We all, of course, want to be more productive. No matter how clinical or cold that phrase sounds, at its core it just means we accomplish more in less time. Becoming more productive means we have more time to spend on our passions, to think, to play, to achieve our dreams or just more time to spend with our loved ones. However, you can’t accomplish this overnight.
The best way to change your life, your thoughts, and how you approach things, is through taking small, incremental steps, every day. Small changes accumulate over time, and you can be a completely new person in a year by just practising something 15 minutes every day.
1. Make to-do lists the right way
Sticking to a to-do list will keep you organized and always on the ball as far as your schedule is concerned. However, actually, try and think about how you will organize these to-dos and tasks. Namely, too many people get a ledger or a notebook, and put all their tasks haphazardly on paper, with no rhyme or reason. You need to find a way to differentiate between “Finish serious work project” and “buy eggs”. We suggest you create categories or tags.
Namely, with categories, you can have separate pages or special notes that are dedicated to work tasks, to school, housekeeping, shopping, groceries… Or, you can order your tasks by importance, or location, or time… Use tags or special formatting to distinguish between these types of tasks if you’re going digital, or try using markers and post-it notes if you’re going analog.
2. Shut of notifications
It’s pretty obvious that spending time on your phone or browsing the internet will sap your productivity, and minimize the amount of time you actually spend on your work. However, there is one more aspect that is also important – interruptions.
An interruption breaks your concentration, it gets you out of the zone, and outside of your work. Interruptions are serious productivity sappers that disallow you from properly focusing on the tasks you have at hand, and can even make you lose track of your work. So, minimize them.
A very small and simple change you can do that will pay off greatly is shutting off notifications on your phone apps, your tablets, and on your computer. Even if you don’t respond to a Facebook popup, your attention will be gone for a second, and it will be difficult to get it back. Have this happen multiple times per hour and you will definitely have problems.
3. Take breaks and move
Try to take breaks while you work. Your brain can only handle so much data and information at one point, you can only work for a certain amount of time before you simply start losing productivity and effeminacy. So, taking a break every thirty to sixty minutes can do wonders.
Just getting up from the chair, walking around, stretching, and getting a glass of water. If you type a lot, use a high-quality hand massager from a reliable company, like Relax For Life or any other in your close proximity. Things like these can help prevent cramps in carpal tunnel. We also suggest you stretch your neck and back a bit, just to loosen up and avoid back pain.
4. Create a “don’t do” list
The exact opposite of a to-do list, this type of system basically works as a reminder of the things you shouldn’t do. A good “don’t do” list will help you stick to new habits, and avoid things that often drain your attention and energy. Further, by not doing the things that are on the list you will get a sense of achievement and accomplishment, which will give you a nice boost of motivation for the following day.
So, add things like – don’t eat sugary foods for breakfast, don’t smoke, don’t have that third cup of coffee, don’t check social media until 5 pm, turn off your notifications and mute your phone…
5. Actually relax
A great way to boost your productivity is by simply not doing anything. As paradoxical as it may seem, it makes perfect sense once you actually stop and think about it. If you want to be productive, you need to relax a little, you need to chill from time to time and recharge your batteries. On a mundane level, you simply need your rest. Enough sleep and rest time is vital for effective work and productivity. On another level, burnout is a serious and real issue, a problem that can have detrimental effects on your mind and your health.
So, we suggest you get at least two hours every night to just chill and relax. Catch a movie from time to time, go out and hang out with friends. Maybe what you actually need is to move, to work out and get your body moving. Getting all that negative energy out, getting rid of it in any way you can, will help you work better and be more focused the following day.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your successful life. Things take time, change doesn’t happen overnight, with dramatic and serious time investments. Rather, it takes small, incremental modifications to your schedule and your life to get the results you want, to become more efficient and productive.
Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2