Designing Your Day – Increasing Productivity The Smart Way

February 17, 2015

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If you’re like me, you have a lot of people and things competing for your time and attention.   Do you ever have days when you feel like you didn’t get anything done?    It’s like the hamster on the wheel, running as fast as it can but not getting anywhere.  “I’m spinning my wheels!” is what I always say.    When this happens, I say to myself, “Crap!  My day was totally out of control.”    Was is really?   I would say so.  It’s obvious I didn’t do a good job designing my day.


That’s the focus of this week’s blog post.   Are you designing your day, or is your day designing what you do?   Keep in mind, if you’re a salon owner that still works behind the chair, well, we know where we can find you pretty much day in and day out.    But what about when you’re not behind the chair?  How are you spending your time?


A very simple productivity tip that I  adopted and have found to be very useful is taking a moment to block out times on my calendar that dictate where I’ll be and what I will be doing during the day.   I normally do this as part of my morning ritual each day.   When I’m feeling extra ambitious, I might even do it on a Sunday night and mark out my calendar for the entire week ahead.   A big advantage for doing this is that it eliminates the extra energy that it takes to figure out what to do next as you move through your day.   When time is marked out, all you have to do is simply follow your calendar!   Remember, only mark out time on your calendar that denotes where you will be and what you’ll be working on.    I happen to use a productivity task management tool called Omnifocus.   Inside my Omnifocus application is where I can find all of my to-do’s and tasks that I’ve assigned to myself.   So, when I’m working inside of Omnifocus, I mark the time out on my calendar and name the time block “Omnifocus”.    This is the time on my calendar that represents when I’ll only be working on tasks.


I also mark out time when I’m commuting and even exercising.   Having visibility of how I’ve allocated time for each hour of every day  really helps me see how much time I’m actually getting stuff done.    After implementing this process, I was surprised to discover that I was lucky if I got as much as three, maybe four hours of every day to really work on stuff!    When you subtract out all of the meetings, commuting time, one on ones and conference calls, there really isn’t a whole of time left over for other things.    To increase productivity, I now try to schedule all of my meetings and phone calls on one or two days during the week.   This leaves me with rest of my week to actually get stuff done.    It doesn’t always work out, but it has certainly made me more mindful of how and when I schedule my meetings and calls.   Give my system a try and see for yourself if you’re more productive.  I bet you will be.


I’ve attached a screenshot of my calendar to show you what mine looks like.     What about you?   Do you have a different way of managing your time?   Please share your thoughts in the comments below.






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  1. stan bialecki

    March 9th, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Hi Chris,
    Great article!
    I have been practicing GTD for the past few years using the old fashion sheets of paper, input file and paper folders for each projects.
    I switched over to OmniFocus on my IPhone last week after reading your blog. I loaded my paper input list and projects into Omnifocus.
    The challenge I have is working off the input list on my iPhone vs having it on a sheet of paper. The sheet of paper was easy for me to read and hold on my hand. Do you have any suggestions about making the transition? Thanks

  2. Chris Murphy

    March 10th, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Hi Stan!
    It takes some getting used to, but eventually you’ll learn to work off of your list in Omnifocus. Glad to hear that you’ve made the switch to Omnifocus! It’s my productivity “hub”, along with Evernote! To help with the transition, are using using the flagged feature? As part of my daily ritual (which is set up as a single action project list that recurs every day for me to check off), I go through and flag up to five tasks that are the top five tasks for me to complete. Then I use the flagged perspective to only show me those five items to work on. When those five items are completed, I then go back through my projects and select five more tasks. Omnifocus is more pricey than most apps in the Apple app store, but it’s worth it to me. To get the most out of the software and to make sure that you are unleashing its potential, I would recommend purchasing the iPhone and the Mac version of it at the very least. (I also have it on my iPad) I find that I use my phone as more of an input device and to check off tasks as I move through the day. I use Omnifocus on my Macbook to do my review cycles, go through my daily rituals, and organize projects and tasks; more heavy duty stuff. Be on the lookout for more blog posts around Omnifocus in the near future! I hope that helps.

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Located in Austin, Texas.

Chris Murphy