I know how hard it can be to stay productive. This article will give you some tips that will help you stay productive. Before I started following these tips, I was an overbooked procrastinator. These tips helped me lower my stress levels and improve the quality of my work.
1. Go Digital
I like to digitize my notes and important paperwork. It makes it easier for you to find what you are looking for and saves your time. Gone are the days of losing or accidentally destroying your assignment and important documents. Digitizing your work also makes it easier to collaborate with others on tasks. I personally save all of my important notes on Google Drive and I organize everything into labeled folders.
2. Start Time Blocking/Boxing
Time blocking, also known as time boxing is a scheduling method used by Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and many other productive people. It allows you to organize your tasks (or groups of tasks) into set “blocks” of time. You can create these blocks based on how much time you wish to devote to that given task for that specific day. I actually created a free time blocking printable template that is available HERE.
3. Start Assignments When You Get Them
Starting your assignments as soon as you get them stops you from falling behind and it also helps you figure out how much time you should need to complete the task. It will also give you time to look for resources and advice if needed. If you wait until you only have a few hours left to complete something, you will have less time to seek help.
4. Take A Break
I know it may seem counterproductive to take breaks, but it is actually very important. In order to know how many breaks you need, you need to know your limits. This will help you reduce risk of meeting productivity’s arch nemesis, burnout. You can still stay productive while taking breaks, by using your breaks to answer emails, walk your dog, or complete other small non-stress inducing tasks. You could also use your break to reward yourself by doing something fun. Sometimes you need to take a mental health day, to just focus on stress reduction.
5. Take Care Of Yourself
Remember to practice self care while staying productive. There are many forms of self care. Try to make sure you are eating enough, sleeping an adequate amount (for you), exercising, staying hydrated, and taking care of your mental health. Neglecting self care can lead to productivity issues by giving you brain fog and causing health issues. You can read my post about some of my favorite self care items HERE.
6. Always Think Of Ways You Can Improve Your Process
It is easy to get accustomed to doing things a certain way, but there may always be a better way to complete the task. In order to stay productive and manage time effectively, you can always try to find out if there is an easier or faster way to complete the task. You can work on lowering the amount of time you need to devote to a task without reducing the quality of your work. You can use your past failures to help you find ways to improve your process. Figure out why what you did before did not work for you and find out how you can use that information to improve your process. What can you change about what you did the last time you attempted a similar task?
7. Complete Things In Order Of Importance
If you have multiple tasks to complete, try to rank them based on how important they are to complete. Rank can be based on how important they are to you, how does this affect your status at your job/school, how flexible the deadline is, or other factors.
8. Start Your Day With Productivity
Stop hitting snooze. It is so tempting to start your morning off by hitting the snooze button three times, before plopping down in front of the television to binge watch your favorite show. This is not a productive way to start your day. Starting your day like this sets a slow and lazy pace for the rest of your day. Trying to complete a major task after watching your favorite show, is much harder. You will feel like you are dragging to complete the task. You might want to put off finishing the task until you have watched “one more episode”. To avoid this, you should work on developing a productive morning routine.
9. Set Small Goals And Break Down Large Tasks
It is easier and less stressful to break down major tasks instead of trying to complete it all at once. For example, if you have a major exam covering chapters 1-5 of your textbook it may be tempting to study all of it at once the night before the exam. That is a great idea if your main goal is to stress yourself out. It is far less stressful to break the task down into small goals. You can cover chapters 1-2 one night and chapters 3-5 another night. You could also study set topics on different days. I used school for this example, but you can apply this to any major task.
10. Create A Task Timeline
If you have a task that will take you more than one day to complete, creating a task timeline will help you stay on schedule. After you set smaller goals you can use a task timeline to help you visualize when you are set to reach each goal you have given to yourself. This is especially helpful if you have an exam or big project coming up. I have a bunch of free printable planner sheets HERE that you can use to create your timeline. I have a free weekly planner that you can use for short deadlines. There is also a free monthly planner and a free semester overview printable that you can use for long-term goals.
11. Minimize The Amount Of Distractions You Have While Completing Tasks
Always try to minimize the amount of distractions you have while you are completing a task. This may mean finding a quiet and comfortable place to focus on your tasks. You may have to put your phone on silent to avoid distracting notifications.
12. Always Strive To Do The Best
Doing the best is always just doing your personal best. Doing the bare minimum, is not the best you can do. We are all in a constant competition with ourselves. As long as you focus on always doing your best, you will always be pushed to improve. Having this in mind will also push you to be more productive when working towards reaching your goals. Work on actually believing in yourself and setting goals that will push you to work harder.
Remember, although you should strive to work smarter not harder, working smarter should not bring down the quality of your work. If the quality of your work is being compromised, you are not working smarter. Find out how you can complete high quality work in the shortest amount of time possible for you, while staying happy.