It’s a new week, and it is October! I couldn’t be more excited to be sitting on my back porch with a blanket because it’s just a bit too chilly while I type this. I had a conversation with a friend this week that prompted this piece of exclusive Patreon content (which comes with a free printable so you can mark it off as you go!)
Time for the 30-Day Productivity Challenge! I’m going to share this on Instagram, too, so use the hashtag #everydayproductivity if you’re going to try it out yourself.
Day 1: What are your top 3 goals or priorities in life? Write ’em down somewhere you can see them.
I am all about the Top 3. You can be a high achiever, you can struggle to motivate yourself. But at the end of the day, you can’t do everything, and I know you want to do something.
So, sit down, dive deep and think about the three things you want to focus on and achieve in your life. What are your top 3 things? Get specific. Dive deep. I don’t just say that my job is my priority – I say what part of my job is a priority.
For example, I want to make The Daily Tar Heel more money so we can continue to support our mission. The tasks I do to make us more money are very different than the tasks I might do for other reasons at work.
Day 2: In a journal, track the way you spend every hour of your day. Get real detailed.
Alright – on a day that is as close to normal as possible for you, take a detailed log of how you spend every hour. Write it all down.
Did you stop to play a game on your phone for 30 minutes? Write it down. (Looking at myself with a little side eye.)
Not only will this help you see how long it takes you to do your regular tasks, but you’ll soon be able to identify your time wasters!
Day 3: Highlight everything on your daily log that gets you closer to your Top 3.
Get a highlighter or a marker and look at your daily log. Highlight everything you did the day before that gets you closer to your Top 3.
Are you spending the majority of your day on your Top 3, or no? Obviously, not everything you do can get you closer to your Top 3. That’s just not how life goes.
But if it matters to you, you should dedicate time to it. This will help you see how you can better do that!
Day 4: Schedule time to think about every idea or project that pops into your head today.
Every time something pops into your head, write it down – but don’t derail your entire day to think it out!
Schedule a time in the future to think over these ideas and projects. If you know you will have dedicated time to work on the ideas later, you will not feel tempted to walk away from your priorities right now to do it.
Day 5: Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than usual, and spend those 30 minutes on your Top 3.
Waking up a little bit earlier isn’t fun, and it isn’t easy. But it can make a big impact on your Top 3 goals and priorities.
Take those 30 minutes to do something that you really want to do, to get you closer to your Top 3.
Day 6: REST!
I am all about rest! I am a Type 3 on the enneagram and we are notorious for burning ourselves out fast. But anyone can burn out quickly. Take time for rest today.
Day 7: Set a 30 min. timer and knock out all of the quick, boring tasks that have been sitting on your list.
Time for a POWER HOUR! (Or a Power Half-Hour. Start small.) It’s time to get a few things you’ve been putting off done.
I recommend a weekly Power Hour, but for beginners, take 30 minutes and accomplish a few of the quick but boring tasks that have been sitting on your to do list for a few weeks. This might be an email that needs answered, an appointment that needs scheduled, a toll that needs paid… (Looking at me again!)
Day 8: Stand up every 45 minutes and take a quick walk around, or stretch.
Sitting sucks. Every time you sit down to work, set a timer for 45 minutes and get up to take a quick stroll or do some stretches. You’ll get more done in those 45 minutes because you know you have an interruption coming up. Plus, your back will feel better and will thank you.
Bonus points: If you can’t ask for or purchase a standing desk, see if you can’t hack one for yourself. I found a shelf in our office that I was able to turn into a standing desk, and I try to spend half my day standing!
Day 9: Say NO to one thing someone asks of you today.
If you are a high-achieving person – and I suspect, if you’re here, you are – then you probably try to do everything everyone asks of you.
Today, I give you a huge challenge: Say NO. Just once! “No, that is not a priority for me. No, I don’t have time for that right now.” NO!
Day 10: Eliminate your biggest time waster today.
Remember that daily log? Hopefully, you’ve identified a few things that are big time wasters.
Today, I want you to take actionable steps to eliminate one of those. I knew that this Solitaire game I played on my iPad was a huge time waster for me – I love playing games, and I get a little obsessive once I start playing one. So, I deleted it from my iPad! I know I can download it again when I’m traveling.
Day 11: Write down the 5 things you want to do every day to get you closer to your Top 3.
With your Top 3 in mind, think about what you need to do every day to get closer to them. Start small – maybe, if your Top 3 includes a health or fitness goal, you say you will drink 64 oz. of water every day.
Either way, decide what the five habits you will make every single day are and write them down. Bonus points if you block off time for each of them in your calendar so you never forget.
Day 12: REST!
Paint your nails. Take a long shower. Slather on a face mask that’s been sitting in your bathroom cabinet since you bought it.
Whatever you do – REST!
Day 13: Dump everything weighing on you into a journal. To dos, worries, everything.
I love a good brain dump. Take a second and open up a blank page in your journal or a blank note on your phone. Dump everything weighing on you.
I mean everything.
Tasks to complete, projects to start, big ideas, small ideas, worries, stresses, fears. The things that bring you joy, cause you stress, make you angry. Write it all down.
Then, you can schedule the tasks, plan the projects and tackle the worries and fears. Just by writing it down, you will feel so much lighter and able to get on with your day.
Day 14: Choose one thing on your daily log that you do often that you can cut out or delegate.
What’s one thing on your day that you could delegate to someone else or cut out completely?
Take a minute today to do just that.
I have never been a good delegator – and I still am not! – but I know the value of it. Use your time for things only you can do.
Day 15: Block off time in your weekly schedule to work on each of your Top 3s.
Purposefully dedicate time in your week – every single week! – to work on each of your Top 3s. For example, if you want to build your graphic design business, you need to dedicate time, even if it’s just an hour, every week to do that.
Don’t just say you’ll do it when you can. Because you won’t. At least not consistently.
Consistency is the best way to build productive habits and get yourself closer to your Top 3s.
Day 16: Time block your entire day, hour by hour. Do your best to stick to it.
Sit down the night before and block out your entire day – what are you going to do in each hour, from waking up to going to sleep?
Block it all off, and do your best to stick to your schedule. See where you’re most likely to derail. Is it because of your own distractions, or other distractions in your work or home? This is a valuable learning experience.
Day 17: Take 5 minutes to unsubscribe from emails that do nothing but sit in your inbox.
You know all of those emails you delete without reading?
Set a timer and take 5 minutes to unsubscribe from as many of them as possible.
Day 18: REST!
TAKE A NAP, SIS.
Day 19: Update your calendar with all of the due dates that you usually forget.
I suspect you’re a Google Calendar or paper planner kind of person, and not just going willy-nilly through life. Or maybe you are, and you’re here to change that.
Either way, take a second with whatever planning system you use, and note down all of the deadlines and due dates that sneak up on you – whether it’s a bill to pay, a task you need to do monthly or a birthday or anniversary you never remember until the day before.
Day 20: Automate a task that takes up too much of your time.
Have you ever used IFTTT or Zapier?
I love both of them and they are great systems for automating tasks that take up time, like managing your calendar, scheduling social media and more. Today, I want you to automate a task that you could’ve automated a long time ago but have kept doing manually.
For example: Set up automatic bill pay. Stop paying bills manually when you auto-draft!
Day 21: Set a deadline for a project you’ve been putting off. Bonus if it’s a Top 3 project.
If you’ve been wanting to tackle your laundry room or start that blog or plant new flowers in your front yard but just haven’t gotten around to it… Set a deadline! Think about it and be reasonable with yourself, but actually put it on the calendar.
The first rule of getting any big project done is putting a deadline on it. Otherwise, someday is never going to happen.
Day 22: Don’t snooze your alarm today.
Maybe you never snooze your alarm. If that’s true, you’re a superhero. But I imagine that at least sometimes, you hit snooze. We all do it!
Today, don’t hit snooze.
Wake up on time (if not a little early) and see how much better you feel by not rushing around to get ready for work or school or life.
Day 23: Turn off all of the notifications for apps that distract you all day.
Every time an app’s notification distracts you today, I want you to go into your notifications and turn off the sound, vibrations or even just the banners on your screen that happen when that app pushes a notification.
Turn it all off!
Leave on the most necessary notifications for you – for me, I have to keep texts, emails and Slack messages – but turn off everything that is not necessary. Yes, that means Target, too.
Day 24: REST!
You’re almost there! One more week.
Make yourself a delicious meal, or sit on the couch and read a book, or go to bed early.
Whatever you do today, it’s about you.
Day 25: Turn your phone off for an hour today and focus on your Top 3.
My phone is my No. 1 distraction.
I can’t always turn it off, but I highly recommend doing it when you can. If you can’t turn it off, at least put it in another room so you can hear it if someone calls you but you can ignore other distractions.
Spend that time without your phone to focus on one of your Top 3s. Don’t tell me you need your phone for all of your Top 3s, because you don’t.
Day 26: Set a timer and spend that time tidying up all of the areas you’ve been putting off.
Do as much as you can in your house or at your desk in 30 minutes! Set that timer and get to work.
For me, I love to do this to run around the house and tidy up before friends or family visit, or to fold as much laundry as I can in the morning before I need to get ready for work. I love deadlines and I love competing with myself, so this is easy.
Plus, nothing is that bad if it only takes 15 or 30 minutes, right?
Day 27: Schedule an appointment you’ve been putting off.
Today, take a second to think about you – what are you putting off? Dentist? Physical? I am the worst about the dentist. So, whatever that is, schedule an appointment. It really should only take 15 minutes, so why do we act like it takes 10 years?
Day 28: Make a list of 10 things you’re going to stop doing.
We’re winding down our 30 day challenge, so today, I want you to think ahead.
What are 10 things you are not going to do anymore, now that you’ve spent 30 days thinking about all of the ways we productively and not productively use our time?
Do the things you care about and the things that bring you joy and the things that keep you and your family alive and safe and happy.
Toss out the rest!
Day 29: Turn all electronics off an hour before bedtime today.
Tonight, give your eyes a break. Power down the electronics at least an hour before you say beddy-bye.
Read a book, take a bath or just meditate in the silence.
No TV, either. Enjoy the peace and quiet.
Day 30: REWARD!
You made it to the end, pals. Congratulations!
I’m right here with you, chugging along. So I know how hard it was. It can be hard to do something new or different or just mindful every single day for 30 days.
So, today, celebrate your biggest achievement. How far did you get on your Top 3 priorities? Did you make any big progress or hit a milestone?
I want to know – let’s celebrate!