Are you hoping to improve your productivity? Perhaps there’s just something about your routine that isn’t working. Maybe you just added another commitment to your already long list of responsibilities, and need to make sure you stay on task no matter what. How can you make sure to keep up when things get busy?
Follow these seven easy steps to eliminate distractions, prioritize your many tasks and be the most productive you have ever been before.
Step 1: Get rid of unnecessary distractions
Distractions are everywhere. They are so prevalent that often we don’t even realize the things that are distracting us are completely crushing our productivity. Do what you can to live with minimal distractions. Turn off notifications on your phone. Screen calls you do not have the time to answer. If you want to improve your productivity, giving in to every little thing that can steer you off course will only leave you unaccomplished, unfulfilled and disappointed. Learn what distracts you the most, and if possible, keep it out of reach until you are finished with your tasks for the day.
Step 2: Figure out when you are most productive
Believe it or not, everyone has a time of day in which they are the most productive. Some people are productive first thing in the morning. Others find it easiest to accomplish the most tasks at night. Find your window of productivity and see what you can do to fit your most important tasks into that very specific window of time. Worry about your schedule and not anyone else’s. If other people in your household go to bed early, but the hours between 10 and 12 are your prime time, learn to tiptoe. Do what you have to do to get things done when you are at your absolute best.
Step 3: Make your daily to-do lists the night before
It is best to wake up in the morning and already have a list of tasks laid out in front of you, so that you don’t have to take the time to think about what you have to do. If you wait until the morning of to make your to-do list, you may end up wasting valuable time making the list when you could be crossing things off of it. Just be sure to leave room for any unexpected tasks you may have to include that you won’t find out about until the next morning.
Step 4: Fit exercise into your morning routine
Another thing you may have to do in order to increase your productivity is training yourself, literally, to add physical activity to your routine. Exercise improves productivity both at work and at home, and if you do it in the morning before other tasks, you are much more likely to feel energized and accomplished, which might be able to motivate you to accomplish even more as the day goes on. The bottom line: fitness makes us feel good, and if you feel as though you are in a productivity slump, this may be your best possible option.
Step 5: Batch similar tasks
Batching similar tasks together on your list and throughout your day can really help to streamline your productivity. For example, you could answer some emails, do a few hours’ worth of work and then return a dozen phone calls, or you could complete your email and phone tasks all at the same time. Completing similar tasks together makes them seem less tedious, and you are much more likely to be able to get them done faster if you’re in a flow state and just move from one right into the other.
Step 6: Prioritize your tasks
It’s essential to prioritize your tasks on your to do list, even if all of them are equally important. Prioritizing your tasks, or putting the most important or time-sensitive tasks first, ensures that you don’t waste time getting things done that could have waited until tomorrow. This is especially important, but easiest, when you are working on deadline. Complete the tasks that absolutely have to be finished today and cannot be done any later. Then move on to things that leave you a little more wiggle room. The reason we sometimes procrastinate is because we feel pressured to get things done on time. Eliminate that pressure by completing important tasks, and you are much more likely to be ultra productive.
Step 7: Establish a task-reward system
Everyone deserves a reward for a job well done – even you. Sometimes you might need some kind of incentive to keep you motivated to stay on task and get things done. Let’s say you have a big report due to your boss by Friday. It’s Tuesday, and you know you should make a little progress on it … but you just don’t feel like it. However, if you know that as soon as you turn in that report Friday afternoon, you can head straight to your favorite restaurant for a good meal and time with friends – something you have had planned for two weeks in advance – you are much more likely to sit down and get your work done, even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing in that moment.
Productivity is all about habits and the way you structure your day. It’s important to pay attention to what time of day you are most productive, so you can make sure to save extremely important tasks for those hours. You will also want to shut down your distractions, batch and prioritize your tasks and remember to reward yourself as you cross things off your to do list and accomplish your goals.
Everyone has their own system that helps make them more productive. Try to apply these steps in the order that makes the most sense for you, and adapt them to fit your needs and preferences as you see fit. The more productive you are, the happier and healthier you will be. Stay on task and take good care of yourself.