I love productivity. But honestly, I find that a lot of the productivity tips around are really complex or don’t work for my neurodivergence.

In this episode I’m sharing a few super simple, actionable tips that can help you get more done without burning out in the process.

Links I mentioned in this episode:

11. Increase your productivity (without burning out!) – Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.

[00:00:29] Hello hello. It is Bec McFarland here, helping you do better and be better in your career. And today I want to talk to you a little bit about how to increase your productivity, but also how to do it without burning out. So productivity, I think is something that a lot of us end up chasing. It’s kind of like perfectionism that we all know doesn’t really [00:01:00] exist, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve spent way too much time trying different techniques and looking at different apps and try to come up with ideas about how to be more productive.

[00:01:13] But what I’m going to tell you today is that productivity isn’t necessarily about getting more done. But what it is about is actually just utilizing the time that you have more effectively. And you can use these tips in your career, in your life, if you have a side hustle or a business, you can use them there. They are really, really easy to implement and also really versatile so they can help you out in lots of different areas of work and life.

[00:01:42] So today I wanted to share with you five really simple ways that you can start to increase your productivity, but do so without completely ruining yourself or turning yourself to a completely exhausted zombie like kind of [00:02:00] character. That’s definitely not what we’re chasing when we’re looking for productivity. Right?

[00:02:05] So the first tip that I’m going to share with you is all about batching. And if you’re not familiar with the idea of batching, please you’ll want to listen up because I have found that it is just such an incredible technique to use to get your work done to be able to use your time more effectively, but also work with your energy, which is one of the tips that I’m actually going to be sharing with you today as well. So the idea of batching is all about doing like minded tasks together.

[00:02:39] So for example, I am actually batching a whole lot of podcast episodes rather than just rocking up to my podcast studio, AKA my home office once a week, sitting down in front of the microphone, setting up my software, getting all of my equipment [00:03:00] ready, popping my headphones on, looking at my notes and just recording one episode. I prefer to record a bunch of episodes at the same time, because it means that I’ve only got a set up once.

[00:03:14] You know, it’s one time that I have to get all of that equipment ready. It’s one moment that I have to kind of gee myself up to sit down in front of the microphone. It means that there are a whole bunch of tasks that I’m not having to complete time and time again, because they are those kind of set up or pack down tasks that allow me to just save time, but also be in the spirit of flow.

[00:03:40] So the idea of flow is all about when you just get into the zone. It’s like what you’re doing kind of happens on autopilot. You don’t even really have to think about it. It just feels really, really good because of the fact that like, It’s flowing! [00:04:00] I am sure that you have experienced this before and that you understand what I mean. And if you have, then you’ll really understand the benefits of batching and giving yourself that opportunity to really experience that flow state.

[00:04:15] So when I am thinking about batching, I’m really just making time in my diary, putting aside like a time block to go in and just do multiple things at the same time, but always just making sure that they are like-minded things.

[00:04:31] So we definitely don’t want to be doing lots of different tasks. That is not what batching is. It’s not just like putting a time into your calendar and then doing as many different tasks as you possibly can. It really does only work and really does only allow you to get into that flow state if you are really focused on trying to do similar tasks at the same time.

[00:04:53] So this might be like rather than just logging into your internet banking all at different times during the [00:05:00] month to pay your bills, you might collect all of your bills together, log into your internet banking system, and then pay all of the bills at the same time. Might be the way with other different paperwork that you’ve got to complete you might be able to take this approach when it comes to clearing out your inbox or dealing with other forms of communication from people.

[00:05:20] So really what we are doing is just allowing ourselves to get into that zone, to kind of find a little bit of rhythm in our work and to be able to get a whole lot more done because of the fact that we are not constantly having to repeat those set up and pack down tasks or repeatedly having to try and get us into the mood to do that kind of work.

[00:05:45] The second tip that I’m sharing with you is super basic. And you’ve probably heard a million places before. But I’m interested to know if you have actually tried it and this is turning off notifications. I don’t [00:06:00] have notifications on my phone pretty much for anything. I do have notifications for text messages and for calls because if a member of my family is trying to reach me or my husband’s trying to get in touch, then I want to make sure that I am available to be able to answer their call or respond to their text.

[00:06:21] But aside from that, my notifications are pretty limited. I do have a couple on there as a business owner. Things like payments, so when somebody makes a payment to me, it is always really exciting to be able to celebrate that moment. Not just for the money that’s coming into my bank account, but also the super cool client that is coming into my world.

[00:06:46] So I do have a couple of notifications for that. And I will tell you though do have notifications turned on for my Voxer app, which is my voice messaging app. I do like to just know when I’ve got messages sitting in there waiting [00:07:00] for me to respond to. So this is one of the ways that I work with my clients. It means that they can use voice messaging or text messaging inside the Voxer app at any point while we’re coaching together. This means that they’re not waiting until their next session to have questions answered or to run through an idea or get help with a challenge. They can kind of reach me at any time. And then I respond to those messages within about 24 hours. With that in mind, I do tend to go into the Voxer app when I am in that mood or zone, or I’m ready to listen to messages and then respond to them. But I do also just keep the little notification on my phone, just so that I know what’s going on and so that I know if I need to allocate a little bit more time, because I’ve got lots of notifications happening.

[00:07:49] So why is this a productivity tip? Well, you’ve probably heard that every single time that you stop what you’re doing and check your phone or [00:08:00] move onto another task, it actually takes your brain something like 20 minutes to get itself back into that prime zone of focus. So we don’t want to be getting interrupted all day every day by little pings that are going off in our phone.

[00:08:15] Aside from that, you’ve probably got more exciting, interesting, and important things to worry about than when somebody is going to be liking your latest Instagram post or reel. You really don’t need to be interrupted all day every day by little social media messages or notifications that don’t really have an impact at all.

[00:08:38] Now, when you are used to getting notifications all the time, it can feel a little bit strange to turn them off. But what I can tell you is that after not using notifications for a really long time, I really enjoy the peace and quiet. And I love knowing that those notifications will still be there for me when I am ready for [00:09:00] them.

[00:09:00] And so when I’m ready to log into social media and go and have a little bit of a scroll and deal with comments and likes and notifications and things like that, then I’m doing it on my agenda and not on someone else’s. This in particular is something that I’m definitely going to talk about in a later episode, because I am constantly struggling with the fact that there are about 10,000 different ways for people to get in contact with me and that they can do so, and I get bombarded on every single app and that everyone expects a response on their own schedule.

[00:09:38] I kind of reminisce about the old days when all we had was a house phone and that if you wanted to reach somebody, then you would make an appointment. Maybe I’m a little bit old school, but sometimes I find it really, really overwhelming to find that I’ve got messages in all of these different apps. And it’s really, really hard to [00:10:00] manage. So, as I said, definitely I’ll do a podcast episode on that in the future.

[00:10:06] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting so much clearer about your next steps. Find it at PopYourCareer.com/quest.

[00:10:22] Another way that I like to increase my productivity is to use alarms. Now it’s no secret, that I have ADHD, which means that I do have difficulty with focusing and particularly focusing on things that I don’t want to do.

[00:10:41] Now I can appreciate that everybody has that problem. I have that problem on steroids. Most people are generally able to kind of like make themselves sit down and do the work. I have a lot of difficulty with that. So one of the tools that I use [00:11:00] is alarms, because it means that I can go into a task. I can set an alarm. I can tell myself, just do five minutes, just do five minutes to start with, and then we’ll see how we’re feeling afterwards. Now, usually by the time I’ve jumped in and I’ve done five or 10 minutes, I’m kind of getting into the zone and I’m like, ah, I might as well keep going because I feel like I’m making some progress.

[00:11:22] This is really great for my productivity, because it does kind of mean that I’m tricking myself into getting started on something that I could potentially procrastinate on forever. So alarms definitely work. I’ve got a couple of really cute little cube alarms that I picked up, I think from Amazon, they’ve got different numbers on there, like 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. And you just turn the cube to whichever time that you want and it’ll go ahead and automatically set an alarm for you. So there’s a little bit of a novelty factor there as well for me, that works really, really well.

[00:11:58] Alarms can also [00:12:00] be really useful in making sure that you are taking breaks. I know that when I was working a day job back when I worked in the Australian Public Service, I had a lot of trouble because I would get into my work. I would hyper focus and I would work, work, work, and then I would forget to get up from my desk and stretch my body and move.

[00:12:18] And, you know, like give my muscles a little bit of R and R and I ended up with a chronic pain condition. You know, I ended up with pain going all the way from the top of my head, down into my fingers on my right hand. And I’m still dealing with this chronic pain now, and I can truly attribute it to the fact that I just sat and worked at a computer task day in and day out for way too long. And I didn’t give myself the proper breaks.

[00:12:48] So now I’m definitely more aware of my body’s need to stand up and get away from the computer. And even if that just means that I am just literally standing up [00:13:00] or just wondering out of my room to go and fill my water glass, whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be like a, you know, big marathon or anything like that. But it is just an opportunity for you to get up and move away from your desk. So if you have trouble remembering to do that, alarms can be super, super useful for that too.

[00:13:18] My next tip is to embrace some of the productivity apps that are out there. So you might know that I also own a business coaching practice called Pop Your Business. And a lot of what I teach inside of Pop Your Business is all about creating systems, creating automations and outsourcing, or getting other people to help you with your work.

[00:13:39] Even if you don’t have a business systems and automations can be really, really useful. So you might even want to check out some of the home automation apps or things like IFTTT, which is a simple automation app that might help you to just do little things around the home or around the office that make your life a little easier.[00:14:00]

[00:14:00] If you’re an iPhone user, the shortcuts app is so cool. There are so many things that you can do on there just to give yourself reminders or make things easier for yourself or help you to structure your day. It really is phenomenal. It seems a little bit tricky to get started on, but I would say jump in, have a look, test it out and see what you can create to help make your day, a little easier and help you just to use your time a little bit more efficiently.

[00:14:34] Because I have a business, I also use a project management tool, but honestly, even before I had a business, I used a project management tool. So I used to use something called Trello, which is a board and list and card based system. It’s quite visual and allows you to drag the cards around and set different reminders and things like that.

[00:14:56] I used Trello for years and used [00:15:00] it for many, many different things, not just managing projects. It’s really great actually for keeping track of different job applications that you’ve got out or habits that you’ve got, or even things like, you know, Christmas list ideas, you know. For many, many years, I stored all of my Christmas present ideas for all of my family and myself inside of the Trello app.

[00:15:22] And it just made life so much easier because if I was looking for any kind of information, I always knew where it was and it was always in Trello. Now because I’ve got the business and now I’m working with a team, I have outgrown Trello and I am now using something called ClickUp and I find it personally to just be phenomenal.

[00:15:42] It’s something that I really, really geek out about and I love creating different automations and email triggers and things like that inside of the system, just to streamline whatever I can. Now something like that may be a little bit more of a complex system, but if you like [00:16:00] me and you’re a bit of a geek and you like to store lots of different kinds of information, I would highly recommend that ClickUp is another app that you might want to check out.

[00:16:10] Another similar app that I’ve heard brilliant things about and watched a lot of YouTube videos about is Notion. It is great for note taking and organization and things like that as well. Look, there are lots of different apps out there on the market that can help you with this stuff. I think the difficulty is that you can end up going down a massive rabbit hole, trying different apps, looking at reviews and kind of get yourself into this situation where you end up actually wasting so much time looking for the perfect app to use. So what I would say is don’t spend too much time thinking about it. Honestly, a lot of them have the same functionalities anyway. You’re probably not going to really be missing out on anything too much. So just choose one, just go with it and know that you can always change your mind later on.

[00:16:58] Now the final tip [00:17:00] that I want to share with you today is all about working with your energy that I alluded to earlier on this podcast episode. In a future episode, I am absolutely going to talk about DISC Behavioural Profiling, which is a tool that I use in my business and with all of my coaching clients and as part of that, we talk about your energy and how you can manage it. But from a simple standpoint, without kind of looking at any specific frameworks or methodologies, it is really important just for you to pay attention to the different energetic cycles that we have as humans.

[00:17:33] Acknowledging that you are not always going to feel like the most productive human on the planet. And that is totally okay. So I would just encourage you to absolutely work with your energy. If you are feeling tired or like you need a rest. Sometimes the best thing that you can do is actually just accept that and give your mind and your body, the space that it needs to be able to rest and [00:18:00] recover and rejuvenate. So that the next time you are feeling really excited about getting work done or, you know, diving into some of those projects that you’ve got going on around the home that you are doing so with a really beautiful, fresh energy.

[00:18:15] So I hope that these five tips that I’ve shared with you today do help. They are definitely things that I have implemented in my life and they absolutely help me to be a more productive human, but without burning out.

[00:18:29] Have a beautiful week. Thanks very much for listening and I look forward to catching up with you in the next episode. I’ll see you soon.

[00:18:35] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s tips and that you found value in what I’ve shared with you. If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. Also leave me a rating and a review. If you want to continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll [00:19:00] see you soon.


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About the author 


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.