There are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, although many people wish there were more – especially those that find themselves with too much on their plate. While there isn’t a magic wand to wave that will give busy people more time, there are ways that we can be more productive with our time.
1. Turn Off the Distractions
Technology can be very distracting. We try to do important tasks while sitting in front of the television, with our cell phones buzzing and ringing next to us. We immediately stop what we’re doing to check every new notification or to open every new email that pops-up on our screen. Even though most of these distractions only take a few seconds to dismiss, they interrupt our creative flow and waste our time. These few seconds can quickly add up to minutes that you could be spending doing something else.
Move to a different room. Turn off the tv. Set your phone to silent. Close your internet browser. Unplug your wi-fi. Remove the batteries from your remote. Do whatever it is you need to do to turn off the distractions and focus on the task at hand.
2. Get Off the Couch
You will need to get off the couch in order to accomplish the tasks on your to-do list. If you’re one of those people who likes to play on the computer while watching tv or laying in bed – that’s fine, provided you are actually “playing” and not trying to work. Anything “work” related should be done at a desk or failing that, your kitchen table. Sitting upright is a lot easier on your body (specifically your back, neck, shoulders, wrists and eyes), making you more comfortable and more productive.
Your couch should be used for relaxing, not for working. Same goes for your bed. Using your spaces for their defined purpose will help strengthen your mental associations (such as office = work, bedroom = sleep) which will also help you be more productive.
3. Do the Hardest and/or Dullest Thing First
You’re going to have to do it anyways, so why not do it first and get it over with? You will feel better and more accomplished that it’s done and it will free-up your schedule and your brain to do the easier, more enjoyable tasks. Chances are you have more energy and focus when you are “fresh”, so dragging out these undesirable tasks until the end of the day will only make concentrating that much harder.
4. Listen To Your Body
On that note, you should listen to what your body is telling you. If you really aren’t a morning person at all, tackling the hardest thing first might not be ideal. Maybe you need that caffeine to kick in before you can really get going. Pay attention to your own attention span and energy levels. However they work for you, do the harder things when your energy levels are the highest and save the more routine tasks for when they are the lowest.
5. Take 5 Minutes
When you are feeling overwhelmed with your never-ending to-do list, a daunting project, or just don’t have the energy or motivation to get things done – work for 5 minutes. Set a timer for 5 minutes and work until the timer goes off. After 5 minutes, it’s up to you if you want to continue working, switch to something else for another 5 minutes, or throw in the towel. Most of the time, you will continue working even if it’s only for a few minutes more – because starting is usually the hardest part. If you do decide that 5 minutes is enough, at have at least accomplished something.
6. Give Yourself a Break
Stepping away from your work is good for you. Your brain can only work for so long before it needs to rest, and sitting at a desk at all day could kill you. So take a break! Stretch your legs. Grab a drink. Go for a short walk. Go for a long walk. Grab lunch. Grab dinner. Lay on the couch. Take a shower. Take a bubble bath. Take a nap. Take a 2 week vacation. Take whatever break you need and that the situation allows. Take care of yourself so that you can be productive and accomplish your goals.
What are your secret tips and tricks to be more productive?