I ran across an article once that promised to deliver the formula to productivity. Yes!! Sign me up!! I want to be more productive! Two-thirds of the way into the article I was sorely disappointed. Here’s the thing, there isn’t one particular way to be productive and the formula they promised wasn’t going to work for me. We all work differently and approach tasks differently. However, there are definitely tips and tricks that can help us use our time more effectively. I’ve pulled together some of my favorite productivity tips below, but remember to adjust them according to what works best for you.
1. 3 For the Day – 3 For the Week
Author Chris Bailey explains in an article about this particular productivity hack that our brain is wired to think in threes. Makes sense, three ring circus; The Three Stooges; Three Blind Mice etc. I’ve even noticed more and more planners like the Day Designer, Purposeful Planner, Get to Work Book and select layouts of the Plum Paper have a section for top three for the day or week. So what is the hack:
At the start of every morning, fast-forward to the end of the day and ask: When the day is done, what three things will I want to have accomplished?
Do the same at the start of every week.
2. Eat Breakfast
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. How many times have you heard that? It’s true though. You can find articles upon articles that point to studies that prove that by starting your day with a healthy meal can enhance memory, attention, the speed of processing information, reasoning, creativity, learning, and verbal abilities.
3. To-Do Lists
I’m a big fan of to-do lists. A University of California study found that when you write things down, you are 42% more likely to remember them. To-do lists also help you focus on the most important tasks at hand and keep you organized. When I cross items off my to-do list, I feel a sense of progress and accomplishment. At the end of the day when all (or most) of my items are crossed off I can’t help to be proud of myself. There are days that I leave a lot on my list and it simply helps me focus on what needs to be prioritized.
4. Do the worst or biggest first
Get into the habit of doing the worst task first. Worst just means the task you’re most likely to procrastinate on. If you complete that task first, the rest of the day can be a breeze. Although, I can’t predict what crisis may arise during the day. 🙂
5. Give Yourself Breaks – productive breaks
I mentioned the Pomodoro technique in my last post, but this time management technique is a great productivity tool. When faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called “Pomodoros”) that are spaced out by short breaks. This trains your brain to focus for short periods and helps you stay on top of deadlines without burning out. In the next tip, I have some apps linked that help you with the Pomodoro technique.
6. Download some help
Look into some productivity boosting apps like Evernote, Wunderlist, Brain Focus or Clear Focus and Rescue Time. Evernote and Wunderlist are boss to-do list apps. Evernote is tried and true, but I love that you can integrate Wunderlist with Google Now and Microsoft Outlook. Clear Focus and Brain Focus are apps that can help you with the Pomodoro break method above. Brain Focus also offers some pretty cool stats (if you’re into that sort of thing) regarding how your time was spent. Rescue Time helps users identify where they spend most of their time online (including specific websites). I never realized how much time I wasted scrolling through Etsy.
7. Quick Toss
This one may seem a little odd, but hear me out. Take five minutes out of your day to spend time testing out all of the pens on your desk. If you have to scratch around to get any of them to work toss them out. To me there’s nothing more obnoxious than grabbing a pen to jot something down quickly and the pen doesn’t work. Now I have to listen to that five minute voicemail again just to get the contact’s preferred number. Do this with the dry erase markers or highlighters or whatever tools you use and save yourself some headache with this quick and easy productivity tip.
Unsubscribe from any newsletters that aren’t helping you achieve your goals and are cluttering your inbox using unroll.me. The time I wasted deleting subscription emails I didn’t even want is ridiculous. Look through your Downloads folder and file or delete any files you can. Keep that computer running quickly! Also don’t forget the normal tidying up: pick a stack of papers on your desk and throw out, recycle, or file anything you can.
9. Touch-up your resume
When you have a few free minutes take the time to update a few bullets on your resume or your LinkedIn profile. Think about that huge project you just completed- now is the time add it to your resume, while it’s fresh and you can easily recall the details. Making these updates as they happen, will make updating your resume when you need it so much easier.
Yup, you read that correctly. I keep a coloring book and colored pencils in an extra drawer at my desk. Coloring can help you relax, reduce stress and boost mental clarity and creativity. All of these things help increase productivity. Besides it’s fun! Now, don’t take an hour out of your day to color and tell your boss I told you to, but 5 or 10 minutes filling in a mandala can make a difference in your day. Here’s a site with a list of free coloring pages.
What are some of your tried and true tips for productivity? Share them in the comments below!