This is a post for the people that feel like they can never get anything done, the people with seemingly never ending to do lists, the people that sometimes think they have the attention span of a goldfish because everything and anything is a distraction. Okay, okay, sometimes I can be like this. We’re all human, after all. But, when it comes to down to it, I know how to take control and accomplish what needs to be done. This post is inspired by a compliment/complaint I got from a friend that said she wishes she could be as productive as me and actually accomplish things.
Let’s get something straight – I’m a very busy person. In fact, if I am being completely honest with you guys, sometimes I overwhelm myself with how much I have to do. For instance, at this given moment, I am balancing work, school, blogging and my life outside of all of that. It probably sounds like I am trying to do too much, like my husband has told me I am. The truth is, I like being this busy. It keeps me sane, I believe. Over the years, I have developed a system that keeps me on track and allows me to make the most of my time. In order to be productive, I take the following initiatives and feel well accomplished by the end of the day.
Let’s get started with the discussion. Together, we can crush our goals!
Wake Up Early, Drink Coffee, and Have a Successful Day
Waking up early is a necessity for having a successful day. There is no point in sleeping in when there is work to do, at least in my opinion. I got this tip from a friend I met in college. She was one of the most inspiring and productive people I ever met. She woke up at 6 in the morning every weekday. Usually, she went to the gym, made a great breakfast and studied for a few hours before class. I envied the fact that she would already be done with so much before I even woke up. So, I started waking up early too.
I notice a huge difference in my productivity levels when I wake up early. When I am awake in the morning, there is nothing else for me to do except the tasks that I need to get done. At night, however, it is much harder to stay awake when I am tired (I’m a repeat fall-asleep-at-the-computer offender). To make waking up easier, have something to look forward to every morning. For me, I look forward to a delicious cup of coffee. Note: just make sure that this doesn’t involve cooking bacon in a George Foreman grill at your bedside. Let me know in the comments if you know what that’s from 😉
Lastly, I think having a positive mindset has anywhere between 50-90% of an impact in how you achieve in life. If you tell yourself that “you can” accomplish something and truly believe it, then you are unstoppable. On the contrary, if you tell yourself “you can’t”, well, you are just going to limit yourself . I truly believe that having a positive mindset throughout the day positively impacts how much you achieve.
Make a Balanced To-Do List
What is a balanced list, you ask? A balanced to-do list is one that includes a mixture of both easily achievable and harder to complete tasks that you would like to complete. For example, include a variety of tasks on your list like”sweeping the porch” and “working from home for 5 hours” and “writing a new blog post”. Clearly, these tasks are going to take a variety of different times. “Sweeping the porch” will probably take 10-15 minutes, “Working from home” will take 5 hours, and “Writing a blog post” will take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on the post.
Why is a balanced list so important for productivity? There are two notable reasons I can think of as an answer. First, we all like to feel like we have accomplished something. It may sound silly, but I definitely get an extra boost of “hooray” and motivation whenever I cross something off my to-do list. If my list consists of a variety of goals, I know I will be able to cross at least a few things off of it everyday.
Second, it is important to give your brain some down time every now and again. You cannot jump back and forth between mentally enduring tasks all day. Eventually, you will tire yourself out. Instead, it is good practice to complete a few smaller tasks after a really big one. Give your brain and body some time to recover between tasks.
Decide What You Want to do Least. Then, Do That First.
I forget where I originally got this advice from, but it is some of the best advice I have ever received. If there is something you really do not want to do, it will be on your mind consistently until you achieve it. You will be wasting time and energy dreading it. You cannot walk very far with a heavy weight on your back, so how could you expect to get much done when you are constantly thinking about an upcoming burden? The simple answer is to get rid of the burden. Once you get the tasks out of the way that you are not looking forward to, you will feel much more optimistic about the rest of the day. You will feel so relieved that you may even feel more energetic and motivated to complete your next tasks. This is my favorite tactic for being productive. I love ending my day working on projects that I am passionate about instead of the tasks I’d rather not be doing.
Take Active & Productive Breaks
An active and productive break – that almost seems like an oxymoron. Let me explain. When I am working on my to-do list, I like to take an active break every few hours or so. The term active break that I have come up with refers to a break where you relaxing, but you are also working. Usually, my active break includes a snack, and a half-hour show playing in the background while I complete a chore that requires little effort. For example, completing Facebook threads for my blog, writing a grocery list, or cleaning the glass in our aquarium are some chores I usually complete while I am taking an active break. These breaks give me an opportunity to relax for a little bit of time while still being productive and getting my chores done.
I will issue one warning alongside this suggestion, though. Make sure you set a time limit on how long you want your active break to be. It’s so easy to allow a break to turn into a four nap, or Netflix marathon. Usually, I will take an active break for a half hour or forty minutes until I force myself to work on something more necessary. Be strict on yourself to follow through with your time limit for all breaks.
Stay off Social Media at All Costs
We all know the truth – social media is a black hole that sucks up all of our precious time. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic. Yet, we have all fallen into the time trap of logging on to social media just to check something, and then an hour later you’re still on there looking at the vacation pictures posted by an acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in the past 6 years. The best thing you can do is just avoid social media at all costs while you are trying to be productive. Break your habits. Do not give into the temptation to go onto social media until you are done working for the day. You will be much more productive if you do.
For those of you that run your businesses full-time online and therefore, use social media for work, I recommend having separate accounts for your business. It is also a good idea to save what you need in a separate location from your daily feed so that you can return to it without having to look through a lot of other things before you find it. Keep work and personal issues separate.
Hide Your Phone
This is something I started doing recently. As with social media, picking up your phone is a good way to waste an indefinite amount of time. This does not need much explaining. When you go on your phone to check one thing, odds are you will end up checking another thing and another and another, until you have wasted an hour doing nothing. It is so easy to fall into this trap when your phone is sitting right next to you. In order to avoid distractions, I suggest putting your phone somewhere where you cannot see it. If you are waiting on an important call, leave the volume on. However, make sure that the sounds for all other notifications are silenced so that you will not be tempted to pick up the phone. This way, you will hear your phone ring if someone needs to contact you. But, it will not be in your face to distract you from important tasks.
Find Your Perfect Working Environment
The perfect working environment is different for everyone. Personally, I work best when I am in a quiet and clean work space, with no music playing or background noise. Others, however, may work best at a coffee shop with chatter in the background. The important thing is to find out where you are most productive, and to make it a priority to work there. Do not try and get work done somewhere that you cannot focus; it will only waste your time. Making an extra effort to be in the optimal working environment can be the difference between a productive and unproductive day.
Be Alone When You Work
Is it just me, or do you also always tend to delve into off-topic conversations when working in groups? I remember when I tried group studying in college and our study sessions usually ended up being laughing and talking sessions mixed with very little studying. While these sessions were fun, they were not very productive. Even at home or at the office, it is impossible to get work done when there is always someone at your desk wanting to chit chat. To be honest, sometimes it can be very hard to say no to socializing when the situation arises.
Let’s face it – most people do not want to work. Wouldn’t we all rather have a good time with our loved ones or friends? Sometimes the best thing you can do to have a productive day is to just be alone and work. There is a time to socialize and there is a time to work. In order to be productive, you cannot mix the two. So, if you have to, hire a babysitter to watch the kids while you work, or put a do not disturb sign on your desk at work, so that you can truly have uninterrupted work time.
This might sound cliche, but maintaining a healthy diet will result in better performances in all aspects of life. I am not here to preach, but I truly believe that food is fuel for the body and mind. If you feel sluggish, tired, and unable to focus, the first thing you should consider changing is your diet. I think that drinking water is quite possibly the cure for everything. Have a headache? Drink water. Have a stomach ache? Drink water. Feeling tired? Drink water. This is just my way of thinking. No, this is not something they teach me in my accounting classes. I’m not trying to pretend that I am a doctor. I know that I always feel a lot better and more energetic when I know that I am properly hydrated. Eating a balanced diet with a lot of fruit and vegetables is another thing that makes me feel on top of my life. Sure, this might all be in my head. But, eating healthy definitely cannot hurt. I believe that maintaining a healthy diet will increase your ability to think and focus and ultimately, to be more productive throughout the day.
Have YOU Time Scheduled at the end of the day
You cannot just be working all day everyday without going crazy at some point. We all need genuine free time to relax and to do something that we enjoy. Having something to look forward to at the end of the day will make all of the work you need to do during the day seem less dreadful. Scheduling you time at the end of the day will increase productivity since you know that you will eventually have some relief from all of your chores. Giving yourself some time to unwind and relax will allow your brain and body to recover from all of the work you put it through. We all deserve a little rest at some point! Balance is needed in everything we do. Putting too much effort into our chores will just drain us from the needed energy that we will need to continue working the next day.
What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day of working? Do you have any other tips for being productive? Let us know in the comments down below. Don’t forget to subscribe to Pearl Innovation’s newsletter so you never miss an update.