Have you ever been so overwhelmed with things to do that you wished you could simply stop the clock and make time stand still while you got everything done?
It would be wonderful if we could all do that, wouldn’t it? Sadly, those of us not living in some fantastic science-fiction show aren’t blessed with the ability to halt the hands of time, leaving us looking for more practical ways to get things done in any given day.
Though by no means an exhaustive list, here are seven things that may work for you to improve your daily productivity:
1. Wake up earlier
It may sound obvious, but if we’re really going to start getting more things done in a day, then where better to start than right at the beginning of that day.
Getting out of bed earlier gives us more time to do more stuff, and hopefully still have time left over for the things that matter, like family and friends.
2. Stay healthy
Dragging ourselves out of bed a little earlier doesn’t mean we have to spend the rest of our day fighting off fatigue. By eating healthily, enjoying exercise and generally taking care of ourselves, we’ll find ourselves with more energy to tackle the things we need to do.
Instead of dropping off into a post-lunch slump in which productivity is at an all-time low, or being too exhausted after a day at the office to spend time on our passion projects, we’ll be alert and awake and ready to get things done.
3. Organize and prioritize
Getting things done isn’t about doing a bunch of stuff for the sake of keeping busy, it’s about doing what matters to help us achieve our goals.
In order to have a successful day, it pays to prioritize. Take care of the biggest, most crucial things first, and then work your way up.
Think of it like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: when we’ve dealt with the most mission-critical things, we’re better equipped to move on to the next set of tasks, and upwards we go, building on our own productivity and finding it even easier to get things done.
4. Stay out of the past (and don’t go too far into the future)
How many times do we find ourselves dwelling on the past and reliving memories, both fond and painful? Physically, we’re in one place at one time, yet mentally and emotionally we’re somewhere else entirely. If we’re not lost in once-upon-a-times, chances are we’re projecting ourselves into the future, either worrying about things that haven’t happened yet or daydreaming about what might be.
Though it certainly pays to take the occasional look ahead in order to know where we’re going, when it comes to getting things done, we benefit much more from being present in the moment and focusing on the now.
By being alert and focused on the task at hand, we’re more capable of doing what needs to be done.
One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to getting things done is falling for the belief that they have to get it all done by themselves.
Yet being able to ask for help often means that you can not only get more done, but get it done better than if you tried to do it all by yourself.
6. Eliminate distractions
Whether it’s by listening to music to block out background noise, or using website blockers like Google’s Stayfocussed app to keep you away from Facebook or other time-sucking sites, one of the best ways to get things done is to keep everything else out so that we can focus on the task at hand.
For this writer, turning the computer off altogether and heading back to the pen and paper works best, but for you it might simply be a case of switching your cell phone off for a few hours or finding a quiet place to work.
7. Take a break
For much the same reasons that keeping yourself healthy is the key to getting more things done, being able to take time out once in a while can make all the difference to your productivity.
Whether we step back to take a moment of stillness and quiet, or head outside to enjoy a walk in the fresh air, it’s important to relax from time to time if we want to avoid burnout.
By avoiding burnout, we give ourselves more energy and, again, more energy leads to increased productivity.