You would think that because I’ve been a project manager for over 15 years that I would be suuuper organized, with a detailed to-do list in front of me and no time for overwhelm.
Ha, I wish!
Truth is, when I started working for myself, I had to completely re-learn how to organize my working days.
When I’ve been working long hours, I was feeling bad because after all that’s not why I went self-employed, and when I put in less hours, I was scared that I’m never going to get where I want to with my business.
Just looking at my seemingly never-ending to-do list made me freeze and feel completely overwhelmed. And this led to me focusing on the least-important tasks firsts, just to be able to cross some things off from my list.
Can you relate?
But thankfully, things got better! It took a while, but now I have some processes and structures in place that help me stay productive and focused and get shit done in my business.
Here’s my routine in Bali that helps me stay productive:
I don’t set an alarm and I normally wake up between 6am and 7am. I get a big glass of water, use the bathroom, and then I meditate for 20 minutes.
After that I make myself a green tea (I drink my coffee a bit later), have a quick look at my emails, read the news online and every other day I write in my diary.
I have a look at my calendar and my to-do list for the day and and decide on the 3 main things I need to get done that day.
I wish I could commit to one fixed time for yoga in my day, like back when I was into Ashtanga Mysore and practiced every morning at the same time, but there are different teachers I adore and so I’m switching between the 7:30am and 9am classes at Radiantly Alive in Ubud, or sometimes I go in the afternoon, or not at all.
Every Sunday I plan my week ahead and have a look at their schedule, and then I choose the classes I want to attend and add them to my calendar.
I think it would be much better to have a fixed time for yoga each day or do my own practice at home each morning and just schedule 2-3 classes a week at the studio, and I might try that in one of the next months. For now, I’m just too excited to get back into my yoga groove and practice with all these amazing teachers.
While I love working from my bed and the internet situation in Bali got so much better that it’s also possible to work from home, I joined Hubud, a coworking space here in Bali, to surround myself with other entrepreneurs and meet other people.
I found that when I only work from home, I get a bit crazy because I’m by myself too much. And I love the inspiration I get from meeting all these amazing entrepreneurs here.
Managing my tasks in Asana
Asana is the project management tool I use to manage my tasks. I looove it! My whole life is in there and I’d be lost without it.
I start my day by looking at my to-do list, deciding what’s most important and will help me move my business forward, and what’s possible to get done that day.
There’s nothing worse than never getting all your to-dos for a day done and I’m trying to be realistic in my planning and put less on my plate. This gets easier with practice. I know how long I need for tasks like getting a blog post published or a newsletter out and this helps me plan.
After all, it feels much better to start with a task that’s scheduled for the next day early, than never getting everything done and feeling bad about that.
So, how do I organize Asana?
I have different boards for different projects and some general boards, like a year plan where I have a column for each month and added what I want to get done that month as a task. I planned this at the end of last year and then I look at it again every quarter and at the beginning of each month.
It feels really good to see everything I’ve already got done that year, because it’s so easy to forget about all the things I’ve successfully completed already, we all tend to see only the huge number of tasks ahead.
I have one project I call “Organization” where I add recurring tasks like accounting, financials, social media check, and those tasks show up in my to-do list every day/week or month, depending on the schedule I set.
And then of course I have boards for projects I’m working on, like course launches, client websites or my blog content calendar.
I love to have all my projects and tasks in one place. The less I have to think about what I should do next and the less random decisions I’m making every day, the easier it is for my creativity to surface and my brain to stay focused.
You can read more about how to get started in Asana here. I use the free plan and I highly recommend it!
Tracking my time
I started using Everhour because I wanted to track the hours I was working on client projects, but after a short trial period I quickly signed up for the yearly plan and I just extended that.
Seriously, it changed my life!
Before I used Everhour I sometimes felt like I was working all the time but didn’t see results. I had no idea where time went.
With Everhour, I can track the time I’m working on each project in the day. It integrates with Asana and before I start working on a task, I start the timer right in Asana. And when I’m finished, I stop the timer and the time I spend is added to my Everhour report. It’s really just one click, so easy!
That’s already great because you can see what you spent your time working on. But I love Everhour because it’s forcing me to be mindful and focus on one task at a time.
If I wanted to check my Instagram while I’m working on something, I would have to stop the timer and start it again. This makes me more mindful and really helps me focus. It’s been a total game-changer!
Working in batches and focusing on single projects
I’m still not perfect with this, but I try to focus on one project at the time, for example a course launch or setting a block of time for writing a few blog posts in one batch.
I find this surprisingly challenging somehow, but I’m slowly getting better at it. Hopefully this will be easier when my business is more established.
I’m in Bali, there has to be time for delish cakes in the afternoon, indulgent massages or breaks at the beach, and I try to fit that into my schedule on a consistent basis.
I used to feel guilty for this, but now that I’m tracking my time I feel better spending an afternoon at the beach, knowing I worked last weekend when it was raining.
I aim to work 30 hours a week. This might not sound a lot (when I’ve been in advertising I regularly put in 60 hour weeks), but this is time I’m REALLY working, without any breaks.
I’m not perfect and the real time I spend in front of my computer is longer, because I only count the time I’m tracking in Everhour towards my working time. Of course I spend time on Facebook, or creating play lists on Spotify, or I check emails and forget to set the timer, so this all adds to my work time, but I don’t count it (and try to minimize it…).
And sometimes I’m working longer, for example when I’m working on a new product I’m putting put there or have many client projects, and I’m totally fine with that.
And that’s my routine, or more, how I stay productive in Bali!
While I don’t have a set daily routine here in Bali like in a typical 9-to-5 job, I have processes and tools that help me stay productive and feel good about my work.
Want to learn how to stay productive? Click here to download my free productivity guide ebook with all my best tips and tools.