You’ve got what seems like a million things to do, and you have no idea how you’re going to get it all done. Well, we’ve all been there – but I’ve picked up a few habits in the past year that have helped me become more productive, less distracted and overall better at getting sh-t done.
1. Have A Morning Routine
Author Laura Vanderkam studied the schedules of various high achievers, and she found that one thing that they had in common – was that they all got up early. And almost all of them also had a morning routine.
Getting up early has plenty of benefits. (READ: 5 Morning Habits To Help You Seize The Day)
Improve your mood by taking some “me” time for yourself outside of work. This will get yourself in a good head space to tackle the projects that are put in front of you.
I used to wake up groggy every morning after snoozing my alarm three times. I’d roll over, throw on clothes, brush my teeth and walk out of the door. But this always led me to be exhausted in the mornings, and also made me feel like all I ever did was wake up and go straight to work. There was nothing else to look forward to that day but the end of it.
Then I started waking up earlier and going to the gym.
It was one of the biggest changes, and helped me become more productive.
(I’m sure there’s some scientific explanation for how aerobic exercise led to my brain getting more oxygen, hence higher productivity, but I’m not talking about that.)
Waking up early and going to the gym before work actually made me feel better about myself. And when you’re happier and prouder of yourself, you’re more confident and thus more productive.
2. Tackle bigger projects first.
You know that one big project that’s weighing heavily on your mind? Yep, the one you’ve been putting off because it seems like it’s just too much to deal with – start with that project first.
Very often, people procrastinate on larger projects because it can feel like it’s easier to get smaller to-do’s out of the way before buckling down and tackling the biggest one they’ve got on their plate. It can seem like a dark, looming cloud that is overwhelming and you may not feel ready to handle it quite yet.
But you will actually end up getting more done if you tackle the larger project first. The longer that project is left unfinished, the longer you’ll feel anxiety. You’re also more likely to do a better job when you’re awake, fresh and ready to start the day.
Imagine trying to be creative, brainstorm and strategize when you’re on a 3 o’clock slump mid-afternoon after wasting the morning’s fresh brain cells on the smaller tasks that required no thinking!
When I started facing larger projects head on and getting them out of the way earlier on, the weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Smaller to-do’s seemed like nothing, and were crossed off the list easily – 3 o’clock slump and all.
3. Don’t get lost in the small details.
When life gives us seemingly endless opportunities, it’s easy to get lost in the small details. The small details are very easy for us to become focused on, thus causing us to miss out on the overall vision, also known as the “big picture”.
It can also be a complete waste of time.
When I was designing my blog years ago, I spent countless hours trying to fix one little thing on my site. I spent hours researching, testing and attempting to fix a tiny little feature that I had gotten caught up on. Those hours could have been spent working on other tasks that needed to get done. Instead, it’s 4 o’clock in the morning, none of my tasks were finished, and I have officially depleted all creative task-handling ability in my brain.
Don’t get so caught up in the smaller details that it actually makes you LESS productive. Always look at the bigger picture. If you only have 12 hours in the day to complete a certain amount of work, schedule accordingly and don’t get lost in one little minor detail.
If something isn’t working, and you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a step back, move on, then come back to it at another day – especially if it’s not a priority.
4. Keep all of your tasks & to-do’s in one place.
I keep one calendar with all of my tasks, travel dates and to-do’s. I schedule everything as soon as it hits my inbox. It’s a way of staying organized, but also an opportunity for you to plan out when to work on specific things and how much time you need to dedicate to each of them.
Avoid multitasking and finish each task one by one, then mark them off your calendar/list after you’re done. You’ll get more accomplished, and also have a better idea of what’s left on your plate – for today, this week and this month.
5. Relax When You Are Done
Worrying about work while you’re not there can run you down, and actually make you less productive when you start again.
Author Tim Ferris recommends writing down your working goal for tomorrow when you finish work, as this will help you to feel motivated for the next day – so you can actually switch off for now, and enjoy your evening.
Plan time every day to take care of yourself. Set aside time in your schedule for you to give yourself the gift of exercise, quiet time, or ideally both. I like to shut off and unwind by cleaning, sipping on a cup of warm tea and playing music.
This post was inspired + sponsored by Pique Tea – an awesome new tea brand that developed a way to turn organic loose leaf tea into pure tea crystals that completely dissolve in water. Pour the crystals into your cup, and then add water.
I recently tried it (my favorite is the Mint Sencha) and it’s pretty awesome. All of the tea leaves they use are organic, and there are absolutely no artificial ingredients or added sugar.
Boom. An instant cup of tea – no steeping, dripping, waiting or spoon necessary.
Thank you so much for reading. Do you have any habits you’ve found to make you more productive during the workday? Share them in our comments below!