I love productivity. I am a goal getter and a doer. I love setting goals, writing to-do lists and pretty much anything that allows me to buy new stationery. However, I was not always successful at accomplishing the things I set out to do. My first year of university taught me a lot about myself. One of the things I learned was that I was not a hard worker. I realized that my good academic standing was due to the easier standard in high school and CRAMMING obviously. 😉 I have to say my GPA was nothing to brag about. As someone who wanted to go to law school, I knew that I had to make a change. There was no way that my effort at that level would allow me to earn the grades I would need. Over the years I have learned a lot about working hard and discipline. I have learned that I sometimes have to ignore my feelings. I have learned about the value of a good planner and having a calendar. So today I am going to share 5 tips that I have personally utilized to increase my productivity.
- Put the phone down – turn it off, put it on airplane mode, place it in a different room. I love my phone. I think it is an incredible tool and it definitely makes life easier. However, thanks to the internet and social media it can also be a HUGE source of distraction. Here’s the thing we are not such a whiz at multitasking as we think we are. Here’s another thing switching between tasks can lower our productivity (Shmerling, 2014). Take social media breaks in between the task you are trying to accomplish. BUT first, accomplish the task.
- Get yourself a planner– it does not have to be anything fancy or expensive. One of my favorite ways to plan is to use this notebook I got on Amazon. It is a dot grid notebook and I love the layout. Writing things down allows you to see what need to get done. It also allows you to track your progress which can motivate you to keep going. I break this planner of mine by days and usually take the night before to plan. You can use this method or you can plan your week on Sundays or do a combination of both. Then in your calendar write down your deadlines. I have a calendar on my wall by my desk where I can easily see it. This makes it easier to prioritize my tasks.
- STOP the multitasking – according to a study at Stanford University in 2009, people who multitasked and believed that they were great multitaskers made more mistakes and took longer to get things done (Shmerling, 2014). In fact, there are even studies out there disproving the idea of multitasking (Shmerling, 2014). Instead of multitasking what occurs is serial tasking that is doing one thing at a time and moving through tasks repeatedly (Shmerling, 2014). All this to say finish one task then move on to the next. Maybe block out a chunk of time for specific tasks. I personally don’t like scheduling every hour of my day but that might work for you.
- Create a space that is inviting to work at – I hate working when my desk is messy. I usually go to a coffee shop to avoid it. However, it would be easier and cheaper to just set aside some time to clean up the mess. Then I can make myself a cup of coffee and work at home which also means PJ’s are acceptable. I have made it a habit to work at my desk in my room. I get much more accomplished there than I do on my bed. Find/make/create a space that works for you. 🙂
- Figure out how you work best – some people are good at dealing with stress and find that motivating. For others, stress can be paralyzing. Find out if you like working alone, if you like to get things done and then take a break or if you are the type of person who needs to stop after 20 minutes to relax. I am usually the kind of person who likes to finish a task before taking a break. I like completing what I started and rewarding myself with some funny videos on YouTube.
There you go. I hope you find these tips helpful as they have been for me!
Shmerling, R. (2014). The myth of multitasking. In Harvard Health Publications (Ed.), Harvard Medical School commentaries on health. Boston, MA: Harvard Health Publications.