As the weather gets warmer and the flowers start to bloom, many people find themselves distracted and unproductive. With only so many hours in a day, it’s important that you work smarter not harder. Here are some tips to improve your productivity this spring, whether it is in the workplace, at home, or in the library.
1. Make a schedule and stick to it. Sometimes when you feel like you have more to do than you can handle, it is common to not even know where to begin. To help with this, make daily schedules where you block out different amounts of time for each thing you need to do (including breaks, meals, fun time etc). This will make your workload seem more manageable, and if you stick to the schedule you will be able to get far more done than you ever deemed possible. If you fall off track from your schedule, it’s perfectly normal. As long as you try to stick to your schedule, you will get far more done than without one.
2. Focus on what is most important. Even though making a to do list is important to being productive, you do not want to fill it with every possible thing you foresee yourself needing to do anytime soon. Instead, focus on the tasks that are most important, and put these things on your list. You will be far more likely to get them done than if you were to overload your to do list.
3. Take breaks. While you can’t take breaks all the time if you want to be productive, having pre-set rest periods to look forward to while working will allow you to be more productive. Call a friend, walk outside, or catch up on your favorite TV show. Any of these activities will allow you to relax and feel refreshed as you return to your work
4. Eat and drink well. If you do not give your brain the fuel it needs during the day, it will be much harder to be productive. Even if you have a ton to do, don’t skip out on meals and make sure you are always drinking enough water. I find that having a refillable water bottle and a few healthy snacks with me during the day ensures that I have the energy to have a productive day.
5. Do NOT multitask. While trying to do many things at once can seem tempting, it will hinder your efficiency immensely. Instead of trying to watch Netflix while working on reading or attending a briefing, focus on where you are right now and save the Netflix for a break later on.
6. Tackle your most difficult tasks when you are fresh. The time of day where you are the most fresh depends on each person, but we all know when we are typically at our best. For some it is earlier in the morning whereas for others it is later on in the day. Schedule the tasks that are the most difficult and time-consuming at this time and save the more menial tasks for another period of the day. This way you will be able to knock out the more difficult tasks when you are less tired or worn down.
7. Exercise! The gym can seem like a scary place, but the more you work out, the more productive you will be. It has been proven that hit the gym or pounding the pavement outside with a run or walk releases endorphin in your brain, which helps to diminish stress. Furthermore, getting your heart pumping is bound to keep you awake and alert for hours after your workout.
8. Get away from your phone. Our society is obsessed with smartphones. While there are many benefits of smart phones, distraction from texts, email, and social media is not one of them. To prevent getting distracted from your phone, put it somewhere other than in your pocket or on your desk when you are doing work. Challenge yourself to not check it until you take breaks. Not looking at your phone every time it buzzes will allow you to focus all of your time and energy on the task at hand.
9. Reward Yourself. If you are able to get through the mountain of tasks you need to on a given day, treat yourself. Grab some ice cream, sit outside if it is nice, or blast some of your favorite music in the car or on the walk back home. Giving yourself little treats for being productive will make you more likely to continue with this productivity in the future.
10. DO NOT procrastinate. Let’s face it. Most of us do not start stuff early enough and leave tasks for the last minute. While procrastinating can sometimes work, you are more likely to be productive and achieve a better outcome if you work in increments. So next time you have an exam in college or a presentation in the workplace, work slowly and surely instead of saving everything for the day before the deadline.