Life is busy. We all want to do better but it sometimes it feels like we just don’t have the time.
The reality is becoming more productive doesn’t need to be an onerous task. One simple change to your daily routine or a new habit to keep focused can have a major impact on how much you can accomplish.
Each of the tips can be implemented or completed in ten minutes or less so they’re definitely going to help you be more productive rather than be a distraction!
Do One More Thing
It never fails to surprise me how much more I get done when I focus on this habit.
The premise is simple. Complete one more, small task before stopping. Before you take a break, before a meeting, before you finish for the time. Put the in-between times to good use and get your admin done.
We all have little niggly tasks on our to-do lists. Phone calls to make, expenses to claim, emails to delete. Tasks that aren’t a priority but do need to be taken care of. The recommended approach is to batch these kinds of tasks together but by quickly ticking one off the list before you finish up, you can make sure you’re working up to the last minute. That makes for an effective day!
Read more: Top Productivity Tip to Slay Everyday
Three Daily Priorities
Every day I set out three top priorities for the day. In particularly busy weeks, I might map them out for the whole week to ensure I get everything done.
By limiting yourself to three, you are setting yourself up for success. Three is achievable (unless you put write the sequel to War and Peace on your daily to-do list). It’s manageable as opposed to overwhelming. You’re motivated to get on with it rather than slightly terrified of the mountain of work looming over you.
My biggest tip with setting priorities (aside from limiting yourself to only three) is to decide them the night before. That way when you get to work in the morning, you’re ready to hit the ground running and avoid all opportunity of procrastination or distraction. Plus, it gives your subconscious time to figure out how to tackle the task so you’ll know exactly what you’re going to do.
Use Verbs on Your Task List
Verbs are action words so by writing your to-dos starting with a verb, you are orientating them towards action.
What I mean is, instead of ‘blog post’ on my daily plan, I write ‘draft blog post’ or ‘research blog post’ or ‘edit blog post’.
Using the verb adds clarity to what I actually mean. We’re forced to figure out what it is exactly what we want to accomplish. That clarity of thinking actually makes us more likely to do the task. When it’s too broad, our brains get stuck on all of the possibilities so we don’t start. Using a verb specifies the action and makes everything much more plausible to get on with.
Learn to Beat Procrastination
Ah procrastination. The enemy of productivity. Having a simple habit to beat procrastination will go along way to helping you be consistently productive.
My method for dealing with procrastination is to take a break. Go for a walk around the block and get some fresh air. When I’m struggling to focus, trying to force things is never going to work, so I step away for five or ten minutes. But the trick to this is to decide what I’m going to work on when I get back and set it all up before I go. Open the spreadsheets, get the equipment I need, open the email.
By being prepared, I’ve removed the opportunity to slip back into procrastination mode. I’ve set myself up to get on with things. And most of the time, while I’m taking my break, I’m thinking about what’s ahead and figuring out how I’m going to tackle it. It’s a bit like the condensed version of planning your day the night before.
Use Your Weekends Well
Sometimes using your weekends well is allowing yourself to completely switch off and binge Netflix.
And sometimes it looks like planning your week ahead, getting some exercise, doing meal prep, seeing friends. Doing whatever you need to revitalise yourself and set yourself up for a productive week ahead.
I think it’s easy to think of weekends as free time that’s exempt from productivity. That being productive is for Monday to Friday and the weekend is your time to let all of that go.
My feeling is that if you’re not conscious in how you use your weekend then you miss an opportunity. An opportunity to experience more of life. An opportunity to support your success during the week. I’m not saying you need to work on the weekend but if you’re not considering how your weekend plays into your weekday success, you’re missing a trick.
Tasks expand to fill the time allocated to them so it’s important to put boundaries in place. I’m not talking about taking a big project and breaking it down into smaller tasks with individual deadlines, although that is useful too. I’m talking about telling yourself that you’ll finish the report by lunchtime.
Telling yourself that you only have an hour to complete something will force you to focus. You’ll naturally eliminate distractions in an effort to get it done on time. You’ll ignore Instagram notifications, you’ll ask your colleague to come back later.
Don’t let things just drift along, give yourself a target then focus completely in order to hit it. Just don’t make the target so tight that you force yourself to cut corners to get it done, quality is still paramount.
Do A Brain Dump
Ever find yourself with a million tasks spinning around inside of your head?
I do all the time. Especially once you start breaking things down into manageable tasks, you suddenly find yourself with a hundred things to do. And it’s distracting! You start panicking about where to start, worrying that you might forget something, overwhelmed by the sheer scale of it all. All of that brain clutter is counterproductive.
The best way to deal with it is to get it out of your head and down on paper. Or in a to-do list app. Just capture it all. Let your brain relax knowing that it’s being taken care of. Now your head is not spinning out of control trying to remember tasks, you’re free to focus on whatever it is you want to be doing (one of your top three priorities maybe?).
Productive is Quick and Easy
Whatever habits or tools you’re implementing to be more productive, they shouldn’t be onerous. It shouldn’t be time-consuming or difficult. If they are, then they’re distracting from your productivity, rather than adding to it.
My suggestion is you pick one of the suggestions and play with it. See how you get on and observe what impact it has.
If you try and do all seven at once, you’re likely to overwhelm yourself and it will be hard to know which habit is having the greatest impact on your productivity. As with any habit building, it’s best to stick to one thing at a time.
Are you considering implementing one of my seven tips but unsure where to start? Book a discovery call to explore how I can help you cut through the noise to focus on the productivity tips that fit with your uniqueness.