If you’ve ever been in situation in which you felt like everyone else around you was able to work like a machine while you were left dragging behind, you’re not alone. But it’s not simply that the hard-working people around you were programmed any differently; they just think differently. In order to be productive, you have to actively want to be productive, and want to change your lifestyle. It might sound like a daunting task, but it’s really not so difficult. Once you get into the swing of productivity, you’ll find it hard to stop moving! You’ll get there eventually if you do the following.
1. Get to know yourself.
Productivity is not one-size-fits-all. Some people are able to focus for hours on end on a single task, while some need to mix it up every twenty minutes or so. Figure out which type of person you are, and don’t fight it! Instead of swimming against the current and holding yourself back, let your mind and body tell you what you want to achieve, and how to achieve it.
2. Prioritize your tasks.
You most likely have a lot on your plate, especially if you haven’t been productive as of late. Rather than haphazardly attacking your list of obligations, figure out the most pressing issue you need to face. If you get the large tasks out of the way first, you’ll have less on your mind while you go about completing the easier errands. On the other hand, if you leave the big things until last, you’ll constantly be distracted while performing the lesser duties, knowing you have much bigger fish to fry later on.
3. Form consistent habits.
I hate to tell you, but you aren’t going to be able to just flip a switch in your brain and automatically be productive through every waking moment. You have to get in the habit of being busy and working hard. But, again, you’re not going to just dive right in and try to get everything done all at once. Once you figure out a system that works best for you, stick to it. Once you get used to being productive, you’ll start to actually become addicted to hard work. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s much better to be addicted to improving your life than destroying it, right?
4. Focus on one task.
When you prioritize your to-do list, you also segment your tasks into different time slots throughout your day. Keep to this schedule! Don’t overlap your errands, no matter what. Multitasking only serves to split your focus between two or more areas, and you’ll lose time in between even if you don’t realize it. Set out to finish one task at a time. You won’t break your concentration, and you won’t waste any valuable time going back and forth between tasks.
5. Consolidate your to-do list.
I know I just said you shouldn’t multitask, but that’s in regard to tasks that require 100% of your attention. But there are other times throughout the day that you’ll be able to do two things at once without losing any productivity. For example, if there’s a podcast or TED talk you’ve been meaning to listen to, don’t just sit there listening to it for 20 minutes; do some laundry or clean up the house while you listen. Obviously, use your discretion here; you don’t want to be reading a book while you’re supposed to be listening to an important message. As long as the secondary task you choose doesn’t require much brainpower or attention, go for it.
6. Analyze your procrastination methods.
Everyone procrastinates once in a while, but we all do it for different reasons. Some of us are afraid of failure; some are afraid of success. Some of us, of course, are just plain lazy. Figure out why you’ve procrastinated so much lately, and figure out how you can make changes to your lifestyle and mindset to break free of whatever’s been holding you back. Use the Internet as a resource for this, or even seek out professional help. There’s no shame in acknowledging a need for assistance, but there is shame in knowing you need a change and not working toward it.
7. Take frequent breaks.
Don’t feel as if “being productive” means you have to keep moving 24 hours a day. Everyone needs at least a little bit of time to recharge their batteries. In fact, if you’ve truly been productive, you’ll likely have more time to relax after all your work is done. Think about it; instead of wasting a minute here and there throughout the day, you’ve usedall of that time to finish everything you’ve set out to do, and end up with a large chunk of time to do whatever you’d like during the evening. It’s a much better way to live, isn’t it?
Featured photo credit: Less Hours, More Productivity! / Gina via farm1.staticflickr.com