Productivity advice is one of the top searched topics on the internet, and it’s no wonder. Everyone is always looking for the perfect way to get more done in less time. There are seemingly thousands of apps all promising to make this possible.
The truth is, everyone’s productivity needs are different, but you don’t need to focus on getting more done. You need to get the right things done. Here’s how to work smarter, not harder, and enjoy greater productivity every day!
1. Cut Down Your Task List
How many of your to-dos are actually necessary? How many could you cut with no harm done? Many people feel overwhelmed by their task list because they simply have unnecessary items on it. It’s hard to feel motivated when a task has no benefit to you. Subconsciously, you know this.
So take a good, hard look at your to-do list and do the following:
- Cut anything that’s been sitting undone for weeks or months. It’s probably not important. If it is in fact important and still relevant, it’s likely an unpleasant task and you should just go ahead and get it over with.
- Delegate tasks that someone else could do. Lean on your team! Could someone else do it better? Resist the urge to keep it on your plate just to feel accomplished.
- Eliminate “would be nice” tasks that don’t support your goals. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to sign up for that Krav Maga class your friend recommended, and it’s been sitting in your todos for months. Learn to identify tasks that just don’t align with your life. Pro tip: If you haven’t made time for it, it’s probably not crucial to your endeavors.
- Automate anything you can. Tedious tasks such as writing standard emails and updating CRMs suck up precious hours. Use an automation tool to do the heavy lifting for you.
2. Stop Multitasking
You may feel more productive when you’re catching up on your favorite podcast as you check your email while you make breakfast and wait for the laundry to be done. Phew, I was exhausted just writing that. Imagine how your body and mind respond when you do that.
Multitasking is not actually getting more done. If anything, you are splitting your attention and energy, causing everything to take longer. Your brain also can’t process these multiple stimuli effectively, so you end up losing focus. When working on projects, that’s the absolute worst thing for productivity!
Resist the urge to multitask. Break your day down into chunks of time, then allot each chunk to a specific task. You’ll get more done and feel less stressed.
3. Create Routines
We are creatures of habit. We like consistency and predictability. This is why the world’s most effective productivity systems such as Get Things Done focus on habits.
After you’ve broken down your day into chunks as described in Tip #2, map out a workflow. Think about a logical flow for your schedule. For example, most people check their email first thing in the day. Block out a time for that, then focus on other tasks. After 2 hours of work, you might want to take a break, then check your messages again.
By creating a predictable flow, you can stop the “daily grind” that makes you feel stressed. You’ll stop worrying about squeezing in so many tasks because you know, without a doubt, that you’ve blocked out time to do it.
4. Focus On Self Care
Speaking of routines, don’t forget to leave time for self care in your schedule. It’s so tempting to skip meals or your daily workout because you’re eager to get things done. But these “recovery” moments are crucial to your overall productivity. They will keep you from feeling like you work, work, work with no time to yourself.
Try creating a morning, afternoon, and evening routine in which you do your self care. Include your essential health tasks (eating a meal, taking medications, showering) as well as some time to yourself. This can be when you catch up on the news or do a bit of pleasure reading.
Make a short list of items you will do at these times every single day, e.g. wake up, shower, eat breakfast, and do yoga in the morning, then read, wash your face, drink tea right before bed.
5. Take A Break
It may sound counterintuitive, but when you take regular breaks, you give yourself time to recharge and therefore get more done. Our brains simply aren’t designed to sustain mental focus for hours on end. So when you are trying to get your tasks done, an endless marathon of work is the worst thing you can do. You’ll burn out fast.
Incorporate breaks into your workflow. This doesn’t mean taking a long break to watch Netflix every couple of hours, but it does mean getting up to stretch, grabbing a (healthy) snack, and forcing yourself to step away from your work to recharge. If you’re a workaholic, this can be a challenge. But once you learn to
The Pomodoro Method is an excellent way to boost productivity. You focus on a task for 45 to 60 minutes, then take a short 5 minute break. Each focus session is called a Pomo. Every few Pomos, you take a longer 15 minute break. This keeps your energy levels up and helps you feel less overwhelmed.
The greatest productivity happens not when you’re piling on tasks, but when you’re leaving space for recovery. The work you do should be important and meaningful, not an endless parade of tedious, pointless tasks. So, the more you can do to cut down your task list and care for your health, the more you will get done in the long run. Try these tips and see for yourself!