5 Productivity Tasks to Try This Week


I mainly work On-The-Internet, which means there are an untold number of distractions that can turn my productivity scale down to 0.

Shiny new thing! Doge! Weasel on a woodpecker! (I mean, come on!)

I also work from my home office surrounded by fun things such as laundry, 3 crazy animals that want playing with, and Netflix. This week I’m going to be concentrating on increasing my productivity without totally altering the way I work, want to join in?

There’s nothing extreme or bullshitty here, no massive life-altering changes, just small things that’ll help you be more productive for maybe 1-2hrs in your work day. That might seem small, but it adds up to over a day’s worth of work over the course of a week!

1// Only answer emails/check your inbox at certain points during the day

This one always works for me, as I’m quick to jump on emails as soon as they hit my inbox. I always find myself glancing back at the gmail tab and checking if anything’s come in. Instead, I’m going to be checking my email first thing in the morning, and replying to anything that needs a response, and then having another check in at lunch time and the end of the day.

Previous daily time spent on email: 1.5-2hrs, new daily time spent on email: 1hr.

2// Checking in with RescueTime to see where I’m getting most distracted.

Have you used RescueTime? It’s a great app that really lets you see (in time and percentages) how productive you’re being. My big distractors are Facebook and Twitter, so I’m going to aim to decrease the amount of time spent on those each day.

Previous daily time spent on twitter/facebook: 1.5hrs, new daily time spent on twitter/facebook: 1hr.

3// Have some Pomodoro sessions

The Pomodoro technique is great, but I find it pretty intense. I work flat out during the 20-minute stretches, which yeah.. is brilliant for productivity, but then I feel exhausted after a couple of hours. I’m going to aim to do 3hrs of Pomodoro each day this week.

It’s hard to give a time for this kind of thing, but I would say (based on RescueTime graphs) it makes me about 25-30% more productive during those sessions, leading to an increase in productivity of around an hour.

4// Schedule time for workouts/laundry/non-work things

You might typically class these as distractions, but scheduling in time for non-work things during a working day often makes me more productive in all aspects. If I don’t schedule things in, I end up trying to do 10 things at once and not doing any of them well. Whereas, if I schedule 15 minutes to laundry-sort, or 20 minutes for a workout, then I set myself to task and don’t waste time.

Again, hard to pin-point the actual productivity increase here, and really.. workouts & laundry, though not productive in the making-money-work sense, are productive by way of having-your-shit-together. Here, it’s more about scheduling things in and making sure things get done, leading to less stress, rushing and “ARGH LAUNDRY” anxiety. 

5// Add more to your to do list that you think you can achieve

Having a big daily to do list might seem daunting, but it also revs you up for crossing off as much as you possibly can. The days when my to do list is a little bare? I end up taking it easy and just doing what’s on there. Beef up your list, and make sure you’re listing out small, achievable steps for each of the day’s goals.

Other tiny ways to be more productive:

  • Reward yourself with a coffee/tea/biscuit whenever you’ve finished something big.
  • If you have an idea mid-work, write that shit down and leave it for later. It’ll still be there.
  • Listen to a playlist that gets you in the zone, this might be one of Spotify’s “focus” playlists, or an album you can have on in the background.
  • Recognise your productivity traits and use them to your advantage. Whenever I’m in a “get shit done” frame of mind, I always yank my hair up into a high-pony. Sometimes you have to put the cart before the horse, so by yanking my hair up my brain goes “oh, right! let’s do this!”. This analogy got really horsey.
  •  Stay hydrated! Your brain will thank you by being more alert.

Do you have any small changes that make you more productive? I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments :)

Why “If you’re not happy, change it” is the worst piece of advice… ever.


I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it before. “If you’re not happy, just change it!”. In fact, I’ve probably told people that in the past, too. It’s a massively knee jerk, all assumptive statement, isn’t it?

I mean, think about it. You might not be happy with something in your life right now (your job, your home, your relationship, your health), and you’ve probably racked your brains trying to come up with a solution. So when you start confiding in someone about it, and they just come back with a throw away “If you’re not happy, change it!”, then you’re gonna be pretty damn pissed.

It just isn’t that easy.

There are dependents, bills, family, and a whole host of other grown-up shit to think about when you’re wanting to make a huge (or even minor!) change.

Things need sorting out, pigeon holing, lists needs writing, gears need setting in motion. It’s downright ridiculous to just assume that you can “change something” on a whim and that everything will then turn into peaches & cream. Stupid!

Here’s a better piece of advice. 

If you’re not happy…

  • Ask yourself why you’re not happy (or, ask your friend). It’s usually not just “I hate my entire life”, or “My job sucks”. It’s specifics. “I have no direction, I feel like I’m letting everyone down” … “I have no free time, my job takes up so much of my evenings and weekends”.
  • What can you do right now to make it just a little bit easier? Take a look at evening classes? Spend an hour on a recruitment website? Organise a meeting with your boss? This is the start of the change. I wasn’t fulfilled in my last 9-5 job, the first thing I did? Cancel magazine subscriptions so I could start saving up for my self-employment buffer. Somehow, by doing that, it made it all feel real.
  • What’s your end goal? Do you want a new job? A new skill? Do you want to travel? What do you think would make you happy. I say think because happiness is really subjective, the grass is greener and all that. Sometimes just small shifts in your current situation can make the world of difference.
  • Plan it out. You have an end goal, you’ve thought about how that would make you feel, now it’s time to make small steps towards it. These steps should be measurable, succinct, and easy. Things like “Have 1 meal a week sat at the table with my family, phones off”, “get to the gym twice a week”, “make a list of city breaks I could take this year”. Working backwards form your end goal sometimes helps.
  • Here’s the most important piece of advice. Count your god damn blessings.  Don’t dwell on how you would be happy when _____, think about what makes you happy right now. Appreciate everything that you have in this instance, wouldn’t it be better to head towards your end goal with a happy heart and joyous everyday? Just like that douchey text-over-photo quote that goes around Pinterest and Facebook…

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
– Vivian Greene

Extra Credits // @afeitar recommended this book, Mindfulness at Work: Flourishing in the workplace, after reading this blog post!

How to Stay Organised Part 2: On the Go


[standfirst]I hope you enjoyed my post last week where I talked about How to Stay Organised. I mentioned several desktop based apps that I use to keep on top of my life and business. A few of the ones I mentioned also come with mobile applications & cloud syncing, which is what I’m gonna talk about today![/standfirst]

I’m an iPhone and iPad user so everything I talk about here will be in relation to that set-up. However, I’ll be talking about various tips that should cross over to other mobile devices, too. 

Teux Deux, Evernote, Google Drive

I mentioned these three wonders last time, and they’re three of my most used ‘On the Go’ organisation tools.  I won’t go into much on these as I talked more about them last time, but here’s a brief outline of how I use them when I’m out and about.

Teux Deux lets me simply add or remove to dos from the lists, and syncs straight back. This means I can keep errand lists on Teux Deux for when I’m running around town going to the post office, bank and opticians. Much handier than a piece of paper!

Evernote lets me take notes on the fly, meaning I can quickly jot down ideas without losing them in one of my many paper notebooks. Another great feature of Evernote on the iPhone is the ability to add photos, voice memos, tags and geolocations to notes.

Google Drive has come on leaps and bounds with its iPhone and iPad app in the past few months, it means I can actually use it quite efficiently on my iPad now. On my iPhone I mainly use it for reference only, it’s a bit too small to do anything efficient on there.

Your camera is your best friend

I can’t even begin to tell you how liberating it was to figure out that I can use my iPhone camera as a quick reference tool. I use it to take photos of lightbulbs (so I pick up the right one when I’m out), things in shops (granted this is usually for ‘look at this weird sexy ginger man packaging‘ reasons), menus, packaging ideas, magazine articles – you name it! If I was even more organised I’d add them to Evernote and tag ’em, but I usually just leave them in my photostream for easy reference at a later date.

The Gmail App

I’m going to dedicate a whole post on how I organise my inbox, but I really love to Gmail iOS app. Another one that’s come on loads over the past year, I can now do most things that I do on my desktop from this app. I ditched the mail app because it didn’t support how I use multiple email addresses in gmail, and there didn’t seem to be a good way of syncing labels. I tried Mailbox but just got a bit freaked out. The Gmail app is perfect for me!

Scanner Pro

This new-to-me app has soon become one of my favourites. I currently use it to scan all of my business receipts and sync them back to dropbox. It’s MUCH faster than using my actual scanner, and the quality is just fine for how I use it. I can zip through the scanning of ~30 receipts in little under 15 minutes now!

Google Cal

Pretty obviously I use this to sync back to my Google Cal, handy for at a glance checks when I’m at the dentist and booking a new appointment. I don’t think there’s a specific app for Google Cal yet, apart from third party ones (someone correct me if I’m wrong here, and suggest a good third party one!), so I’ve just created a home screen bookmark for their mobile version.

Screen Grabs

This harkens back to my comment about photos above. To take a screen grab on your iPhone and iPad, you just need to hold down the power/hold and home button together. The screen will flash, and your screen grab will be saved to your photos. Here’s how I’ve been screen grabbing…

  • I subscribe to magazines on my iPad, lots of them have recipes in them that I’d love to use in the future but, without a doubt, I’ll forget which issue they’re in. I’ve taken to screen grabbing the recipe and adding it to a note in Evernote!
  • ^^ Same goes for adverts/articles, and anything else I might want to reference later on.
  • I make websites for a living so I’m always looking at innovative ways people make responsive sites. And I’ll screen grab ’em. And add them to my inspiration notebook in Evernote.

Phew! Don’tcha just love technology?!

There are a few other ‘on the go’ things that I should probably start using, like a news/article ‘read later’ aggregator (flipboard or instapaper), and perhaps a money tracking app for personal finance. Right now, though, I’m pretty happy with things. Until something better comes along, that is. 

What’re your favourite On the Go organisation tips? Anything that doesn’t rely on a mobile device? I’d love to here ’em!

How to Stay Organised Part 1


[standfirst]I’ve been meaning to do an organisation post for a while now, but the truth is that my methods of keeping organised change month-by-month. I might discover a new app, or change how I do something, so it’s a pretty fluid process. ‘How to Stay Organised’ is probably going to be an ongoing thing, and I’ll keep you updated on when I discover a new way of keeping my shit together.[/standfirst]

I function so much better when things are in order. That goes for home life as well as work life. I get a sick satisfaction from having all my dry goods organised in Kilner jars with Martha Stewart labels, I could while away the hours cataloguing all our paperbacks, and the sound of a dymo printer is like music to my ears. I’m type A and proud!

I wasn’t always this way, I used to revel living in ‘artistic chaos’, and parts of my life still resemble that (don’t look in my desk drawer…jesus). This year, though, I decided it was time to take charge! I’m overhauling, decluttering and organising every aspect of my life. And boy, it feels good.

Today I’m going to focus on how I stay organised with work tasks, and let you know some ways I use several free (or low cost) services to keep things flowin’ smoothly. I’ll be following some of these up with more in-depth posts, but for now I just want to give an overview.


I use Evernote every day for note keeping and idea dumping. Until recently I also used it to keep track of client projects. The beauty of Evernote is that you can use it across various devices and have them sync up. I can take notes when I’m out and about on my iPhone, and they’ll sync right back up to my Macbook when I get home.

  • I have several notebooks pertaining to different areas of my life, ie. ‘Finest Imaginary’ where I can keep notes on that side of my business and ‘Kim Lawler Creative’ where I can keep notes on that.
  • If I’m taking an online course, I’ll set up a notebook dedicated solely to it, where I can keep course notes and links.
  • When I was using it for client projects, I’d have three notebooks – Active, Complete, Upcoming – and a note for each project. It’d be a great place for dumping sections of emails, keeping information that I needed to reference quickly, and keeping an eye on what projects I was actually working on at the time.

There’s probably so much more I could also be doing with Evernote, but for now it serves as a great place for me to dump ideas and make on the fly lists.

Teux Deux

Me and lists are like that (I’m doing that crossing my fingers like we’re best pals thing). I couldn’t work without a daily to do list, how can anyone?!

“Let’s make a list!” is my go-to first action whenever anything comes up. “Wanna go to Ikea?”, “SURE! Let’s make a list!”.

Teux Deux is my digital list saviour. I’ve used a variety of list making apps: wunderlist, remember the milk, astrid, but Teux Deux has been the one I’ve stuck with. The beauty is in its simplicity.

  • It syncs across devices, so I can keep my Ikea shopping list on there!
  • I’ve created several repeating to dos to keep me on track. Each day I need to print invoices, package items, and print postage – those are repeated automatically without me having to re-add them. Every Monday I need to remember to install updates, restart my Macbook (without it being on my to do list it probably wouldn’t get done until it freaked out and crashed), and do my book keeping.
  • I add to dos as they happen. I might have told a client that I’ll have their contract over to them on Friday, so I add it as a to do for the upcoming Friday. When it rolls around, it’s already there on my to do list. It makes it so much easier to keep track!
  • Along with daily to dos, I have a few other random to do lists on there. These include ‘Stuff to do some day’ and ‘Stuff we need for the house’. I can drag entries from any list into any other, so if I decide I’m going to do one of the ‘Some day’ items this week, I can drag it onto a day. Neato!


I’ve only just started using Basecamp again, I’ve been looking for a project management software for the past year or so that fulfils all my objectives. I’d used it in the past but thought the price was a little high, however, after failing to find something that worked as well I decided to go back to old faithful Basecamp.

Everything else was either too complicated (Podio), came with hidden costs (Siasto), or was just not quite there with client access (Wunderlist).

  • Each project I’m working on has its own project space in Basecamp.
  • My clients can be added to the project (at no extra cost), and I can hide things from them that I want to keep just for my own information (they don’t need to see a bunch of development to dos).
  • We can share files, documents and comments on there. It’s removed the need for a lot of emails!
  • I can see instantly which projects are active, and can archive projects that are either complete or on the back burner.

It’s not cheap, at $20 a month for the basic package, but it’s not gonna break the bank either. I’ve been using the free trial for the past few months and it’s working out well! This is one I’ll keep you updated on, though.


Not much to be said about Dropbox that hasn’t already been said. It makes sharing larger files a breeze. It lets my accountant keep me in the loop with all the HMRC stuff that we have to look over. And it means I can store a bunch of stuff that I’d like to access via the app on my iPhone/iPad.

  • I use dropbox to create a sharing folder for me and my clients. It’s a great place for them to share image assets with me.
  • I store all my book keeping receipt scans on there.
  • I back-up all my iPhone photos on there.

Again, I’m sure there’s more I could be doing with Dropbox (what do you use it for?), but it’s already helped hugely with file sharing between me and my clients.

Google Calendar/Drive

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about Google Calendar or Drive, but they play a huge part in my organisation. Here’re just some of the ways I use them both:

  • Google Drive can sync with Basecamp, so clients can share documents with me from their Drive on there. It’s making the cross-program (I’m on a Mac, lots of my clients are on PCs) issues of the past quickly become irrelevant.
  • I’ve been drafting a few of my upcoming worksheets in Google Drive, it means I can access them easily from where ever I am – and even work on them via my iPad.
  • Adam and I share Google Calendars so we know when either of us has something booked. We’ve also got a calendar with our monthly home related bill schedule.
  • I share spreadsheets with my accountant via Google Drive, so he can make amendments easily and I can see where he’s changed something.

I think that’s enough for Part 1, and I hope it’s given you some ideas on organisation. I’ve still got lots of talk about, and I’m sure I’ll be going into more depth on some of the things I’ve mentioned above!

Now, over to you, what applications, website or other methods (old school pen and paper?) do you use to keep organised?

Friday Thoughts: Creative Confidence

If there’s one thing that can be said about me it’s that I’m a creator. I make stuff. I write stuff. And most of that stuff gets put out into the wild, ready to be viewed with a critical eye.

Occasionally, when I’m creating, I’ll have a momentary pause. The butterflies will start to flutter, and I’ll sit there thinking “What the fuck am I doing? No one’s going to get anything out of this!”. Sometimes I’ll feel like a conceited douchebag (seriously, I’m 28 and telling people how to run a business? What’s best for their websites? I’m wet behind the ears compared to some!), other times I’ll feel like I’m drawing with crayons. Those, my dear friends, are my confidence crashes.

Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than watching people react to your creation.

So, what am I going to do? Stop in my tracks? Never make anything again? Just because someone might not like it? Psh! No! Where’s the fun in that?

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced”
– Vincent Van Gogh

Watching someones reaction to something I’ve created has become one of the highlights of the whole damn thing. For every person that doesn’t like what I’ve made, there’ll be another that adores it! they think it’s the best thing ever!

“Creativity takes courage”
– Henri Matisse

Everyone’s allowed an opinion, the world would be a sorry state if everyone liked the same stuff, right? It’d also be super sad if you didn’t make something because a couple of people might not dig it.

You need to have confidence in everything you create. You must speak with authority. You must create for your lovers and ignore your haters. You must enjoy what you do, and remember why you do it. You must create with energy, purpose and unrelenting passion. Go forth, create, set it free and don’t give a fuck.

Now… should I post this?