3 Simple Ways to Increase Productivity and Reduce Stress

By Tico+Tina

Last updated July 23, 2014

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Rumor has it that the second quarter of 2013 will be starting next week. Um, what? Yeah, that’s just craziness.

So how has the first quarter of this year been for you? Have you been telling your time what to do or wondering where it went?

Although I admit that the past 3 months have gone ridiculously fast, I can also report that some changes we made at the start of the year have drastically helped to increase productivity and reduce stress levels.


(I’m not going to say these aren’t all obvious things, I’m just going to say that sometimes you want to try to avoid being a “real adult” for like the first 9 years of marriage. But I think we’re mostly real adults now, and at least sometimes it feels good :D)

If you want to try being a productive adult, too, here are a few ways to increase productivity and reduce stress!

1. A Loose Schedule

We believe that flexibility is always really important, but sticking to a basic, loose schedule is really imperative to making sure things (the RIGHT things) get done. It’s sooo very easy to let important stuff slide when deadlines are looming, but it’s also a little ridiculous how super easy it is to always find something more important to do than some of the items on the list that you really dislike doing.

2. Everyday Cleanup

Alright, this should be a given, I know, I know, but refer to the last sentence of the last paragraph. Dis.Like.

Actually, truth be told, our stuff combined with our hectic schedule for the past 9 years and my inner perfectionist had kind of taken over and overwhelmed me to the point of hopelessness. I have had to kind of turn off my brain to problems that I know I can’t solve in the moment so that I am able to focus on what I know I CAN do something about.

Fortunately, if you include cleaning up the day’s mess in the daily schedule + combine #3, eventually you can probably tackle a little extra every once in awhile. And that, my friends, is the way an elephant gets eaten.

3. Minimalism

We started the process toward minimalism right before we went to Costa Rica last year, then those 3+  months with much less stuff while we were there only furthered our burning desire to purge and we got rid of at least one thing every day in October.

The affair with “stuff” all starts romantically enough, with promises of this or that convenience and this or that entertaining quality, but I don’t think there is any adequate way to explain how much it actually imprisons you over time. Talk about a ball and chain…

There is a lot to say about this topic, and it’s something we’ll be discussing more here, but for now, suffice it to say that it’s a process. We have a long way to go, but every bit that we shed has felt like a weight lifting. (Trust me, you can fit way, way, WAY more into 1,000 sq feet – our living space – than you might think ;))

How it Fleshes Out

One of the important components of what we’ve done since the start of the year is to actually stop working. At 5:00pm every day we make ourselves stop and start cleaning up with the kids. It’s super annoying to interrupt the middle of projects, but at the same time, it’s been so good for us to just have focused time for specific things. I know, I know, obvious adult-like stuff.

I’ll usually start supper at the same time and we all do our thang for about half an hour and then do a family activity until supper is ready.

Sometimes we’ll call Saturday a project day and tackle one thing, like a few weekends ago we went through everyone’s clothes and got all of the too-small stuff and other things that didn’t belong, out.

Other times, like a few days ago, we’ve had two days in a row at home and been able to keep stuff clean enough that we could tackle a smaller project like cleaning off our hutch shelf thing that’s collected papers and other random junk for like the past year. I know that sounds pretty bad, but a year goes super fast, yo! Especially when you’re traveling for literally half of it…

Little by little we’ve been able to see progress in areas that we’ve gotten behind on over the years, whether projects or our living environment.

At this rate we may actually be caught up by the end of the year…? I hope 🙂

Catching up, combined with “doing something every day” might just be a winning combination…

What about you? How’s this year going so far? Have you made any changes and how have they affected your productivity and stress levels???

We're well-acquainted with being stuck in soul-sucking survival mode, and the intense internal friction of not living in alignment with your potential. We're all about discovering, creating, and sharing adulting cheat codes™ so you can level up faster! -David (Tico) & Chris(tina)

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