The calendar has turned its page once again, and it is the start of a new month. Yay! A new month means new opportunities, new goals to set and new challenges to embrace. The problem though is that sometimes we are not able to achieve everything we want to and this all comes down to one simple reason – productivity. We all have the capability to handle our lives and the tasks within them, but often it can get away from us and all of a sudden we are behind on work and just feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Fear not because the simple act of changing a few habits can turn you into a taskmaster of note. Productivity isn’t a gift – it is a skill that we all develop differently, but the fact of the matter is that we can all develop this skill. When I was in school, my friends would all nickname me the productivity boss or the queen of organisation because I somehow seemed to stay on top of everything without selling my soul (basically, I was able to get through everything I needed without forfeiting enjoyment and free time). This is not because I never sleep or I happen to work really quickly, but because I developed the right habits that allowed me to maximise my productivity levels and today I am going to share those habits and tips with you.
Start on a good note
The first thing I realised while I was trying to increase my productivity is that it is a lot easier when you start the day correctly. Getting a good night of sleep is crucial. It’s important to get enough sleep because if you are tired, your brain and body won’t be able to function at its normal ability and speed, but you will also feel groggy and lack the motivation to get anything done. That is not how you increase productivity! So make sure that you get the amount of sleep you need so that you wake up you can be fresh and have the energy you need to get through the day.
Don’t forget breakfast
While all of the health specialists in the world will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for numerous scientific reasons, I offer a more simple reason for you. Skipping breakfast starves your body of energy that it will need to help you get through your various tasks. Now I am not a breakfast person, but even I eat a bowl of yoghurt or some fruit in the morning. Without that little bit of fuel in your system, your body starts to get grumpy with you, and I can assure you that it becomes a lot harder to work when your energy/sugar levels are down, and your stomach won’t stop growling at you. By even eating something small in the morning, you set yourself up to have a productive day.
Lists, lists and more lists
One of my favourite things to do when I need to get through a lot of stuff is to write myself a list at the beginning of the day and check it all off as I get them done. Why writing a list before you start working is a good idea is because it gives you a sense of how much you need to get done so that you can allocate your time correctly and stay on track to ensure that you finish everything. Another reason why I love lists is that there is nothing more satisfying than crossing a task out when it is finished so if the idea of making lists doesn’t grab you because they keep you organised, make a list so that you can tick things off.
Answer me this: how much work do you get done when you continually stop to answer your messages, check Facebook or have a movie going in the background? My bet is a lot less than when you are in a distraction-free work environment. While it is not a bad thing to multitask, things like our phones or TVs break our focus, which is not good if we are trying to get work done. My suggestion is to bite the bullet and switch it all off. Put your phone in a drawer (on silent or off) so that it won’t distract you and sit away from the tv or anything else that might distract you. That way, you’ll be able to concentrate all of your focus on the task at hand, and by doing that, I promise you’ll get it done a lot quicker.
Prioritise and think ahead
There is no point in doing things due next week if you haven’t started what is due for tomorrow, so one of the best ways to be productive is to prioritise what needs to get done. Much like in a medical scenario, a paramedic will focus a lot more on someone who is having a heart attack than on someone who sprained their ankle. Know when things need to be completed by and then work in chronological order and by order of importance. What I often do is start work as far ahead of when it is due as possible so that in case something unavoidable crops up, you aren’t left in a state of disaster having to do it all in two hours when you could have done it last week. If you think like this, you’ll always be on top of your work and will never feel rushed or pressured because of a deadline.
Do the tough things first
This is an excellent habit to get into because it essentially kills two birds with one stone (birds, please forgive this expression). By tackling your more challenging tasks first, you will not just get them out of the way, but it will also motivate you because what you have left is all the easy stuff. Another positive about getting the hard things done first is that you get them done when you are still fresh and have lots of energy – if you leave them until last, you will probably be tired from your day and won’t have enough energy or motivation to get them done. I don’t see how that isn’t a win.
Know your timing
Another thing that will help your productivity is to know at what time of the day you are most productive and how long it takes you to do specific tasks. By knowing when you are most productive, you can use that to your advantage to get more work done. For me, I am more productive later in the day as I get my momentum going so I tend to get the majority of my work done in the afternoon and evenings, but everyone is different. The other point I made about knowing how long you take to complete tasks is crucial because if you don’t, you’ll set yourself up for failure. There are only so many hours in the day, and as much as we wish we could, we can’t change that so there is no point in setting yourself ten tasks that are going to take two hours each to complete. All that is going to happen is you will run out of time and lose motivation. Manage your day so that you can get enough tasks done to keep you on top of your work without killing yourself and that way you will maintain your developing productivity
Take a break
This one is a hard one for someone like me, but it is important to remember that we are not robots and cannot sit for hours and hours and work without stopping. Taking a break to eat, exercise, sit outside or even relax allows our brain to take five minutes and reset. Even if a break is as short as ten minutes, that little break allows ourselves to re-energise ourselves so that we can tackle the next task with a fresh burst of energy. Trust me – you’d be surprised how much it can help.
The last thing to remember is to take baby steps. You can’t complete everything you set out to do in one day and often by doing that we exhaust ourselves more than necessary. The trick is to break things up into manageable pieces. Say you have a project to do that has ten sections – instead of trying to do it all in one day, maybe do one or two parts a day. The only trick with this is being organised and being able to plan well. You can’t say that you are going to read a chapter of your textbook a day if you skip three days and need to have it all read by next week. You need to stick to what you plan, and by doing that, you will not only get things done productively but you will also get everything done on time, and with minimal stress and at the end of the day, that is what we want.
So there you have it: my tips and habits that you can try to help you become your most productive self. As always, everything is relative so while these tips can be helpful, make sure that it fits you and your lifestyle. I hope that after reading this, you either feel inspired to amp up your productivity or have found some tips that can help you finetune your working habits. Thank you, as always, for reading, and if you have any of your own tips for productivity or have a question or problem you’d like to share, then please don’t forget to leave it in the comments. Wishing you all a very productive month.
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx