Whether we’re talking about our personal lives, our duties at the workplace, our freelance or entrepreneurship projects, productivity is key to pursuing our goals and sticking to them, even when we don’t feel like it or we’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work or the complexity of our tasks.
There are ways to increase productivity that can apply to almost all sectors of our lives, if we’re consistent and come up with a plan to tackle our work.
We can’t control all factors that lead to a low productivity level, from lack of sleep to overtime, lack of focus or even burnout. However, there are some things within our realm of control that can really positively affect our drive, consistency and long-term results. Let’s check them out together.
Increase productivity without a caffeine overdose or a migraine attack
1. Wake up early
I know, I know – nightowls everywhere, I feel you and I understand you. The author of this article is also a nightowl and while it may seem impossible to re-set your biological rhythm, it could do wonders for your productivity. As you probably guessed, it’s not a process that happens overnight (no pun intended), especially if you’re used to doing your work in the late hours of the evening.
However, some effort will go a long way - waking up early gives you an extra time frame to do a lot of things, from cursing your alarm clock to actually getting some work done when other people are still asleep. There are a lot of reasons why most successful people in the world choose to wake up early and get a headstart compared to others and most of them have to do with achieving more and capitalizing on those quiet hours of solitude.
2. Organize, organize, organize...
Organization is key to visualizing your tasks and coming up with the right strategy to solve them – whether we’re talking about ways to increase productivity at the workplace or ways to stick to a new fitness or diet plan.
Basically, what you need are time-oriented objectives and tactics to achieve them, such as “I want to achieve objective X in timeframe Y using method Z”. No, this is not a math lesson, I promise you. The purpose of this exercise is for you to visualize your goals and answer questions such as “What do I need to get to where I want to be?” For a workout plan, you might need a personal trainer, for a complicated task, you might need certain tools or help from a coworker. It’s far easier to plan your next move ahead of others once you’ve visualized the steps needed to be taken.
3. Write everything down
This is a tip that has helped me tremendously and it might work for you as well. Whether we’re talking about a daily checklist or writing down your progress for your fitness plan, this strategy not only helps you easily see what needs to be done but it’s also an encouragement tool.
This is analogically similar to being on a long road – writing everything down helps you assess your progress, how far you’ve come, but also gives you an incentive to not stop, because you’ve already crossed a large portion of the road.
I used this tool on my fitness journey and it made the difference between skipping the gym/being a couch potato and actually completing my reps. Seeing that last week I worked out 5 days out of 7, present me didn’t want to disappoint past me. Who says you can’t get inspired by yourself? Bonus – writing everything down helps you not forget important details as well, whether it’s a work presentation or something else.
4. Limit distractions
We all know that distractions can kill productivity, whether it’s answering e-mails or checking social media. A lot of people will tell you that the key to increase productivity is eliminating them altogether, but that’s often not possible or practical.
So, a good solution is to limit that timeframe as much as you can – set fixed times for answering e-mails, such as 20 minutes in the morning, set fixed times to check social media AFTER you’ve completed a difficult task to reward yourself for your effort. It’ll give you an incentive to stay focused if there’s a mini-prize waiting at the end of the tunnel.
5. Take breaks often and don't multitask
We live in a workaholic society where people assume working 60+ hours a month and doing 50 things at once is actually better for our productivity when the truth is, it can’t be farther from the truth. Furthermore, our hyper dynamic society makes us think that being at the office 10+ hours with little to no breaks will actually make us achieve more.
With productivity, less is more and this has been proven by scientists, too. More breaks throughout the day is what helps your brain recharge and concentrate better. Focusing on a single task is far better than trying to do a million things at once and doing a subpar job at each one.
Exercising is one of the best cures for noon crash and a valuable tool to increase productivity many people don’t use. If you can fit just 30 minutes of exercise into your schedule or if you have the luxury of an indoor gym in your office building, take advantage of that.
Exercise is not just good for your body and giving your muscles a supercharge after all that sitting down, it also boosts your focus and concentration and helps you clear up your head to tackle the next project. A study conducted at Stockholm University even found a powerful link between exercising and productivity levels.
7. Customize your workspace
Whether it’s adding a nice furry stuffed animal on your desk or a plant or even an object that means something to you, decorating your workspace can provide an environment that fosters productivity. Don’t overdo it, avoid clutter but at the same time try to create a space that makes you feel good.
8. Get some Zzzz's
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep for better decision making, workplace performance and focus. Try to get the recommended amount of sleep every night and on the days that you don’t, start with the hardest tasks in the morning to preserve your energy levels and still achieve as much as you can.
I hope my tips will help you increase productivity, achieve more and not lose track of your objectives. Don’t forget – consistency is key so try to apply as many of them as you can but stay realistic. You might not be able to implement all at once and that's okay.
What are your tips for boosting productivity levels? Let me know in the comment section below!
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