So, here you are, a lot of 'How to be productive?' articles later, hoping this article will finally do something good. I'm pretty sure it will.
There are a few things you should know before we dive into the main tips.
- Execution is essential: There are thousands of articles on the internet that you can read but just reading won't work. Putting all of those ideas into execution, or at least some of those is what works. Right after you complete reading this article, get a pen and paper and plan out the execution of the tips that you find beneficial. The next step? EXECUTE it.
- It takes time AND patience: As they say, good things take time and patience. Don't expect that practicing some of these ideas for a day or two will turn you into a superhuman.
- Believe in Yourself: If you believe you can, there are high chances that you eventually WILL.
What is Productivity?
First of all, let's get a common misconception cleared. Being busy does not necessarily mean being productive. You are not being productive when you do a 4-hour job in 10 hours. That's being stupid and wasting your time. More time working does not equate to more productivity.
In fact, Productivity is essentially getting more done in the least time possible rather than spending most of your day working.
Here are 10 ideas that can help you take your productivity to the next level:
1. Create a To-Do List
This is one of the most important things that get you organized. Make a list of all the tasks that you need to get done. If you don't have a clear picture in front of you of what needs to be accomplished on a particular day, chances are you'll put it off for later tomorrow, and that tomorrow never comes. Maintain a digital or a pen-and-paper based to-do list and check off the tasks as soon as you complete them. It gives you a sense of achievement which in turn will motivate you to work on the remaining ones.
2. Find Your Ideal Time For Deep Work
All of us have a time when we have the maximum energy and best focus possible. Utilize that time slot every single day by doing the most important task from your to-do list. Anything that takes 3-4 hours to do can be easily completed in 1-1.5 hours when you are focused and energetic. Experiment working in different time slots and find out what works for you. It does not necessarily have to be early in the morning. No one is here to judge you. If your ideal time is 3 AM in the morning, go for it.
3. Batch Similar Tasks
A lot of time is wasted when you switch between different tasks. Some of this time can be saved using 'batching'. Open your to-do list app and group all the similar items together. Open Google Calendar and schedule your groups into various time slots throughout the day. Since your group has similar tasks, you can get it done in a single sitting with minimal switching time.
4. Take Frequent Breaks
Taking breaks is as important as the task you do. If you stick to a single thing for a long period of time, your creativity diminishes. Your mind needs periodic breaks in order to function efficiently. As a creator, all the content that you create might not be of the best quality when you pull an all-nighter and drink 6 cups of coffee to keep yourself awake. How hard you work is not important, what's important is how good of an end product you can make.
5. Design an ideal workspace
A study by Herman Miller found that a good workspace design improves your productivity by 16% and your job satisfaction by 9%. Now, there is no need to get a $5000 desk setup for that. Just keep a few simple things to keep in mind like:
- Have a comfortable chair and desk
- Have sufficient plug points
- Remove all the items you don't need
- Make sure the surrounding lights don't hurt your eyes
6. Put your devices on DND
Distractions take away a lot of your time. Nothing is worse than a social media notification in the middle of your deep work session. To prevent this, turn on Do Not Disturb on all your devices while you are working and allow your mind to focus on one single thing. You can use the Forest App that uses the Pomodoro Technique and sets a timer where a virtual tree is planted by the time you finish your work. If you use your phone in the middle of the session, the tree dies.
7. Do Not Multitask
There is a fine line between feeling productive and being productive. When you multi-task, you might feel productive but when you constantly shift your focus between multiple activities, it not only takes up more of your time but also increases your chances of making mistakes in the work that you do. Take one task at a time, finish that off, and move on to the next task.
8. Automate and Delegate Tasks Whenever Possible
Not all tasks that you have to do are productive. There are a lot of time-taking tasks which cannot be skipped. There are several automation services on the internet, like IFTTT which you can use. Spend some time researching if some of your tasks can be automated. For the remaining ones, hire a person (if your income allows you) to take care of that. You have no idea how much time you can save per week by doing this.
9. Have a Morning and Bedtime Routine In Place
Routines set your brain on auto-pilot. The word 'routine' itself says it all. You do the same favorite chores that you love right before you sleep and after you wake up. It helps you build the momentum you need to get going throughout your day. The most important thing routines do is give your mind and body some time to relax. Most people with no routines are glued to their mobile phones just before they close their eyes resulting in bad quality sleep. As soon as they get up, it is already late and they rush to reach their offices. Routines give you CONTROL.
10. Stay On The Top Of Your Schedule (even when you don't feel like)
Some of the most productive people on the planet have a rigid routine that they follow in order to get their work done. There will definitely be times when you don't feel like working but don't put anything off for later that was scheduled to be done at a certain time. It might soon become a habit which will eventually bring down your productivity.
Lastly, whenever you find yourself falling off the track, don't get harsh on yourself. Get up and start walking again.
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