Thursday, May 12, 2016

4 Ways I Increased My Productivity in 2016

My life has changed immensely since moving to New York last July.  I came here wondering if it would be a good fit for me or if I'd even survive my first winter.  I also had a healthy fear after hearing a few apartment horror stories and knowing how expensive city life can be. However, to my surprise and delight, I've had the time of my life!  The fast pace is energizing and exciting, and I love the passion here.  No one can live in New York and not be a hustler or go-getter.  It's just too damn expensive!  The main adjustment for me has been the process of simplifying and streamlining my lifestyle and getting back on track with my goals.  I began by parring down my clothing and belongings to fit in to a tiny bedroom with a 3' wide closet with a lot of help from Marie Kondo.   Once my apartment was in shape, I learned about the 50 thousand apps New York has that make life just a tad easier in the city.  Seamless for food delivery, Postmates for any/all deliveries, Minibar for wine deliveries in under an hour, Handy for house-cleanings and handyman services, and Fresh Direct for grocery delivery.  My favorite app is the Starbucks app which lets me order my coffee before leaving the apartment and grab it from the pick-up area on my way to the subway in the morning.  So efficient and perfect for me, as I am perpetually running 5 minutes behind.

{via instagram}

So with all the conveniences available in New York, you'd think my productivity would be through the roof!  Unfortunately, I learned quickly that after working all day I usually just wanted to go reward myself with a hearty meal and a dirty martini at one of the million restaurant recommendations I have saved in my phone.  I quickly got in the habit of eating a large meal, having a few drinks, and falling in bed only to do it all over again the next day.  Working out, reading, getting enough rest, and just taking good care of myself in general were no longer priorities and by Christmas I was ex-haus-ted.    I wanted to start fresh in 2016 and get back on track with feeling good about myself and working towards my longterm goals.  Here are 4 specific things I've done so far this year that have helped me get back on track.

1.) Invest in a FITBIT x  MyFitnessPal

We often talk about how technology is negatively effecting the quality of our relationships.  I'll be the first to admit I hate it when someone checks their phone when I'm sitting across from them at dinner or trying to have a meaningful conversation.  However, when it comes to simplifying our lives or reaching our goals, technology can be a huge help!

Case in point- My Fitbit.  I was gifted a Fitbit Charge HR for Christmas this year as a first step towards getting healthier, and it has made reaching my fitness goals immensely easier.  I jumped on the Fitbit train much later than most people, but it has truly changed my life and I like to tell everyone about it!  I wear the basic black Charge HR, but Tory Burch recently launched a line of seriously stylish Fitbits that I've had my eye on:

 I have been tracking what I eat each day for years (if any other ladies had to keep a pocket calorie count book in their purse like me back in the day, then you know the struggle), and now set aside a few minutes a day to do so via the  MyFitnessPal app.  The Fitbit app allows you to sync your MyFitnessPal account to your Fitbit dashboard in order to keep track of your calories in versus calories out each day.   I check my dashboard a few times a day to see how I'm doing.  If my steps are low, I try to make sure I walk home from work, take the stairs rather than the elevator at the office, or eat a lighter dinner:

Obviously this was a Friday because I had a bit of fun eating out and having a cocktail or two, and that sent me over my calorie goal.  But you gotta live a little, too!

 Fitbit also helps you stay on track and focused by sending you weekly progress reports that show your stats for the week and the times you were most active:

And you know what's even more fabulous?  I have Oscar Health Insurance through the New York marketplace (yay Obamacare), and they reward you for every day you take over 10,000 steps with money towards an Amazon gift card.  In fact, they GIVE you a Misfit to wear if you don't have a Fitbit or step tracker already.  If you do have one, like me, you can sync it to the health app on your iPhone so that the Oscar app reads your daily steps.

So essentially, I'm getting paid to walk to work versus taking a cab.  

Oscar also pays part of your gym membership if you work out 50 times in 6 months, so that's motivated me to get in more workouts at Equinox and Soul Cycle as I inch closer to the 6 month mark.

{Recent selfie, feeling much healthier these days!}

2.) Use Your Calendar As Your Daily Road Map

At our office, we input every client meeting, installation, brainstorming session, offsite vendor meeting, and evening work event in to our shared iCal.  That way, all 3 of us are on the same page with work and we always know what's going on.  

I've started blocking out time in my calendar for the important things I want to be sure and make time for each day.  I'm treating each calendar appointment like a client meeting I have to be prepared for.  For instance, I put in my workouts at the beginning of the week so that I can plan around them when scheduling social events and dinners with friends.  I also know to expect them so I'm prepared mentally and pack my gym bag before going to work.  The same is true for working on content for my blog- I set aside a few hours somewhere in my day to get inspired and work on original ideas for future posts.  If it's important to me and it needs to happen, it's in the calendar.  

{I think i'd be extra productive in Bill Ingram's Atlanta office}

3.)  Do the Most Important Things First 

Half the battle to accomplishing anything is really just getting started.  Since the day is wide before you in the morning, it's easiest to put your energy towards working on the hardest task first as it will likely take the most time.  This will also keep you from procrastinating later in the day or simply thinking you can roll it over to do the next day.  Also, once you have the most timely/difficult task behind you, you'll feel more accomplished and motivated to take on the rest of your day.  

Before I applied this lesson to my day, I spent the first hour or so sorting through emails and getting lost in writing responses on items that just weren't that urgent in the grand scheme of things.  It set me back and exhausted me, and it was only my first look through my inboxes. Now I like to sit and look at my calendar first to get an idea of the day and the best plan for tackling the to-dos, read the Skimm to get caught up quickly on the news, and then get going.  See this article for the importance of starting your day right.

4.)  Multitask Like a Pro

As I've mentioned before, I have a few podcasts I love listening to because I find them educational, uplifting, or just enjoyable (or sometimes, all 3).  I've found the best time to listen to them is while walking to work or to meet friends somewhere in the city, or while riding the subway.  There's no service in the subway, so it forces me to completely focus my attention on the podcast and really get inspired.  Usually I'm listening to the Tim Ferriss Show or Monocycle by the Man Repeller.  Again, this one is all about preparation.  Download your favorite podcasts at night before bed so they are queued up and ready to go the next day when you have a free moment to listen while commuting, working out or taking a walk, or while your kids nap (shoutout to all my mom friends out there).

I also love my 25 minute walk to and from work because it's the perfect time to make phone calls and catch up with friends and family.  Occasionally I get to FaceTime with my niece to remind her she has an aunt in New York!

All in all, New York city life is great, but things move quickly and you can easily get lost in the daily grind.  Keeping myself accountable and on track with my personal goals has been a process and I'm always trying to improve!  If you have any specific tips or ideas on increasing productivity, please let me know!




  1. so nice pics; )))

    i invite to me too

  2. I need to download some of those podcasts!!! I used to do that more often and it definitely made for a more positive day! And I love that TB fit bit bracelet :)

  3. Great tips, Sam! So glad you are doing so well. Bravo to you.


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