Being productive doesn’t mean getting up at 4am to get more done and sacrificing family and relaxation time constantly so that you can check more items off of your list. It is not burning the midnight oil until your To-Do list is fully checked off, no matter how much Instagram coaches and leadership books preach this hustle type of lifestyle. Productivity is simply getting the right things done in the best way possible for you and your lifestyle.
While sometimes early wake up calls and late nights are needed to meet deadlines, the normalization of these habits is dangerous to spread and more often than not leads to intense burnout for those who partake in it. It is time to say ‘no thanks’ to the word hustle and welcome in the words productivity, mindfulness, and sustainability.
5 Common Sense Steps To Better Productivity
- Find your best sleep schedule and work your hardest to keep to it. What time do you need to go to bed and wake up in order to feel fully refreshed? For me, I function the best when I can sleep until 6-7am. Those are my core hours where I know it will take me roughly 1 cup of coffee and a good 30 minutes to be able to wake up and kick off my day. For those who have a long commute or early shift, it can be an unrealistic dream to try to follow a sleep schedule that is most ideal, but modifying your after work habits to allow you to go to bed a bit earlier and changing bedtime habits (such as creating a no tv or phone rule and drinking some warm tea to relax yourself) can help you get better sleep even if it is a few hours less than ideal for yourself.
- Before the day begins, or before bed the day before, schedule time blocks for your home, business, and work life. Focus on the must do items first, then make time for the rest on your list. When scheduling items on your calendar, make sure you aren’t just dropping in tasks where they fit, but where you can do them most efficiently. Personally, I know I start to feel the wind down of energy about 2:30 so I schedule tasks that require less attention, urgency, and thought toward the end of the day so I can still get tasks done during that time. Investing in a good planner that works for you– whether it is digital or paper – can also help keep things more organized instead of having a laundry list on a post it note that you might lose.
- Commit to the time blocks you set out as much as you can and focus just on those things during that time block. Multi-tasking has proven to make you less productive, to cause tasks to take longer, and to heighten the chance of errors/mistakes, and to cause increased frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed. Set your mind on one task at a time until completion or until you hit a designated benchmark and then move on to the next item on your list.
- Schedule “brain breaks” throughout your day. With the way my creative brain functions every few hours I need a 15 minute “brain break” to play on social media, chat with a friend, or do something mindless so that I can adjust my focus and reset. If I don’t take a break every few hours to reset, I’ll spend all day fiddling and feeling distracted, frustrated, and annoyed. You can also use these breaks as a sort of ‘reward’ system. If there is a task that you are dreading reward yourself with some Netflix time later on or a 15 minute walk to the local coffee shop for latte when it is done. This will give you something to look forward to after you’re done and can help you push through the negative feelings you have regarding it.
- Mindset matters. Like previously mentioned, productivity doesn’t mean just doing work on your list to check it off. You must be in the right mindset to be productive and get your to-do’s done effectively, properly, and efficiently. If you are forcing yourself to work on items that you are not in the right mindset for or able to concentrate on, you’re going to spend double or triple the time getting that task done than if you would have just waited until your mind was in the same place as your to-do list. When needed, step back from your checklist, work on your mindset (maybe take a nap if you can), get your head in the game, and then tackle your list. When you step back for a moment and get your head on straight, you’re going to fly through your list of tasks.
Productivity is key to moving forward in your career and handling new challenges that life throws at you. Implementing simple steps into your day-to-day life will allow you to spend more time concentrating on getting tasks done and checking them off with less burnout and stress.