Dread. It’s the end of the day and your to-do list is sitting there, tick free. You felt busy, you did stuff, so how did the day turn out to be so unproductive? It’s happened to all of us (umm, this article was, ironically, handed in late).
So, what’s it take to become the master of your to-do list? Do these 7 snappy tricks to being more productive.
1. One Track Mind
When something has to get done, give it all your attention. Resist the urge to multi-task. Remove distractions like your cell phone and receiving every.single.Instagram.notification. Focus 100% on the task at hand. You may recognize this advice from your youth when your parents said something like ‘just put your mind to it.’ They had no idea how much harder this was going to get!
2. Clear the Mental Clutter
Taking even thirty seconds to breathe and clear your mind will help you focus on what’s important. These mini-mental resets can happen as often as needed to keep you on the productivity track but once an hour is a good rule of thumb. If one particular issue keeps popping back into the mental noise, stop ignoring it and deal with it. Eventually, we have to sweep up the stuff that’s been swept under the rug.
3. Pass the Pleaser
We all want to be liked, heck, it’s part of our social culture to constantly seek ‘likes’. But, what’s the cost? When we spend too much time being a people pleaser we can get in our own way. Set limits to how much time you’ll give to giving back. Don’t forget that you are also a worthy recipient of your time and kindness. Learn to say no and be a little selfish if being a pleaser is getting in the way of being as productive as you’d like.
4. Avoid the Void
Whether you work in an office with ‘meeting mania’ or you’ve got associates who love a good coffee-and-chinwag, meetings can become time-sucking voids. Sure, the intentions are good and the meetings may be necessary but when you’ve got things to accomplish, just say no to meetings. If you must have them, set strict time limits, hold them standing up or walking to really keep everyone focused and keep you from slipping into the void.
5. Digital Detox
Quitting your connections is all the rage right now with people taking a long break from their smartphones, games, computers and TVs. Productivity is sure to increase without the interruption of texting and social media, but that’s not sustainable. Doing this exercise (even for 2 days) will reveal the depth of your addiction and open your eyes to just how much time gets wasted. Consider a digital detox as a productivity reboot.
6. Put the Pressure On
All too often, we leave things to the last minute. So, why not make that last minute now? Try setting a timer for a specific task and race against the clock. It’s like gamifying your to-do list! You could even give yourself points for every win. If you want to take it to the next level, there are apps like wunderlist, evernote and be focused that turn your productivity into a full-on quest.
7. Pavlov Yourself
Rewards work for most people, so give yourself one for completing those tasks that you might otherwise spend all day creatively procrastinating around. Think healthy rewards like 15 minutes of hammock time, a nature walk or a sweet, sweet plum. Eventually, the idea of that reward will have you plowing through the unwanted work and still leaving time in the day for other things.
Being productive can be a challenge and we all fall off the wagon from time to time. Use a few of these new tricks to get back up and really take control of that wily to-do list.