8 Steps to Better Productivity
We all know that person that can just wake up in the morning and jump straight onto their to do list without a second thought and continue to smash through it with ease as the day progresses. For some of us though, productivity doesn’t come as easy and that’s ok. Luckily productivity is a skill that anyone can build on if you’re willing to follow the steps and practice it.
For most of my life I really struggled with productivity, I remember when I was at school I was one of the many kids who would leave an assignment until the night before and then pull an all-nighter, frantically trying to get it finished in time which normally resulted in an average grade for the given assignment. This lack of productivity also slipped into other areas of daily life where I would leave every day tasks to the last minute, sometimes affecting important things such as being late to appointments.
Bad productivity isn’t the most effective mode in which to live your life, so the past few years I have been committed to working on this within myself and have noticed a huge difference since I’ve made the effort to do so. ‘To Do Lists’ are my new best friend, I get so many more of my daily house chores done allowing a cleaner space to live, I’m much more organised, healthy eating is much easier due to food being prepped, I’m so much more effective with my work, and my life just has a better overall feeling of accomplishment. I feel like I’m always moving towards something and getting what I need to done in order to reach my goals. I’m still not perfect at productivity, but I’m so much better than I used to be and I will continue working my ‘productivity muscle’ until it’s one of my strongest qualities.
Here are 8 steps to better productivity if you want to build on this skill yourself:
1. Stop feeling overwhelmed.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done, you are likely to procrastinate and lay on your bed staring at the ceiling thinking of the endless list of tasks that are awaiting you while you just tangle your brain into a frazzle. Instead, sit down and write a list of EVERYTHING that comes to mind that needs doing. No order. Just brain dump everything onto the paper so that it’s out of your brain and in front of you.
2. Prioritise each task.
Once this is done you can put a number between 1-3 next to each task to state its priority level (1 being most important). Seeing what’s really important in black and white will really help you re-focus on what you need to be doing as soon as possible.
Now you are ready to schedule these tasks into your diary, but the key here is to not go overboard. With events, appointments and time specific tasks aside, only schedule tasks for the day ahead. Either write your to do list the night before or the morning of. Don’t give yourself too much to do in one day, make it achievable for yourself so that you know that you WILL have ticked off every task by the end of the day. Speaking of ticking, make use of tick boxes. Ticking off each task as you complete them gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivates you to keep going.
4. Start with your favourite.
Now that you have your list in front of you for the day, that overwhelming feeling can start to creep back in and the best thing to do is just get the ball rolling. You don’t need to start with the most complex task or something you don’t enjoy, as this will make it very difficult to get motivated enough to begin. Take the pressure of yourself by starting with the easiest task or something you enjoy. Things like replying to emails can be a good first task because they don’t involve as much brain power.
5. Take action.
This is what makes all the difference! Stop the procrastination and just go get started. Remind yourself of how disappointed you will feel within yourself if you get nothing on your list done today.
6. Focus on one thing.
Just pick one thing at a time and focus, while forgetting about the rest of your list. If you allow your mind to wander back to everything else you need to do or you start multi-tasking, you won’t be able to work as efficiently. Be in the moment and get into the flow of whatever your doing, allowing yourself to enjoy it and do it to the best of your ability.
7. Set a break schedule for yourself.
Taking breaks throughout the day will boost your productivity, so consider taking a 15-20 minute break around every 90 minutes to give your brain a rest and this doesn’t include scrolling on Instagram. You will get the most from your break by moving your body and allowing your mind to wander and relax, so try going for a short walk, doing some stretches, chores, or speaking to somebody, this allows you to return to your task refreshed and ready to focus.
8. Build momentum.
Productivity is a skill that is built through habit. The more times you discipline yourself to get things done it will feel more natural and easier for you to make this a part of your routine. Over time you will have built up a momentum of productivity and you will be able to look back over all that you have accomplished.