One thing I love about living intentionally is the control you gain when you make conscious choices about the things you choose to do. You are able to let go of draining tasks and increase your productivity without much effort.
It is amazing how much your life shifts when you are intentional with your daily actions.
Even with the increase in productivity, there are likely a few things you’re doing that harm your ability to be as productive as you wish.
So let’s stop spinning wheels and increase your productivity!
1 // Track your time and activities
Until you know how long each activity you do takes, it can be difficult to plan well. When you track your time, you see where it is going.
Depending on what activities you are wanting to become more productive with, you could consider tracking your time through block timing. This is a great way to see if you can save time for one activity or need time for another.
When you figure out how long each task needs to be completed, you increase your productivity due to allocating the proper time for it.
Here is a great video to learn more about time blocking:
2 // Set deadlines
If you want to amplify your productivity, set deadlines! If you’re a procrastinator, this will become your most valuable tool!
I am a recovering procrastinator and this changed my productivity game!
The way I set deadlines to help me not procrastinate is having weekly deadlines. This helps me stay on track with my goals and doesn’t allow me to procrastinate for weeks.
For me, weekly deadlines are structured enough, but you may want to take it a little further and set daily deadlines for your work.
3 // Set a timer
Similar to time blocking, setting a timer can help you knock out a project much faster than you could without it.
It creates a sense of urgency that helps you focus on the task at hand.
I do NOT recommend the timer on your phone, because it can easily distract you versus help you focus.
4 // Schedule breaks
You’re human and you need breaks.
I suggest scheduling your breaks during times that you aren’t naturally productive. That could mean that you ease into work for the day or take a long walk in the afternoon.
Every person is different, so pay attention to how well you work throughout the day and plan accordingly.
For me, I work well first thing in the morning until about two in the afternoon. My breaks are always mid to late afternoon and may include work that doesn’t require much concentration.
5 // Say no to meetings
Most meetings are time suckers, so unless a meeting has a specific agenda, say, “no.”
Of course, there are some meetings you cannot get out of attending, and for those, I suggest you make it clear that you only have a certain amount of time for it.
6 // Have a hard stop for meetings
Coming off the previous point. If you don’t make it known that you only have so much time for a meeting, you could be there for far longer than planned.
I’ve been in meetings that I only allotted an hour for and it lasted for three hours! It was painful due to a lack of agenda, and I didn’t have a hard stop to be able to dismiss myself from it.
Learn from my mistake versus making it yourself! You will thank me!
7 // Stop multitasking
Whoever thought multitasking was a great idea is very unorganized.
Multitasking actually prevents you from being productive, because you cannot focus on accomplishing just one thing. Instead, you are only able to do surface level tasks that make it appear like you’re accomplishing things.
Solotasking is where you can really knock out tasks and achieve your goals, so keep your focus to just one thing at a time.
8 // Be okay with B- work
When you seek perfection, you delay progress. There is no such thing as perfection, because improvements can always be made.
Do your best, but don’t seek perfection.
I like to ask the following question when someone I’m talking with is worried about things being perfect:
What do they call a doctor that graduated with a C average GPA?
They still call him a doctor, right?
Yes, it can be scary to think you’re not putting your absolute best work out there, but if you’re stuck on it being perfect, you may never take action on it.
Which is worse – a few minor mistakes or never putting your work out into the world because it isn’t perfect?
9 // Become a problem solver
When you don’t know how to do something, seek the answer until you find a solution.
When you leave yourself in a space of “I don’t know”, you’re allowing yourself to stay in confusion, which delays the results you want to achieve.
You can ask yourself the following question to help you work through your problems:
If I did know how to do this, what would I do?
This allows your mind to work towards solving the problem, getting creative, and inevitably finding the solution.
10 // Turn off notifications
Outside of phone calls and text messages, there is no reason your phone should send you a notification. Turn off all other notifications.
The same goes for your computer. Turn off any desktop notifications that aren’t necessary and create a ‘no not disturb’ schedule for necessary notifications. [My computer likes to send me notifications for scheduled updates, so I have them set for when I’m not normally working.]
11 // Noise-canceling headphones
One way to really increase your productivity is to use noise-canceling headphones!
Since I live in a studio-style shop apartment, noise-canceling headphones are a must when I’m needing to work and my husband is home.
They have honestly been a GAME CHANGER for my productivity, and I highly recommend you give them a try!
12 // Build good habits
Your habits will make or break your productivity. When you establish good habits, you increase your productivity.
The first thing you want to do is evaluate the habits you currently do, then ask yourself how can you improve upon them.
If you always wait until the last minute to accomplish certain tasks, try doing those tasks before anything else, so they aren’t looming all throughout the week.
Whatever habits you want to change, remember that it takes time and to give yourself grace.
The important thing is to become aware and consciously work to change them.
13 // Simplify your space to decrease distractions
It is easy to become distracted with a cluttered space. Declutter your space and only have what you need to work.
My workspace is a desk. I have my laptop, desk lamp, plant, coaster for drinks, and a notebook on it at all times. I don’t need anything more than this.
Regardless of where your space is or what surface you work on, keep it clutter-free.
14 // Get adequate sleep
Sleep, in general, is very important. However, it is vital to your productivity. If you are skimping on sleep, you won’t be able to perform at peak levels.
You must get 6-8 hours of sleep every night.
I realize for moms with little ones that don’t sleep all throughout the night that this may be difficult, and for you, I suggest taking naps whenever possible to make up for the lack of sleep you’re experiencing.
Make sleep a priority and you’ll increase your productivity.
15 // Listen to instrumental music
Instrumental music helps you focus for longer periods of time and isn’t distracting compared to music with vocals in it.
16 // Cross off the big, scary task first
If you have a task that you feel nervous or apprehensive about completing, do it first. This reduces those feelings and help you move onto tasks you enjoy.
These big, scary tasks are likely the tasks that help you move closer to achieving your goals, so getting them done first thing will pay off well.
Plus, you may discover that these tasks aren’t as scary as you thought, which can result with increased confidence. That also helps you want to be more productive.
17 // Batch work
I love combining similar tasks together. It is far easier to tackle image creation, writing, and scheduling things together versus breaking them apart.
This is because you are able to focus on one thing and stick with it until you accomplish everything within the batch work.
It takes about 20 minutes to get into full focus on a task, so doing similar tasks all at one time is faster than creating one image, writing one article, then scheduling one thing for that day.
Instead, you can create all the images you need for the week, focus on drafting all your articles, proofreading what you’ve written, then scheduling everything all at one time for the week.
It flows better together than trying to do one of each every day.
18 // Set up a rewards system
This works well with creating new habits and sticking to your plan, because it gives you a reason to stick with it.
I like to reward myself with an evening off of work when I get everything done for the day. Since I work from home, it is sometimes difficult to take time off.
If I complete everything for the week before the weekend, I may take the weekend off and reward myself with a foot soak and face mask at the end of the week.
When it comes to completing large projects on time, my reward maybe a bit larger, like getting a massage or going on a day trip somewhere.
Set up a reward system that is equal to the work you’re producing.
If you are gardening, your reward may be a home-cooked meal with fresh garden veggies as a daily reward for your work. Once you get into a space of preserving your bounty, you may reward yourself at the end of the harvest with a relaxing weekend, free of any work.
19 // Just do it
If you really want to increase your productivity, just get in and do what needs to be done!
It is that simple, but we, as humans, tend to complicate it.
20 // Keep notebook and pen by you for things that pop up in your head to be done later
This is why I keep a notebook on my desk. Sometimes you may have a quick note or idea that you want remember.
It is best to write it on paper so that you can remove it from your mind and keep your focus on the work you’re doing at that time.
21 // Exercise
Exercising is a great way to increase your productivity, because it energizes your body.
This is why I plan walks or household chores during my work breaks in the afternoon so that I can increase my energy and knock out a couple more hours of work.
22 // Evaluate your productivity
How will you know you’ve increased your productivity if you aren’t evaluating it?
Have a weekly evaluation for your plan so that you know how well you’re doing.
Allot 20 minutes for this evaluation and ask the following questions:
- What were my wins for the week?
- What all did I accomplish this week?
- Is there anything I didn’t accomplish this week?
- How can I improve?
- On a scale of 1-10, what is my productivity score for the week?
This will help guide you ask you work to increase your productivity. Remember to give yourself grace and be honest with yourself.
23 // Outsource tasks you don’t want or know how to do
While it is great practice for children to do household chores, it is something many parents outsource because they don’t want to do it themselves. This is a great example of outsourcing something that takes up your time that you don’t want to do.
This same practice needs to be done with things related to you accomplishing your goals.
Make a list of tasks you want to outsource to someone else, and then delegate them!
24 // Schedule results instead of tasks
I learned this recently from my business coach, and it has changed how I approach my work.
When you schedule the results you’re going to produce, you don’t have to guess what work needs to be done.
For example, I used to put ‘blog work’ on my planner, but I didn’t specify what results I wanted to produce during that time. By the end of the work time, I was able to say that I did ‘blog work’, but I didn’t necessarily produce results.
Now I put ‘write XYZ blog post’ from 9AM to 11AM. By the end of that time block, I have written that specific blog post and know the result I’ve produced.
This cuts out fluff work and reduces the time you’re wasting.
25 // Say “no” more
When you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else. Be sure that what you’re saying “yes” to is related to your goals and not distracting you from them.
This is why I made the decision to leave my Wednesday client in October 2019, because I couldn’t give 100% to this community, which is my #1 priority.
Another example is planning coffee dates or lunches with friends. When you’re planning consistently, you don’t want to say “yes” to spur of the moment dates with friends.
Instead, you want to book them further in advance. This allows you to plan your work around them versus changing your plan and getting stressed about not getting everything done you wanted to that week.
This also allows you to enjoy your time with the person you’re meeting without thinking of everything else you needed to get done.
26 // Stop consuming information
The more you consume, the less you can produce. I’m not saying don’t listen to your favorite podcast or read information that can help you progress towards your goals.
I’m saying to stop consuming so much information that you feel overwhelmed by it all. When you figure out the answer to something, take action on it.
Reducing your social media intake alone can help you increase your output, because you aren’t drained by all the content social media platforms put in front of you.
Be intentional with the content you consume.
27 // Have an accountability partner
If you don’t like letting others down, having an accountability partner can really help you increase your productivity.
Be sure to pick a partner that is 100% supportive of your goals and will “punish” you accordingly if you don’t achieve what you said you would.
I use the quotations with the word punish because it is subjective to how you define punishment with your accountability partner.
My best friend is my accountability partner, and she scolds me well when I don’t complete something [with my prior consent of course]. I really don’t like being scolded, so more times than not, I get my work done.
28 // Reduce time in front of the TV
Want to get more done? Stop watching so much TV and see how much you increase your productivity.
You can go as far as unplugging the TV during hours that you work so that it doesn’t turn on as easily. When you have to make an effort to watch TV, you’re more likely to stay on task and not watch it.
This may make humans sound lazy, but the truth is you’re more conscious of your actions when effort has to be put into them.
29 // Meal plan
When you take 20-30 minutes once a week to plan your meals, you reduce your time thinking about what to eat each day. This frees up a lot of your decision making throughout the week for more important decisions.
30 // Plan your week in advance
Planning your week takes the guesswork out of what you need to do. Similar to meal planning, you know what to expect for the week.
This enables you to increase your productivity towards your goals and decrease the “busy work” that could sneak into your day when you aren’t planning.
Create a master list of all the things that need to be done, then find spaces for each thing in your schedule. Once your master list is in your calendar, work your plan and watch your productivity skyrocket!
31 // Plan your day the night before
If you aren’t comfortable with planning out each and every day at the start of the week, an alternative is to plan the night before.
At the start of each week, you’ll still create a master list, then each night you’ll plan the next day with things from your master list. At the end of the week, you should have everything crossed off your master list!
If you’re curious about my process for planning my weeks, let me know in the comments.
32 // Plan to run all errands at one time
This not only saves time, but also saves you money!
A great example of this is my personal experience with errands. I live 25 minutes away from town, and need to plan my trips to town.
If I were to just randomly go to town for something, I could easily find a reason to go to town at least three times a week, which equals a minimum of 2.5 hours of driving. It could be more or less depending on where I need to shop.
Add in the time it takes to shop at each location, and I’m spending a lot more time in town than necessary.
Since I am not one to waste time traveling to town, I plan my trips for as little driving time as possible. I shop at two grocery stores, go through the car wash, may or may not get gas, and stop at any other necessary places.
I’m spending maybe an hour and a half at most driving to town, to each stop, and back home.
When you strategically plan your errands, you become more efficient and are able to get more done.
33 // Use a digital task management system and calendar that work together
I used to be a fan of paper planners until I figured out the beauty of a digital task management system and calendar that work together!
I’m all for an autonomous system, too! I use all things Google, including Gmail, Drive, Keep, Calendar, Tasks, Hangouts, and more. Since it syncs to all devices, it is easy to stay organized and on top of things.
While I suggest Google Calendar because it has great features and is simple to use, you may want a task management system that is more visually appealing.
Asana and Trello are both great options. I also recommend that you look into ClickUp and Milanote.
34 // Set up filters in your email system to prevent distraction
I recently discovered the beauty of email filters, and you HAVE to use them to increase your productivity! You’ll thank me for this tip!
The only thing coming to my Inbox are things that need my attention. This includes receipts, someone trying to connect with me, and important notices.
Any newsletters that I am subscribed to go to a different folder so that I’m not distracted by them during my work time.
There are so many other things you can do with email filters, so here is a tutorial for Gmail filers:
35 // Practice being productive
Want to really increase your productivity? You need to practice being productive. People who are masters at anything spend countless hours perfecting their abilities.
The same actions can be taken to become a master at being productive.
You have everything you need to increase your productivity based on the tips in this post, but you have to take action towards increasing your productivity.
Start with one of the tips in this post, turn it into a habit, then introduce another of these tips. Keep going until you are a productivity master!
You’ve got this! I believe in you!
If you have any questions or would like to know more about how I ensure my productivity is top notch, let me know in the comments!