2020 has been all about streamlining my habits and making better use of my time. It was the theme that most stood out when I sat down to pen my 2020 goals and priorities. By keeping focused on this, I’ve honed in a lot of better practices this year – especially when it comes to work.
I have been working hard this year at being better at focusing and being intentional with how I spend my time. If I am more focused then I am less distracted intermittently. Batching helps me accomplish this. (It’s a major work in progress though). What is batching? It’s doing tasks one at a time. So spending one hour doing your emails in the morning vs doing them throughout the day. Or for me batching responding to DMs is hugely helpful vs doing them in real-time (as I’m often inclined to do).
Daily To-Do Lists.
This habit is new for me this year and it’s been the best thing to happen to my productivity. Instead of trying to get everything on my to-do list done every day (and often failing), each night I now create a to-do list for the following day with my *most important* To-Dos. Ideally they go in order of importance and this allows me to stay focused on what I really need to get done. Whatever is at the bottom of the list, if it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done. I just move those items to the following day’s to-do list if it’s still of importance. I keep these daily to-do lists on my Notes app and check them off as they get done throughout the day.
Getting educated about + outsourcing my taxes.
My learning curve has been huge when it comes to understanding taxes as someone who is self-employed. My best advice for anyone with their taxes though? Get help. My dad was kind enough to help me for many years with my taxes. But when I moved to NYC and then subsequently became self-employed, I needed expert help to sort out my two businesses. I knew I couldn’t do it alone.
The first time I got help I went to an H&R Block office in New York’s Flatiron. And while these days I work with a freelance accountant, I’m partnering with H&R Block to share how their H&R Block Tax Pro Go® works as it’s a great option for anyone feeling overwhelmed by taxes this time of year and needs to enlist a tax expert for help. To me, the investment of having a professional help with my tax prep allows me to spend my time freed up doing what I am best at. One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned is to outsource the things that stress you out or that you don’t feel confident doing. Taxes are certainly one of those things for me.
H&R Block Tax Pro Go® works by:
- Matching you with an experienced tax pro who is best suited for your tax needs.
- Having you upload your tax documents (W2s; 1099s; receipts; etc.) to their secure online portal. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping them. And if you have questions? You can schedule a call or chat session with your pro at any time.
- The final step is getting you to review your return once it’s been prepared by your pro. The whole process takes only a few days. So you don’t have to have the dreaded tax filing process hanging over your head.
You literally don’t have to visit an office – you can do this process from wherever! Three simple steps and completed in as little as five days. Meaning, you can get this process over with and back to doing the things that you enjoy doing! It’s a breath of fresh air when it comes to making taxes easier. Interested in trying H&R Block Tax Pro Go® this tax season? Use code 47938 at checkout and you’ll get $20 off the cost of your tax filing.
Pausing my inboxes.
I shared the Boomerang Gmail plug-in last year and it’s been one of my biggest lifesavers when it comes to minimizing work stress. When the work day is done, I pause my inbox. Then I’m not interrupting important downtime and I’m actually turning off from work (this is incredibly difficult to do when you work for yourself – there’s always, always, always more work to be done.) I also use the Boomerang scheduling emails feature so I can work on weekends and schedule emails to go out the following week. It’s a lifesaver!
Doing meetings in person.
While they take more time out of the day than a call, I try and take as many meetings in person. It majorly helps develop a relationship that you never know where it may go. What I’ve learned is that I’m much better at pitching myself, ideas and skills in person than over the phone. For wit & whimsy 90% of my partnerships come through people I’ve established personal relationships with so I’ve leaned into this tactic.
Setting timer when on deadline and need to avoid distractions.
If I’m feeling the pinch of getting something done, I go to the timer method. I’ll set a timer for the amount of time I feel I need to set a task and then I get.to.work! I avoid all distractions when the timer is running. It truly forces me to focus and be as tuned-in as possible to the task at hand. I do this for everything from when I want to tidy my apartment or unpack to writing blog posts or working on client deadlines.
Change up my environment when in need of creative thinking.
There’s nothing worse than staring at a computer screen unable to get going on something on your to do list. I’ve found that when this happens it is when I need a change of environment. This could mean taking a short walk outside, this could mean heading to a hotel lobby to work or this could mean phoning a friend to discuss what has me stuck. Taking a step back from the task at hand is sometimes the best way to make progress on it. See related thoughts on boredom and creativity here!
Taking lunch breaks.
As many of us do, I often fail to take any breaks during the work day. I’ll power through lunch barely taking a moment to enjoy what I am eating. On the days I actually make time to take 30 minutes at lunch and step away from work and enjoy my lunch, I always tackle the afternoon with renewed energy and focus.
No computer in bed.
This was a game changing rule I instilled for myself when I became self employed. Work finally had a beginning and an end. I was able to install normal sleeping hours by not being tempted by my laptop. My laptop is not allowed near my bed when the work day is done. When you work for yourself there is literally always more to be done but that brings me to my next point…
Setting work hours for myself.
I could work 24/7 if I allowed myself to. I really enjoy my work and my type-A, driven personality often has me putting my foot on the gas often. That being said, when I became self-employed I nearly burned out in the first six months because I was in overdrive too often. By setting work hours for myself I actually have time to breathe and reboot and do a better job at my work than staying connected at all times. As someone who makes part of her living off of having her life shared online this is extremely difficult but it is also one of the best things I can do for my mental wellbeing.
What are your best work-related habits?
This post is in collaboration with H&R Block. Thank you so much for supporting the brands I love to work with!