This can be a rough time of year. It’s cold, the days are still short, the festivities of the holidays are well behind us, and this year we are dealing with a raging pandemic. It can be hard to focus and accomplish the things on our to-do list. Well, maybe we can pick up our productivity while still allowing ourselves some slack. Here are 16 ideas. Try to select a couple of ideas and incorporate them into your daily routine. You will probably feel better checking a couple more items off your list and before you know it, the daffodil shoots will start to appear, it will be light at 6:00 pm, and we can start feeling the renewed energy of spring.
- Make your to-do list in advance. If you start the day with a well-defined to-do list, you’ll have direction for the rest of the day, and you will sleep better knowing you have captured the key things you need accomplish.
- It’s okay to say no. Say “no” more frequently and make time for the things that matter most. I am also currently assessing what I want to stop doing. There are some committees that I am going to part ways with and free up more time for me.
- Determine the difficulty of each task. This will help you mentally prepare for each type of task and organize your day according to the challenge levels. You can label each task a 1, 2 or 3, with 1 the easiest the 3 the most complex. Perhaps you determine to accomplish one “3” and three “1’s” that day.
- Get that nagging task out of the way early. An early win can set the tone for the rest of the day. For me this means getting a second cup of coffee and getting right to it. It always feels good to get that annoying task behind you.
- Break the larger task into smaller steps. Make things more manageable and easier to schedule. You can even break up the steps over several days to make a task less onerous.
- It’s okay to sometimes procrastinate. Procrastination is usually considered a bad thing, but sometimes it can work in your favor. If I find myself procrastinating about something, it often turns out that an additional piece of helpful information turns up that makes the task easier to accomplish or sometimes the task is no longer necessary and I’m glad I listened to my gut telling me to hold off. We’re not talking about serial procrastination here – that requires its own blog post.
- Knock off little tasks right away. Don’t let those irksome one-minute tasks pile up. Do them right away. I often tell myself that this is just a “two-minute activity” and knock it out. I love my electronics but my to-do list I write out in a planner. I get great satisfaction in crossing off completed tasks – even the two-minute ones.
- Set a timeline. Parkinson’s Law states, work expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. My dad always quoted this. Try to schedule tighter deadlines for yourself and you should be able to complete your work faster.
- Stay hydrated. Even a slight drop in hydration can lead to a drop in performance. Keep a glass of water by your desk and refill it regularly. A cup of herbal tea in the afternoon is a nice treat as well. Okay yes, this means more pit stops, but maybe more pits stops are a good thing!
- Allow yourself time for activity. Exercise results in both a short-term and long-term boost in mood and productivity. This is as simple as putting on your sneakers and walking briskly for 15 minutes. I also find that I get good ideas when I’m walking or fresh inspiration from listening to part of a podcast while I walk.
- Get some fresh air. Going outside is a nice break that can reset your mind and relieve stress. This is similar to #9 above but just a 5-minute break to clear your lungs and head.
- Let in some sunlight. Find a sunny spot to sit in and work on something. Sunlight improves your mood, keeps you alert, and a change of scenery will do you good.
- Set the thermostat to the right number. Different people are comfortable at different temperatures. I like it cooler than my husband and I keep my work area accordingly chillier. Find the number that works for you and keep it there.
- Identify and limit distractions. Distractions cost you more time than you may recognize. Don’t answer unexpected phone calls. Ignore unimportant texts until later. Stay away from social media during the day – better to take that brisk walk.
- Take a couple of minutes to organize your desk. I’m guilty of accumulating piles on my desk. But if I discipline myself to spend five minutes to organize and clear the area at the end of the day, it makes me feel much more in control. Clean your desk and you’ll clear your mind.
- End the day on a high note. We remember the end of the day more than the middle, so give yourself a late victory. It’s good motivation. Maybe it just means leaving with your desk in order for the next day.
Source: https://www.success.com/100-simple-secrets-of-productive-people/, by Jayson DeMers, March 24, 2020
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