Productivity. It's one of those things that is more of a necessity in life than a skill. But how much do we actually try to enhance the way in which we accomplish things?
I can still remember being a kid and thinking, "Wow, life will be so much easier when I'm an adult!" Little did I know how much life is a nonstop journey of balancing work, relationships, managing a home, and planning for the future. Then I decided to move to New York City, which isn't exactly the slowest-paced of cities to live in.
Over the years, though, I've found tools that help me to manage and accomplish everything from life's larger goals to smaller, everyday tasks. Here are my ten ways to be more productive.
1. Write it down.
I'm a big believer in the fact that writing things down is the best way to turn a dream or idea into a reality. Whatever it is that you're hoping to accomplish, putting those words onto paper make them much more likely to actually happen. Writing/making a list is also a great way to realize what those things you want to accomplish actually are. I don't know about you, but sitting in front of a blank piece of paper with a pen in my hand pretty much forces me to begin the brainstorming process. And to me, that's the first step towards being as productive as possible.
We all have a million and one things we'd like to get done on any given day, but (thankfully) there aren't a million and one hours in the day. So after you write down what you'd like to accomplish, prioritize them from most important to least important. Ask yourself questions like: What is the most pressing? What will benefit me the most in the long run? What can I put off until tomorrow/next week?
Like I said, it's difficult to feel like we're being productive when there are so many (oftentimes different) things that need to be done. The key is to take one thing at a time. After you've prioritized, focus on the particular task at hand and set everything else aside for a later time. If you dwell on all of your tasks and responsibilities as a whole, accomplishing them will seem impossible. But if you pick away at them one at a time without thinking about the others, it will make the process much more manageable and much less grueling.
4. Set time aside.
Whatever it is you're trying to accomplish - whether it's planning a dinner with a friend or perfecting your budget - you need to set aside an actual date and time that you're going to do so. Avoiding setting aside a specific, concrete time is procrastination at its finest. And, as I'm sure you'd agree, procrastination is the arch enemy of all things productive. Whether it's five minutes a day or two hours a day, every minute you put into a specific goal is one step closer to accomplishing it.
5. Break it down(over a few days, a month, etc.).
Sometimes the main reason we procrastinate is because the thought of trying to complete something all in one sitting is daunting. But, the thing is, the longer you put it off, the more likely you'll have to finish it all in one sitting (if you've ever had to write a college paper, you know exactly what I'm talking about). And like I said - every minute you put into something is a step in the right direction. I find that if I break something down over a few days or a week, I'm not only more productive, but the process itself is more enjoyable. Not to mention that I'm usually more pleased with the end result as well.
6. Get a planner.
(Electronic or old school), and use it! Refer to #4 and #5.
7. Find a way to enjoy the process.
One of my grand-pop's mantras that always stuck with me is "take your time and enjoy it." That's such a simple phrase, yet one that we never seem to practice. We're always rushing from one task to the next trying to get to an end point that may never really come. Instead, find a way to enjoy whatever you may be doing. Light a candle. Drink some tea. Look at the task at hand from a different angle because there is most likely at least some part of it that you can find enjoyment in.
When there are lot of things to get done, many people view sleep as a waste of time. But instead of pushing through tasks with coffee and energy drinks, just wait and you see how you feel when you get 7-8 hours of shut-eye. Think of sleep as charging a battery. The longer you charge it up, the more life you've got to work with, and the more you'll get accomplished in the long run.
9. Set a cut-off time.
This is along the same lines at #4. One of my least favorite things about being a college student was that even when class was over, I knew I had hours upon hours of homework and paper-writing to do. In order to manage that stress while still being productive, I set 5pm as my cut-off time. Yes, a college student who didn't pull all-nighters does exist. Knowing that I had a time where I had to shut my books and relax for the rest of the evening actually made me much more productive. I would start my papers earlier because I knew that I'd rather have a week's worth of free evenings than 48 hours of straight work. And like I mentioned earlier, starting tasks ahead of time usually makes for a better end result.
10. Imagine the end result.
You know what I'm talking about. There's nothing like that euphoric feeling of completing a particular task. Whether it's a workout, organizing your home, or finishing a project at work, the end result is both a relief and an accomplishment. Instead of focusing on how much you don't feel like doing something, imagine how you'll feel when it's done and over with. For me, that's enough motivation to get the show on the road.
What are your best tips for being productive? Which of these do you agree with most?