Could your productivity use a helping hand? Give any (and eventually all) of these five steps a try. Tech breaks, rewards, and sleep will have you thriving!
Do you end every shift with a mound of still-uncompleted tasks?
How to Increase Your Productivity
Are the dishes piling up in the sink? Is DoorDash slowly replacing home-cooked meals? Is your lawn becoming more overrun with weeds by the minute?
Is “I’ll start next Monday” your catchphrase?
When your productivity is spiraling out of control, follow these five steps to being more productive and getting back on track.
Learn How to Prioritize Tasks
Not all household chores and office tasks carry the same weight or share the same deadlines. If you have a dozen or so items on your to-do list, debating where to start or which tasks to focus on can eat up a lot of precious time.
To help, divide your tasks into four categories.
- Do: These are the tasks that are both important and urgent.
- Schedule: You have to do these too, but they aren’t mandatory today.
- Delegate: These are the items you can hand off to others to complete.
- Eliminate: Some tasks aren’t necessary at all!
Label each of your tasks under one of these categories, and then rewrite them in the above-listed order.
As challenging as it might sound, fight the urge to multitask. Doing more than one task at once increases your risk of errors, destroys productivity, and only seems to work for 2.5% of the total population.
One by one is the best way to do things.
Break Bigger Tasks Into Chunks
There’s nothing worse than walking into your kitchen, and realizing it needs a complete top-to-bottom clean-up.
Dishes are piling up, the pantry could use reorganizing, and the floor needs a serious scrub.
Or seeing that month-long project that just landed in your inbox.
When a project or task overloads your brain, break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. This is also known as “micro-productivity.”
Create a checklist of items you can cross off as you complete them, like.
- Wash the dishes on Monday.
- Reorganize the cabinets and pantry on Tuesday.
- Scrub the floor on Thursday.
- Take out the trash on Friday.
Or, if it’s work-related.
- Send outreach messages.
- Create spreadsheets for each client.
- Call XYZ.
- Design a logo.
Not only is it ultra-satisfying to scratch daily, weekly, or monthly tasks off your to-do list, but it also lessens procrastination.
Create a Self-Reward System
Sometimes, the worst productivity thief is your own mind. Convincing yourself to kickstart a work project, dust the house from top to bottom, or strap on your running shoes for a jog leaves you questioning your motives (“why?”).
If you’re struggling with the motivation to start or finish something, create a self-reward system to push you forward.
Of course, make sure the task and reward are about equal.
- If I clean the living room, I can take a hot bath tonight.
- If I last the entire day without touching Instagram, I can order takeout.
- If I work out for 30 minutes, I can eat one sweet after dinner.
A reward system comes in handy when “because I have to” doesn’t encourage you to drop everything and get to work! This list by Inspiration Insider will get those creative juices flowing to help you build a system from scratch.
Focus On the Big Three: Sleep, Diet, & Exercise
Enough sleep (6+ hours), a healthy diet, and regular exercise will help you.
- Live longer
- Fend off heart disease.
- Protect you from cognitive decline.
- Revive your dwindling productivity at home and in the office.
Research from 2012 discovered that the following were the most relentless productivity drainers.
- Unhealthy diets (66%).
- Difficulty exercising (96%).
- Smoking (28%)
- Diet low in fruits and vegetables (93%).
A lack of restful sleep can also impair your thinking, increase the risk of making on-the-job errors, and overwhelm you emotionally.
When it comes to building lifelong healthy habits, slow and steady is key.
Replace those fatty, salty, and sugary snacks with healthier alternatives (ex: whole grain for white bread or almond milk for whole milk). Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week, whether jogging, walking, biking, or swimming. And put a pause on the caffeine within four to six hours of bedtime.
When your mind and body are healthier, your productivity shifts into overdrive.
Detach Yourself From the Grid
Smartphone technology is undoubtedly the future of the digital age. But according to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, it’s also slowly chipping away at productivity in the office.
That trusty iPhone in your pocket also moonlights as the top three workplace distractors.
- Cell phones and texting (49%).
- The internet (38%).
- Social media (37%).
Resisting the urge to grab it every time it vibrates starts with turning off the buzzer or even silencing it before shoving it back in your bag.
Do you feel those phantom vibrations? Or impulsively unlock your phone “just to check something” every few minutes?
You may need to try completely detaching yourself from the grid when productivity calls!
Depending on your phone addiction, follow these steps (in order).
- Turn off your notifications.
- Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” during work hours.
- Try a productivity app like Forest that’ll motivate you to stay focused in 25-minute blocks or risk destroying your digital forest.
- Leave your phone in your locker or the car.
If you’re finding it challenging to cut the cord, start in small increments, say, 15 minutes without your phone. Then 30 minutes, an hour, and so on.
Your life won’t become magically stress-free after a day (or even a week) of implementing these five steps. However, you will notice a lighter load both mentally and physically as the days pass.
You’ll close out each shift with a larger dent in your workload, you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed, and it’ll be easier to get a headstart on chores.
Strive for progress, not perfection.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with The Verge Asheville to help them with their online marketing.