self improvement

Get Productive for 2016 with 5 simple challenges

how to be more productive

I was recently contacted about doing a productivity challenge in collaboration with Regus. Some of you might remember that I recently wrote a blog post about not reaching my blog goals. Since writing that post, I have realised that there were things I could do differently to reach them.

I’ve been trying to get better at being more productive so I can start growing my blog a little faster – so this challenge fit perfectly for my situation. I really wanted to get myself in the right frame of mind for the new year.

You might also know that I’ve been running a fitness challenge of on my fitness blog, #fitmas, to help stay on track with exercise over Christmas – so this challenge couldn’t come at a better time for me!

how to be more productive

I was equipped with a few things to help me along in the challenge, these things were:

  • a Fitbit flex to track sleep and activity.
  • a yoga mat
  • a yoga book
  • resistance bands
  • a book of meat free recipes
  • £30 to buy healthy food

I was set 5 challenges to do throughout the week:

Challenge 1 – optimising sleep to enhance productivity using the FitBit.

Challenge 2  – productive commute/lunch break. Use your lunch hour each day to do something productive. In this case yoga or mediation.

Challenge 3 – designated social media slot. To use social media for 30 minutes in the working day for productive and positive purposes. For example sharing an insightful article, but not browsing your cousin’s mates girlfriend’s nan’s page. GOOD LUCK WITH THIS PART!

Challenge 4 – Fitness lunch hour (pre, lunch or post-work). Do something fitness related at a time when you wouldn’t usually. This could be a walk, a class or a run. Yoga could be good here? Or perhaps a walk/run and remember to TRACK YOUR STEPS using the FitBit Flex.

Challenge 5 – healthy eating. To follow healthy eating guidelines all week including water/caffeine intake. You’ve got £30 over 5 days to eat healthily at lunch times! Do remember to take in plenty of water.
how to be more productive

I think it’s so important to remember that everyone has different lifestyles. Challenges like this can sometimes be difficult for everyone. I knew there would be certain things I couldn’t be able to do – like exercise during lunch hour – because I there’s no place I can go during work to do that, unless I want to do jumping jacks in the corner of the canteen! Also I don’t get a full dinner hour – I just take a break to eat and if I’m not too busy, I might get a bit longer, other times it will just be a 15 minute feeding session. Ah, the joys if management!

But I wasn’t going to let this put me off doing the challenge, or demotivate me. I just decided I would tweak it to suit my lifestyle.

Let’s see how I got in with each challenge, shall we?

how to be more productive

Challenge 1 – optimising sleep to enhance productivity using FitBit.

This is probably the thing I struggled with the most. I have such an ongoing battle with sleep. I work shifts so it’s impossible for me to get into routines. I sometimes have to get up at 4am for work, there are other days where I finish at midnight and don’t get home until 1am – because my shifts change daily, I can’t go to bed at the same time every day, or get up at the same time every day!

I’ve tried many things to get myself enough sleep, but nothing seems to work. Fact is, if I go to bed early so I get 8 hours and I’m not tired, I won’t sleep. I’ll just lay there for hours. I find it’s much better for me to go to bed when I’m tried so I can fall asleep quickly.

During the last week, I’ve been taking Nytol on some evenings to help me fall to sleep and also stay asleep. There had been two mornings when I’ve woken up at 5am for a couple of hours though – very frustrating.

According to my fitbit, I was averaging 7 hours 21 minutes of sleep a night – which is better than usual – I thought I was getting more like 5 or 6 hours a night.

I was restless a lot though – each night, the Fitbit felt me being restless up to 18 times some nights and I was waking up around 4 times during the night. This is something I’d like to work on going forward – I think 7 hours is enough sleep for me, as long as I can stop waking up so much!

    how to be more productive

Challenge 2  – productive commute/lunch break. Use your lunch hour each day to do something productive. In this case yoga or mediation.

As I mentioned above – I wasn’t able to exercise during work hours, but I did do something productive.

I take my laptop to work every day to enable me to reply to any e-mails. What I started doing this week, is using time during my break to get work done. As I don’t always get a long break, I can’t always rely on this time – but some days I was able to get 20 minutes of laptop time.

At the start of the week, I wrote in the weekly planner above some goals I wanted to achieve and I used the time I had at work to tick some of these tasks off. The things I did were:

  • Interact with new people on Twitter
  • Follow and comment on 5-10 new blogs a day
  • Visit the blogs of readers who commented on my previous post and return the favour
  • Schedule social media content
  • Work on my Pinterest account

I found this worked really well for me, as they were tasks I could easily break away from if I needed to rush back to work. I sometimes write posts on my break but can find it hard to get into the groove if I’ve only got 15 minutes of computer time!

Using this time to get a lot of short tasks done at once seemed to work much better and is something I’ll keep on doing going forward.

I live 30 miles from work, too. Which means I have to drive between 45 minutes and 1 hour and half, depending on traffic, just to get there. Then I have to do it all again at the end of the day! I’ve mentioned before in previous posts about how I listen to audio books in the car sometimes, but I’ve been listening to music the past few weeks.

I decided to start using this time to be productive again, so what I have been doing is listening to Podcasts. I love podcasts about blogging! I subscribed to Darrens at ProBlogger.net and started listening! I was also listening to them at the gym.

Another thing I did to use time productively, was spend around 15 minutes on the bike at the gym and during this 15 minutes, I would reply to comments on my blog using the WordPress app. It’s not often I get time to reply to them so it was really nice to be able to do this!

how to be more productive

Challenge 3 – designated social media slot. To use social media for 30 minutes in the working day for productive and positive purposes. For example sharing an insightful article, but not browsing your cousin’s mates girlfriend’s nan’s page. GOOD LUCK WITH THIS PART!

Ok, this was the challenge I was most excited to take part in because a few days before starting – I decided that I wanted to start using Pinterest to drive traffic to my blog.

I keep stumbling across articles where bloggers claim to get thousands of pageviews from Pinterest – with some even classing it as their number one source of traffic.

I’ve never used Pinterest much in the past, I had an account but haven’t logged in in months!

So my 30 minutes of social media time was going to be used strictly for doing tasks that would build my Pinterest account. During this 30 minutes, I would do things such as:

  • arranging, creating and naming boards
  • reading articles about how to use Pinterest
  • re-Pinning other peoples content
  • creating graphics and Pinning content linking to my blog posts
  • following users who Pinned similar things to me and had shared interest

I’d love to say that doing this has brought me LOADS of page views, but it hasn’t. I’ve had all of two so far, haha. But I’ve started getting re-pins and I’ve gained 300 followers on Pinterest, so I’m going to keep doing this for the next month and see what happens!

how to be more productivehow to be more productive

how to be more productive

Challenge 4 – Fitness lunch hour (pre, lunch or post-work). Do something fitness related at a time when you wouldn’t usually. This could be a walk, a class or a run. Yoga could be good here? Or perhaps a walk/run and remember to TRACK YOUR STEPS using the FitBit Flex.

I’m already really into fitness, as you know if you follow my fitness blog. I also am running #fitmas which is in it’s LAST WEEK this week!

As my fitness plan revolves around my work shift patterns, I didn’t really change it much, but it was nice to have a bit of extra focus on fitness last week as the week before, I was really ill and off work with vertigo, which meant I didn’t work out at all.

I did really well at the start of the week, going to the gym Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I started to get ill again On Thursday so decided to rest until I felt well enough to work out again, as movement triggers the vertigo and I don’t want to be off sick again.

You can see more about my workouts last week in my fitness update.

how to be more productivehow to be more productive

how to be more productive

how to be more productive how to be more productive

Challenge 5 – healthy eating. To follow healthy eating guidelines all week including water/caffeine intake. You’ve got £30 over 5 days to eat healthily at lunch times! Do remember to take in plenty of water.

This was one of my favourite challenges. I usually eat well, but due to being ill I’ve been eating loads of comfort food like toast. ALL THE TOAST.

I decided to go into the new Marks and Spencers Food Court near my house to spend the £30 that I had been given to buy healthy food. I might have spent a liittttttle more than £30, but M&S has such good fresh vegetarian options.

I really love the super food salads they do, I ended up with 5 of them, a couple of ready meals and some fruit. Prepared food is much easier for me with the long hours I work. If all I need to do is get it out of the fridge than actually make it myself, I’m much more likely to stay on track!

I’m probably going to be a regular at M&S now though, it’s right next to my gym, too. I eat healthy usually but I was getting a bit bored of eating the same things over and over, so now I feel like this challenge has re-vamped my diet!

Plus it means more time to spend on Pinterest 😉

how to be more productive

I actually got a lot more out of this challenge than I thought I would! It’s not until I sat down and write this post I realised how much I had learnt about how I can use my time to be more productive and what gets me in the zone.

Now I feel like I’m ready to take some of the things I’ve been doing during this challenge with me and apply them to other things in my life – mainly in helping me achieve some of my goals in 2016.

What makes you productive and how to you hope to be more productive in the new year?

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1. noun: a female blogger that writes about her own experiences, observations and opinions. 2. verb: to act like a complete idiot or to do something stupid. e.g: She did a Corinne.

18 Comments

  • M

    Well, after reading this highly thought out plan I’m feeling extremely unproductive sitting here not exercising like I planned to. I didn’t even bother to go for that swim this morning 🙁 Good luck with your challenges!!

    -M
    The Life of Little Me

  • Jackie Harrison

    My phone have a calender where all my meeting and schedule of the day goes when I get up I listen to a quote on the bible than I go for my run while listening to my meeting schedule of the day sometimes I have to do business travel and try to do the same I do at home. I also try to stick to my sleep schedule which that is hard to do. While on the plane or lunch I have a notebook that I note ideas for my blog and I really try to keep up with media but when you have a hectic schedule something has to give. Great post you are doing great continue with it.

  • Kaitlynn Marie

    Hmm, these challenges sound like something that could boost my motivation. Holiday stress has had me binge eating and not exercising AT ALL. I think I’ll try some of your challenges (can’t do the fitbit part because I can’t afford a fitbit). Good read 🙂

    -Kaitlynn

  • Shireen L. Platt

    I find it hard to schedule anything these days, the little one is getting older and I’m pretty much working on his schedule. Again, this has led me to wonder until when I will continue blogging… 🙁

  • Elizabeth Rebecca

    This post summarises pretty much exactly what I want to do in 2016 so it’s favourited and I’ll be coming back to it every week I’m sure.
    The sleep challenge – my main issue is that I function best with 9 hours sleep a night and Alan functions best on 7 – obviously, over a week, that’s 14 hours that we fight over. What to do?

  • OneDizzyBee

    Loved this post. My takeaway item is Pinterest. I’ve done the signing up bit, but don’t really know where to go from there. I’ve also heard how awesome it is for blog exposure but I just don’t get it. Looking forward to what you discover after another month or so.

  • Nadia

    Wow, you pretty much aced those challenges, girl! It was a lot of fun to read about how you got on.
    I might just try and do these challenges too. My sleep is alright I think but diet is so far from healthy, I feel like I am constantly craving sugar – ugh! Need to work out more at the gym, too.
    Loving all the social media & blog ideas and tips, Corinne! I felt exactly like you about Pinterest. In shock how it can even be one of the main traffic sources. But yeah, there’s research to be done. I do love pinning though, it sucks you right in 🙂
    Thanks for sharing these challenges & your progress, hon! Way to go!! Keep doing what you do!
    xox Nadia
    http://mielandmint.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Kristy

    I really enjoyed reading this; I love the look of all the food! You would never think food without meat could look or be so amazing. I definitely need to set myself a few similar challenges.

    Kristy | thevioletblonde.com

  • Ela

    You are really organised and you managed to get everything done, I envy you! I hardly do anything on my lunch break and when I am going back home (which is almost an hour bus ride). I will definitely try out some of your tips. First thing will be focusing on Pinterest, I don’t think I’ve ever got any views from there 🙂

    http://www.elabellaworld.com

  • Rowena @ rolala loves

    I like the idea of dedicating a specific slot of time towards social media. I kind of fit it in throughout the day and i feel like I could be more organized and productive if I just set aside some time for that and nothing else.

  • sonia // daring coco

    I struggle with sleep too. I’ve actually never been a great sleeper and since throwing my back out last year I have chronic back pain that wakes me up a fair bit now. I brought a Fitbit Charge to track my sleep because I was curious too. I always thought I was getting three to four hours sleep but it tells me I get seven sometimes eight which is LIES! Hahaha. Seriously though, I started to notice how at 4am I’m awake and not moving dramatically it counts that as “sleep”. At least it was getting the times I was awake part right, 28+ sounds right to me :o|

    Sxx
    http://www.daringcoco.com

  • Mica

    Glad you did so well with all the challenges! It’s a lot to take on at once but you mastered it well! 🙂

    I tend to just make small changes over time, I’m sure I’d fail if I tried to do something as big as this all at once. Still, no harm in trying right? If I could master that social media thing I’d be so happy, even though I limit my usage of it it’s still a big time-suck that’s not very productive!

  • Sian

    You did really well with this! I’d love to monitor my sleep because I’m really restless too. I don’t think I ever go one night without waking up a few times and it really annoys me.
    I usually use my lunch break to browse Pinterest and Instagram to interact with people on there so I guess that’s kind of productive!

  • Lucy

    You are really good at sticking to resolutions. Having goals is really importanf, I would love to be able to sleep more but this is not likely to happen with the little man in my life. I would love the health challenge Lucy x

  • Katie

    Oh this sounds like such a good plan! I recently started a new job where my shifts are all over the place (last friday I finished at 2:45am and then had days for the next few shifts!) and I’m struggling to get good sleep. The designated social media slot is also a good one. This is really making me think about how I can utilise my time better!

  • Arianne

    I was thinking maybe I should add in my routine a slot for visiting blogs and leaving comments. 1 hour is quite short but it’ll have to do. then half an hour scrolling down twitter… yikes… and then I have to schedule youtube activities as well. gosh, there’s not enough time in a day1

  • Mira

    These challenges sound really good, I would love to do the fitness & the food one myself. And I agree, M&S has the best vegetarian options, the couscous salad is the best. I once tried increasing my traffic through Pinterest too and I stopped after a few days haha. Things that make me productive are good lists and great plans for the evening – and great plans can certainly mean Netflix & a hot cocoa. 🙂 I actually got more problems with relaxing than with being productive – I know that sounds weird but I usually stick to resolutions and I find it hard to give myself some time off. xx

    113-things-to-say.blogspot.com

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