I’ve been asked by people several times what I do to keep on task and stay focused in the midst of such a busy season of my life. I often find it a little humorous as I usually get these emails on my way to a 3-hour law lecture, coffee in hand, hair unbrushed, and going on 4 hours of sleep… productivity?! Me?!?! But then I think, hey… obviously I’m doing SOMETHING productive if I’m operating my business as I’m going to business school full time. I’ve learned a few little tricks over the years from being a perfectionist straight-A student as well as a perfectionist business owner about HOW to stay focused, stay motivated, and how to balance my time and priorities when it feels like I have way too much on my plate. These 5 tips came to me almost instantly… apparently, I totally know what I have to do to be productive… it’s just a matter of doing it! I hope this post helps a few of you become more productive in your businesses, your personal projects, and your overall life!
Tip #1: Stay organized. I have a few favorite tools I like to use to stay on top of things, so I wanted to share them here! The first one is my Google calendar. After almost missing a very important meeting once upon a time solely because I had agreed to it while I was on vacation and completely forgot about it because I was away from my physical desk calendar… I had to get this app. I paid $6.99 for the premium version, and it automatically syncs with my Google account so that it shows up online as well. I can set text reminders for events, share separate calendars with my family (a necessity when you share a car with your 17-year-old sister), and color code everything so I can easily tell at a month’s glance how many photography things I have coming up. I LOVE the Google calendar mobile app!
Another tool I love to use is a Macbook app called Wunderlist. I discovered this shortly after getting my new Macbook in September and browsing the app store under the productivity category. This app is just wonderful! I can organize my tasks into unlimited to-do lists, add notes, set reminders, deadlines, and even share tasks with certain people I allow to see and contribute to each to-do list. It also links to the app on my phone, which is great for on-the-go updates. This app has been instrumental to organizing my blog posts and editing work in particular and jotting down blog post or video blog ideas before I forget about them! Download Wunderlist here: Wunderlist
My last organizational tool I’m sharing today is Lara Casey’s Powersheets. I’ve actually wanted to blog about these for a while and I briefly mentioned them in my 2014 goals post earlier this year. Lara Casey has a phenomenal website and shop, and she has some amazing tools and resources for business owners, moms, college students… really anyone who wants to Make Things Happen!!! Haha, get it? (You probably won’t get it unless you’re a Lara Casey fan. Lol ;) Her Powersheets are really cool because they help you get your dreams and vision on paper, stay focused month to month, and they really just make you feel awesome. Find Lara Casey’s Powersheets here: Lara Casey
Tip #2: Stay inspired. This is HUGE for me. But it’s also a balancing act. There’s a difference between seeking inspiration and giving in to the act of comparing. Learning how NOT to compare has been a challenge for me as I’m sure it has been for many other photographers! Comparison really is the thief of joy. It can cause all kinds of self doubting and insecurity and confidence issues… BUT seeking out other artist’s work or people in your same field can be extremely beneficial and motivating in the right dosage! Here are two of my FAVORITE photographers… to be honest, I don’t even really follow them to see their work. I’ll glance through new photos quickly but it’s more about what they’re DOING and what they’re saying that inspires me rather than their amazing photography work. Katelyn’s blog is the only blog I check every day… I don’t follow a ton of photographers on Facebook and I rarely browse my Instagam feed. A HUGE hindrance to productivity can be overwhelming yourself with seeing all the work other people seem to be getting done when you’re struggling to get measly little task accomplished. SO, pick a few… just a few!!… and only follow them for daily inspiration.
Tip #3: Stay relaxed. This is soo important!!! If you’re a Christian, you probably know that the Bible commands a day of rest every week. Even God rested on the 7th day! We weren’t made to work with no end. Work shouldn’t be our entire life! What kind of life is that? At the end of your life, you’re not going to regret the day you took off to spend with your best friend, your significant other, your loved ones. It’s so important and so vital to productivity yet it’s SO hard to do. When we don’t take a day of rest, though, it’s counterproductive to our work… we end up getting less done because we get burned out, overwhelmed, and overloaded. BESIDES the day of rest… there’s ways to stay rested DURING your work week! The way you start your day is one of them. I try to do a devotional as soon as I can in the morning. My faith is really important to me, and it’s a source of calm and peace in my craziest times. My current devotional I’m using is online, and it’s called She Reads Truth. It’s an AWESOME site complete with iPhone backgrounds, prints, journals, and of course, devotionals. Right now we’re on hospitality… I’m learning a LOT about the dangers of Pinterest (haha!) and the true meaning of being hospitable to people. She Reads Truth is really so great and my favorite way to start the day! Check it out here: https://www.shereadstruth.com.
Another way I LOVE to stay relaxed while working is with my Spotify playlists. I’ve actually just made a bunch of playlists for our upcoming trip to Europe, so in the middle of working, these songs get me excited thinking about the vacation that’s quickly approaching!!! I also just made an awesome Fall playlist that’s so calming it makes me want to curl up by the fire with a good book and a cup of hot tea. Check out my Spotify playlists here: https://play.spotify.com/user/megankmarcus.
Also, Lara Casey’s site has some really pretty pictures to look at if you know where to find them… ;) (hint: the bottom navigation bar)
Tip #4: Stay wishful. Every now and then I like to remind myself what I’m working for. Not in the terms of getting things done or the grand scheme of things, but a little something just for me. Something I would treat myself with if I hit my next biggest goal or surpassed my projections. I keep these dreams nearby so I see them often… they’re above my desk in my room on an actual bulletin board, but some are also on a virtual board on Pinterest. One of my biggest dreams right now is to travel the world… so I look at this board often and daydream about the things I can do if I just stay focused and motivated!
Tip #5: Stay accountable. This is perhaps the most important essential to productivity. Having an accountability partner, a mentor, someone to encourage you when you’re down, bring you back down to Earth when your head’s in the clouds, and uplift you when you didn’t even know you needed uplifting is SO GOOD for your heart, soul, and mind. Life is so much more about people than things… relationships over work… love over yield. I’m so grateful to have people in my life whom I know can keep me in check, remind me of my core values, and give me that push forward when I need it. If you’re not sure where to find a mentor, look at your industry. Look at your network. Chances are you will notice SOMEONE whom you think you could learn from! Then you have to make it KNOWN that you admire them and would love to learn form them! That’s the hard part… stepping out and asking for accountability. But once you make it known that you’re willing to learn from them… it’s as simple as a weekly check-in or a text here and there! My best accountability partners have been my friends. I have two amazing friends who are fellow photographers who love Jesus, share the same values as me, and are always so full of encouragement. I should also say that these women came to me because I literally prayed for God to bring me them. I didn’t specifically know who at the time, I just prayed for Christian fellowship and asked God to open that door for me… and he totally did! It’s amazing what God will do for us if we ask Him to light our path and lead us closer to His heart. I’m so thankful for these women and the encouragement they provide me with every day!
Meredith is always leaving me nice blog comments… it’s the little things!!
I read this and was like… what? Did that just happen?! It was so what I needed to hear that day. It’s amazing having people like this in my life!
So, from Google calendars to Spotify playlists to pretty pictures of pretty places… there’s tons of ways to increase your productivity. You just have to learn what works for you! I’ve found a pretty good spot with these 5 essentials. Comment below if you have any particular tricks up your sleeve for staying productive! I’d love to hear them!!
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