We have all found ourselves in a situation where regardless of all the work we have to do, we just can’t get up and do it! You can’t seem to tap into your productivity and do the work. Okay so sometimes you are productive in the morning and get a bit of work done. But then you take a break and realize only hours later that it went on for far too long.
My sister recently asked me, “How do you get up and actually DO stuff?”. That’s when I realized that I am not the only one who has to deal with this. In my life I have always chased this concept that seems to always allude me, balance. I always want to have a balanced life. To be the person that manages who her work life, social life and still gets in time to exercise and eat healthy. To be honest, the secret is in taking things one step at a time. For now, you can start with finishing all of your daily tasks.
But how do you achieve this? How can you increase your productivity? There are a few strategies that you can start implementing that will definitely improve how you tackle your tasks daily.
1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
I know that most people have the habit of briefly going through the stuff the need to do in their minds. So you mentally tick things off as you go along. At the end of it all, you may decide to reward yourself with some “me” time later on because you’ve done everything. But wait, you realize that you skipped something. Next thing, you’re scrambling to get this new task done as quickly as possible. You get frustrated at yourself because, how could you have forgotten to do this one thing?! And on top of it all, you are now going to have to miss out on the me time that you were so looking forward to.
You need to avoid these daily frustrations and drama, for the sake of your own sanity. How? Plan it all out well in advance. If you set aside time to think of what your day will look like, you will most likely remember everything that needs to get done on that day. Assign a time slot for every task to help track how everything is going to work out. Be careful to not be over optimistic of how long the different tasks will take you. Give yourself enough leeway between tasks, so that you can get to rest and you don’t end up falling behind.
I generally set aside about 5 minutes every morning to think about what my day will look like. That is when I plan everything that I will do, when I will do it and how long each task will take me. This has definitely increased my productivity and I get more tasks done without stressing myself out.
2. CREATE TO-DO LISTS
I have always said that if it is not written down, it does not exist. And this has been very true in most aspects. Writing stuff down makes you accountable. That is why I have found that creating a to-do list everyday increases my productivity. But this is partly because of my perfectionism. The rush that I get from ticking-off a task that I have just completed is basically what I live for. It boosts my energy and motivates me to do more!
Also, having the tasks documented in your lists serves as proof of the work that you have done, or not done. And for me, having a to-do list that is incomplete, leaves me feeling guilty at the end of the day. This in turn motivates me to do more the next day.
So, having a to-do list is generally a great tool for increasing your productivity. These lists are also great for your short and long term goals. They help you realize what you have to achieve and you can also track your progress as you go along.
Now I know that making lists may not be for everyone. And although they have helped me with my productivity, there are other ways of tracking your progress. Since we take our smartphones with us everywhere, it will help to document the days tasks on there. Some of the best apps include Any.do, Hours and my personal best Google Keep. There are obviously a whole lot more apps out there, you could even just use the Notes app on your phone.
Okay, so I have spoken a lot about planning and documenting those plans. But be careful of over-planning. Some people plan and research so much such that they never get to the execution of the work. Avoid spending too much in the planning phase such that you don’t actually get to the work.
So to answer the question, “How do I get up and do stuff?”, you just need to get up and do stuff. Some people get caught up in the little details, like fonts and color schemes instead of getting into the content. This is essentially procrastination, which is the worst enemy of productivity. The only way for you to complete a task is to start working on it. You can refine the little details later.
The people that get more things done are people that DO a lot of things. Makes sense right? So stop waiting for perfect conditions to launch a great project. Immediate action will result in a positive feedback loop that will drive even more action and increase your productivity.
4. CREATE A ROUTINE/SYSTEM
When you are planning out your day, there are certain things, which when done during the wrong times, will affect your productivity for the rest of the day. Have you noticed that you do less after lunch? Or do you generally have more energy in the morning? If that is the case, set up a routine that will ensure that you do more work in the morning. And don’t waste time on the less meaningful tasks during the time when you have most energy.
An example may be that you could move checking your emails to a time when you know you’ll be in a slump, like after lunch. This way, you’re using the time during which you have the most energy wisely, therefore increasing your productivity.
Okay so how does one create such a routine or system? You need to observe your patterns to identify the ideal times for you do the heavy lifting work. And assign the tasks that require less effort to the times when you’re in a slump. You’re more likely to finish a fun task during a time when you’re “not in the mood”. Rather than having to tackle reading a 20 page memo right after a heavy lunch, when the weather is so hot and you just don’t feel like it. Change your habits to create a system that will allow for the most productivity. Continuing with the lunch example, you could change what you eat and when you eat it in order to avoid the afternoon slump, while still getting your nutrients.
You can also come up with different routines for different parts of your day. Morning routines and evening routines are other ways of setting the mood of your day for productivity. You should also remember that it takes about three weeks to develop a good habit. So stick to the routine and eventually it will become easier to do so.
5. REWARD YOURSELF
So I have already mentioned that ticking off tasks that I have completed is the most rewarding part of things. But you might also want to have a reward at the end of a huge task (not after every little thing that you do). This will be a good incentive to help with completing tasks, and will boost your motivation and productivity.
Knowing that you have a reward waiting for you, will help increase your focus on a certain task. This reward can take any form that you wish. Although you may love chocolate, it may not be practical for you to have a chocolate bar after cleaning the house, and one after cooking, and another after submitting a report. If this were true, we’d all weigh … a lot! So to reward yourself between tasks you can implement the Pomodoro Technique.
This is a time management technique that you can use to get more work done during your day. It generally means that you can focus on working on a certain task for a period of 25 minutes without distractions and rest for about 5 minutes before moving on to the next one. So this essentially means that you reward yourself with a 5 minute break for completing a certain task without distractions. For this technique to work, it is important that you keep track of the time that you spend on each task so that you take the break in time.
These techniques will help you become more productive so you can start doing stuff today! But you don’t need to implement them all at once. Some of these may take time to get right, but if you keep at it, it will become easier eventually. So plan out your day, but not too much such that you spend the whole day planning. Write it all down so you can track your progress. Create a system that will work best for you and optimize the times where you have the highest energy to work. Don’t procrastinate and remember to reward yourself.
I hope these tips will work for you as much as they have for me. If you have any questions send me an email, or leave a comment below.
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