11 Ways to Boost Your Productivity
Do you ever get out of bed in the morning, thinking: “I’m going to get so much done today!”
Next thing you know, it’s bedtime, and you can’t stop thinking about projects you have to finish, phone calls you have to make and emails you have yet to answer.
What if instead of working harder, you could work smarter and have more time do the things that truly matter to you?
KEEP YOUR “TO DO” LIST SHORT
Keeping a long list of things to do can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Try to limit your list of things to do to 3-4 items. Prioritize by asking yourself “what are a few most important things I want to get done today?“.
After you identify some of the most important things you want to work on, schedule a block of time to work on them. I use a little tool like this one to make sure that I spend no less and no more time working on my tasks, than planned to. I do this because I know that if I had an entire day to work on something, I’d probably put it off until the end of the day- I use time-blocking to keep myself in check.
NEVER SKIP A MONDAY
You’ve probably heard the “never skip a Monday” rule when it comes to working out, but it’s something that I also apply to my life in general. A lot of people really dislike Mondays- a subtle change in that negative mindset can make a huge difference. Your Mondays really don’t have to suck– and it all starts the night before.
If you “skip” your Monday and don’t perform all or at least most of your task for that day, you will find yourself being even more busy for the rest of the week. To boost your productivity, start prepping Sunday evening.
During the weekend a lot of us like to treat ourselves and indulge a little. This also means that we often wake up tired and bloated the next day which makes us feel sluggish and slow. If you love to indulge on Sunday evenings, make sure to control your portions and avoid eating right before going to sleep. Do your best to adapt some healthy Sunday-night habits, so that you can feel well-rested, energized and ready to take on a brand new week. Changing your Sunday night routine can actually make you fall in love with Sunday evenings (which so many of us dread).
Another quick tip that will help your Mondays be a bit brighter: on Sunday evening, make sure that your kitchen and kitchen sink is clean- this will help you avoid frustration when you make breakfast the next day, and you won’t have to do any cleaning in the morning.
TACKLE THE MOST DREADED ACTIVITY FIRST
We all have those tasks that we just don’t enjoy doing very much. To me, when it comes to working- it’s making phone calls when I know I’ll have to deal with a difficult client. Also: working out. I love staying active, but some days, the last thing I want to do is jump around for 40 minutes.
So what do I do?
As soon as I get home from work, I take my dog for a quick walk, I take off my makeup, change and get my workout in. It’s really one of the first things I do when I get home- I don’t even think about doing it I just do it automatically. By the time I realize, it’s 40 minutes later and my workout for the day is complete. If I avoid doing it or keep putting it off, I usually either end up not doing it at all, or doing it, but not giving it a 100%. The same thing goes for everything else in your life. When you get to work, knowing that you have some important phone calls to make, get it over with as soon as you can- that way you can focus on other important tasks, and get more work done. If you keep putting it off, it will just hang over your head and make you feel uneasy-both of which can lower your productivity.
DON’T STRIVE FOR PERFECTION
This is something I had to learn the hard way. You can’t be perfect all the time, matter of fact, you can’t be (and probably won’t be) perfect at all. Trying to be the best version of yourself is great, trying to constantly learn and grow is good, but you can’t strive for perfection. You may or may not agree with me, but I think that striving for perfection is a waste of time.
When I started blogging, I was really obsessed with having beautiful pictures- the only problem was, I knew very little about photography. I refused to publish any posts unless my pictures were perfect. As a result, I only wrote a handful of posts during my first year of blogging- not very productive. And my pictures still sucked. I had to realize that actually doing things, taking action, is the only way to learn. This is something that happens in life, all the time: waiting.
You cannot wait until you’re perfect at something- going out and doing it, making mistakes and failing once or twice is the only way to learn and it’s the only way to grow.
CLEAN UP YOUR DESK
Get rid of those old invoices, a bunch of papers you no longer need and all your junk mail. I know that a lot of us love to have that “organized chaos” but the truth is, you can’t expect to be productive if you’re surrounded by mess. Same thing goes for your desktop or laptop and your digital mess- clean it up and keep it organized.
CREATE AN INSPIRATION/MOTIVATION BOARD
This one is really fun. I have one of those in my home office and every single time I look at it, I feel incredibly inspired. You can fill out your board with your goals or dreams, favorite quotes, daily affirmations, pictures- whatever brings a smile to your face and makes you feel inspired (I actually have a bunch of your comments, too, attached to my board). When you glance at your inspiration board during work, you automatically become more productive since you know that your work is exactly what brings you closer to achieving your goals.
This really doesn’t have to be anything intense- it can be as small as taking a long walk with your dog every evening or going for a little run. If you make it a daily habit, you will feel much better about yourself, it will also reduce your stress, kick up your energy level and it will help to keep you alert and focused on keeping your mind and body healthy.
READ BEFORE BED
Your bedtime routine can have a big impact on your productivity: the last thing you do before going to sleep affects your energy levels the next day. Watching TV before going to sleep is not a good idea: overstimulation will not only stop you from falling asleep right away, but it can also keep you up at night.
You’ve probably noticed that you fall asleep much quicker when you read, as opposed to watching TV. That’s because reading will help you calm down, relieve your stress and eliminate visual and sound stimuli.
When you’re multitasking, you are constantly switching between working on one task to working on another. You might think that multitasking saves you time, but in fact, it does quite the opposite: it slows you down.
I mention multitasking quite a lot and it’s probably because it’s something I, myself, still struggle with. I know that if I focus on one thing at a time, I’ll do a better job and get it done faster. When I try to split my focus between several different things, that focus can lose some of its power and my work isn’t as efficient.
When you jump back and forth between two projects or chores, it will most likely take you longer to complete them. If you want to be more productive, try focusing on one task at a time. If multitasking is something you struggle with, too, check out this article.
THE 80/20 RULE
The idea behind this rule (also known as the Pareto principle) is this: 80 percent of your outcomes and results come from 20 percent of your input. The 80/20 principle was suggested by Joseph M. Juran and was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results, in any situation, are determined by a small number of causes.
How does this apply to your life and your productivity? It’s an idea that certain activities you do (your 20%) account for the majority (your 80%) of your output, happiness and/or productivity. We often do the opposite- we spend the majority of our time (our 80%) generating small results (our 20%).
This is something that I’ve been applying to my blog work. I divide my time between creating content, doing things like answering emails, developing other ideas and promoting my content. This, of course, involves being present on social media. I’ve noticed that I was spending as much as 2-3 hours a day on Instagram- a medium that doesn’t really bring amazing results when it comes to my blog traffic. 3 hours a day. That was the time I was taking away from myself- time I could spend creating new content- something I enjoy doing most. I’ve noticed myself getting anxious every time I wanted to post something to Instagram because I knew it’s not as simple as publishing a post and putting your phone away. It’s catching up with comment pods, answering comments right away so that you get pushed up in the algorithm. It was exhausting and simply put- not worth the effort. Especially since I was taking away time from myself- time I could spend writing.
So, while I still plan on being active on Instagram I am no longer willing to spend so much time working on something that doesn’t necessarily bring amazing results. Instead, I am focusing on things that matter (creating content) and things that get results (like promoting my posts on Pinterest).
Break down your daily activities into smaller elements and try to identify activities that produce best outcomes and focus on those. Then try to identify some of the things that don’t necessarily bring results- things that only take up your time. The idea that greater the input, the greater the output, isn’t always true.
This is especially important when, like me, the time you can devote to your blog (work, or anything else, really) is limited. You have to focus on things and actions that will produce the best outcome.
Procrastination is a habit, and those are usually pretty hard to break, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. First, you need to ask yourself why do you procrastinate? Is it because you’re trying to distract yourself? Is it because you don’t enjoy performing that particular task? If you have problems with procrastination, make sure to check out this post.
Here’s another quick tip for boosting your productivity: do. Whenever you feel your productivity levels begin to drop or find yourself getting lost in distraction, set a small task for yourself. It can be anything: wash the dishes, answer to one or two emails. Focus only on that single task and pay attention to what you feel- do you find your thoughts wandering, do you feel getting distracted? Being present and practicing mindfulness is something that can help you out with your productivity.
I think that there is one more thing we often forget when it comes to staying productive, and that’s balance. Being “productive” doesn’t mean working all the time and “doing” all the time. This is the quickest way to a burnout. Your career/work isn’t the only place where you should try to boost your productivity. Think about other areas of your life where you can be more productive- prioritize things that matter, not only at work.