In today’s fast-paced world, productivity is an important skill to have. If you don’t have a productive lifestyle, you will be left behind by those who do.
Fortunately, being productive isn’t all that hard. In fact, it’s actually easier than the alternative.
Don’t get me wrong, you still have to work hard, but by working smart as well, your life can be a lot nicer, easier, and more rewarding. So let’s get right to it. Here are 10 simple tips to skyrocket your productivity and achieve success.
1 – Get Purposeful Sleep
People will tell you to go to bed early, wake up early, and get around 8 hours of sleep per night. But everyone is different.
What if something else works better for you? What works best for one person may not work as well for someone else. So instead of conforming to the one-size-fits-all rules of sleeping, figure out what times you are at your best and make sure you are awake and doing your best work at that time, even if it’s the middle of the night.
Figure out your slowest times as well, the times when your brain is tired and you can’t get any work done no matter how hard you try. Sleep during that time, even if it’s during the day. There is nothing wrong with taking a quick 20-minute nap to reboot your system so you can get back into work mode.
2 – Use the Pomodoro Technique… with a Twist!
For those who don’t know what the Pomodoro productivity technique is, you start by setting a timer for 25 minutes. During that time, you focus and get as much done as you can. Then you set the timer for 5 minutes and take a break. Repeat that process 4 times and then take a longer break, usually 15 or 20 minutes.
I use this same principle, but with a twist. I don’t like the timer very much. So before starting a job I will break it down into 20-minute pieces. Then, instead of working for 25 minutes, I just finish an item and take my 5-minute break. It usually ends up being around 25 minutes anyways, but I don’t have to be ruled by the timer.
During the break, you can reward yourself with a little fun activity. Some of my favorites are listed in tip 10.
3 – Have Some Water at the Ready
Tell me if this has never happened to you, because I want to know your secrets. You are working hard and suddenly you get stuck on something. You sit back to “think about it” and you lose your focus and start thinking about something else. Then maybe you start checking your email or text messages. Maybe you start reorganizing your desk or browsing the web. Anything but what you should be doing. An hour or so goes by like this sometimes, and it happens often enough to be a big concern of time wasting.
To avoid this, always have a water bottle nearby, and when you run into an obstacle or you stop working to stretch or shift your position, just reach over, grab a quick drink of water, and get back to work. Make this a habit and soon you will do it automatically without thinking.
4 – Wear Comfortable Clothes
Nothing kills productivity like being distracted by a constant itch from a tag or irritation from a material that doesn’t quite agree with your skin.
Wear comfortable clothes so you can focus on staying productive rather than fixing your collar every 5 seconds. They say “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” While you’re at it, add my saying to the list. “Comfort first, then looks.”Comfort first, then looks. #styletips Click To Tweet
And don’t forget the shoes. Your feet will be in them for 8-16 hours a day, so make sure they are comfortable.
5 – Go with the Flow, and Bring an Oar
Life happens. Unexpected things come up all the time. Sometimes those things are in our control and sometimes they aren’t. If you can’t avoid them, what can you do?
You can just let it happen. Don’t let ruined plans ruin your life, or even your day. Acknowledge it, accept it, deal with it. This is what it means to “go with the flow.”Acknowledge it, accept it, deal with it. Click To Tweet
But don’t go overboard and throw all your other plans out the window every time you get an unexpected email notification. Use common sense in deciding when to go with the flow, and when to fight against the current. Go with the flow, but bring an oar.Go with the flow, but bring an oar. Click To Tweet
6 – Make a List
This tip is probably on every productivity list ever written, but I’m not talking about the same type of list that everyone else is talking about. A to-do list is nice, but what about when you find yourself at a dead stop and your brain just won’t do anything else even though your to-do list is sitting right in front of you?
Make a list. Get out a pen and paper and make a list about anything you want, even things that are unrelated to whatever you’re working on. Make a list of:
- Top 3 food ideas for dinner tonight
- 4 odd jobs I’ve been meaning to get done around the house
- 5 things I absolutely love about my SO
It doesn’t really matter what the list is about, what matters is that it will get your creative juices flowing again and you will be able to get back to work after finishing your list.
7 – Play Background Noise
The human brain is amazing, and it’s always working overtime. On average our mind processes about 2100-3000 thoughts per hour. If you’re trying to focus, all those thoughts can get pretty distracting.
If you get some background noise playing, like waves or crickets or even music without lyrics, it will fill up the parts of the brain that are trying to think about anything besides work. Then the rest of your brain can focus on working without distractions.
You can even open a window and just listen to the natural background noises of the outside world. The fresh air will be an added bonus.
8 – Get the Right Tools for the Job
If you’re trying to screw in a nail with a forklift, chances are the job is going to take longer than necessary.If you're trying to screw in a nail with a forklift, chances are the job is going to take longer than necessary. Click To Tweet
Always make sure you have the right tools for the job, and get high-quality tools while you’re at it. When you are a professional, quality matters. If you’re a programmer or graphic designer, it pays to get a computer that will boot up before you die of old age. If you’re a teacher, bring markers or chalk to class with you.
You get the point. Paying a little more money up front for good, high-quality tools will save you time and money in the long run.
9 – Choose One Thing
Each day think about all the work you need to do and select your most important task for the day. If you’re not sure what’s the most important, a good exercise for figuring it out is to ask yourself what one task you would work on if you could only choose one.
Once you have your most important task selected, focus on that one thing until it’s done. If you get it done, everything else you do will feel like bonus work and you’ll be able to breathe more easily and be even more productive because you’ve already accomplished the most important thing you set out to do today.
Don’t choose a small 5-minute task as your one thing. It needs to be something big enough to make it worth spending most or all of your day on.
10 – Take a Break from All the Productivity
Don’t try to be the energizer bunny. Sometimes you want to just keep going and going and going, but everyone needs to take a break and relax once in a while. When you’re home, be home. Don’t let your mind keep wandering back to work.Don't try to be the energizer bunny. #chillax Click To Tweet
Find something fun or relaxing to do while you’re off the clock. Spend time with the family or go out for drinks with your friends, or just stay home and watch TV. Even during your little breaks throughout the day you can find something fun to do for 5 minutes, like:
- Dance to some music in the break room (only if no one is watching)
- Play games on your phone (Bloons TD 5 is my favorite)
- Read a couple pages of a book
- Take a quick nap (see tip 1)
Productivity is like a battery; it needs recharged. If you try to be the energizer bunny, eventually your productivity will die (just like those energizer batteries, ironically). Take breaks throughout the day and rest and relax after work so you are ready to go at 100% each morning when you get started again.
These tips will not help you if you don’t implement them. Don’t be like most of the world and just read them and move on. Act on at least 3 of these tips and you will see your productivity skyrocket!
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Have you already tried some of these tips? Is there something I didn’t mention that helps you with productivity? Let me know in the comments below.