Why do I want to improve myself?

Why do you want to be more efficient?  What is your end goal?

Being productive and efficient comes from personal motivation.  No one is standing over you to make sure you stay on track.  There is no big bad Efficiency Coach waiting to whip your ass into shape.  YOU have to keep your OWN behind on task.

But making excuses is really, really easy.  I would know, I just did it to myself.

I planned to read an article for work this evening, so I could work on a write-up tomorrow morning.  Instead, I looked at my nails and thought well, keeping my nails pretty is part of looking professional, right?  I should take care of these.

Now it’s 9 pm, and I ALSO promised myself I would blog tonight.  I typically go to bed at 10 pm.  I don’t have time to do both.  I did this to myself.  I made excuses and let myself slip.

Am I gonna beat myself up over it?  Of course not.  That is not productive in any way shape or form.  But I’m trying to learn from it.  So instead of my previously arranged topic, I’m going to come up with reasons why I want to be more efficient with how I spend my time.  Then I have to figure out a way to keep those reasons in mind when I let myself slide.

  1.  More efficient work = more time for me.
  2. I feel good when I crawl in bed at the end of the day, knowing I did something useful.
  3. I love the feeling of crossing things off my list.
  4. Deadlines give me crazy anxiety – getting things done early defeats the anxiety monster.
  5. I want to be able to leave work at work.  I want weekends to be weekends.
  6. I want to be proud of my work product, and not ashamed that it’s late and/or not done to the best of my abilities.
  7. I hate wasted time.
  8. I hate leaving things until tomorrow.

Do any of these apply to you?  Or do you have other reasons for wanting to improve yourself?

If you know why you’re doing something, it becomes easier to complete.  If I tried to stay up all night just to see if I could do it, I can guarantee you I wouldn’t make it.  But if I had a good reason, say, taking care of someone, or working on an urgent project, or something along those lines, I’m equally sure I could do it.  It comes down to what’s making you press on.

If you don’t feel like you have reasons, find them.  They are there.  I have days where I question everything, down to why I got out of bed that morning.  But I get out of bed every morning, and it’s because I know where I want to be — and I have to work to get there.

So let’s start with the why, then we’ll get to the how.

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My Favorite Things

While being efficient and productive is a personal process, there are a few things I’ve found that help me be my best self.  I generally try to keep this to inexpensive things.  They are not imperative to productivity, but they can be helpful.

Flexibility and structure live in a delicate balance.

I like to make lists, plan my days, and keep track of all aspects of my life.  Despite being a “millennial”, I haven’t made the transition to paperless planning.  There’s something about being able to doodle in the margins that makes plans more real to me.

I also like to color code things.  I am not necessarily consistent with my color coding, but generally in my planner, I use my preference for one color over another when I write things in.

For instance, I like pink more than purple.  Thus, lunch with the girls and clean the dishwasher get color coded accordingly.

Like I say, I’m not always consistent, but the perk is that the activities I look forward to draw my eye when I look at my plans for the week, month, or year (it’s always super rewarding when I turn the page in my planner and see a big pink note approaching!).

BUT, we all know plans change.  One of the gals has a meeting on our usual lunch day, so we push it back.  This is why Pilot Frixion Pens have become one of my favorite things.

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[These are my own pens I purchased of my own accord.  This is not an advertisement, just my opinion!]

These miracle pens are completely erasable and come in lots of colors.  Yup, completely eraseable.  They use heat (Frixion… friction.. aha!) to erase, so there are no weird rubber-eraser-worms flopping all over the place when you erase things.

These pens allow me to look at my planner or random scribbled notes and immediately see fun things pop out without having to commit to everything in indelible ink.  Pencils just don’t do it for me anymore.

If you get the multi-colored set, they come in a neat little pouch that fits easily into my purse.  I don’t go anywhere without them!

Do you think they would help you?

Efficiency is Me

I don’t think of myself as being better or worse than the next person at being “efficient’.  I just know I value it greatly.  There are so many things to do every day, every week, and in my lifetime and I don’t want that to overwhelm me.  I want to be able to put 110% into the things I do, and turn off 110% when it’s time to turn off.  This is just me sharing the things I do and how they work for me — and sometimes how they don’t work for me.

 

I can’t guarantee the things I do will work for you, but of course I’m hopeful something will stick and make a change in your life, for the better.  Maybe you’ll see something and think, I’ll just give it a try.  If it doesn’t work out, let me know.  Maybe we can tweak things to fit your lifestyle.  Everyone works in a wonderfully unique way.

You know how people say, I’m a visual learner, or I learn by doing?  I don’t know what kind of learner I am.  You’d think after 27 years on this planet, learning every moment of every day, I would know what works for me.  Unfortunately, I don’t.  But I’m constantly striving to put the pieces in place.

 

Efficiency has become one of my most valued traits.  Nothing aggravates me more than feeling that time is wasted, whether it’s mine or someone else’s.  I blame a little of that on my work experience.

 

I started working at Starbucks when I was 17 years old, and am still employed there part-time today.
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Barista Laurel circa 2014

Being a barista requires lots of skills:  people skills, sales, down-and-dirty cleaning, and being as efficient as possible.  You cannot make 1 drink at a time while ignoring everyone around you.  You are ALWAYS MULTITASKING.

 

Now, I feel I MUST ALWAYS MULTITASK.

 

But let me be clear:  this does not mean I am always working on multiple projects at one time.  There are things that require your full, undivided attention.  But when I can, I keep my milk steaming, my blender blending, my coffee brewing and my conversation with you about your weekend going all at once.  

 

 
The primary purpose of this blog is for me to navigate my days and figure out what’s working and what isn’t.  A great secondary benefit would be if someone else found these things useful too.

 

I don’t know exactly what topics I’ll blog about, but I’ll try to keep it interesting.  Bear with me while I figure it out.  🙂