How to be more productive in your personal life

How to be more productive in your personal life [PMP #254]

When it comes to productivity, we usually think about how to be more effective and efficient at work or in our business. But productivity isn’t just for getting more done in our professional lives. Productivity is a skill that helps you to be more effective and efficient with everything you do and being productive in your personal life is just as important.

Most people sleep around 7-8 hours a night and work for 8-9 hours a day (including commute) leaving them with about 8 hours for recreation and personal projects. So how do we get the most out of this time?

In this post, I’d like to share some things I do to try and be more productive in my personal time.

Don’t want to read this post? Listen to the podcast instead:

Use a shared calendar with your spouse

For years now, my wife and I have used a shared iCloud calendar to plan important events and notify the other person about appointments we both need to be aware of.

We use this for planning social events that we’re attending, doctors' appointments and kid stuff. Tomorrow we have someone coming over to repair our broken oven and you can bet we have this in our shared calendar.

Sharing a calendar means we’re both aware of important events (which is useful for me as, like a lot of husbands, I’m prone to forgetting things that my wife tells me).

If I’m feeling really organised, I’ll even use the shared calendar to plan jobs I need to get done at the weekend. On my blog, I’ve often talked about how I use time blocking to plan my work. I use the same technique to plan things I need to do in my personal time as well.

Setting up a shared calendar is easy. We chose to use iCloud as we’re both iPhone users and it’s easy to share a calendar with someone else who has an iCloud account. The same could be done with Google Calendar or Microsoft 365.

Keep a personal to-do list

I use Asana to manage the work in my business. But this is overkill for the simple personal reminders I need. If I need to plan chores or jobs for the weekend, I’ll do this in Apple Reminders.

Using Apple Reminders is handy as I can ask Siri from my phone, watch, computer or even in the car to remind me about stuff when the thought occurs to me. I like adding context to my reminders so I’m reminded at the appropriate time. For example, I’ll say: ‘Remind me to X when I get home’ or ‘Remind me to X when I message Y’.

You don’t have to use a separate app but I like the mental separation between work (Asana) and personal (Apple Reminders). Apple Reminders also allows me to set up recurring reminders for things like the bins as I never remember whether it’s a recycling week or not.

Optimise for what you enjoy spending time on most

In my business, I optimise my time by asking myself what I enjoy spending time on and what I’d like to stop doing if possible. I like to use the same principle in my personal life.

For instance, there are some chores, like washing the car, that I enjoy doing. I find it therapeutic. But there are other chores, like grocery shopping, that neither of us like doing. To save time on this, we tend to do our weekly grocery shop online. It requires a little forward planning but it saves us a huge amount of time as someone else is walking around the store getting everything we need. We the pull up to the collection lockers outside the store or better yet, we’ll have our groceries delivered.

We also purchased one of those robot vacuum cleaners. I was sceptical at first but even the basic one we have is pretty good. When we leave the house we’ll lift up the chairs and let the robot do its thing. It’s not as good as if a human were doing it but I have to say, I’m impressed at how well it performs and it’s nice coming home after a robot has cleaned the floor.

Another area where we like to save time is cooking. We appreciate good food and want to eat healthily but it’s sometimes hard working out what to cook each night. Services like HelloFresh, which we’ve been a customer of for the last few years help us to eat healthily without having to think about what to make or having to shop for the right ingredients.

The key takeaway here is to identify the things you don't enjoy doing and find creative ways to save time.

Dedicate some time to productive habits

Scheduling time for habits like reading, meditation and journaling is a great way to use your personal time to relax while also doing something productive.

At the same time, don't put too much pressure on yourself to use every waking minute of your personal time to be productive. A while ago I wrote about how being too focussed on self-improvement can create an unhealthy pressure to always be improving and means you never get a break.

Rather than committing to meditating or journaling every single day, which can be a high standard to maintain, I don’t put any pressure on myself. I aim to do these things a few times a week or even just when I feel the need to and that’s enough for me.

Not all of your personal time has to be spent on ‘productive’ things. Relaxing by doing whatever you enjoy will help you to be productive later as you capitalise on some much-needed rest.

Set your future self up for success

Whenever I can, I like to set my future self up for success. Before going to bed each night, I like to ask myself what I can do now to make tomorrow a little easier. This could be things like:

  • Emptying the dishwasher so it’s empty and ready for the morning. Or turning it on if it’s already full.
  • Getting our son's clothes and breakfast ready for the morning. My wife will even make up a bowl of cereal and put it in the fridge (without the milk of course) so it’s ready in the morning.
  • Turning on the robot vacuum to clean the floors overnight.
  • And usually, the last thing I’ll do is check my calendar to see what tomorrow looks like in case there’s anything I should prepare for now.

These little things are often easier to postpone to the next day. But I like getting a head start to make the next morning that bit easier.

Those are some of the things we do to be more productive in our personal time. If you have any tips or tricks of your own, please leave me a comment below!