You want to be a more productive person, but you just can’t seem to motivate yourself to do so. Being productive can sometimes take a serious amount of thought and determination, but it doesn’t have to be difficult at all. To really double-down and get the most of out your time, and effectively set yourself up for success, here are 8 simple tips to get you started on how to be more productive each day.
1. Plan for your week on Sunday
Sundays can sometimes feel like a bummer, but it doesn’t have to be, in fact, it can be the key to having a productive work week. Take a look at your schedule for the week, or effectively create one for the upcoming week so you know when you have appointments or meetings or any free time. If you have specific projects or tasks that are most important, make them priority and simply plan out when you’ll be accomplishing less important or immediate things. Trust us, you’ll feel more organized and like you have a solid grip on your week. You can do this.
2. Say “thank you”
Is there anything more simple than saying “thank you?” President of Assets International, Michael Zwick, EO Detroit, is quoted in Time on explaining how this simple utterance can not only start your day off right but keep your head clear to be more productive. “Every morning, before I even put one foot on the floor, I think of one thing for which I am thankful. Starting with a positive thought and reminding myself of the good things I have in life gives me perspective for the day, should any unpleasantness unfold.”
3. Get into a good morning routine
In that same vein, one of the best ways to start your day is to get up early and eat a healthy breakfast. Few people can argue against that statement. It’s been shown that CEO’s and other successful people have similar morning routines, which include exercising, and quickly checking their work emails to see if they have any urgent tasks that need their attention. Additionally, you can also try writing first thing in the morning, which is a fantastic way to warm up your brain (try about 750 words if you can) about how you’re feeling or anything that’s on your mind. No matter how you choose to structure your morning routine, remember that generally creating a good routine that works for you will allow you to have a more productive day.
4. Take breaks throughout the day
Sitting at a desk all day and focusing can drain you of a lot of energy that can quickly turn your productive day into a rather unproductive one. To reduce mental fatigue and stay on task, try using the Pomodoro Technique. It requires that you work on your task for 25 minutes, then take a short break before another 25 minute session. After four of these “pomodoro sessions,” take a longer break to rest and reflect on how you’re feeling or your work. You don’t have to use this technique, but you get the picture, and can tailor it to your own needs. Feel free to also get the blood pumping by taking a walk and standing throughout the day.
5. Focus on one task at a time
Quite obviously, one of the biggest killers of productivity are distractions. In an article written for Psychology Today, author David Rock references his book “Your Brain at Work,” saying that all of our social media usage and constant connectivity can take a “heavy toll on productivity.” Rock references a study that found that office distraction accounts for an average 2.1 hour loss of productivity. “People switch activities every three minutes, either making a call, speaking with someone in their cubicle, or working on a document,” Rock says in his book.
Be it your cell phone, constantly flipping back and forth to Facebook, or even if it’s noise or thoughts, these are all distractions that are a barrier to any productive day. Do your best to avoid these things or turn devices off. This is why it’s important to know where and when you work best. If you need a little background noise to keep you on track, stick your earbuds in or go work in a coffee shop, if you can. Conversely, if you can’t handle noise while you work, plug up your ears or make your way to work space, if possible, like the library so you hear no noise. Don’t be afraid to utilize what you have to keep you focused and productive all day long.
Also, it helps to plan your day according to the most important tasks at hand, not the smallest and/or easiest.
6. Learn how to say “no” nicely
You’re not Superman. You cannot take on an insurmountable number of tasks and expect to get everything done. Learning how to say no is about the power of constraints. You may want to help people out, but if it means sacrificing things that need your immediate attention, it can seriously decrease your productivity. Sometimes you can’t be the nice guy all the time, so say “no” nicely. Focus only on the things you’re looking to achieve.
7. Keep your work space zen
A cluttered or messy desk can really inhibit your productivity, unless you’re one of those people that thrives among cluttered chaos — in that case, this doesn’t apply to you. We all tend to work better in stress-free environments, and this includes your workspace. Get rid of papers you don’t need and create your own little organizational scheme, trust us, you’ll be more productive during the day if you do this.
8. Educate yourself
The more you know, the better. To keep you up to speed on productivity, why not try reading a book on productivity, at least once a month if possible. If you type into the Amazon search engine “productivity,” it turns out over 37,000 books on productivity. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity is a good book to start with (with great reviews) if you’re new to this whole productivity thing or if you want to learn more tips.