Being productive is something a lot of people struggle with. You may procrastinate by spending hours on social media. Or maybe you suddenly decide to clean your entire house because you can’t work until you do. You may only get two of the twenty things on your to-do list done in a day.
Hell, you might even be procrastinating right now as you read this blog post. Don’t worry about this one, though — you’ve come to the right place! Since you’re here, I’m going to teach you my best tips on how to be more productive.
What can you do today to be more productive?
All you have to do to be more productive is make it easier to be productive. I’m using every single one of these tips right now, as I write this blog post. That’s how simple these tasks are; you can do them all at once without feeling overwhelmed. In fact, several of them overlap and work together, making the process even easier! So, here’s what you’ve got to do:
Write a to-do list
Before you try to get any work done, you need to have a plan. Create a list of everything you need to do for the day or the week. I suggest making a list for the week and breaking it down day by day. The night before, choose a few tasks to do for the next day. That way, you don’t have to figure out what to do when you wake up, which saves time.
The easiest way to do this is with a bullet journal, a multifunctional and fully customizable planner that helps keep me on top of everything. You can start your own with any notebook, but it’s easiest to use a dotted grid journal.
Don’t go overboard with your to-do list and add things that take too much time. Instead, break your tasks down into smaller, manageable ones. It’s much less overwhelming that way, and you’ll feel less opposed to completing your tasks.
Make your workspace productivity-friendly
Here’s what I mean: if I want to practice violin, I’m not going to keep it in my closet. I’m going to put it next to my bed with my music stand. I’ll keep my violin in a place that’s easy to access and is conveniently with everything else I need to practice.
So, if you know you need your desk to work, make sure your desk is clear. If you’re supposed to do yoga, leave your mat out and handy somewhere. Gotta make sure you eat breakfast? Make sure everything you need to cook in the morning is washed and available. Do whatever you need to do to make it easy. Grab everything you need, and make sure it’s all where you need it.
Remove distractions and obstacles
Don’t work in front of a television. Turn off your computer notifications. Put your phone on silent or priority mode and lay it face down. Yes, put it away and don’t look at it.
Turn off your computer’s internet if you don’t need it. Make sure people in your home know not to bother you. Go somewhere quiet, if you need to.
This step also involves making it harder to do things you shouldn’t be doing. For example, say your goal is to lose weight. Don’t you think it makes sense to not have cake and cookies in your kitchen? If the snacks are right there, it’s easy for you to eat them. Make it easier to not eat them, and harder to eat them.
Don’t wait for motivation
Success doesn’t come by waiting for motivation. You have to make motivation come to you. There are no excuses. You have to learn how to be disciplined enough to command motivation. The same goes for inspiration.
Pro-tip: just get started. Getting started is the hardest part. That’s the part where we feel we need motivation the most. But guess what? Once you actually start, you’ve already gotten through the most difficult part. Everything else is downhill from there.
Believe me, even if you don’t feel motivated, if you at least start, you’ll feel better about working than you did when you were just procrastinating. When there’s something I really, really don’t want to do, I set a timer for just 10 minutes.
10 minutes is short enough that you don’t feel super committed, but also long enough for you to get something done. As long as something gets done, you’ve officially started. You’ve beaten the first mini-boss. Congratulations!
No, this isn’t counterproductive; it’s necessary. When you work and work with no breaks, you’ll burn yourself out! Your brain needs rest and recharge time. A five-minute break every twenty minutes is enough to give you the rest time your brain needs. This is actually referred to as the Pomodoro method, and there are plenty of timer apps that use it.
Personally, I use an app called Brain Focus. Depending on my task, I set the timer for how long I want to work, and how many sessions I’ll do. You can also change the length of your break, and your long break (which comes after the end of your sessions.
For writing, and I mean personal or creative writing, I can work for at least 30 minutes in one go, so that’s how I’ve set up my Writing pomodoro timer.
Do not multitask
Even if you think you’re great at multitasking, it’s only slowing you down. Even computers can only complete one task at a time; they just run so quickly, it seems like everything’s happening at once.
The brain takes time to get into the right mindframe for a task. If you keep switching tasks, your brain has to keep restarting for the other tasks. That’s a huge waste of time AND brain power. Instead, work on one task at a time, and work until you finish it. Your life doesn’t have to be such a juggling act.
When you take breaks, do something productive instead of hopping onto YouTube or playing a mindless game. Send that important email, make a quick phone call, or read a self-help article. You don’t want to kick your brain out of work mode and into play mode, because you won’t want to get back to work.
Don’t be a perfectionist
Nothing has to be perfect. It only has to be done. If you spend time trying to make something perfect, guess what the opportunity cost is? You’ll lose out on time you could have spent on other work.
I could spend an hour editing each of my blog posts, trying to reach a perfection level that doesn’t exist. Or, I could churn out more content and gain practice and experience along the way. Efficiency is key here. Accept that perfection will never come, and just do your best.
Do whatever makes you feel more productive
This one is all about your environment and your headspace. If you can’t work in a messy room, make sure it’s clean. If you want the background noise of chatter and coffee cups, head to a cafe. Maybe you need a cup of joe to put you in the right mood. I like to make myself a mug of tea before I start working; it puts me in a better and more productive mood.
Put on some music if you don’t want to work in silence. The best music to listen to while working has no words and no distracting scores. I listen to Hans Zimmer radio on Spotify whenever I need something to keep my brain company while I work. Classical music is also great for productivity, so give it a shot. It’s up to you and what you like.
So, ready to get started?
These 8 tips are the easiest ways to make you more productive. Use them all together, and you’ll see great improvement. Remember, getting started is the hardest part, but you just have to do it. You can do it.
Work on at least two of these 8 steps before you try to get anything done (and might I suggest adding the rest to your to-do list?). Let me know if any of this works for you!