Productivity and Planning

I keep reading posts about slowing down, being more purposeful, living with meaning while working incrementally towards your life goals. The A-type personality I possess immediately launches into anxiety mode because I’m not slow enough, in most moments feel I have little purpose, am trying to multi-task several life goals, and am taking baby steps towards multiple goals.

However, my personality also lends well to looking for solutions and implementing them. I thought I’d share a few I’m working on , and ask you to do the same.

Getting up at 5:45am – Ok there’s not fancy link to a fancy program for this one. I once read some where (it might have been on that getting up and doing one thing you love before you start your day will help you feel and be successful. My love is running, and so I’ve pushed myself to be on the treadmill 4/5 mornings by 6:00am (ish). While this has certainly helped in my actual running (evidence in actual PB – personal bests- during races), I can’t tell you how much calmer and focused I am at work because of it. I’m not worried about whether my run will get side-tracked because of a work emergency; I can comfortably take time to have a conversation with a colleague without looking at my watch all the time, trying to readjust my daily schedule; I can cook meals at home in the evening. Which brings us to…

Meal Planning – I’m new to having more than just me to worry about for meals, have moved into a home where red meat and potatoes are king and queen, and have control issues. I took to planning the meals, but found that we were still eating out 2-3 times as week. Apart from the cost (hundreds!!) it wasn’t helping my running and digestion. 2 weeks ago I made a goal of going a week without restaurants, posted a menu for review (Kids and pasta – what’s the obsession?!)  and grocery shopped accordingly. 7 days, no complaints, no restaurant bill, and more balanced meals. The meal plan is posted on a white board in the kitchen , which leads to impromptu ‘changes’ according to the kids,….and now neighbours who think we have ice cream for dinner. We’re going for week 3 🙂

The Self Journal  – I’ve been using this daily planner for about 8 weeks. It’s undated and set for 13 weeks of planning, allowing for a shorter time frame on specific goals I do love the daily scheduling it pushes you to do in advance – nightly 5 minute planning sessions is all it takes to identify how my day is going to flow, what top 3 things I need to get done in order to move forward on my goals, and a daily reminder of the overall goal I’ve identified for myself. Along with morning and evening prompts to identify what you are grateful for (coffee shows up an awful lot on mine!).

I’m slow to the ‘wins and lessons’ section, and know that I’m not using the planner to its fullest yet, so I suspect I’ll be buying another one and will be able to use it to greater effectiveness the second time around.

Mint – I’ve connected all of my bank accounts, credit cards and loans to Mint. Mint allows you to set monthly budgets for yourself and then tracks your spending according to those budgets. While that’s been helpful, I’ve found it more useful in two key areas:

  1. Tracking unexpected bank fees, including credit card interest charged. This one feature alone led to the move of my PC Master Card amount to my line of credit, saving a whopping $XXXX per month in interest payments
  2. Provides reports on spending trends and habits. Coffee is the downfall, and when I first connected all of my accounts threw a $345 expense over 3 months at Tim Horton’s in my face. That ended my auto-reload account with Tim’s.

Mint allows me to stop logging into each account (although there are just two, really) and doing a detailed search and analysis for items I need to correct and adjust. The app takes just a few seconds to update all my accounts, and then it takes me no more than 2 minutes to check if I’m on target or if there is something I need to fix.

I moved my phone from the bedroom– My phone has so much capability and functionality, the least of which is the alarm function. I was using it as my bedside alarm, but this led to late night Facebookery, Twitter watching and email gazing. Doesn’t take much to agree that this is not the desired sleeping environment, and let’s not go into other bedroom activities. So, I dug out the old-fashioned bed side alarm from the basement, dusted it off, and moved the phone downstairs at night. I’m sleeping better and feel less anxiety and urge to read emails first thing in the morning. It’s been a good move!


I’m always looking for more ways to get my time back – efficiency and productivity allow me to relax where I should, take in the sunshine now that spring has finally arrived, and enjoy the time I have with family and friends.

Tell me, what are you doing to make the most of your day? What’s the best tip you have for productivity and efficiency?


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