Sometimes you feel like it’s Groundhog Day: you wake up with great intentions to smash through your to-do list, and then it’s somehow four in the afternoon and you’re still in your pyjamas. Again.
While productivity is easy to plan for, actually executing it can be a little harder. So what’s the golden secret? From Paralympian Ellie Cole to actress Ada Nicodemou, here are seven pieces to the jigsaw puzzle of productivity.
1. Invest in a diary.
For Sally Obermeder, having a diary to schedule things in is a must (plus, it’s an excuse to go stationery shopping!)
“I’m a mad scheduler because I just find there’s no other way to slot things in and I do like to work in advance, so this is the best way to map out everything going on,” she says.
But while it’s good to try and stick to it, the TV host says it’s important to accept there are some things you just can’t plan for. “Things don’t always go to plan, things go wrong, balls get dropped. So what? That’s life,” she says.
“It’s very hard to keep 10 balls in the air at the same time easily … those ones that were down go up, the ones that were up come down and that’s just how I do it.” (Post continues after gallery.)
2. Commit yourself to things.
One way to ensure things get done? Commit yourself to them — and don’t give yourself a chance to back out. It’s a trick that works for Michelle Bridges.
“It’s all about forward thinking, and planning what’s coming up … That goes for business, it goes with exercise, it goes with nutrition,” she says.
"I look at my schedule across the board and if it's looking like a total nightmare, then I'll go, 'Okay, I am going to fit training in, but I'm going to have to be smart. Where can I fit it in?' Rather than getting to a day and going, 'Ugh, can't train, too busy', I've already got it planned where it's going to happen." Genius.
Sometimes you just need a reminder that no matter what you do, you're enough. Here's Jessica Rowe to give it to you. (Post continues after video.)
3. Be busy
For Paralympian Ellie Cole it's about filling in your time effectively.
"Firstly, it helps when you are doing something you love. I have found that when we are out busiest we are at our most productive too — there seems to be no time for procrastinating!" she says.
"But during these times, it is extremely important to write down exactly what you plan on doing for the day. This not only serves as a reminder, but also gives your day direction. "
Considering she has four gold medals and one silver to her name, we think she may just be on to something...
4. Be time-savvy.
This not only means you get things done quicker, but it allows you the opportunity to switch off in the evenings knowing you've knocked over your to-do list.
"My best advice is to be extremely time-savvy, since it is one of our most limited resources. For example, I only talk on the phone or answer calls when driving (hands-free of course!) and I do admin while getting hair done or waiting for clients or appointments. I avoid meetings unless absolutely necessary and all social media is scheduled so I don't get distracted during the day," says dietician and author Susie Burrell.
"This strictness means that come 8pm and Sundays I can completely switch off, as I do a few times a year at the beach to completely recharge. This balance works for me."
5. Be prepared for inspiration to strike.
There's nothing worse than having a brilliant idea, not being able to note it down and then losing it forever - but that's not a problem Mamamia co-founder Mia Freedman has anymore.
"I have my best ideas on the treadmill. So I keep some post it notes and a pencil close to jot things down before they disappear," she explains.
Keeping a notebook in your pocket or even whipping out the notes section in your phone each time you think of something is a sure fire way to remember - and then execute - those (potentially) million dollar ideas.
6. Make a run sheet.
Rather than leave things to just go with the flow, media personality Mel Greig swears by making herself a run sheet.
"Every morning I start my day by going through my diary and notes and I compile a checklist. Technology has advanced and we rely so heavily on our phones and computers to structure and run our lives, but for me, nothing beats sitting down with my notebook and pen and writing out a structure of how my day will run," she says.
"Even if it's not work related, I like to plan out my whole day, including lunch breaks, shopping and 30 minutes of 'Mel time' to tune out... it's something I live by and what I implemented in my time on Celebrity Apprentice."
7. Don't underestimate a to-do list.
Get out the pen and paper — the to-do list is far from dead.
"I think the number one reason I remain productive is I write lists," says actress Ada Nicodemou.
"I don't rely on my memory any more so I'm a list maker and I put everything into priority from most urgent to least." (Post continues after gallery.)
8. Motivate yourself
"I think when you want to achieve something, you create a vision for yourself, and that’s what I apply with myself. I’m so motivated and dedicated to becoming world champion that it's a continuation; I'm always inspired to train and get up at 4:30 am. That direction is paramount," she says.
"Even on those hard days, when I’m exhausted and looking at the run sheet and thinking ‘How am I gonna fit all of that in?’, you just do. You get it done. You won't let yourself drop the ball; it's on me to drive myself to that point."
What's your secret to productivity?