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3 Ways to Be More Productive with Ease

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My friend Kris Carr, aka Cucumber Jesus, has become well known for her wisdom around cancer and healing.  (She’s a 10+ year cancer thriver whose incredible film Crazy Sexy Cancer put her on the global map as a wellness warrior.)

What a lot of folks don’t know about Kris is what a business genius she is. Whenever we get together we’re always jamming on marketing strategies, opt-in rates, and best biz practices. But we also talk a lot about how to keep our at times intense business selves in check to make sure we’re making a life, not just a living.

This week Kris is babysitting my blog and giving you some of her juiciest tips on being more meaningfully productive. It’s not necessarily about getting more done. She’ll tell you why. (Plus, don’t miss her juicy bonuses for you when you check out her new book, Crazy Sexy Juice. All the info is at the bottom of the post!)

 

We all want to get more done. We want to make an impact, be successful—and sometimes just create some space for relaxation. And look, I’m all for being driven as long as it doesn’t drive us into the ground. {TWEET IT}

Because here’s the productivity catch:  we rarely crank through our whole to-do list before tacking on more items. We assign ourselves more than we can handle, and we’re left wishing we just had more time. Just one more hour, day, week, month, year… life.

Today I want to share three insights that have helped me get the right things done. I’m no expert, but I spend a lot of time focusing on work/life balance practices, and I think these tidbits will spark ideas for changes you can make in your own approach.

1. Less But Better

Many of us overschedule ourselves. We expect constant accomplishment, which, when you think about it, is like expecting yourself to be an assembly line. Assembly lines can keep going and going; humans can’t.

In Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, he talks about doing less—but better—so you can make the highest possible contribution. This book changed my life, and I continually refer back to it. As Greg says, “The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done [either]. It’s about getting only the right things done and challenging the core assumptions of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing them with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.’ It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.”

Doesn’t that make so much sense? The right thing, in the right way, at the right time. Try it.

2. Tidy Up Your To-Do’s

I’m a Post-it note girl. My husband always jokes that our house looks like one big bulletin board.  I’ll put a Post-it note on anything that doesn’t move. Scratch that—I put Post-it notes on my dogs, too.

But recently I felt the need to pull back on the Post-its (and Moleskins and scrap paper and receipts and everything else I use to jot notes down). So I started to use an online program called Trello. I love it! While my team and I use Basecamp for project management, Trello is perfect for my own to-dos. It keeps me organized, which is crucial. If I’m not organized, I’ll bounce around from task to task—or worse, I’ll end up paralyzed in my own overwhelming mess of too many things to tackle at once. The less-but-better plan keeps my Trello board doable and effective. Plus, now I can see more of my fabulous wallpaper, and Brian doesn’t wake up with Post-it’s on his face.

3. Prioritize Simple Self-care

Taking care of yourself is so easy to brush off when you’re busy. I get it. But you know as well as I do that when you neglect your own well-being, everything suffers. Your creativity goes out the window, your relationships suffer, your weight goes up or down… Avoid that hot mess, and commit to supporting yourself through simple, effective practices. Here are some ideas:

● Center yourself: Your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. When I’ve got too much coffee, news and must-dos flowing in first thing, my adrenaline and worry skyrocket. But 10 minutes of mindful meditation? Game changer. You’ve probably heard of the super popular meditation app, Headspace—highly recommended, whether you’re looking to begin a meditation practice or enhance an existing one. The creator, Andy Puddicombe, is the new mindfulness rockstar, and his work is wonderful and approachable.

● Wind down earlier: If you’re like me, you pack your evening hours with tasks. There’s just so much to do! But the more you cram in—and the more amped you become—the harder it is to fall asleep when you hit the pillow. And if we don’t get our 8-ish hours of sleep on a consistent basis, things start going downhill. It takes discipline, but if you ditch the late nights (and addictive Netflix marathons), your body, brains and beauty will thank you.

● Drink your produce: No time for healthy cooking? Juicing and blending up a big bunch of veggies, fruits and superfoods is a simple, effective, delicious way to pack in nutrition in a hurry. Getting in daily nourishing juices, satisfying smoothies and even decadent nut milks is central to my self-care practice, and I’m especially grateful for the convenience of healthy beverages when I’m crunched for time. I so strongly support produce-sipping that I wrote a whole book on it. For Crazy Sexy Juice, I outlined everything I know from over a decade’s worth of juicing and blending experimenting and research, and developed over 100 juice, smoothie and nut milk recipes ready to super-charge your health—and productivity.

Psst: I’m offering an unbelievable bonus bundle for all those who order Crazy Sexy Juice to show my appreciation—but it’s only available until Tuesday! Order by November 3rd and you’ll get my new digital meditation album, Self-Care for Busy People; the recording of the magical Say Yes to Your Life lecture I co-hosted with my powerhouse pals, Marie Forleo and Gabby Bernstein; and a one-day Wisdom & Wellness workshop with an array of inspiring lectures from the most influential personal development and spirituality teachers of our time. All the details are here. These amazing gifts go away on 11/3, so grab ‘em while you can!

 

Over to You:

What’s your #1 productivity tip?  We’d love to hear – leave a comment below!

  • Great article! What is my #1 productivity tip? The Pomodoro technique of focussing on one thing for 25 minutes followed by a five minute dance break to something like Footloose or Flashdance to get the energy moving (and then ready for another 25 minutes of focus)!

  • Mutheu says:

    Thanks for this and especially for pointing me to Headspace. Just today i was talking about struggling with meditation and then your email came thru. Awesome!

  • I recently broke down a task on my to-do list that I hadn’t gotten done all week and realized that one task was actually 17 tasks! Oops! I then breezed through them all with a delicious sense of accomplishment at each step of completion. I always strive to break things down into the smallest bite size morsels…….mmmmm yummy :)

  • Lauren says:

    I love Evernote for all of my note-taking! I have a notebook for personal stuff, work stuff I’m currently working on, super important notes I need to reference often, and an archive folder for past or completed projects that I still want to keep a record of.

    I also recently discovered Solid for meetings and so far, I really like it! It makes it so easy for my to build my agenda and share it with my team, and then take notes right in the agenda to have minutes ready to go! One of my goals this fall is to make better use of the weekly meetings I hold with my staff members, and Solid is helping me do that!

  • Melanie says:

    As an organizational consultant / professional organizer with a focus on wellness, I love everything about this post!
    Along with having a master to-do list and a calendar that I review daily, my #1 productivity tool is planning and visioning for the day – the night before.

    My daily schedule and most of my tasks are documented electronically, however I’ve found that I complete more tasks and have a better flow to my day if I also write down a simple agenda before I go to bed. Writing it out is powerful and productive for me.

    As far as drinking my produce, I use my high-powered blender more than I use my car! :)

  • Alicia says:

    I LOVE Evernote.com! I can type notes during a webinar, or type my answers to my personal growth workbooks and keep them in notebooks that won’t get lost! I know that writing things down helps to cement the concept better in our minds, but I am faster at typing than writing, and want to keep knowledge as much as possible from the webinars I attend.

  • Leslie says:

    Coffee. Ha! No, seriously, What’s been helping me as of late is simply rising earlier. Getting up just one hour earlier (“Miracle Morning”) allows me to have self-care rituals (i.e. meditation, affirmation, visioning, reading, etc. and coffee-drinking, of course.) I’m not exactly sure if I’ve been more productive in the past month, but I know I feel better when I move toward my to-do list with a sense of self-connection created by these morning practices. Thanks for the article. :)

  • Paula says:

    My my my!

    More productive with less is so much better for my piece of mind. I tackle the thing I am dreading the most FIRST THING.

    Then I can relax and punt the other things that are more manageable.

    The key is to NOT think about it, just do it!

    Thanks Kate and Kris for so much awesomeness!

    Paula

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