It’s certainly not easy to be productive all the time. Sometimes we set goals that are too high, or something unexpected arises, and plans change. That’s okay – we all have a lot on our plates, and hectic lives call for excellent time management skills. Here are 12 practical tips to keep your motivation up. You’ll be crossing off those to-do’s in no time.
Do the most important thing first
This may sound simple, but it is a point often overlooked. Do the most important task at the very beginning of the day. Whether it’s squeezing in a morning workout or writing out a report, doing the highest priority task first thing in the morning will guarantee that it gets done.
Block off time
Scheduling time will help set realistic expectations for every workload. Block off time based on how long each task will take, so that there’s no aggravation or surprise at the amount of time a project took. This also helps to plan the day out so nothing is overlooked.
Wake up earlier
This tip probably isn’t what those who love sleeping in want to hear. But countless studies have shown that waking up earlier allows people to get more things done. Mornings can be calm and peaceful, and our willpower may actually be higher in the morning. Try setting the alarm an hour (or two) earlier for one day a week. You may be surprised by how much gets done when there are no distractions.
Have a process
Have a game plan for every task. Breaking up projects into small portions will help boost productivity, and creating steps for weekly tasks will help effectively manage time.
Take short breaks
Studies show that taking breaks leads to more success. Take a break every 50–90 minutes. Make sure to step away from the computer or phone screen and stop focusing. Go outside for 15 or 20 minutes and take a walk, or stay inside and do yoga – anything to move your body. A simple change in scenery can help to refocus.
Write it all down
Let’s face it – our memories are flawed. Write down absolutely everything that needs to get done. A handy way is to keep a list on a phone or in a small notebook. Just putting it all in one place will allow for peace of mind and make it clear what tasks truly need to be completed now.
Ask for help
Not enough people ask for help when they need it. But, chances are, there are plenty of people around who would be willing to help. Delegate tasks to others to focus on the important projects, and ask for help in stressful moments. We can all use a hand sometimes.
Don’t wait for the perfect time
There is never a “perfect” time to get something done, so waiting for the ideal time to start that assignment or write that Great American novel essentially means that it will never get done. Only start a task when there’s time. Break it up into smaller pieces – nothing has to be completed all at once. Chipping away at a project keeps up focus and productivity – it’s all part of the process.
Struggling with productivity? Unplug from the distractions. In today’s world, where everyone is on their laptops and cell phones throughout the day, unplugging is becoming more and more important. Log out of social media and turn off the phone. Smartphone addiction has been linked to poor impulse control, so put away the distractions before getting started on a project, and stay focused on the task at hand.
Alter your routine
A change in routine can mean more productivity. Sometimes, changing the wake-up time can help reset, refocus, and stick to a plan. Additionally, a new routine can simply save time. For example, consider going to the gym or grocery store outside of busiest hours – save time, and get more done.
Drink water and eat
When we’re busy working hard, it can be easy to forget to eat or drink. Set reminders for mealtimes to avoid getting tired and burnt out. Studies show that even mild dehydration inhibits the brain’s ability to focus, so drink enough and take care to perform well and be productive.
Say no sometimes
Research studies have shown that some people say “yes” because “no” is too uncomfortable, not because they mean it. Before rushing to agree to someone else’s commitment, slow down and prioritize. Saying no keeps a manageable workload and prevents extra stressed, meaning more personal productivity.