A lack of productivity leads to a lack of happiness. When you can’t see yourself making progress or getting things done, you get anxious and become stressful. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to be productive.
There are also many things that contribute to unhappiness here: social media notifications, emails, texts, and chatty co-workers are just a small fraction of the disruptions we’re bombarded with. These “little things” can stack up fast and lead to hampering your happiness and productivity levels.
Learn how to be productive with the 13 tips below and reclaim your everyday productivity and your happiness, once and for all.
1. Identify Your Time Thieves
We all have time thieves, but most of us haven’t yet identified them. For some of us, it can be the apps on our phone that we scroll through. For others, it can be the bad habit of constantly checking email or spending more time taking breaks than actually working during our peak productivity hours.
If you can identify your biggest time thieves, the activities or situations that throw you off course, distract or interrupt you, or the bad habits that keep you from performing better, you will improve your results much more quickly and better learn how to be productive on a daily basis.
If you try to study, apply different techniques, and you ignore your current thieves, the effort will remain fruitless. Productive people know that eliminating time thieves is key to staying focused in the long run.
If you just aim to change one of your worst time management habits, you will change your results immediately. It will most likely also give you the impetus to change what else isn’t working once you feel the reward of your efforts and see the clear connection between what you do and what your reality is.
Think about one thing that, if you changed it right now, would have the biggest positive influence on your productivity. Write this down, think about what causes or contributes to this, and what your solution will be moving forward.
If you aren’t sure what has been distracting you, this guide can help you: How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus.
2. Finish Your Day Before It Starts
Proper planning is the secret to peak productivity, and it’s also a good idea to set important goals daily. Get yourself a planning tool and prioritize your daily tasks with it in order to spend your time on important tasks.
If you know exactly what you have to do and the timeframe you want to complete it in, you’ll be well on your way to learning how to be productive.
Here’s a smart technique on planning and prioritization: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster
3. Celebrate the Small Wins
Every time you check off a task from your to-do list, you release a “happy chemical” in your brain called dopamine. This gives you the motivation to move forward and do even more.
For example, after I finish writing this article, and I’ve crossed it off my list of things to do today, I’ll get a nice burst of “happy chemicals” releasing in my brain. The best part? Zero side effects!
4. Leverage Like There’s No Tomorrow
Stop wasting time doing things that don’t challenge you or ignite your passion. Hire out or automate anything and everything within your means.
Don’t be afraid to trust others with tasks you believe they can do. They’ll likely be happy for the opportunity, and you’ll feel better about lowering the amount of work you have to get done.
5. Recharge Your Batteries
Figure out how many hours of sleep your body needs and make sure you get it. Take time to stretch, walk, or relax in order to recharge throughout the day and after work.
One study found that the best way to ensure consistent productivity throughout the day is to work for about 50 minutes, followed by a 15-20 minute break. As you’re trying to learn how to be productive, follow this pattern to get started.
Here are some simple ways to relax completely and get rid of stress.
6. Become an Early Riser
This is one of the most underused productivity “hacks” on the planet. Ever since I decided to start waking up at 5am every day, my productivity levels and happiness have gone up dramatically.
Most people aren’t up that early, so no one can bother you or disrupt you from what you want to do. A productive person will use this time to exercise, meditate, or get a head start on their day.
7. Do Work You’re Passionate About
Make it your goal to blur the line between work and play by doing more things you’re passionate about. This promotes happiness both inside and outside of the workplace.
Find what you’re passionate about and do it, even if it’s just through a hobby. Make time for the things you love and learn how to be productive more easily.
8. Use Time Blocks
When I wrote this article, I gave myself a one hour time block. This prevents unnecessary dilly-dallying, like updating your social media and checking email. Instead, start developing better work habits and manage your time for a more productive day.
There are plenty of apps that can help you do this, or you can simply set an alarm on your phone so you know when you can take a break and enjoy some free time. During your set time block, do your best to eliminate distractions. Find a quiet space, declutter your desk, and create a short to-do list to keep you on track.
9. Avoid Interruptions
Interruptions are among the biggest barriers to both productivity and happiness. Every time you’re interrupted in the middle of a task, your level of productivity takes a hit.
We’ve all been there: you’re fully immersed in an important project until all of a sudden the workplace chatterbox appears out of nowhere and starts talking the crazy night they had last weekend. By the time s/he’s gone, you’ve already forgotten where you were, and it takes 30 minutes to get back on track.
Avoid this by letting people know that you’ve got important work that’s got to be done.
Learn more about how to stay focus in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)
10. Shut Down the Digital Disruptions
iPhones, mailbox notifications, Twitter, Facebook, and everything that pops, slides, or fades in and out of your screen has got to go. Shut them down and focus when you want to learn how to be productive.
It’s as easy as turning off the notifications or scheduling only a specific time to check all these notifications and texts.
11. Measure Your Success
Every now and then, it’s a good idea to measure your results and see how things are coming along.
How’s your progress? Are you moving in the right direction? It’s always a good idea to track your progress regularly.
Of course, in order to track you progress, you need to set specific milestones so you know that you’re on your way to achieving any big or small goal.
12. Get out of Your Own Way
Sometimes, all you need to do is stop sabotaging yourself and get out of your own way in order to develop productive habits. Sometimes self-sabotage can be obvious, like when you completely avoid moving forward with projects. Other times, it can look like perfectionism, where you are never satisfied with the end result and so never quite do your best work.
You might tend to look at all the extrinsic factors of why you can’t be more productive, and you might blame, complain, and point fingers at everyone and everything, except yourself.
When the blame cannot be directed externally, you might then resort to using excuses, desperately searching for a justification that will give you comfort because “you have no control over what happens.”
How many excuses do you have and live by each day? “I couldn’t do this because…or I don’t have time to do this because…” Your excuses might be valid, but in the end, they’re really only slowing you down; it is an avoidance technique that we subconsciously use when we don’t feel capable of completing the important tasks at hand.
Not dealing with procrastination is a clear example of standing in your own way. If you don’t tackle it, it will be there the next time you attempt to do whatever it is that you are procrastinating on.
Put results before comfort if you really want to change how productive you are. It may be difficult to find your focus at first, but once you get out of your own way and stop making excuses, you’ll find that life gets easier overall.
13. Talk to Yourself Differently
Productive individuals think very differently than others. You need to challenge your thoughts and develop a productive mindset. A productive person avoids thinking about all the things they won’t be able to do for X or Y reasons.
Instead, they think:
- I need to do this and this. What is the best way for me to get everything done?
- What is causing the stress, and what needs to change so that I manage this situation better?
- What can I do to improve this, considering the current circumstances?
The words and phrases you use immediately empower you, or they don’t; they either make you feel better or more stressed. You can use positive affirmations as a form of positive self-talk if you aren’t sure where to start.
The words you use to talk to yourself are pivotal to everything in life because they will be your guide, whether they support you or not. Being more productive will get much easier when your words build you up instead of tearing you down.
The Bottom Line
With these 13 effective tips, you’ll learn how to be productive and find more time to do the things that make you happy.
Start small and take up each suggestion one-by-one. That way, you can boost your productivity, and create joy along the way.
Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com
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