Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /home/content/49/8010749/html/wp-content/plugins/sharebar/sharebar.php on line 112 and defined in /home/content/49/8010749/html/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 990
Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /home/content/49/8010749/html/wp-content/plugins/sharebar/sharebar.php on line 124 and defined in /home/content/49/8010749/html/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 990
If given the choice not to sleep, most people would take it. If there was a button that would add more hours to the 24 hour-long day, most of us would push it.
But we have to sleep, and there are never going to be more than 24 hours in a day. So our goal should be to be as productive as possible within the time limits we’re given.
There are a lot of tips out there claiming to boost productivity, and in my quest to be superhuman I’ve given most of them a try over the years. Here are my favorites:
1. Work to your natural rhythms. All humans have Circadian rhythms that lead to points of high and low energy throughout the day. For most people, this means they are alert in the morning, get drowsy sometime in the afternoon, and get a second wind in the evening. Find yours and work accordingly.
2. Think back to previous successes. Remember a time in the past where you felt ‘in flow’. Emulate those circumstances.
3. Work in spurts. Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz worked in spurts of 33.33 minutes. I like to do a slightly more reasonable 30 minutes — others prefer a longer 45 or 60 minutes. Find out what works for you and stick to it. The key is to give yourself a break of 5 to 10 minutes in between outbursts and do something completely unrelated to your task.
4. Set reasonable goals. You’re not going to finish an entire book in a day. Set small, accomplishable goals that will keep you going forward but won’t overwhelm or exhaust you.
5. Carry a notebook (iPhone, iPad, recorder, etc.). Always have a way to write down your ideas when you’re not at your computer. It’s at these times when a Eureka moment is most likely to hit you, and you’ll want to have a way to remember it. Trust me, this will save you a lot of agonizing time later when you’re back at your computer trying to remember your brilliant idea.
6. Smile a lot. Studies show you’re more creative when you’re happy. And creativity leads to higher productivity.
7. Take breaks. Your brain can only function at full capacity for so long. Reward yourself for your hard work by taking your dog for a walk, reading a fiction book, or getting some household chores done in between spurts of work (or if you have a 9 to 5 job, take a coffee break, get outside for a few moments, etc.).
8. Exercise regularly. Research shows that exercise boosts productivity and morale. As a bonus, it’ll keep you from getting sick and trim your waistline.
9. Find your passion. You’re much more productive when you’re doing something you enjoy, so do something you love.
10. Time your Tweeting. Set a time limit each day for social networking. You can break it up if you need to; 10 minutes in the morning, 10 in the afternoon, 10 in the evening. Much more than this and you’re wasting precious time.
11. Begin your day with creativity. Don’t do busywork in the morning. Emails can wait till later to be checked; so can your Facebook account. Start the day with your most creative work, and you’ll get more done in a shorter amount of time.
12. Take power naps. When you’re feeling less-than-energized a power nap can do wonders. In fact, neuroscientist John Medina claims this brain reset will boost your productivity by 34%.
13. Make a list. Create a to do list for the day and check it off as you go. Just make sure to stick to no more than five meaningful things or you’ll never get it all done.
14. Don’t be productive for productivity’s sake. Get your real work done and then go do something you enjoy. Trying to be productive just to convince yourself or others you’re doing something is pointless and should be avoided at all costs.
15. Take a walk. This little piece of advice has been said over and over for good reason. Getting outside and clearing your mind does more for your creativity and those highly anticipated ‘aha’ moments than hours staring at a blank computer screen ever could.
16. Start slow. Listen to your natural internal balance and begin the day with exercise, yoga, or a bit of reading. It’ll help you relax and be more productive throughout the day.
17. Monitor your energy levels. If you notice yourself feeling especially tired, first try listening to your natural rhythms (#1) or taking a power nap (#12). If neither of those options work, maybe it’s time for a bigger break; a day off, vacation, or a night out.
18. Monitor your time. Use a free software like Rescuetime to track how you spend your time on a daily and weekly basis.
19. Give yourself mini-milestones. A big project or task can be overwhelming; creating mini-milestones along the way can help your sense of accomplishment and keep you propelling forward. Using a software like Behance’s Action Method can help simplify this.
20. Set a deadline. Deadlines help you get things done by a set date. And even better, they help quiet your inner perfectionist because when a project is due, you have to ship it.
21. Make an outline. Giving your project specific steps beforehand will result in less time where you feel lost and waste time not knowing what to do.
22. Batch as much as possible. Combine tasks like answering emails, making phone calls and doing chores whenever you can. Batching results in greater efficiency than spreading things out throughout the day.
23. Tell other people about your goals. You’ll be held accountable and will be much more likely to meet your deadlines.
24. Learn to say “no.” Saying no is a skill that’s easier said than done. But it’s worth it: once you learn it, others will learn to respect your time better and you’ll automatically have more time to focus on your goals rather than those of other people.
25. Don’t multitask. Multitasking leads to lower levels of productivity because the brain is having to constantly switch back and forth between activities. Do one thing at a time as often as possible.
26. Stop trying to know everything. The Internet has made vast amounts of information easily available to us, but we don’t have the time or brain capacity to take it all in. Rid yourself of information overload or you’ll never get anything done. (Hint: focus on information in your niche or things you can immediately take action on.)
27. Use a timer. Giving yourself a time limit for each of your tasks results in less wasted time. I use e.ggtimer.com, but even a standard kitchen timer does the trick.
28. Aim for balance. Work, relationships, enjoyment, relaxation; it all matters. Don’t focus too intently on one versus the other. And don’t look at ‘fun’ activities as a waste of time.
29. Create a five year plan. Knowing what you’re working toward will help you use your time more wisely.
30. Go easy on yourself. Sometimes you’ll miss your deadlines. Sometimes you can’t get it all done. That’s okay. Forgive yourself, give yourself a pat on the back for all the hard work you’ve done, and move on.
31. Work hard, play hard. Work intensely. Play intensely. Enjoy your time on earth.