How to increase productivity

Productivity is a word that I hear a lot and honestly, I wouldn’t say I’ve completely cracked the secret yet. But from an ordinary person’s perspective, these are the guidelines that I follow to try and increase productivity where possible.

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Make lists

I would say my memory is pretty good but even so, I find myself forgetting things that I really need to remember. One easy way to keep track of everything you need to remember is to write it down in a list. Whether they are physical or digital, lists are a good way to refer back to something quickly and easily.

I use the Microsoft To Do app on my laptop and phone to store my lists. I split the majority of the things I need to do into 3 main lists: To Buy, Short Term To Do and Long Term To Do. They are all pretty self-explanatory but for a quick overview, To Buy is a shopping list of everything I want to buy (groundbreaking I know…), Short Term is anything that I could get done pretty immediately or things that need to happen ASAP, and Long Term are those things that are important but take a bit more scheduling such as dentists appointments or redecorating.

Use the 10-minute rule

This is something that I came across through Muchelle B, so full credit to her. Every time you’re feeling unproductive, set a timer for 10 minutes and force yourself to do an activity. Once the timer goes off, you don’t have to carry on, but more often than not I find myself carrying on for at least a bit longer. Although 10 minutes is a short amount of time, any amount of time is better than nothing, and if you did just 10 minutes every hour you would get a lot done in a day.

Work when you’re productive

Everyone is productive at different times of the day and where possible, don’t let others try to force your productivity. Obviously, if you are in a full-time office job or school, you don’t often determine your own working hours. However, if you need to increase productivity in timeframes that you can control, understand when you function most productively. People used to tell me that I should wake up early and get things done at certain times of the day but that just didn’t work for me. Now I work to my own schedule and I find it’s much more efficient.

Find out how you work best

Again, this is another aspect of productivity that people like to weigh-in on a lot. The truth is that everyone functions differently and works in different ways, so in order to increase productivity do what works for you. Another thing to factor in is that you may work differently for different tasks. If I need to be productive cleaning then an upbeat playlist often helps, whereas if I need to sit and focus on work I could work better with silence or tv on as background noise. People found it strange when I worked with the tv on and claimed that I couldn’t be productive. But, I often need a certain amount of distraction to stop me from distracting myself and usually work for longer on big tasks if I allow myself to have the tv on. As long as your method helps you, don’t let others tell you to do it differently.

Don’t overwork or burn out

One really important thing to remember is not to burn yourself out. Don’t fall into the trap of “I need to be productive all the time” because this isn’t tru. This mindset can actually hinder your productivity in the long run. I used to have a really busy schedule and, at the time I got things done, but it was exhausting to maintain. Then, when I had time to myself I didn’t want to go back to my hectic schedule. By allowing yourself to take regular breaks away from being productive, you will feel much more inclined to get up and do things when the time comes. Equally, you know that you will give yourself time off again soon.

No one approach will work for everyone. We all have different tasks to get done and different ways of thinking about them. When it comes to increasing productivity, I think it’s important to have a good balance and to do what you find effective, when you find it effective. 

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