Psstt, over here! Do you want to know the secret to being more productive? Alright, but before I tell you, please turn off your TV, stop checking your email, and minimize your Facebook browser. Ready? Great! Now listen closely to what I have to say….
First of all, the secret to being more productive isn’t really a secret – sorry to let you down. What I am going to share with you are some tried and true methods that people have being using for eons to get themselves focused and get things done. There’s just one caveat: simply reading these tips won’t make you more productive: not this week, not ever, so get ready to put forth some effort into implementing these tips.
If you didn’t listen to me the first time, I’ll say it again: turn off the TV, log out of Facebook, and turn your phone on silent. While “multitasking” may look good on a resume, it can easily become another form of distraction. Whether you realize it or not, you love distractions. You love having something else more “important” to do, especially when it pulls you off a project that you really don’t want to start. If you truly want to get something done, set some time aside to only focus on the task at hand. If you feel the urge to check Facebook, browse through ESPN sports highlights, or give your grandma a call, DON’T. All of those things can wait until you’re done. Once you are able to make this a daily habit, you will find that you’re able to complete tasks much more efficiently and even have time to spare!
Make a list
Feel like you have a zillion things to do this week? Rather than trying to keep it all straight in your head, jot your to-do list down on a piece of paper. Make sure to include tasks that you have to complete over the course of a week (or longer), in addition to recurring tasks that you must do every day. Once you jot everything down, stop, and move on to something else. Preparation is absolutely useless if you don’t follow it up with action, and action doesn’t equate to perpetual list-making.
Do the difficult stuff first
Now that you have your to-do list to refer to, take a good look at it. Identify the tasks you think will be the most difficult or time consuming, and start with those. If you put the hardest tasks off until the end, you’re not likely to get them done, get them done on time, or do them well. If you tackle these tasks first thing when you have the most energy to devote to them, you will be able to get them done faster and more efficiently. Not only that, but not having them loom over your head for the rest of the day will make it easier to focus on the smaller, easier tasks on your list.
Be real – with yourself, that is
Whether you like to work in total silence or feel most productive with music blaring through your headphones, be sure to create an environment that is conducive to the way you work best. Eliminate distractions as best you can, and make sure you know your limits. When you feel tired or distracted, take ten minutes to focus on something totally different. One of the best ways to do this is by getting your blood pumping by going on a walk or eating a snack to boost your energy. Once ten minutes is up, return to the task at hand and Get. It. Done.
These are my favorite tips for being more productive, but I want to know yours! Share your tips, tricks, and advice by posting them in the comments below!