“What’s the point of being productive?” You might be asking yourself. “I’ll never have enough time to do everything I need to do.” Well, that’s where you’re wrong. There are plenty of small things you can do every day that will make you feel like you’re accomplishing something positive even if it’s just for a few minutes. The key is identifying what works best for your life so that you can have a more balanced work-life balance.
1. Start with a plan
It’s really hard to be productive without a plan, or at least a system for getting things done. Now is the time to make a game plan. Ask yourself what you want to achieve in the short term (i.e., 2 weeks). Which of your tasks are urgent? Which can wait till later? What small, achievable actions can you take today that will move you in the right direction?
2. Start Your Day The Right Way
The night before, think about what you will wear for the next day, make your bed, lay out your clothes and get everything ready. This will get your day started right.
A positive, motivational morning can change your entire day for the better. How do you ensure that it’s a successful, upbeat morning? Create some kind of habit or routine that you do on this day of the week that makes you feel good – maybe it’s your way of lowering the stress levels in your life.
3. Track Your Progress
After you have tracked your progress, you will be able to see if you are on the right path to become more productive. If so, this is a very motivating thing to do. It can also provide some insight into your habits and tendencies that might not have been apparent before.
There’s a great online journal where I can track my progress that I’m in the middle of a 36-week study. I’ve tracked, for example, when I ate breakfast, how much time I studied, and when my attention declined. This journaling has been key in helping me understand all the factors that affect my productivity and how to be more productive around them.
4. Make Yourself a Priority
So often, it’s easy to get swallowed up in the chaos of life. When we feel rushed or stressed, it’s difficult to focus on the things that are truly important. Trying a few simple strategies will ensure that your well-being is balanced and you’re working at your top ability:
Get a planner and plan your day the night before. Don’t play with your phone while at work – use it as a scheduler. Draw a circle for each task you need to do and check them off as you go along. Use tasks as baby steps to keep up momentum.
I know it’s easy to become consumed by the day and just go through the motions, but if you want to be an amazing mom, wife, daughter, sister, or friend then you have to make yourself a priority. When I feel like I’ve been neglecting myself for too long, I take time for myself. This might be taking a bubble bath, reading a good book or sitting outside with my pup.
5. Take Advantage of Breaks
Your brain needs a break. It’s important to take time off from your work so you can relax, recharge, and have some fun. This is not a luxury; it is a necessity. If you don’t take time off periodically, your physical and mental health will suffer.
What you can do is take small breaks, and then work for a similar amount of time uninterrupted. If you complete the task early, it may be worth viewing this time as “simply” relaxation time instead of taking another break for slightly greater efficiency.
6. Create a To-Do List and Stick to It
Start by writing down all the things you want to get done. The list should be categorized into priority – A priority tasks should be completed, or at least started before doing any other task on your list. B priority tasks should be done if time permits, or when A-priority tasks are completed. It’s important to stay focused, and not try to do too many things at once. As once you start a new project, it can be hard to stop and resume working on another one without losing focus.
This dailly planner is another tool that I use to do time block and make sure everything is covered
7. Use a Pomodoro Timer
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method created in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. This technique can be done with or without a timer. The idea of the Pomodoro Technique is to work for 25 minutes at a time, then take short 5 minute breaks to rest and refocus on your task. The advantages of this technique are that it removes the temptation to procrastinate because you know how much work you have to do before you can stop, makes your tasks seem like they are getting accomplished quicker, and helps keep track of time.
Another benefit of using a timer is that break time can be used to spontaneously think about something or talk to somebody.
8. Make Smart Substitutions
For example, if you’re like me and like to watch TV in the evening but want to be productive in the day, then turn off the TV and use that time to read a book or do some work. This will not only make you more productive but also help you improve on your communication skills.
9. Don’t Feel Guilty When You Need to Rest
It’s tempting to work all the time, but sometimes you need to take a break. To avoid burnout and boost your productivity, try these tips: schedule planned breaks, enforce a “no email” policy, take care of your body and environment around you, and don’t feel guilty about doing less than your best.
It doesn’t take long before I feel the guilt of resting. The text on my computer screen is blurry, my arms are numb or have pins and needles post workout. You name it I have almost every side effect. It took some time for me to realise that if I allow myself to rest, not only do I stop feeling guilty, I am more productive for the next session too – without any dizziness!
10. Reward Yourself for Accomplishing Goals
Try to reward yourself for accomplishing your goals. This will help you keep going and keep up with your momentum. You can do this by rewarding yourself with something that you enjoy, such as a movie that you have been wanting to see or a new book.
When I accomplish goals, I find it helpful to remind myself why I should be proud that I finished what I started. Maybe it was because of my hard work or that this goal is something so small but so rewarding. It puts me in the right mindset to start tackling the next task with ease and excitement because I know if I could do this, what’s next will come quickly too.
I hope you best take away that there are some tried and true ways to be more productive. Set small goals, make new habits every day, and focus on the process over the results.
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