Are you looking to get more things done during the day?
Do you want to be more productive…the easy way?
As the adage goes, it pays to work smarter, and not harder.
In fact, sometimes the simplest of actions can have an enormous impact on our work.
In this post, I offer a collection of nine simple ways that you can be more productive, everyday.
These simple tips can be put to use right away at the office, home, or school.
You can choose one, two, or more of these tips to give your productivity an instant boost.
Adopt a “just do it” attitude.
Instead of wasting your energy complaining, fretting, or procrastinating when it comes to completing a dreaded task, simply turn that energy into action.
So, what task have you been thinking about for the past hour or two?
Stop thinking about it, and just do it!
Open up your notebook or computer program to get started on that assignment, put on your coat and hat to run a few errands, or walk over to the pantry to declutter a few items.
It really is as easy as that. The dreaded task will be finished before you know it.
Switch off your cellphone.
When’s the last time you completely turned off your cellphone or smart phone? Last week, last month, perhaps even last year? If you really want to make progress in your work, you should consider temporarily switching off your phone for an hour or so. You’ll be amazed at what you can get done without your phone buzzing, chirping, vibrating, or otherwise vying for your attention.
Work against the clock.
Having trouble making headway on an assignment or exercise? Give yourself an instant, pressing deadline by working against the clock. All you have to do is a set a kitchen or digital timer for sixty minutes. The next step? Get to work. The step after that? Stop working when the timer goes off. At the very least, you’ll have completed one hour’s worth of work. Not bad for setting a timer, now is it?
Make use out of existing resources.
Some of the most useful productivity resources are literally sitting right under our noses. That’s right, you have a wealth of templates, references, notes, and guides at your disposal. The only question is, are you making the most out of what you have?
The trick is to think creatively. Let’s say you’re in the office and are struggling to write a basic inquiry email. Why not look up a similar email you’ve written in past and tweak the language to your needs? If you’re at school and are struggling with managing your assignments, why not revisit your course syllabus to get a better view of due dates and exams?
It’s definitely worth taking a moment to think about how you can reuse, repurpose, review, or revise the materials or information at are already at your fingertips.
Ask for some help.
There’s no shame in asking for help or assistance. We all need a bit of help every now and then!
That being said, do you need help completing a last-minute assignment? Could you use more instruction on how to properly use a tool or machine? Do you need a few minutes to yourself to run a few errands?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a minute or two to think about what type of help you need. Then, take the next step, and ask for assistance.
Take a ten minute break.
A break can work wonders for your productivity levels. Remember, you’re not a machine, you’re human! Get up from your desk and take a brisk walk around the office. Pop outside for a few minutes for a breath of fresh air. Take your full lunch break. Drink a full glass of water. Or, play your favorite song and have a mini-dance party. Your body and mind will thank you.
Set a firm deadline.
Don’t let your work needlessly drag on, and on. Setting a deadline gives you an incentive to settle down and do your work. What’s more, a deadline can help you better prioritize your other tasks and assignments. You only have so many hours in a day to do what needs to get done. So, don’t wait a minute longer! Pull out your calendar or planner and set a firm deadline for a project or assignment.
Clear off your workspace.
Stop needlessly wading through papers, magazines, mugs, files, and electronics, and other items on your desk. A clear workspace give you room to do your work, allows you see what you’re doing, and can help reduce the risk of accidents. A streamlined space also gives your mind a rest and allows you to focus on what you’re doing, instead of being constantly distracted. Check out this post for some tips on how to declutter your desk.
Create a brief to-do list.
Is your to-do list a mile long? Here’s an easy way to get all those little tasks done, without getting overwhelmed. On a small piece of paper, write down three short tasks to complete within the next hour. Each task should take no more than fifteen minutes to complete. Ideas include decluttering a space, returning a phone call, deleting emails, booking an appointment, and so on. Once you finish one item, proceed to the next, followed by the next item. Repeat as necessary.
How about you? Which of these tips do you find the most appealing? Which tips are you going to use today, tomorrow, or this week? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2015.