In today’s hectic world, oftentimes we find it too difficult to know how to be productive in our daily lives. We pour 100 percent of our efforts into doing as much as we can but there are times when there’s just so much to do that we can’t seem to focus on just one thing anymore and get the important tasks done.
Learning how to be productive and stay focused can be a challenge whether it be at work or at home. But if ever you’re feeling unproductive and frustrated with the way things are going, here are some simple and easy productivity tips to help you achieve more things in your day.
You can click on these links below to jump to a specific section:
- Productivity Tip #1: Develop a Routine and Stick to It
- Productivity Tip #2: Prioritize Tasks
- Productivity Tip #3: Eat a Hearty Breakfast!
- Productivity Tip #4: Get Enough Sleep
- Productivity Tip #5: Take Short Breaks
- Productivity Tip #6: Move Around
- Productivity Tip #7: Decorate Your Workspace
- Productivity Tip #8: Reward Yourself!
- Productivity Tip #9: Listen to Music
- Productivity Tip #10: Read Inspirational Books
- Productivity Tip #11: Think Positive Thoughts
- Productivity Tip #12: Say No!
- Productivity Tip #13: Create a To-Do List and Prioritize Your Tasks
Productivity Tip #1: Develop a Routine and Stick to It
One of the most important things you can do to be productive is to develop a routine and stick to it. Having a set time for when you’re going to start working on tasks and when you’re going to take breaks will help you have a more intense focus on the task at hand. It also allows your body to get into a rhythm so you can work more efficiently and not waste time.
If you’re not used to working with a set schedule, start by setting aside a few hours each day to work on a specific task. Once you get into the habit of working for set periods of time, you can gradually increase the amount of time you spend working until you’re able to work efficiently for long hours without getting tired.
Productivity Tip #2: Prioritize Tasks
Another important thing to do if you want to be productive is to set priorities. You need to know what tasks are the most important and need to be done first. Once you have a list of priorities, you can start working on them one by one until they’re all done.
To help you set priorities, ask yourself these questions:
What are your most important tasks?
Which tasks do you consider difficult tasks? Should you add them to your priority list?
What task is time-sensitive? How many hours will it take you to complete?
What tasks do you consider to be low value work?
What tasks do you consider to be high value tasks?
Can I delegate tasks to someone else?
Can I automate tasks? Can I use online productivity tools to help?
Answering these questions will help you determine which tasks you need to focus on first and may help improve your own productivity.
Another way to prioritize your tasks is to determine how often you do these tasks. Are these daily tasks? Are they weekly tasks? Are they tasks that can be done monthly? Doing this will also help you understand how important these tasks are and how much time you need to spend on them.
Productivity Tip #3: Eat a Hearty Breakfast!
One of the most productive things to do in life is to get a healthy, filling breakfast first thing in the morning.
You’ve likely heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and it’s true!
When we sleep, our body is still at work rejuvenating after a long day of mental and physical activity. So we need to start our day with our body fueled, but it’s also important to use the right kind of fuel.
Choosing the right foods to refuel your body when you wake up improves concentration and memory throughout the day.
A healthy breakfast meal should contain a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low- or nonfat dairy, and lean protein.
The benefits of a healthy breakfast go beyond just a boost in the brain. According to Mayo Clinic, research shows that adults who report regularly eating a healthy breakfast are more likely to:
- Eat more vitamins and minerals.
- Control their weight. Research suggests that consuming most of your daily calories in the morning can aid weight loss.
- Control their blood sugar levels — which is important in preventing or controlling diabetes.
- Eat less fat and cholesterol.
- Perform better at work.
Productivity Tip #4: Get Enough Sleep
Learning how to be productive means putting importance on getting quality sleep. When you haven’t got enough sleep the night before, you dread the reality of the next day.
You hear the alarm go off and hit the snooze button numerous times. You feel tired and already have difficulty concentrating even before you officially start your day.
Spending time to give our body sleep to rest and recharge is crucial in being productive. A good night’s sleep can help improve our mood, increase our focus and concentration, and boost our energy levels.
Not getting enough sleep can have the opposite effect and make us feel irritable, anxious, and stressed. It can also impact our ability to think clearly and make decisions. Lack of sleep affects our brain’s ability to learn and retain information, it impairs our cognitive functions.
When you’re sleep-deprived, you’ll have more trouble refocusing on the task at hand. A recent study also showed that lack of sleep is a stronger predictor of burnout than stressful work demands.
Productivity Tip #5: Take Short Breaks
Here’s another trick on how to be productive: taking short breaks in between bouts of work. Get some fresh air!
If you have ever felt drained at the end of your workday and felt you haven’t accomplished much and that you can’t focus on anything, it’s usually a sign that you need to take a break.
When you are working continuously on a task, this sets off stress – mental and physical fatigue.
A recent study shows that even brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods.
Taking breaks help regain our focus, sharpness, and motivation. If you want to learn how to be productive, recharging your brain and body is one of the best things to do on your work day; as you get more done quicker when you step back and take a brief pause.
Productivity Tip #6: Move Around
Most jobs essentially require us to sit for long periods of time which poses risks on our health – whether it’s lower back pain, tight neck, eye strain, name it! You may have heard the saying “sitting is the new smoking,” which is credited to Dr. James Levine of Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University (ASU).
There’s a growing number of research that supports his claim. This is because of the health risks associated to a sedentary lifestyle. Standing desks is on the rise and a growing number of companies like Google and Facebook allow standing desks due to their health benefits.
Zero Gravity Tables conducted a survey of standing desks users and their results were phenomenal. Studies suggest that stretching and moving around or simply getting up from your desk at regular intervals throughout the day can help enhance your work and could also boost productivity.
Image via Zero Gravity Tables.
This is closely tied to our previous tip on how to be productive - taking short breaks, stretching, and walking around the office (or your house) can be very beneficial not only to your attention and focus but also to your muscles and circulation.
Movement and exercise stimulate flow throughout the body – it reduces discomfort, reduce back and neck pain and increases both energy and attentiveness.
Productivity Tip #7: Decorate Your Workspace
Do you want to know how to be productive to improve your mood at work? Personalise your workspace. Add some colour. Let in the light. Add a plant.
Studies suggest that individuals may consciously or subconsciously take comfort from the items with which they surround themselves while working, and these items may help maintain emotional energy in the face of the stresses, distractions, and difficulties that come from their work.
The most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment, according to a study on workplace and productivity.
A Huffington Post article states:
“How you use your workspace, from the way you sit to the way you decorate, can influence overall productivity and creativity.”
Below is a Huffington Post infographic on how to set up your desk for success.
Infographic by Noelle Campbell for The Huffington Post
Productivity Tip #8: Reward Yourself!
When you know how to be productive and get into that focused mindset where you just work continuously lest you lose your momentum, sometimes it’s easy to forget that work also needs to be equally balanced with something joyful.
You’ve done great and worked hard all day, ticking everything off your task list, so what do you usually have next on your to-do list? Why not reward yourself with a favourite drink or go to your favourite diner with friends after work to celebrate.
A chocolate treat perhaps? Who doesn’t love chocolate?
Rewarding oneself can be an effective way to increase your motivation in boosting your productivity. Knowing that there is something that gives you joy waiting for you at the end of your work day is a good method to encourage yourself to reach greater heights in your work. Remember, highly motivated people are more productive.
The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People surmised that researchers find that perceived self-interest, the rewards one believes are at stake, is the most significant factor in predicting dedication and satisfaction toward work. It accounts for about 75 percent of personal motivation toward accomplishment.
Productivity Tip #9: Listen to Music
Listening to music is one of the most underrated productive things to do when working. For some people, too quiet of an atmosphere does not help to get them in the zone.
They use music to gain focus at work — a fact that is backed by science. Listening to melodic sounds helps to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain, creating a feeling of well-being. Research suggests that music aids in the efficiency of performing repetitive tasks. There have been studies in which people who listened to music had better ideas and completed their tasks faster, due to their better mood.
A Music Works research states that music can motivate your staff, boost morale, and create a better working environment — 65% of businesses say that music in the workplace makes us more productive. Below are some of their other research findings.
And, of course, music beats boredom! We plug in those earphones to escape from a too noisy or too quiet an environment or just to add more zest to our monotonous jobs.
If you’re eager to learn how to be productive at work, plug into your favourite playlist the next time you’re working on that report.
Productivity Tip #10: Read Inspirational Books
Reading can help reduce stress, according to a University of Sussex research.
In the study, psychologists found that reading worked the best in reducing stress by 68%, more so than listening to music, having a cup of coffee or tea, or taking a walk, all of which lowered stress levels by 61%, 54%, and 42%, respectively.
One of the most important reasons to read inspirational books is you can take the lessons you’ve learned and then apply them to yourself.
Besides, books are the foundation of success and the only habit that all successful men have in common.
There are plenty of takeaways from the ideas and insights and the results from others’ experiences which makes them very powerful in inspiring and motivating us to make things happen too.
Reading can be one of the most incredibly productive things to do in life, but only if you apply the knowledge you gain.
Productivity Tip #11: Think Positive Thoughts
It’s difficult to be productive when you’re stressed out. It’s hard to stay focused when you’re thinking about deadlines, problems, or an overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done in what seems to be never enough time.
In a Huffington Post article, The Science of Positive Thinking, research reveals that positive thinking is about much more than just being happy or displaying an upbeat attitude.
Positive thoughts can actually create real value in your life and help you build skills that last much longer than a smile. A positive mentality contributes greatly to help you learn how to be productive. It helps you develop new ideas, solve issues, and manage other people.
When you’re happy, work doesn’t seem so much like work. Time goes by faster, and things become easier as you’re more open to taking on new challenges. Become more productive and efficient by making the conscious decision to think positively. In this very funny TED Talk video, psychologist Shawn Achor sends a meaningful message on happiness and productivity.
Productivity Tip #12: Say No!
Say NO to distractions!
Are you the people-pleaser kind who always gets out of their way to help others? It feels good to help, yes! But this can also take up a lot of your time.
We face a lot of distractions everyday. Of course it’s always good to help but you have to know where your priorities lie. When you have commitments and a looming deadline to meet, it is best to eliminate as many distractions as possible to get things done.
Saying no may be hard but keep in mind that over-committing may increase your stress, fatigue and risk burnout. Over time, you will feel less engaged and your productivity will fall.
We’re not saying that you stop helping people when you can, but the better you get at saying “No”, the more productive you’ll be.
Productivity Tip #13: Create a To-Do List and Prioritize Your Tasks
Creating a to-do list is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to boost productivity and also help with your time management. Having a list of to dos helps you stay organized and focused on what needs to be done. It also lets you stay highly efficient by helping you stop multitasking. Focusing on each important task on your to do list can help you reach peak productivity.
When creating to-do lists, it is important to be specific and realistic. Vague items such as “finish report” or “work on presentation” are not going to be helpful. Be as specific as possible by writing down the exact task you need to do, such as “write Executive Summary for presentation”.
In addition, don’t try to pack too much into one day. Be realistic about what you can realistically achieve and don’t try to do too much at once as this will only lead to frustration.
Once you have your list, the next step is to prioritize your tasks. Not all tasks are created equal and some will definitely take precedence over others.
Identify which items on your to-do list are the most important and urgent and start with those. As you complete each task, check it off your list so you can visually see your progress. This will help keep you motivated to keep going.
These are only a handful of tips that would help you learn how to be productive, not only at work but also in your daily life. Keep in mind that your productivity hinges on not only your motivation and focus, but also on your current health and mindset. If you don’t take the time to take care of these things, chances are you’ll find yourself on the road to exhaustion.
If you ever find that you’ve somehow overburdened yourself with tasks necessary to run your business and your productivity is suffering for it, here’s a bonus tip: Hire a Virtual Assistant from The Virtual Hub so you can delegate the tasks that really hamper your higher value productivity!