I don’t necessarily consider myself an expert in productivity. (Maybe not the best way to establish credibility, but hey, I’m being honest here.) I am, however, much more productive than I used to be! I’ve been learning a lot about how to be more productive, and I’ve been getting my work done faster and better. I wanted to share with you some of my top tips for increasing your productivity – even some small changes can make a big difference!
Write Everything Down
When I have an easy-to-reference list of things I need to do, I can spend more time doing stuff and less time figuring out what stuff I need to do. This one doesn’t need much explanation – it should be a no-brainer! (You can see some of my favorite planners here!) Recently, I’ve been keeping a bullet journal, and it’s been the perfect way to keep my life organized. (Check out my bullet journal board on Pinterest for more on bullet journaling! This Rhodia Black Webnotebook is my absolute favorite bullet journal!)
Set Up Your Week on Sunday
Going along with writing things down, it helps me so much to have everything for the week set up on Sunday. I write all my major tasks for the week down, I plan meals, we grocery shop, and I make sure to take some time to relax. This means you don’t spend Monday morning trying to figure out your life AND dreading a whole week of work or school ahead.
Practice Good “Work Hygiene”
When people have insomnia, one thing some psychologists do is try to improve their sleep hygiene. If you have good sleep hygiene, you basically learn to associate your bed with sleep. You can do a similar thing for work! Set up a study spot or work area that is separate from other parts of life. If you have a desk to use for this, great! (Don’t use your bed or the couch if you want to be productive). If you don’t have a totally separate space (e.g. if you live in a tiny dorm room or small apartment), make work distinct by listening to specific music, clearing clutter, and creating some ambient noise (try Noisli or Coffitivity).
Don’t Come Back to Easy Things
Follow the OHIO principle – Only Handle It Once. If something takes less than 5 minutes, do that thing right now. Don’t even bother to write it in your planner (unless you just want to have something else to check off). Need to call someone? Do it now. Have an email to answer? Do it now. Easy homework assignment? Do it now. This will free up your focus for more difficult and time-consuming tasks.
Stop Trying to Multi-Task
You may think you can multi-task. I’m just going to tell you now that you can’t. Humans are terrible multi-taskers. When we think we’re multi-tasking, what we’re actually doing is forcing our brain to switch between tasks at a high rate, which is terrible for productivity. Whatever task you’re trying to complete, devote yourself to that task. Be 100% focused on whatever you’re doing.
Learn to Focus
I think people in general are pretty terrible at focusing nowadays. I’ve been working on my focus and it’s helped me be much more productive and efficient. To improve your focus, try meditation, like mindfulness meditation or body-awareness meditation. Another great way to practice your focus is to focus only on what you’re hearing for 10 minutes. (Ignore all other senses – it’s hard!) You can also exercise your brain by doing a crossword or puzzle, writing a poem, or learning a new language.
Set a Timer
This is a really easy way to make use of small periods of time – the hour between classes, the time while you’re waiting for your child’s dentist appointment to be done, or the half hour between when you get home from work and start dinner. I like to set a timer for a short period of time (no more than an hour) and work until the timer is done with no distractions!
Exercise & Drink Water
I find these help a lot with focus and energy level, both of which are great ways to be more productive! If I forget to drink water during the day, I start feeling spacey and unfocused. Exercising helps me be more alert, energetic, and motivated. So, if you’ve been bad today, drink a big cup of water and do a quick workout! You’ll thank me later.
I hope these ideas on how to be more productive were helpful for you! How have you increased your productivity? Do you have any good tips about how to be more productive?