With our busy schedules, we are all looking for that extra nudge towards better productivity. While everyone's productive "sweet spot" is different, there are a number of simple, general habits you can learn that will help you make the most out of your workday. Below I've listed six of my favorites.
1. Use productivity tools
This is pretty straightforward. The last article I wrote introduced seven of our favorite tools that will help you deal with daily distractions and boost your productivity. They truly work. These tools will help you deal with distractions and create order in the occasional chaos in your brain. Find the tools that you like, and keep using them. Once you’re used to them, they save you a ton of time.
2. Don’t multitask
Some people see multitasking as the crown jewel of productivity. I don’t. Quite some research showed that multitasking actually has a negative effect on your productivity, and some even claims that multitasking is making you stupid. Focus on one important thing at a time and finish it before you start something else.
3. Write stuff down
Ideas, thoughts, lists, whatever. Write it down, it doesn’t have to be pretty. Write down as much as possible, make a mess, and then create order from there. It’s messy, but allows you to capture all your thoughts in one place, bring order to them, and go from there. There are a lot of great apps that allow you to capture your million dollar idea on your smartphone. Check out my last article for some suggestions.
4. Have a clear weekly plan
Probably the most important and hardest habit in this list. Try to plan out as much as possible a week in advance. This allows you to take a focused running start, every morning. Find your productivity peak during the day and plan accordingly. Set one big goal for each day, and plan smaller task around it. Plan short breaks for distractions like social media, cc-e-mails, texts, et cetera, so you can focus on important things outside of these breaks. Having a clear idea of what your day looks like will help you prioritize and focus. If anything, it will help you ease your mind: You don’t have think about what to do, you just have to do it.
5. Use your “downtime”
During your daily commute to work, you might be tempted to beat your candy crush highscore or watch funny clips of cats. Been there, done that. Although this might be fun, the time you spend getting to work, waiting in the doctor’s office, or whatever “downtime” you have, can be spent more productively. Reading an article on productive habits, for example. All kidding aside, this downtime can add up to quite some potential productivity. Read industry news, informative articles, listen to podcasts, et cetera. Anything that helps you get better at what you do. Downtime is a great time for learning.
Besides being good for your health, exercise also improves your ability to concentrate. It increases bloodflow to the brain and improves your energy levels, thus making you feel and concentrate better. Exercise may sound scary but does not necessarily mean that you have to run a 10k every day. Get up and walk around the office every now and then. Grab lunch outside of your building. Do a bit of jogging before you go to work. Whatever suits you best. Just don’t sit at your desk all day.
As I’ve said, I believe you can learn to be more productive. Give a few of these habits a try and you might notice yourself being able to do more, in less time.
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