It has happened to all of us – you’re sitting there plugging away at your work, when all of a sudden, your productivity levels plummet. It’s part of being a human. We’ve compiled a quick and easy to read list of productivity tips from a few different experts that put the “pro” in “productivity,” to help you combat your productivity woes.
Complete All Quick Tasks
By completing all of your small, quick tasks, such as sending an email, checking your missed messages, and organizing your to-do list, you can feel much more accomplished and ready to take on some larger tasks. “Accomplishing all those small, nagging tasks makes us feel both calmer and more energetic because we’re not dragged down by the accumulated weight of a mass of tiny, insignificant tasks,” says Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before.
Limit Personal Cellphone Usage
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits says that he even keeps his cellphone in another room until it hits lunch time. We know that a lot of people use their phone for work, especially if you have a VoIP platform that allows your work phone to forward to your cellphone, but when you accidentally get distracted and spend a little too much time down a social media hole, it can really effect your work. If your work will allow it, set your phone out of reach. If your phone is even slightly out of reach, you are much less likely to grab it and start scrolling when your work gets boring.
Associate Something You Like With Something You Need to Do
According to Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, when you take something that you love ans associate it with something that you need to get done, it can feel like less of a task. He says he associates his morning coffee (something he loves) with writing (something he needs to get done.) By writing while enjoying his morning joe, Ariely says that his writing feels more like a nice enjoyable morning activity. For me, it’s sitting outside. I love sitting out on my porch, so I’ll bring my laptop out there with me and start an assignment, and it suddenly feels 100x less like an assignment, and more like a nice relaxing porch hangout.
Categorizing Your To-Do List
Every Sunday, write out your to-do lists into three separate categories. Laura Vanderkam, author of Off The Clock, categorizes hers into career, relationships, and self. I categorize mine into work, school, and play. You know what your life revolves around and what will work best for you. Once you have these clear, written out lists, you’ll begin to feel a bit more balanced, making it easier for you to focus on one task at a time and look forward to crossing it off. Make sure that the items on your lists are prioritized, and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get to everything!
Match Your Tasks to Your Energy Level
Another part about knowing yourself and what work for you is being able to match your tasks to your energy level. If you know you won’t have the energy level to get an entire presentation together in the morning, make sure you schedule your meeting in the afternoon instead. If you know that your morning coffee will give you the kick you need to get stuff done, allot time first thing in the morning to knock out a bigger project. By utilizing your energy level to specific tasks, you will be much more efficient. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your coworkers either. They will appreciate you pushing a meeting back until after lunch instead of you falling asleep on that 10 a.m. conference call.
Utilize Your Breaks Wisely
Taking breaks throughout the workday is a completely necessary habit to develop. Figure out your schedule, and what type of break schedule works best for you, and try to do something to either relax or re-energize, depending on what you are in need of. Check out this awesome infographic for some great tips on utilizing your break in the best way possible!
Be Compassionate with Yourself
You may be thinking, “wait… what?” All of our productivity tips are about making lists, prioritizing, limiting distractions, etc., so why are we talking about compassion? Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, and director of the Good Life Initiative/Better Life Lab at New America, has a great quote about being kind to yourself when you just have one of those days where you simply cannot be productive.
“What compassion recognizes is that we’re human. We’re going to have stupid days, when nothing seems to go right. We just will. There will be times when we’re going to be distracted, unmotivated, scattered, when some crisis at work or in life kept us up all night, or when we’re feeling just plain overwhelmed. But rather than beat ourselves up, sink into paralyzing negativity, or ruminate endlessly on what went wrong or how we failed, compassion enables us to forgive ourselves, to learn what we can, to see that it’s all about practicing, to let go of perfection, and — lightly and with grace — move forward and try again.”
Utilize our productivity tips, try your hardest to cross of everything on your list, but if you’re having a bad day – forgive yourself.