Productivity is a major challenge for most people. It often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to tackle all the items on your to-do list. Balancing your responsibilities and staying focused on all the tasks you need to get done in one day can seem absolutely impossible.
There are countless things that can drag down your productivity. Sometimes you get distracted by other responsibilities. Other times you get bored or frustrated and abandon your task at hand altogether. Regardless, handling your daily responsibilities doesn’t have to feel so overwhelming. Make the most of your daily schedule by learning how to reverse your productivity-killing habits to maximize your time and increase the amount of work you get done every single day.
1. Start Earlier than Everyone Else
If you wake up earlier in the morning, you have more hours in the day to check items off your to-do list. This statement might seem obvious, but the power of early rising goes much deeper than a simple “more hours = more work” equation.
When you start your morning before anyone else does, you have total control over the first couple hours of your day. You won’t be bombarded by emails or phone calls. You won’t be pulled away from your work to run errands or take care of your kids. Instead, you can devote these early hours to focusing on your most pressing responsibilities without fear of distraction. Many uber-successful business moguls–including the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs and former US president Barack Obama–cite the early morning hours as the most productive period of their day.
Don’t sacrifice your sleep for an early wake-up time, though. It is extremely hard to maintain any level of productivity if you’re not well-rested. If you decide to start waking up earlier in the morning, force yourself to go to bed earlier to make up for lost hours of sleep on the other side.
2. Set One Goal
Most people use a to-do list to keep track of their productivity goals for the day. However, it’s easy to get bogged down by a mile-long to-do list and fail to really accomplish anything at all.
When you wake up in the morning, decide upon one goal that will dictate how you spend the rest of your day. This goal should be completing the most important, time-sensitive item on your to-do list. If you can meet your goal early in the day, then you can feel accomplished and motivated to move on to the other less pressing responsibilities waiting for you. You might find, though, that your day becomes so full of distractions that you have trouble getting anything done. On these days, your single goal comes in handy as a clear target to guide yourself back to again and again.
3. Create a Morning Ritual
The way you spend your morning sets the stage for the rest of your day. Following the same routine every morning helps you get on track right away and transition more smoothly into your workday.
Your morning rituals should be focused around relaxing and boosting your mood to prepare you to tackle the tasks of the day ahead. Try to include healthy habits like eating a full, healthy breakfast and fitting in some cardio. Also, stay away from any technology for at least the first thirty minutes of your day. Let your brain wake up naturally without the overstimulation of your phone or computer screen.
4. Figure Out Your Triggers
Everyone has different triggers that throw off their productivity throughout the day. A surefire way to improve your daily productivity is to identify what triggers pull you away from your work on a regular basis.
If you tend to get distracted after you eat lunch, set a timer at lunchtime. Stop what you’re doing and get back to work as soon as it rings. If social media scrolling sucks hours out of your day, download an app that blocks your access to certain social media platforms until your workday is over. Identifying the productivity killers in your life and working to cut them out of your day can skyrocket the amount of work you accomplish in one day.
5. Take More Breaks
Taking more breaks to become more productive might seem counterintuitive. How are you supposed to get more done if you spend less time working.
Building regular breaks into your workday prevents you from falling into the hole of passive productivity. This kind of productivity happens when you are technically working, but are so burned out that you’re not actually making any progress. Schedule a ten-minute break every hour to recharge. These frequent breaks help you stay motivated to work actively and accomplish as much as possible during your fifty-minute chunks of productivity.
6. Stop Multitasking
Many busy people with long daily to-do lists pride themselves on their ability to multitask. Handling multiple responsibilities at once might seem like the ultimate key to productivity. However, multitasking actually causes you to accomplish less in the long run.
When you try to focus on more than one responsibility at a time, you can’t focus very well on anything. Each individual task takes longer than it would have if you had zeroed in on one thing at a time. Force yourself to work on one task to completion before you move on to the next one. You’ll discover that maintaining this singular focus lets you get more, higher-quality work done in less time.
7. Do It Now
Procrastination is perhaps the number-one enemy of productivity. Putting off things you don’t want to do slows down your workday and decreases the amount of work you get done.
If you’re dreading completing a specific project or making a certain phone call, force yourself to get that chore done before you do anything else. After you tackle the chore you’ve been dreading, you’ll feel accomplished. You’ll also probably feel more motivated to complete the smaller, less formidable tasks on your to-do list.
If you find yourself feeling constantly behind on your to-do list, you’re not alone. Set yourself up for success every day by following these few simple guidelines that increase your motivation and efficiency to improve your productivity each and every day.