Productivity + Personal Care

by Backstage Expert Tony Howell

New York is a city of people running around—some chasing dreams, some getting lost in the shuffle. Regardless of where you live, productivity is a hot topic and something I felt compelled to write about this morning.

Today, I want to share the steps I take to increase productivity, while also balancing self-care.

1. Make Time

The first step is scheduling time for important tasks. This is often called time blocking.

One of the biggest and best changes I’ve ever made was putting my work/clients from 10-5 Monday through Friday. This is batching mixed with self-care. I devote my nights and weekends to my partner and friends. Sundays are my day for development—church, writing my book, recording training for courses, planning for the week ahead, etc.

I certainly can work nights and weekends, but I’m not setting the expectation. I also work to batch (or group) similar tasks. Batching similar tasks helps your mind know exactly what to do… all research, emails, personal errands, etc. You’re not having to react to so much!

In terms of other personal insight, I highly recommend following a consistent gym schedule or workout plan. has some great workouts/apps. (I’m currently doing the Big Man on Campus… HA!) You can also get a personal workout and nutrition plan with Buckley Body Solutions.


2. Eliminate Distractions

I don’t allow texting from clients. I shut down email. I put my computer on “do not disturb” mode. I flip my phone over so it’s face down. Sometimes, I’ll even set a one-hour timer for specific tasks.

If needed, I’ll turn on ambient noise. My favorite’s are Pandora’s Spa Radio or Issa Bagayogo on Spotify.

Sometimes, I even get dressed up and light candles for extra motivation. For me, it’s important to feel like a professional while also inviting inspiration. These two ideas come from Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, Big Magic.


3. Revive and Rejuvenate

Life is more than a to-do list, so make sure you schedule time for personal care, as well as friends and family.

I’m experimenting with using my mornings to create. Too often, we start our days consuming—social media, email, news and more.

Audiences consume. Artists create.

I seem to be the most creative and productive in the mornings. Lately, I’ve found such great joy in using the website to write Morning Pages (a practice from The Artist’s Way and Create a Life Worth Living). I’ve also found great clarity in a new ritual of taking my dog for long walks before bed.

Make sure you’re filling up your creative tank. Productivity is important, but so is your personal health.

You are your business… so take great care of yourself!

What’s one way you increase productivity or practice self-care? Leave a comment below.

Tony Howell (@TonyHowell) is a New York based digital strategist.  Read more of Tony’s articles at

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