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How to Improve Focus and Productivity: The Vacation Workflow Mindset

How to Improve Focus and Productivity
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How to Improve Focus and Productivity

Have you ever noticed that when you’re about to go on vacation, the day before you need to leave you seem to get about a week’s worth of work done in a matter of hours? Your productivity and focus seem to skyrocket and your to-do list just gets smaller and smaller and smaller! Imagine if we could improve focus and productivity on a daily basis to always be as productive as when we’re going on vacation.

I remember before one of our big trips, Scott designed an entire house in one day and did the full set of constructions documents! (3 different designs I might add!) and that same day, I culled, edited for the blog and wrote blogs for two weddings and scheduled all the social media and then some. It was like I was on speed!

At the time of this writing I’ve been on vacation for 17 days now (with 8 to go!) and have only worked about 12 hours.  So how do we take the productivity and focus we have right before we’re going to go on vacation and apply it to how we work everyday?

Here are 9 quick tips to help you improve your focus and productivity and get you rolling with a vacation workflow mindset every day:

Prioritize your tasks

When we have “all the time in the world” aka, a full day of work with no impending deadlines or things to look forward to, it can be easy to bounce around between tasks, checking email and social media aimlessly (over and over again) and never getting anything important done. We all complain we have little to no time, but what I’ve repeatedly found is that it’s that we’re just not managing it correctly.

So the first tip, is to prioritize your tasks every day. I like to choose 3 priorities for the day to focus on before I get to any of the other minutiae. I used to get so sucked into social media and email that the end of the day would come and nothing would be crossed off! Now, I work on my priority items first, then proceed to check emails, social media and all the other small tasks that need checking off. This really helps to improve focus and productivity, by forcing you to do what’s most important and forget the rest.

2. Say No

One of the reasons we have so little time is because we say yes to everything and so often put others needs before our own! One general rule of thumb: if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.  Think of whether that meeting is really necessary, or if that lunch is going to benefit your business, help you build relationships, or book you a client.  Cut out things that are unnecessary from your calendar and only say yes to the things that are truly important if you find yourself always wondering where all your time goes.

3. Batch tasks

There are some crazy statistics out there about context switching and “multitasking” but batching is a whole different story. They say switching between tasks can reduce your productivity by 40%, mostly because your brain and body need to detach from the previous task and refocus on the new one.

Think of an airplane.  Imagine if it had to take off and land take off and land take off and land over and over? The take off, or the start up of a task, requires the biggest amount of energy.  Once it’s in the air, it stays there until it’s destination is complete.

The same goes for all the tasks you do throughout your day.  Imagine how much easier it would be to schedule a week’s worth of social media content, or even a month or year in one sitting than to go in and post every day. It saves SO MUCH time doing it all at once because you don’t need to start up and stop over and over.

That’s why it’s so important to BATCH your tasks.  Here is a list of some of the tasks you can and should batch in order to save time, improve focus, and reduce the need for constant busyness.

    • Culling
    • Social Media Caption Writing
    • Social Media Scheduling
    • Creating a content calendar monthly so you don’t have to be in brainstorm mode all the time or figure out what to post
    • Designing canva graphics for upcoming newsletters or blog posts
    • Meetings!
    • Writing newsletters or blog posts
    • Email Clean up
    • Bookkeeping
    • Taking flat-lay photos for your blog or Instagram

4. Schedule, schedule, schedule

This goes along with batching tasks, but whether you’re going on vacation or not, make scheduling your best friend. If you have a solid workflow, you know when you need to send certain emails, or schedule blog posts and social media.  I have my entire workflow for pre and post wedding and portrait photography clients (which you can find here!) built into my client management system which allows me to automate, streamline and schedule when all these things need to happen.  

I use Honeybook* (and I’m completely obsessed and in love with it!) for my client management- so through this I’m able to send all my emails with a click of a button (I have all my email templates built in so I just have to go in and hit send when the task pops up as due. I’m able to check my tasks list for the day (which includes all my emails for every client) and go in from either my desktop or my phone and send them!  Since implementing Honeybook* as my client management system, I’ve literally been able to get my client admin work done in 15 minutes or less per WEEK.  It has been a total game changer for my business, and especially having it on my phone, I can literally send emails right from the beach if I’m away!

HoneyBook Task Management System - Laura Lee Creative

I also highly recommend scheduling your social media posts! It can be a huge pain the butt to think of what to write or what to post when we’re not in the mood, so I suggest getting in the zone and planning out between 1 week or 1 month of work in advance.

I use Coschedule to schedule all my social media posts for my blog and for my Facebook pages and groups, and I use Planoly to schedule all my instagram content.

How to Improve Focus and Productivity: The Vacation Workflow Mindset

5. Unplug

Alright, real talk.  Have you downloaded the app, “Moment”? It’s kinda horrifying to see how much time is spent on our phones! I hit 4 hours one day and almost cried.  So, in the spirit of getting more done, and just seriously living your life outside your phone, I recommend unplugging if you’re really trying to get stuff done.  Think about how little you check your phone the day you’re about to leave for vacation.  It’s because you KNOW it’s a time waster and you don’t want to waste any time in your work day so that when you leave for vacation you can be present on vacation.

I recommend unplugging way more than just when you’re on vacation.  This can simply be turning your phone on do not disturb, using the Newsfeed Eradicator plug in for Facebook, or using a site like Self Control to literally block yourself from distracting sites while you’re trying to get stuff done.

6. Done is better than perfect

This needs little to no explanation other than: perfectionism is a time management killer.  My business coaches always tell me that done is better than perfect and they’re so right! If we waited around until everything was perfect, we’d never put content out into the world! So get that blog post written, get that instagram post up, publish your website, launch that workshop.  Done is better than perfect, and the world doesn’t expect, (OR WANT) you to be perfect anyway.  Just SHOW UP.

7. Set deadlines

Of course, this works when you’re actually going on vacation, because your deadline is usually the second your flight is about to take off. But when we’re not hopping on a plane to an exciting destination, setting deadlines is just as important in our everyday routine.

I use a timer app on my phone called multi timer to set time limits to get things done and I also schedule tasks on my calendar in actual time slots! Having a deadline really pushes me to focus on getting something done rather than aimlessly scrolling on my phone.

8. Give yourself a reward

Along with setting deadlines, setting a reward for completely large projects or tasks will really improve your focus.  If you know that date night is coming if you get two blog posts written, think about how much more focused you’ll be to get those things done?  Your rewards can be endless, but it’s important to celebrate major projects getting done!

9. Do what’s necessary and cut out the fluff.

Last year, I read a quote that hit me like a ton of bricks: it said “Are you being productive or are you just being busy?”  Honestly, a lot of the time, we’re just being busy! Scrolling social media, checking email 25 times a day, writing and re-writing to do list, reading and writing and re-writing emails 5x over before sending.

When you’re about to go on vacation, your brain shifts into doing only what’s necessary because you know the reward is sitting by the pool, or adventuring in the mountains, or whatever your trip might entail.

So in your everyday routine, check yourself constantly to see if you’re doing what’s necessary or if you’re just being busy.  

Cut out the fluff, or manage your tasks using this mindset:

Do: buckle down and do your task

Delete: Is it just busy work or will it actually push your business forward? Cut out what isn’t truly necessary.

Delegate: can someone else handle the task just as good, if not better than you can? The only way you’re able to start scaling your business is if you realize you can’t do EVERYTHING yourself.

Defer: some things just need to be put off til later, which brings us full circle to our first tip which was prioritizing your tasks!


And that’s a wrap! If you start implementing these tips into your daily routine, I guarantee you’ll be able to improve your focus and productivity exponentially, and the next time you’re about to jet off on a vacation you’ll be able to unplug, relax, refresh and rejuvenate without working around the clock or worrying whether your business will still be there when you get back!

PSST, Are you a photographer?! I have a free gift for you!

Click the image below to get my free workflow guide:

“10 Workflow Hacks for Photographers to Instantly Get Ahead of your To-Do List!”

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