Most of us have a lot to juggle. It can be challenging to consistently invest in our careers, hobbies, health, and social lives. But there are some ways to increase your productivity that can help maintain that balance, without driving yourself crazy. I believe taking a balanced approach to productivity is more realistic and sustainable. Here are a few key tips on how to increase your productivity each and every day.
1. Set main goals
Whether you prefer to plan your days at the beginning of the week, or choose to set goals every morning, prioritize what’s most important to you. You could divide your goals by category (work, social, health), and pick a routine you think you can stick to. Maybe you’ll need to set small work goals every day, and schedule coffee dates in your social calendar once a week.
2. Be realistic
It’s easy to get carried away and try to take over the world in one day, but remember not to overwhelm yourself. If you set unrealistic goals, you might end up feeling frazzled and will accomplish a lot less. Set no more than 3 main tasks to get done per day, and stick to them!
3. Write everything down
This one’s a no-brainer. Keep track of everything either on paper or electronically. I like to schedule appointments using my phone calendar, and write daily to-do’s on a little notepad or piece of paper. When you jot things down, you can focus on the task at hand and stay on top of everything.
4. Tackle big tasks first
It’s tempting to procrastinate on the bigger, more dreadful tasks of the day. But bite the bullet and get started with the most challenging things first, and leave the smaller bits for later in the day, when our energy levels typically drop. It might be hard to get used to at first, but try it out and see how much better it feels to check those things off.
5. Practice mindfulness
In other words, monotask! This is a tough one. We’re constantly interrupted, whether it’s by emails, social media, phone calls, or other people. Contrary to what you might think, multitasking actually decreases our productivity. It’s hard to get used to this at first, but practice focusing on a single task at a time. I like to use the Forest app on my phone when I need an incentive to stay away from Instagram during the day. I’ve also turned off all unnecessary notifications. If it helps, you can also try the Pomodoro technique, where you focus on a task for 25 minutes, and take a 5 minute break to check your phone or play the violin or do whatever.
6. Stay hydrated and well-nourished
It’s really important to stay hydrated. Don’t underestimate the importance of water! After all, that’s mostly what we’re made of. Keep a reusable bottle by your desk at all times, and sip/gulp it down throughout the day. It’s also important to stay nourished. Avoid having a macchiato for lunch and opt for a variety of whole foods throughout the day. If you pack your lunch, take some time out during the weekend to do some meal prepping. Your body and mind will thank you.
7. Take breaks
Do not feel bad about taking time out. Taking breaks is essential for your health and wellbeing, and also has been shown to increase productivity. (See 3 Scientific Reasons to Prioritize Breaks at Work). If you’re constantly hammering away, you’re likely to get burned out pretty quickly. Again, you could try out the Pomodoro technique, or time other intervals that work best for you. For me, my lunch break is pretty sacred – I rarely, if ever, eat at my desk. We are human beings, not machines, and it’s important to remember that.
I hope you find these tips helpful! Let me know if you have any other tips on being more productive.