I start work by making a list. Partly because I find tremendous joy in crossing things off that list as I do them, and partly because *most times* it keeps me productive AF. Without lists, I’d be lost. To-do’s would remain undone, commitments (and ideas) forgotten, and responsibilities accidentally overlooked. Although that sounds kind of amazing *pending all consequences would be forever eradicated* I actually love what I do. And even though I’d be lying if I told you juggling twenty million things at once is always sweet and rosy and not the least bit overwhelming, it has become slightly more manageable. Currently drowning in sea of your own to-do’s? Here’s 6 tips to make it work, stay productive, and get everything done, efficiently.
6 Productivity Practices Proven To Banish Busy, Help You Feel Less Scattered, And Streamline Your Workday
1. Prioritize your tasks by making a list.
The first step to getting things done without feeling totally scattered is knowing what actually needs to get done vs. everything else. Priorities must be set. The best way to do this is to take time the night before to go over what you want to get done the next day. Start by writing everything down then pick 3-5 tasks that are absolutely necessary to accomplish tomorrow. Ask yourself: Am I on a deadline? Can this email wait? What is really important right now? Is this really that urgent? Once you’ve narrowed it down, rank them in order of importance. This is your new to-do list. This is also your new BFF. When you start work tomorrow, begin with task number 1. Focus on that task, nothing else. Do one thing at a time. When it’s complete, cross it off (isn’t that the best?), breathe, and move onto the second task. Repeat.
If these are big tasks like finish penning your 500,000 word sci-fi or crafting your breakout TED Talk, break them into smaller bits and set a timer for each project. While we don’t want to overwhelm ourselves by trying to do everything all at the same time, it’s very easy to stretch a task that could be done in 45 minutes into an all-day affair. Instead, set a timer for each task so you can actually get more done and…
2. Create an environment that fosters your most productive you.
Close your Instagram, put your phone in a drawer, disable popup notifications on your Macbook, ex out of all unnecessary tabs. Minimize distractions. Take a cue from Marie Kondo and create an environment that fosters your most productive you.
3. Get to know your most productive you.
When do you do your best work? What makes you most efficient? Find your strengths. I know that when it comes to writing, I’m useless past 11 am. I have a 2 (sometimes 3 if I’m lucky) hour writing window in the morning, otherwise during most hours of the day articulating words to the page is painful. So, I don’t write after lunch. I know that if I sit for too long I will go crazy – like for real, crazy – so I’ve implemented a mandatory midday walk. I’ve crafted my day in a way that works for me. To be your most productive self, craft your day in a way that works for you.
4. Ask for help.
You are without question a total rockstar, but the reason you have co-workers, a support system, teammates, etc., is because it’s impossible and inefficient to do everything on your own. Asking for help is not a sign of incompetence or weakness, it’s the complete opposite. It’s knowing your strengths and using your time wisely. There’s no reason you should be crunching numbers when you have trouble doing basic math and have an accountant on hand or be coming up with marketing copy when the company’s creative director was hired for that reason. Let others do their best work so you can do yours.
5. Make time for self-care and take breaks.
You cannot do your best work if you’re not taking care of yourself and your needs. It’s impossible. Pulling all nighters, working through lunch, and gluing your hands to your laptop *might* help get things done quickly, but we can almost promise they won’t be done well. We need to recharge. We need to take breaks. We need to take care of ourselves, first. If that means you have to set a timer for your work (see number 1) do it (!!) and physically schedule breaks into your calendar. Burnout and exhaustion have serious health implications. This^ is how to avoid them.
6. Don’t take on more than you can handle.
Don’t be afraid to say no. This, according to Warren Buffett is the cardinal rule for getting sh*t done and the key to making people really successful. See?
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” –Warren Buffett
We’re going for productive AND really successful.
You too? Comment below and tell us how you’re going to become your most productive you.
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