How productive have you been in 2019? Have you spent the year in a constant state of emergency, with a thousand things to do at the last possible minute? Productivity can be a tricky challenge. There’s a thousand tips and tricks out there, but it’s difficult to know what works and what doesn’t. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to increase your productivity, whether it be at work, at school, or in your daily life, then there are some key strategies that you need to be aware of. Transform yourself into a productivity powerhouse with these top tips for productivity in January!
You might have heard it a hundred times before, but to-do lists truly are the best way to maximise your productive output. Dedicating yourself to the practice of listing your tasks is the best way to relieve the psychological pressure of trying to keep track of everything you need to do. Some of you might be a little lax with writing every little thing down, but you should look to eliminate this in January. Having everything written down ensures that nothing will be forgotten, but it also allows you to group and organise your tasks, unlocking other powerful solutions to increase your productivity even further.
First the Worst
Many of us engage in the bad habit of avoiding large, daunting tasks in favour of focusing on ticking off all of the little things on our lists. In fact, it’s much better to get the bigger tasks out of the way first. This ensures that you can give the maximum possible focus to your later tasks, rather than wasting time worrying about those challenging tasks later in your schedule. Not to mention, smashing the bigger tasks first gives you much greater momentum when it comes to ticking down the list of smaller tasks. Stepping over the molehill feels much more trivial when you’ve just climbed the mountain!
Not only is it important to make lists of your outstanding tasks, but it can also be useful to make a list of possible distractions so that they can be effectively eliminated. Notifications, whether they be mobile or desktop, are a top offender. They can often be controlled using options built into your device, Apple’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature for instance, but there is also a panoply of apps and programmes out there designed to suppress and control notifications that you could make use of. Emails notifications on your PC are another big one, and it’s often best to simply close down whichever email programme you use in order to avoid this. Those emails, after all, certainly aren’t going anywhere!
If your work tasks or daily tasks often involve the creation of documents that have similar layouts or features, then templates can become your best friend. Setting up template documents in your favourite programme or app of choice can allow you to set standard layouts for you to reuse continuously, eliminating the time-sink of setting all of this up every time you need to create a new document. Almost any word processor you can name has this feature, and it’s possible to miss or ignore it. Taking the time to set up a few templates can pay productivity dividends in the future.
Breakfast is for Champions
So many of us think we don’t have time for breakfast. It’s more than possible to think that skipping breakfast is a part of the time-saving regime you need to increase your productivity. However, the hit you’ll take in terms of your ability to focus could very well eliminate any time you think you’re saving. It’s obvious that starting the day with breakfast will give you the energy you need to maintain your concentration through until lunch. So, don’t be afraid to carve out a bit of time in the morning to eat breakfast, as you’ll use the rest of your morning much more efficiently as a result.
It’s important to know how many tasks you can reasonably take on, and how many is too many. If you’re making good lists, then this will come easily to you. The next step can be more challenging: learning to say no. You have your own tasks to complete, so, no matter how helpful you may want to be to others, you can’t take on another person’s tasks, or two other peoples’ tasks on top of your own. It’s important to learn to refuse others’ requests if your schedule is already full. There’s nothing rude about this, and most people will understand and respect the fact that you’re doing your best with your own tasks, and simply don’t have the time to help with theirs.
Have a Break
Finally, it’s never a bad idea to take a break! Carving out 5 or 10 minutes occasionally to stand up from your desk, have a stretch and walk around will stop you from overloading yourself and slowing yourself down as a result. Grab a refreshment or a snack, and then get right back to it.