Optimizing Your Day For Productivity

by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Lifestyle Columnist

Published in Lifestyle and Finance on 24th January, 2019

Sometimes it can be hard to be productive! Whether your mind is on something else or you're just having a tough time creating a routine, there are many things that can get in the way.

Not to worry, there are many tips out there that can help you to put together a more productive day. While all the tips listed here are very useful, it's wise to remember that some tips might be more useful to you than others. Everyone is different, and has different needs!

how to be productive

It can also help to think about what you struggle the most with, and look for ways in which these tips can help you to find solutions to those struggles. That way, you'll be ready to take on the day armed with some new strategies!

The Key To A Productive Day

Productivity can be a tough thing to achieve. Those who are traditionally-employed and self-employed alike can benefit from finding ways to make their workday more productive. Sometimes, it's just a matter of finding the right flow, while in other cases you may need some real help to get more work done!

Keep in mind that these tips may look at little different for those in different situations, and some may be more useful to certain kinds of employees than others. For example, taking breaks as needed is a little more realistic if you're self-employed and aren't limited to just a few breaks per day.

Think about the kinds of productivity issues you may be running into throughout the day. Do you get sleepy after lunch? Is multitasking becoming more of a hassle than a help? When you've gathered up your problems, the tips in this article can help you to eliminate them!

Tips For Optimizing Your Productivity

The following tips can help you to get the most productivity out of your day. Remember that things like self-care also count, because when you give your body more care, you then have a deeper well to draw from when it comes time to get your work done.

Limit Distractions

Setting yourself up in a peaceful workspace that avoids distraction is a great way to go. Think about what things help to keep you sane during your workday, like music, podcasts or other useful background noises, as well as what can distract you from the workday. Then, build up your workspace with features that help and avoid those that don't.

For some, absolute quiet is essential to getting their work done well. In those cases, you may need to get some headphones if the people around you at work tend to be noisy. If you work from home, it can also be a great idea to go somewhere else to get some work done, like a library.

Do Your Planning Beforehand

Often, sticking to plans or habits is easier if you plan ahead. Just like prepping food ahead of time for a healthy diet, it's a good idea to plan for your workday beforehand. Think about the tasks you want to get completed and make a list or create a schedule.

planning beforehand

That way, once you get to work the next day you won't need to spend a lot of time planning. You can just get right to tackling the items on your list. To keep yourself balanced, it can be a nice idea to get through your listed tasks and then work on your list for the next day before you call it quits.

Use Self Care

Taking care of your body is extremely important, both for the sake of productivity and in general. This includes eating foods that are nutritious and drinking plenty of water. Try to avoid foods that can result in crashes, like sugar and carbs, as they can become very problematic.

Furthermore, it's a good idea to make sure you're getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. It's so easy to forget about these things as just abstract terms, but they're actually incredibly important for keeping you feeling well. Use supplements if you need to!

Use Blocks

Working in blocks can be a great way to develop more productivity. Allowing yourself to really focus on one thing at a time can help to eliminate distractions and get some real work done on that one activity. Some may find that it can allow them to be more productive than bouncing around from one task to another in shorter amounts of time.

Generally, it's a good idea to create blocks of about 90 minutes in which you work on a single product. After that, taking a short break can be very nice before you get started on the next block.

Learning The Flow

Some tend to have more flow in the morning, while others work better in the afternoon or evening. Keep in mind when you have the best flow and make use of that time period. In addition, consider your options for the time periods in which you don't have such an easy time focusing.

In many jobs, we don't really get a choice as to when we get to work. However, if you can, it's a good idea to build your schedule around when you work the best. In other cases, you can try to set up a time period for getting work done and avoid setting up meetings with others during that time, limiting distractions from other people.

Select The Most Important Tasks

Priorities are everything for keeping a solid schedule. Some recommend choosing about three larger goals to accomplish each workday, but that amount may differ depending on what your job is. Some may have one big project that they work on continuously, while for others the priorities may change on a day-to-day basis.

select the most important tasks

However many tasks you want to complete, the most important aspect is to keep in mind that you can't do everything at once. Make sure to set aside time for the most important jobs first.

Get Your Breaks In

Don't forget to give yourself breaks when you need them! At many jobs, you are given a couple breaks throughout the day. Make sure to use those in the most efficient ways for you. If you are self-employed, get breaks in as needed to keep yourself from burning out.

Breaks can be easy to forget, but we need them to keep ourselves functioning well. Without them, we risk making ourselves too tired, burning out and losing focus more easily.

Combine Like Tasks

It's generally thought of that multitasking isn't a good idea. While it can sometimes feel more productive, many actually find that they have trouble staying focused, or that their work is of a lower quality than it is when they really have a chance to focus on it without distraction.

Instead, it's recommended that you think about what tasks on your list are similar, and dedicate one of your blocks to completing those. Keep in mind that if these tasks are quite small, you may not need the full 90 minutes. Consider whatever amount of time you'll need to get them all done.

Take On Discomfort

Sometimes, the tasks we need to accomplish can make us uncomfortable. When this happens, we might start to procrastinate because we don't want to tackle that task. It's completely understandable, but in many cases we don't have the option to ignore the task without getting into trouble.

Consequently, you may find that you need to take a moment and consider why you might not be feeling great about the task. If you can, try breaking it down into smaller steps. If you can manage it, take on the task anyway. You'll feel much better when you do! Otherwise, try a few of the smaller task to gain some confidence and then focus on the scary task again.

Do The Hardest Thing First

Whatever task is going to take the most effort should be the first task of the day. That way, you can get through it and then wind down with tasks that aren't quite so difficult or uncomfortable. While it might not be the most fun, it's the best way to make sure that the intense tasks get completed.

do the hardest thing first

It's also going to feel really nice once you've gotten that difficult project completed. You'll get that sense of accomplishment and you'll be able to breathe a bit more freely knowing you've gotten it out of the way.

Track The Workday

Tracking your workday is great for taking a look at how much of the day you're spending on productive tasks. You can easily use software like Asana to do this. Programs like this can allow you to keep tabs on your tasks, workflow and the tasks of your teammates.

You can also use it to ask questions and communicate with others without having to leave your desk. This can help to make the process easier and allow you to avoid getting distracted with conversation.

Use Reflection

After tracking your day, take some time to take a look at your productivity levels and consider whether or not what you're already doing is allowing you to meet your goals. If it is, then you're off to a great start! If not, you can start to look for ways to improve the way you manage time so that you can do so.

If you need to, break the large goal into smaller goals so that they can be a little more realistic. As you meet those goals, you can also gradually raise them to give yourself more of a challenge. It's all about your job and what you need to accomplish.

Create An Ideal Routine

Routine is a great way to solidify your habits, making productivity even easier because you'll be used to doing things in a certain way rather than having to think about how you want to structure each day. You'll also become more comfortable with the way tasks are arranged.

In time, you'll find that things like taking on the most serious task first becomes second-nature, which can just make the day go more smoothly overall. Just keep in mind that it may take some trial and error to reach a routine that is perfect for your needs and goals.

Be Honest

Many of us want to do it all, but we simply can't. We're only human and there are limited hours in a day. Don't try to place too much work on your shoulders at once, or you can easily wear yourself out.

be honest

Instead, take a look at all the things you need to accomplish and consider which are most important. Place priority on those first, and if you find that you have the time when those are completed, you can try to fit in some of the smaller tasks.

Get Your Sleep

It's hard to be productive when you're exhausted! Getting plenty of sleep can ensure that you have the energy to get through your day without too much of a struggle. When you're lacking sleep, the whole day becomes harder, and focus can be an extremely difficult thing to accomplish.

For adults, it's wise to get at least 7 hours per night. Sometimes this can be a difficult thing, but remember that going on a lack of sleep for too long can really wear down your body and mind. It's absolutely worth making sleep a priority!

Balance Your Time

Work is important, but so is your time away from it. Make sure that there is a clear separation between work time and free time, and that you're getting plenty of that free time. Though it may not feel as productive, it's key for keeping yourself sane and capable of being productive at work.

If you work yourself to the bone, you're going to burn out. When you burn out, you're not going to want to do any work, and that feeling can go on longer than just giving yourself two or three hours in the evenings to unwind and relax.

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