You may have recently found yourself lamenting over the times when you were able to shoot around a room, getting things done with plenty of time left over to relax and goof off.
You may find that your productivity has taken a dive since life started happening. You may have been an expert when it came to planning, scheduling, and getting things done, but then …School, work, kids, relationships, social obligations, and other such typical life things got in the way.
The good news? This doesn’t have to be permanent.
I am constantly looking for ways to improve my productivity, and have found these 5 habits helped immensely in that endeavor. Try them out, and let me know how they work for you!
Habit 1: Plan Your Day
Each night, I set aside roughly 15 minutes or so to plan out my schedule for the next day. I refer to anything I may have written down on my calendar, anything I jotted down in my notebook, and anything that I made mental note of prior to making this schedule.
I get the big things out of the way, such as when a client’s project is due or if there is a doctor appointment. Then, I make a list of the 10 major things I want to get done that day, and the times at which I plan to do them.
I come up with a game plan for how I will go about tackling each task on that list. I down a bunch of coffee, and then I get started.
Habit 2: Know When To Multitask…And When To Avoid It
Multitasking can sometimes have a negative connotation, since a lot of people think it’s hard to dedicate a solid amount of your attention to several things at once. They feel as though one thing would be given a decent amount of attention, but that the other tasks would be lacking in quality. Productive people know this simply isn’t true. . . Well, not all the time.
There have been numerous times when I listened to business podcasts while going for my morning walk, or when I watched a TED talk while folding my laundry. These are examples of productive multitasking.
Tabbing back and forth between Facebook and what you’re working on? Not so much.
Habit 3: Always Remember To Take Breaks
This may sound like the opposite of being productive, but I assure you that taking breaks can be a good thing.
Getting up and moving around every 30 minutes or so gets your blood pumping, gets your heart rate up, and enables you to refresh your focus. Get some water, go for a quick walk, do a few exercises, or even just go use the restroom.
Breaks become unproductive when they do not do anything for you. Checking Facebook and Pinterest is certainly entertaining, but it doesn’t do anything to help you remain focused on your tasks.
Habit 4: Don’t Pile Too Much On Your Plate
I personally love to stay busy, and get a certain satisfaction from glancing down at my desk calendar and seeing that it’s full. However, there is a distinct difference between keeping yourself busy and over-working yourself. The former is productive, while the latter is most certainly unproductive.
If you take on too many assignments, or over-schedule yourself each day, then you will become stressed and want to avoid doing anything. I know that, for me, feeling stressed means Netflix and my comfy bed sound far more favorable than doing any of those items on my list.
Stay busy, but learn when to say “not right now.”
Habit 5: Smile Over What You Got Done, Shrug Off What You Didn’t
Let me preface this with a bold statement proclaiming that this sentiment should not be followed all the time. If it was, then nothing would ever get done!
There will be days when you get a lot your tasks crossed off, but just didn’t have enough time to get to a couple of the very last things. Rather than stress over what you didn’t get done, appreciate what you did complete. Shrug off what you didn’t get to, and smile over what you completed. There is always tomorrow.
Simply move those uncompleted tasks to the top of tomorrow’s list, and figure out where the timing issue was. For me, it generally happens when I get distracted by other websites, take too long eating my lunch, or think something will take less time than it realistically would.
It happens, but don’t let it happen ALL the time.