I'm an American expat, writer. photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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Ruby Granger's productivity planner to-do lists

As someone who values simplicity, flow and aligned productivity above achievement and this so-called “hustle culture” that our fast-paced modern world seemingly encourages, it’s no question that finding a balanced way of being productive every day is of most importance to me. 

But here’s the thing: I also value consistency and dependability. Taking action, showing up and getting the work done is important, but productivity needs to be coming from a place of alignment, joy and inspiration first – not the other way around. Because I find that when we force getting work done, it often turns out sloppy, rushed and not the best of quality.

Over the past few years I’ve been experimenting and tracking how I get my best work done and I have found and recorded these easy tips to be super helpful. I hope these tips help you find aligned productivity and flow in your work routine!

There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” – Alan Cohen

Establish a Distraction-Free Zone

First, it’s so important to start your day without your smartphone. As someone who has frequently struggled with comparison and not feeling “enough” on social media in the past, I’ve had to create strict boundaries and time limits on my phone use.

Here are a few ways I establish a phone distraction-free zone in my day-to-day. 

1. Put your phone on airplane mode

This is a super simple way to establish a distraction-free zone, but I start my morning routine by keeping my phone out of the bedroom, and I always keep it on airplane mode so I’m not distracted upon waking up.

2. Disable all app notifications on your phone

I also don’t have any notifications appear on my phone except for missed text messages and phone calls. Everything else is not important. I check emails twice a day at designated times on my work laptop, allowing me to batch work and thus be more efficient and productive with my time. Also checking my emails a few times a day sets boundaries with my clients, letting them know I am not glued to my email and that I’m actually working on my business rather than in my business. 

3. Log out of all social media

A major way I avoid burnout and comparison is by setting a 20 minute limit on my social media use. Not only does it honestly make my life more fun and peaceful, but I have so much time for other activities and hobbies! I log in once everyday to post, engage and I’m off for the rest of the day. 

4. Set a Screen Limit under “Settings” on Your Phone

An easy way to make sure you don’t get distracted from your workday is setting a screen limit under your “settings” on your phone. Even if you do get distracted by your phone, after a certain amount of time, it’ll log you out! Thank you, Apple.

Get into “Alignment” and “Flow”

1. Set the Mood with Aligning Music – get in a flow state

2. Enjoy a snack and aligning drink before getting to work

3. Always Keep Water Near You

4. Jot down an Appreciation List

5. Do an activity that lights you up (my peaceful routine here!)

6. Write a list of 3-5 tasks you want to get done that day 

7. Put a Timer on It!

I thrive on a challenge. When I’m procrastinating on a project with a deadline I find that putting a time constraint on getting it done actually makes me more motivated to do it. And this technique actually works for many people!

Why I Love The Pomodoro Technique 

I can get easily distracted, even if my phone and laptop is turned off. But I have found that I consistently get things done in an aligned, peaceful and productive way when I set a timer on my tasks. Even if I don’t finish it in the allotted time, having that deadline gets me focused quickly. 

There is nothing like a sense of aligned urgency to get you focused.

The Pomodoro Technique is basically time blocked single-tasking. You focus on one task at a time before completing it and moving onto the next task of the second highest importance. 

How to Use the Pomodoro Technique 

  1. Decide on your task (make it clear and concise!)
  2. Start a timer for 25 minutes and begin working on that one task. Don’t begin work on anything else. 
  3. When the timer ends, 5 minute break time! Celebrate, stretch, dance, refill your water and enjoy an aligning activity or snack! 
  4. If you still feel in-the-zone at the end of the timer and want to continue, ask yourself: “Do I feel enough momentum to continue for another pomodoro?” Ask your gut. 

tips for aligned productivity and work flow

I have found that over time consistency is what builds discipline and work ethic. I hope these quick tips that help me personally stay on top of doing the work I love while still being present and aligned with my higher self may resonate with you.

Remember the Big Picture of Your Life

Lastly, as a gentle reminder, on days when it is especially hard to get work done, have compassion with yourself and treat yourself with the utmost kindness. The most important person that you stay true to and impress is yourself. As long as the work always stays connected to who you truly are and what you value most, that is all that matters at the end of the day.

Time is truly our most precious commodity

The money will come and go, jobs will arrive and be finished, emails will be sent and deleted. But time – your time here on Earth – is the most important. Once time is lost, it is lost forever.

Reminding ourselves on just how small we are, on simply remembering that eventually, we will die – and that every moment does indeed matter! – life suddenly feels a bit easier. It makes our time more manageable and peaceful to focus on the big-picture of our life goals – what really actually matters to us individually, our legacy and our focus on this singular life…and just not the small tasks that get us through each day. 

how to find aligned productivity and flow to your work routine

“Do or Do Not. There is no try.” – Yoda

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Easy Tips for Aligned Productivity and Flow in Your Work Routine

February 27, 2020

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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