves a lot of pressure, and then I’m actually able to be more productive and be more creative and test things, not feeling like I need to be at the final product right away.”
More from the Team
What other apps and systems do my teammates use to improve productivity? How does my Integrator, Marisa, managed the productivity not only of her own day, but of mine and the entire team’s? As a new mom like Audrey, what strategies does she have in place as she navigates being both an entrepreneur and a mother? Plus, Kerry and Danielle share their unique methods for managing their days as contractors on my team.
I love hearing their voices in my ear buds sharing such powerful takeaways about pursuing balance, protecting their time, managing their roles, and being all-around incredible, multi-passionate women. I told you this team was full of smarty pants. They consistently inspire me with their diverse approaches to not just handling their work and responsibilities, but also how they look at life and being thoughtful stewards of their time in ALL aspects of work, family, personal hobbies, and beyond. I know for certain that I picked up a few new ideas myself for being even more protective and intentional with how I spend my time.
It really goes to show that we all have different preferences and perspectives for how we manage our lives, AND that we can learn from one another if we’re open to listening and experimenting! I know I’ll be playing with and workin’ a few of these tips into my routine over the next few weeks, and I hope you picked up a valuable thing or two to try on for size in your own schedule, too. From my team’s hearts to yours, keep on going! You are powerful and magnetic and amazing, on your most productive days AND on your slower ones, too. You got this!