Staying productive all the time can be a challenge. Even if you’re very diligent with your work and super organized, you will still find moments when you’re not satisfied with what you’ve accomplished, or simply hit a slump.
There are many self-help books out there, but here are 20 quick and simple things you can do right now to get yourself back on track.
1. Write a to-do list
Go old-fashioned and get out a pen and paper and scribble down what you need to do for the day and week. Visualizing the tasks in front of you can help you understand how to tackle them.
Photo thanks to Sameer Vasta
2. Break small tasks into smaller tasks
By reducing what you need to do into smaller actionable points, it can help to reduce the feeling of being over-whelmed. For example, rather than “finish presentation” it can broken apart into:
- Revisit research notes.
- Finish section one by noon.
- Complete section two by 18:00 today.
- Spend two hours looking for visuals.
Photo thanks to Dennis Hamilton
3. Be realistic with your time
We sometimes take on more than what we can handle. It’s always better to under-estimate your available time than to over-estimate. Even if you think you can finish something on time, give yourself a full day buffer for unexpected incidents.
4. Clean out your desk
You would be surprised how a clean desk can make such a big difference. Optimize your work desk so you can jump straight into tasks, rather than spending time hooking up laptops, finding stationeries or looking for a particular document.
Photo thanks to Brice Reul
5. Learn to delegate
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and learn to slowly trust someone with your work.
6. Turn off all distraction
Put your mobile on airplane mode and unplug the phone if you have to. Eliminate anything that could be a distraction so you can stay focused for long periods of time.
7. Be accountable
If you work in a team, let someone know what you need to complete so they can hold you accountable and put a bit of pressure on you to complete the work on time.
8. Take regular breaks
It’s been confirmed by scientists and doctors how taking regular short breaks between our work can help us to reset our brain and feel more productive afterwards. If you’re stuck on an idea, walk away and enjoy a cup of coffee, some fresh air or a chat with someone. You would come back to the idea with a fresh approach.
Photo thanks to Waleed Alzuhair
9. Log out of social media
It’s always tempting to go on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube to “have a quick check” and soon this short break becomes 30 minutes, an hour and then a few hours. If you don’t need the Internet to complete your task, then disconnect from it.
10. Avoid unnecessary meetings
If you have the choice, try to have as few meetings as possible. Always clarify what the meeting is about beforehand and decide if it’s something that can be resolved over e-mail or a quick phone call.
11. Learn to say no
The hardest thing for a lot of people is to say ‘no.’ In the end, you take on way too much projects and quickly burn out. You end up not giving 100% on the tasks — would you rather work on two things and have them 100% finished, or five things and none of them are completed on time?
Photo thanks to Maria Guimarães
12. Have a purpose
It’s good to have actions to do and items to tick off your to-do list. You must know though why you are doing each of them. Goals come before tasks. If you don’t have a destination in mind, you can walk as long as you want, you’ll never get there.
13. One thing at a time
Do things by batches, 20 to 45 minutes each. If you need more time, have several batches with some downtime in between. In each of the batch, focus on one single activity and resist the temptation of doing anything else. This method is know as the Pomodoro technique. Feel free to customize it to your needs. Your efficiency level will go the the roof!
Photo thanks to MayEve
14. Turn the music on
Music can make repetitive tasks easier. It also helps you create a productivity bubble for yourself in a noisy environment.
15. Reward yourself
When you set yourself a goal, also set yourself a reward. Celebrate the small triumphs with a nice meal, or maybe a night out at the movies. Thinking about what you would do once the tasks is done can be a motivator when you’ve hit a wall.
Photo thanks to Makena Zayle