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How To Work Smarter And Be More Productive In 9 Easy Steps

  • Making small changes can have a huge impact on how productive you are.
  • With a little forethought, you can plan out your day and your deadlines so you can finish everything on time.
  • Being realistic about what you can do and how well you can do it is key.

We’ve all experienced it: that afternoon slump or the day you just can’t seem to get it all done. When you do the same job every day, there are bound to be times you need a little extra help getting through your to do list. You don’t need more hours in the day, you just need a few tricks to get yourself motivated and productive. There are dozens of these tips online, but here are just a few to get you started.

Plan Your Day And Have Routines

This is advice for both the long term and short term. Something you can start doing today is planning out your day. Having your to do list written out and your plan throughout the day for how to accomplish it all not only helps you stay on task, it’ll also help you stay sane. This doesn’t mean mapping out every hour of the day, but rather having a general idea of your workflow. This lets you take control of the hours you have in the day instead of getting lost in the mountain of things to do.

Getting in a routine can alleviate a ton of to do list stress, as well. While this won’t be a quick fix, getting into routine will help you in the long term to keep your day organized and your task list short. As you get in routines, it will be second nature to work on certain things at certain times, helping you jump into the mindset you need for each task.

Celebrate Your Small Accomplishments

Did you email that report to your boss? Awesome! Did you finally finish some filing you’ve been putting off? Great! Celebrating the little steps along your way to accomplishing your big goals and projects can help you build momentum. As you work on smaller, easy to finish tasks, you will feel yourself get in a flow. And giving yourself a little encouragement along the way and throughout the day can be a huge mood booster.

One reason this psychological trick works so well is because your mind is geared to seek praise and appreciation. Even if you’re giving it to yourself, it will help you train your mind into feeling appreciated and an appreciated mind is a focused mind. Try congratulating yourself on the little things for a couple of weeks and you’ll see the difference in clarity and focus.

Accept Perfection Will Probably Never Happen

We all want to feel like we’ve done a perfect job. It so rarely happens. In fact, our desire and striving for perfection can actually make our lives much harder than they need to be!

Think about the last big project you worked on. How long did the first half take compared to the second half? Chances are, unless it was something like entering data, the second half of your project took twice as long because you were fine tuning and perfecting it. All that does is pour more of your valuable time into something that is simply good enough already. Instead of striving for perfection, strive for completion and correction.

If your project needs correcting, you’ll hear about it and you can learn from that feedback. Once you get feedback, apply it to your next project, while still focusing on completion rather than perfection.

Break Up Your Deadlines

Have you ever looked at a messy kitchen after cooking a meal and thought it would never get clean? Looking at a project or a deadline as one monumental task can make it overwhelming to the point we don’t start. Another common issue is when you have a deadline that’s so far away that you feel comfortable procrastinating. Suddenly it’s the night before it’s due and you have nothing.

Rather than fall victim to these common traps, break your deadlines up into smaller, easier to manage parts. Make mini deadlines for yourself throughout the project so when the final deadline arrives, you feel confident in what you’re presenting.

Know What You Can Actually Do

No one likes to tell people they can’t do something. We are programmed to keep taking on more and more until we buckle under the amount of things on our plates. Unless you are superhuman, knowing your limits is a valuable self awareness to gain.

Before agreeing to do something, pause and consider whether you can actually do it without having 16 cups of coffee and staying up all night to finish it. The best thing you can do for yourself professionally and personally is to be aware of your limits.

Have A Reason For What You’re Doing

Why are you making that spreadsheet? Why do you need to rewrite that contract? Why are you calling to confirm a meeting? Everyone goes through a phase in childhood of constantly questioning the purpose of everything and anything. For some reason, as adults, we lose that impulse sometimes. But really ask yourself, “why?”

If you have a reason for the things you’re doing, you’ll put more time and energy into accomplishing them. Maybe your commitment to customer service is enough to motivate you into putting your all into a project. Or maybe you need to focus on why you have a job at all, say to help your family and provide for your children. Whatever your “why” is, keeping it in mind will not only make you more productive, it’ll help you turn out better work.

Change Your Workspace

You’ve been staring at your screen for hours. The world in your peripheral vision is a blurry mess and you can’t seem to possibly hit one more key on your computer. In the back of your mind, you’re somewhere else and finding it impossible to focus. You don’t need another cup of coffee. You might just need a change of venue.

Changing up your workspace can be hugely effective in jump starting your brain. By switching it up when you’re in a slump, you’ll cause your mind to leap into a creative space, making you more productive. This happens because a new space makes your brain naturally give in to curiosity. That little kick to your brain is all you need to get through the task at hand.

Clear Your Negative Thoughts

We’ve all done it, especially when we’re at work. We start thinking about everything we’ve gotten wrong that day or a poorly worded email or a missed deadline or a zillion other things that could have gone awry. Those negative thoughts build up until you have a giant mental block that you can’t seem to overcome.

It’s vital that you learn to clear out the negative thoughts, just like you’d take out a full can of garbage. As you learn to set those negative thoughts aside, you’ll start to realize that you can think more clearly and have more mental drive to keep working through your task list. Instead of thinking you’ll never get it all done, remind yourself how much you’ve already finished. Instead of telling yourself that your work is terrible, keep in mind what you do well.

This takes practice but catching yourself in a negative thought spiral then working your way out of it can really clear your mind for the next task.

Put It Into Practice

All these tips require practice. It takes practice to create new habits and it especially takes practice to reprogram how you think. Take it slow and be patient with yourself. Set small goals and focus on one trick at a time. Once you have it mastered, try another one. With time, you’ll find yourself more productive, happier, and less stressed.

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