How to Be Your Most Productive Self

One of Emma’s and my most requested topics is productivity. We, of course, owe a huge credit to our team(s) for both our blog company and our app company who work alongside us every day. Many of them you never see on this blog, but they’re working with us to make sure these plans and goals become reality.

Still, over the years we’ve learned to get the most out of our workdays and be as productive as possible. So today I’ll share the things that help us to be productive each day!

Use a planner. This is absolutely essential. I write in my planner every day. My favorite planner is Get To Work Book. It’s very well organized and has a minimal design that’s not distracting.

I make a few big goals each month. Typically something I need to achieve for work and something more personal (still work related) that I want to try or improve.

Have rituals to begin and end the workday. Every morning, I start my essential oil diffusers, I get a cup of coffee and I read the blogs in my Bloglovin. Usually, I just end up reading two or three posts that spark my attention, but it’s a ritual that I love and I almost never skip it.

I believe it’s extremely important to be a fan in whatever field you work in. So if you’re an actor, you need to keep watching movies and TV as a fan. As a blogger, I need to read blogs as a fan. I can’t believe how many bloggers tell me they don’t really read blogs. How can grow if you’re not a fan? It’s an important part of staying inspired and in tune with what you love about your own industry.

Anyway! Back to rituals.

I end every day by closing the doors to my office and leaving my computer in there until Nova is in bed.

And, we end every workweek with a happy hour at the same restaurant where I order the same drink. It’s how we signal to ourselves that it’s now the weekend.

I think these rituals are very important for anyone who works from home. I hear so many people say they can never turn off work 24/7, seven days a week … but that’s not sustainable or healthy and in my experience it’s less productive.

Set hours make my work faster and much more efficient. They remind me that I need to stay on task because once they’re over for the day, they’re over.

One Post-it note. I’ve said this before, but it’s helped me a LOT. Each day I write what I am doing on one Post-it note. Some days the whole note is totally full, other days there are 2-3 things on there, but they all take hours to complete.

I have been doing this for a year or so, since around the time we adopted Nova.

I learned that my super long lists were making me LESS productive because since they were too long I already knew I couldn’t get it all done.

With these small lists, I know it’s possible to complete it all and I usually do.

Eliminate distractions. Do whatever you need to do. I know some people listen to podcasts all day, but they distract me and I can’t do it unless I’m doing a DIY like painting or sewing.

A lot of times I leave my phone in my bedroom or plugged in another room while I work. I’ve found it’s quicker for me to answer all my texts all at once than one or two every hour at random.

Emma has a time limit set for Instagram where it kicks her out when she’s used it up.

And a big one—I only do 1-2 lunch meetings a month now with friends. Because as innocent as they seem, I always end up being gone for more hours than I plan. So I still do them, but I limit them during work hours to protect my productivity.

Even something as simple as going to get coffee with my husband can kill my productivity for the morning, so I try to save those times for something important like birthdays or when we’re celebrating something—not all the time for no reason.

I’m still a person who struggles with distraction, but even just realizing that and starting to work on one bad habit at a time is a huge step forward!

Being productive is not a mystery. It’s a process. It’s a set of good habits that you set up over time, one at a time. I’d love to hear about small changes that have been helpful for you! xx. Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
Note: This post is pre-scheduled. I am currently on my maternity leave with baby Marigold (!!!!!!!), so if I don’t respond to your comment, don’t worry, someone else on our team will. I am so grateful for the opportunity to take a little time to bond with our new baby. But I left a bunch of posts in the drafts for you to enjoy while I’m away. See you on the other side! xx


  • Love this post! I’ve never thought of writing lists on post-it notes, will look more manageable than having a long list. I try to have a glass of water each morning when I plan, I feel like it helps to clear my mind a bit.

  • Post-It note? Who knew. I just bought a whole pack (on sale!). Now I know how I plan to use them! Such a simple plan, but effective. Thanks for the advice.

  • Stealing that one Post-It trick for my own life. What a great way to focus on what’s most important.

  • Love these ideas – I already use a planner, but I’m going to start the post-it-note idea! I love that and I love when I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

    K A T E L A T E L Y || fashion & lifestyle blog

  • I’ve always been a master procrastinator. It’s been hard to curb that as an adult. I currently work in an office and have a very busy job. I’m also a part time university student finishing up the summer session. Add a family with 2 young kids and you’ve got a recipe for me to get overwhelmed and distracted. So yeah, short daily lists are a must (I have a big white board in my office (for long term goals) and a small little one on my desk on which I add the stuff that must be completed by the end of the day). I set aside 2 hours a day for studying where the man takes care of the boys (usually between dinner and bath time) and I go up into our room and when I really need to concentrate (at home or at work) I put my earphones in and listen to a very soft, movie soundtrack playlist on Spotify. There’s no words so I can let it drift in the back of my mind while it cuts out the ambient noise of the house or office. Rituals are another thing I agree with. When I get to work, I make my coffee, log in to my computer and open up all of my stuff (email, databases, etc) so that if someone calls me early, I can jump into work mode right away, however, the next step is to open the news so that I can be aware of what’s going on in the world (it’s also part of my job to keep me up to date with the current news) and then I finish off with a couple blog posts ;p And then I work all day until I realise it’s time to go home!

  • What an eye opener! Thank you for these tips that I will definitely be putting into effect tomorrow morning starting with the sticky note! You guys always do such a great job at organizing your content and putting up high quality photos <3

  • I’m currently struggling with productivity starting a handmade business from home. I’m overwhelmed with housework. The first 2 plus hours of my morning are spent cleaning up after 2 kids, 2 dogs and the hubby, in the kitchen, family room, living room, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and walking our golden retriever. I take care of the bills, mail, emails, school forms, vacation plans, and pretty much everything that needs attention. Then there’s the laundry for 4 and did I mention the 2 story house. I drive my kids to and from their activities everyday. I know that part will be easier when school starts, but the housework really takes up all of my time. I’m trying to find a balance but there’s not much time left after laundry and keeping up with the house. I’m very neat and organized so I end up putting my house work first.Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    • What does your husband do to help you out? Sounds like you’re doing more than your fair share.

      Otherwise, I’d budget your time during the day. X amount of hours/minutes for this task, X amount for this task, etc. and stick to it. It prevents you from doing one task while worrying about when you’ll get to another, and gives you a deadline (those always help me). You might not finish everything you need in terms of housework, but I’ve found that living with kids (and pets) means adapting to a little chaos. No one can do it all.

  • the post it note approach is something i switched to a few months ago. before, i’d have 20 items on my list – most of which were small tasks that didnt matter so i switched to 2-3 tasks i HAVE to get done. so much easier and effective. i also make separate lists (computer/call/make/do) so when i feel all over the place i can choose one area to focus on at a time. likewise my planner is my lifeline – i used to love buying one every year but now i make one and i love how it encourages mindfulness, helps me keep track of the passage of time and is completely customizable – more this way:

  • I really struggle with productivity since I started working from home. All of the things mentioned are an issue for me.. planning, distractions, etc. I have bought planners, but I find that I abandon them because it feels like double work when I end up having to keep an electronic calendar (Outlook) as well. Thoughts on this?

  • Glad I’m not the only blogger still ready blogs! Invest in your platform and industry, not social media (i.e. Instagram!!)!

  • These are great tips! I love how you stressed the importance of rituals. I am pretty productive, but I do give myself a hard time about not working all the time. I think a post-work ritual would help me sign off for the day.

    xoKaelen |

  • I so appreciate these tips. I work two jobs (and am a mom) and I have been having a really hard time keeping it all together. In one job I am at a traditional office working on investigations and need to keep a caseload organized and progressing, and in the other I am working from home seeking out local events for several local newspapers – also needing to be organized and deadline driven. And then there is home life. AACK! So thank you for your insight and your tips, I think sometimes we get so caught up in the melee of trying to get it all done that we forget the basics. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Rachel, if you use an iPhone (like I do), you can go to Settings and then Screen Time and you’ll be able to select for specific apps how much screen time you want to dedicate to them or generally set specific times when you want the phone to time you out. Works well.

    • Second this, would love to know what timer apps have worked for yall. Thanks in advance!

  • Amen to all of this! I find working firs thing in the morning before the kids wake up, and living by my planner is the most effective way for me to get things done!


  • Thank you for your tips! Using an actual physical planner has helped me tons – I love the satisfaction I get when I strike off a to-do list!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • I thought I knew all the productivity hacks, and lists and planning have always been my friend, but I think the one PostIt note idea might have just blown my mind! I have struggled to prioritise managing a full-time job, freelance work, motherhood, a full house renovation and a marriage and just having a few things a day to tackle instead of a neverending and frankly terrifying catalogue might well be what I need to get cracking rather than cracking under the strain! Thank you! x

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