By: Natalie Page
Finding ways to become more productive is something that is always in the back of our heads. What can we do to accomplish more, get more done in less time and in the most successful way? As I have grown up, gotten my first job, and gone to college, I have experienced the endless list of commitments, assignments, and simple tasks on the to-do list. Honestly? It can get extremely overwhelming. For a while, I felt as if I was living day to day, trying to get everything done that I had to do and feeling the stress of being unorganized and scattered. Even as I got more on top of my responsibilities, it still felt difficult to achieve the level of success I wanted for myself. Whatever your work may be at a full-time job, school, or at home, there will always be things that need doing. Here are three steps that have helped me find success to implement into your work day that will help you level up your productivity.
Make reasonable goals for yourself
When I was little, every morning when I woke up, my mom would ask me what I wanted to accomplish today. This helped me to feel that everyday was a chance to learn, create, and accomplish. Of course, as I got older, those goals became more focused on what I had to get done for school or a job or other commitments I had made, but making goals each morning helped to have a focus. Whenever I checked off one of my goals for the day, I had a great sense of accomplishment. To some, daily tasks may not seem like something to celebrate, but setting out to get something done helps you feel excited to cross something off your list.
One of the most important things to making goals for yourself is making reasonable goals. When I first got to college there were so many things I wanted to do and try. Between classes and clubs, work and friends, I began to overload my goals each day with a completely unrealistic list of things to accomplish by the end of the day. I became so overwhelmed because I felt unsuccessful when I didn’t finish everything. In actuality, my failure came from my overload of goals, not my inability to complete them. When you look ahead at your day, even if you think of lots of tasks or activities you want to complete, think realistically: “Do I have enough time in my day to achieve all of these goals?” If you find yourself doing what I did and getting overly ambitious, take a second to write down your goals. Instead of just one day, divide it up over the week and think of what can wait until tomorrow.
“Be stronger than your strongest excuse” – Unknown
Pro Tip #1: Have the hardest thing on your to-do list be the first thing you cross off. Whether it’s a hard and daunting task or simply something you don’t want to do, the longer you wait, the more you dread it. It’s very easy to make excuses for yourself and continually put off doing that dreaded task, but excuses are the enemy of productivity! And try not to put more than three major things on your list to accomplish in a day, or you might be setting yourself up for failure.
Start each day with the mindset you want to have all day long
This may sound like a no brainer, but being mindful of the attitude you want to have can make all the difference. Taking just two minutes each morning when you wake up to say some positive affirmations to reflect the kind of mindset you want to have will set you up for the kind of day you will have. A positive attitude can make all the difference in your productivity. Sometimes we can feel bogged down by the many items on our to-do list or the mountain of responsibility at work. Your attitude when you first wake up can set the mood for your whole day, so make it a positive one and set yourself up for success! It might feel silly, but as soon as you sit up in bed saying some positive affirmations out loud. “There is nothing I can’t get done today!” “I create success in everything I do” “Today I will achieve everything I set out to do” You can even write down some of your own the night before and read them aloud to yourself as you get ready for bed or for the day. The words you put out will resonate with reality. Throw in a power pose too while you’re at it!
Pro Tip #2: Get up and go outside! It’s easy to forget just how much of our day we spend sitting. Studies show that your focus begins to diminish when you are sitting down or focusing on one thing for more than 50 minutes. Getting up and moving our bodies helps our brain flow and keeps our body awake. Even if you are moving a lot during the day, make sure to take some breaks to get outside and soak up some good old vitamin D! Or better yet, get some vitamin D while moving your body.
Reward yourself as you check things off your list
Even if it’s something you do everyday, or seems really easy, you should still feel proud of yourself for getting it done and checking it off your list. There will always be more things that we need to accomplish each day and one way to stay on top of all that is reminding ourselves of our abilities and taking time to appreciate ourselves. Now I know what you’re thinking: To be more productive I should give myself rewards? Yes! It can become so easy to take our own selves for granted and the hard work we do daily. Taking time to celebrate these little victories wakes up that little voice inside our heads to say, “Wow, you are absolutely slaying the game! What else can you do?” Not only do rewards work as incentives for our work, but they remind us that we are constantly working our butts off and we all deserve to celebrate our hard work.
Pro Tip #3: Put your phone away! Technology can be a great tool to help us with our work but it can also be our greatest enemy. Social media is procrastination’s best friend. Sometimes it’s not enough to just set our phone face down, so try putting it in a drawer or even in a separate room. If this is something you especially struggle with, give yourself a couple minutes on your phone every hour or every time to check a task off your list. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done when the temptation to pick up your phone is out of reach. And if you can’t bear to have your phone away from you, turning off your notifications temporarily while you need to focus on something important is a great tactic.
Breaking down our challenges into steps that we can easily approach and accomplish help to remove any stress or mental barriers that hold us back. While it is always desirable to want to accomplish more and more everyday, it is important to balance the quality of our work with the quantity. Taking these three steps into account on a day-today basis can help you become more productive.