Everyone could use a little boost in their productivity, right? Considering how many times I’ve been asked about how to be more productive over on my Instagram, this is true for a lot of us. I’m by no means an expert on productivity, but I have figured out what helps me to have a more productive day.
1. Write out your to do list the night before
Writing out everything that needs to be done the next day before you start the day means that you know exactly what needs to be completed and you can get started as soon as you wake up, rather than having to rattle your brain trying to remember what you actually need to do.
It’s also helpful to assign times to your to-do list and monitor your progress throughout the day. When assigning times to tasks, this includes both when you plan to do them and how long you expect they will take. Often, we tend to underestimate how long something will take us, so give yourself and extra 10-30 minutes before scheduling the next task.
2. Remove all distractions
There are distractions all around us: our phone, TV, friends, even a messy desk. Before trying to tackle your day’s tasks, make sure that all of these are completely removed from your surroundings. Turn your phone off or take it into a different room. Take the TV remotes out of the room or remove their batteries. Turn off notifications and let your friends know that you will be occupied during the day.
If you’re struggling not to get distracted, try having a piece of paper at the side of your workspace now which you write down any thoughts that you have that distract you
3. Create a good morning routine
A good morning routine should always include some basic things (other than the obvious things like brushing teeth and going to the bathroom). For me, the most important things to do within the first hour or two are: exercise, a healthy breakfast, no screens and reading.
Recently, I’ve tried incorporating reading at least one chapter of a book each morning to replace the time I had previously been spending on my phone, scrolling through Instagram or checking my Snapchat. I didn’t think it would make such a big difference, but it has. I 100% recommend picking up a book instead of your phone first thing in the morning.
What’s extremely important when creating a morning routine is not to overcomplicate things. Set yourself 3-5 things you want to do each morning, but no more/less or else it will be hard stick to every day.
4. Don’t multitask
Focus on only the task at hand, which is made a lot easier if you have removed your distractions already. Try, no matter how difficult it is, not to get distracted by other things that you need to get done. If you need to complete a specific task, devote all your attention to it and only it. It is also helpful not to have too many browser tabs open – this is the idea behind the ‘One Tab Challenge’.
5. Prioritise your tasks
When you write your to do list, order your tasks from most important to least important or from most urgent to least urgent (or both). That way, when it comes to actually carrying out your tasks, you don’t have to try to decide what to do first, you just follow the order you decided upon. Following from this, always start your day with the task you know needs to be done, but really don’t want to – eat the frog, right? Once it’s out of the way, you can move onto the easier tasks.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain
A great way to prioritise your tasks is to sort them according to the Eisenhower matrix. This will help you to decide whether your tasks need to be done now, scheduled, delegated or deleted completely. To use this method, draw a grid like below and fill it with anything that is on your mind:
6. Take breaks
As much as a productive day relies on getting as many important tasks done as possible, it i
s also vital to give yourself a breather. Switching your mind off from your to do list can help you concentrate and even boost your creativity. But… make sure that your breaks aren’t longer than your focused periods.
- Write out your to do list the night before and assign times to each task – both when to do it and how long it will take
- Remove all tasks before starting to tackle your to do list
- Establish a good morning routine that you can actually stick to
- Don’t multitask – focus 100% of your attention on the task at hand
- Prioritise your tasks based on importance and urgency
- Don’t work yourself into the ground – give yourself breaks