We've all heard these phrases before:
Make it happen.
I love these small doses of motivation and the reminder to keep pursuing my goals, but it’s not easy. Like I mentioned in my February recap, I’ve been pretty swamped lately. It’s forced me to reevaluate how I use my time and find better ways to up my productivity game. I’ve found that being productive is a daily choice, but there are ways to make it easier.
If you, too, are struggling with managing your busy schedule, I thought I’d share a few ways I avoid letting my to-do list freak me out or slow me down. Here are the five simple habits I try to focus on to inspire productivity.
Make a (realistic) to-do list every day
If you’re like me, you have way more things on your plate than can be accomplished in just one day. Learning to prioritize and narrow down your list to specific and achievable daily goals is key. Every evening before I jet off from the office or first thing when I wake up in the morning I create a to-do list.
My list includes categories for every area of my life, including work, side hustles, projects, and home. I’ve found that this:
* Forces me to think about the entire day and get in a productive mindset
* Teaches me to understand how much I can realistically accomplish in a certain amount of time
* Keeps me motivated
It’s not a revolutionary idea, I know, but taking a few minutes to jot down your goals for the day is a strategic move towards becoming insanely productive.
Do the worst thing, first
Procrastination is not something that a hustlers like us have time for. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, it’s easy to slip into a nasty habit of putting things off until the last minute. I combat this urge by highlighting my top priority for the day (which is sometimes my least favorite task) and making sure it gets done first thing in the morning.
Not only am I naturally more productive in the morning, but getting my least favorite thing or largest project off my plate right away has this funny little way of making me feel unstoppable and sets me up for a productive day.
I tend to lose a lot of valuable time by jumping from task to task. If there’s something that needs to get done, I give it myfull attention. Totally easier said than done though, so let me share my newest trick: The Pomodoro Technique.
A friend of mine recently introduced me to this simple system in which you focus on your work for 25 minutes, followed by a short 5-15 minute break. Knowing I have a time limit and that at the end of that period I get a break (to grab a fresh cup of coffee, catch up on texts, etc), helps me focus on my work and avoid multi-tasking. For me, it works wonders. By the way, I track my time using this desktop timer.
Utilize cloud storage
These days, I’m all about Google Drive - it’s seriously my new best friend. And the best part is, it comes with me everywhere. So whether I’m sitting at my work computer, at home on my laptop, or on the road with my cell phone, I always have instant access to information I need to get work done.
Being organized is a huge part of staying productive, and utilizing cloud storage not only will help keeps all my information, projects, and to-do lists organized, it also makes it easy to dive into work when, for example, I unexpectedly have an hour of free time before a meeting. If you’re completely unfamiliar with using Google Drive, check out this tutorials page.
My final trick for staying productive is as simple (or as difficult, however you want to see it) as taking care of myself. A positive mindset and a good dose of energy will does wonders for my productivity level. I once read that happiness inspires productivity, and I couldn’t agree more. So I inspire happiness by getting enough sleep at night, drinking lots of water, exercising, and taking time to relax or do things that I enjoy. Scheduling these things on my calendar helps me remember that staying energized, both mentally and physically is a priority.
Remember, even if you don’t accomplish everything you meant to, the day is not a failure. But don’t let one lazy day become a habit. You got this.