One of the most common goals I hear people setting, especially at this time of year, is to be more productive. I’ve even been guilty of making that goal myself… and often falling short. It can be so stressful knowing that you only have a finite number of hours to work every day, and thinking you’ll never get everything done that needs doing.
So here, to start the new year off, are my 7 best tips for improving productivity. (And yes, this is something I will also be working on daily.)
Turn off Facebook and Email, or better yet shut off your WiFi altogether. It’s so easy to get distracted by the sound of notifications coming in for email and social media. Even if you’ve shut the pages down on your computer or tablet, you most likely still get the notifications on your phone. By completely turning off the WiFi on all your devices takes the temptation to check out what’s going on when you should be working, and helps to lessen the feeling that you might be missing out on something.
Set a timer. I can tell you from experience, this one really works. I’m one who really hates structure and schedules, but when I want to get a lot of work done I fall back on the timer to keep me focused.
Not only is setting a timer good for keeping you focused on one task at a time, it also gives you a good idea of how long your tasks take to complete. It’s a good time management strategy as well as productivity tool, because it gives you a good reality check on how much time something actually takes to complete. For me, this is priceless because I always tend to think I can do things much more quickly than is realistic.
Get up and move. You may not think getting up from your chair will help you with productivity, but it really does. The longer you sit in one position the more tired you get. By getting up and moving around for a few minutes after your timer goes off, you get the blood flowing again, and also helps to clear your mind from the previous task, so you can focus on the next one when you sit back down again.
Embrace your to-do list. I love my to-do list. I create the next day’s list every night before I shut down for the day, and it helps keep me clear on what needs to be done. You can use a mindmap for this, or an app, or even a plain piece of paper and pen. I recently learned about a tool call the bullet journal, and so far am loving how it helps me stay focused and keep track of what needs to be done.
Get back to basics with pen and paper. Okay, I’ll admit I’m one of those who think that writing is becoming a lost art. I also think that you can do a lot of things more quickly with pen and paper than by using the latest apps and gadgets. It’s so much easier to scribble a line in your journal than it is take the time to open up an app and start typing. Even though I do use apps and tools for some things, pretty much everything I do starts as a scribble on a piece of paper first.
Stop multi-tasking! It’s been proven that we humans are not really meant to multi-task. You’ll be much more productive if you focus on one task at a time until it’s completed instead of trying to do 2 or three things at once.
Finally, ditch the idea that everything has to be perfect. Perfectionism has killed more good ideas than just about anything else I can think of. Learning to let go of the thinking that everything has to be just perfect is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Accept that your best is good enough, that it will get the job done, and that you can always improve upon things as you go. Do that and you’ll be amazed at not only how much more productive you can be, but also at how much stress you can let go of by letting go of the need to be perfect.
So if you’re thinking you’d like to be more productive, try a few of these tips and see if they help you as much as they’ve helped me!
What do you do when you feel you need to be more productive? Share your favorite tips in the comments below.