A Productivity Hack That Will Work For Everyone


source: Tribune Media Services

I love me some productivity hacks, but I often find that when I read about how to improve my time management, the solutions always seem to be conflicting or involve things that just aren’t realistic for my life. “Set Your Alarm 30 Minutes Earlier” — Uh, I already get up between 4:30 and 5am. “Only read emails twice a day” No thanks, I’d get fired. “Multi-task” oh wait, no “Don’t multitask” The advice out there is infinite. And maybe that is part of the problem.

You can’t manage time. Time is finite. You hear this all the time but it is true: There are only 24 hours in a day, and there will always be a laundry list of things that need to get done on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This is a reality that has hit me like a ton of bricks in my new job. I am someone who measures my success by what I achieve so obviously I’m a big fan of Goals and To Do Lists — this shouldn’t be a shock, you can take one look around this blog and see that. But despite making them day in and day out, and checking things off regularly, As of a week or so ago I wasn’t feeling super accomplished.

Maybe I should be writing better To Do Lists. Maybe I should be using a different system. Maybe I should be working harder. Maybe I should be working smarter. But here is the epiphany I had this week: No productivity hack is going to eradicate the tedious tasks of life or work, and nothing you find on Pinterest is going to magically turn you into an organized, pulled together person who has always gets everything done in an orderly fashion. Time Management is a myth. It is physically impossible to manage time. You cannot manage your time, but you can manage your energy.

If you want to get things done, you must have the energy to do.

And for me, that was like a light switch. I’m still not at a place where I feel like I’m balancing EVERYTHING yet, but for now I am balancing the important things. And spending a lot more time doing this:

You guys, what did I even Instagram (or do, for that matter) before I got this dog? #bustergram

And slowly but surely, things are feeling like they are getting back to normal. Whatever else I can do on top of that? Icing on the cake!

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18 Responses to A Productivity Hack That Will Work For Everyone

  1. Rhonda H says:

    You hit the nail on the head! Gotta have the energy — a good reminder!

  2. SUCH A GREAT POST!!! Thank you Holly!

    P.S. I read “goals and to do lists” as “goats.” So yeah. Maybe I should aim for more sleep…

  3. K says:

    Completely and utterly true. I have had so much more energy lately and this morning was a whirling dervish of things accomplished before the kids and I even left the house.

    No energy = no managing of anything (not even my own damn hair)

    • Holly says:

      TRUTH. And I find if I am doing some forward thinking energy management I have to do less DUMPING 900 CUPS OF COFFEE DOWN MY GULLET. Which is also helpful. 🙂

  4. Audra says:

    Great post!
    I find it funny though (in the irony-way, not haha-way), that you just blogged about your promotion and now this one’s about feeling unaccomplished. It’s a good point to remember to notice achievements regardless of our typical measurements.
    You’re my fave blogger, btw.

    • Holly says:

      Yes, to the irony. I guess for me, being thrown into a new position is great, but also it has made me feel super challenged instead of super successful, so that’s where I feel unaccomplished. Which is stupid. But this is also sort of part of my learning process. Whenever I go through a phase where I acquire new skills I get frustrated because I want to learn something once and then be great at it…and well, LIFE DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY. I’ll get over it, I’m sure. And thanks so much for the kind words!

  5. I really love this! Often I don’t get things done around my house (ahem…. cleaning my room….) but my job is very demanding and rest is vital in my happiness and success. So, I have been working on not beating myself up for not getting chores done. I’m doing the best I can, and most importantly, taking care of myself. 🙂

    • Holly says:

      I am still a serious work in progress on the “not beating yourself up” front, but I totally agree. You have to look at resting/recharging as an integral part of the whole “Getting Things Done” process.


    This is seriously just so smart because it’s so true. Work is quite usually WORK. Not often actually fun, right? Even if we like our job, which I do.

    I’ve definitely had a change in my energy level (and mood, OMG) since I started doing 30 minutes of yoga and 20 minutes of Just Dance (Wii) every morning. Plus, I’m not shivering when i get into the shower; I’m all warmed up (I usually would procrastinate getting into the shower). This 30 + 20 minutes changes my whole day – plus, I seem to now be able to squeeze in some tidying in the morning, AND I’m able to make the early bus, so I’m getting to work on time. On the surface, it’s a small change – I’m actually getting out of bed just 45-50 minutes earlier, but what a difference in my life and energy!

    You are the QUEEN.

  7. Rose-Anne says:

    Yes, yes, this! This is why it’s important to feel in control of yourself and your days: because that feeling is itself energizing. And I think that’s why it’s so frustrating to feel like things are out of control: because it saps your energy.

    Also, you and Buster are adorable. Love! And do not worry about the new job–you will get this sh*t figured out 😉

  8. Rockermocking says:

    I often lack energy after work, even if I get home by 5:30 so I need to work on what will make me more productive so I have the energy to do things.

    Speaking of saving time… did you see this blog post on using liquid nutrition to save time?


  9. Mandy says:

    Amen, sister! This is probably one of the hardest post-cancer lessons I’m learning! “You cannot manage your time, but you can manage your energy,” is going on a post-it affixed to my computer TODAY.

  10. Steph says:

    Such a pretty picture of you! 🙂

  11. Mal says:

    I can’t decide if this means my nap today was a good or bad idea. I haven’t found the happy medium where I can rest without feeling guilty.