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February 12, 2015

Work Smarter: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

In this day and age there are countless distractions and stresses that can (and do) interfere with our daily level of productivity. But instead of merely accepting a lower level of effectiveness, here are 10 tips proven to help prioritize your day, and ultimately make you more productive in every realm of your life. Here's to a more productive you!

10 Tips to Help You Be More Productive

  1. Prepare For Tomorrow, Today:
    Set up for success by preparing for tomorrow before you go to bed each night. Assess what you'll need during the entirety of the day, and make all of those small, yet time-consuming decisions beforehand so they won't eat up your time tomorrow. Example: lay out your work clothes, set your gym bag by the door, make your lunch, set your alarm, and close your eyes with the intention of having a wildly productive day.
  2. Rise Early:
    A look at some of the most productive people throughout history will show that most, if not all of them, claimed to be early risers. The morning is proven to be the time most suited for clear-sighted, creative and focused thinking, so get in the habit of rising early and aim to knock out a nice portion of your workload before most of your peers have even risen from bed.
  3. Make a Comprehensive To-Do List:
    From loads of office work to laundry and dishes, our mental to-do lists are simply never ending. A good way to tackle it all head-on is to physically write out every single task you can think of, from the very mundane to the oh-so important. Writing all of this down on paper will work to alleviate some of your built up stress, as well as helping to turn the chaos into more organized clarity.
  4. Prioritize Your List:
    Once you have all of your to-do's written out, go through the list and organize each item in terms of urgency. What must get done today? What is due next week? Which tasks are time sensitive and which can wait for the dust to settle? The simple act of prioritizing your tasks will, in itself, be a massive boost to your overall efficiency.
  5. Create a Daily Schedule:
    Consider your prioritized to-do list and use it to schedule out your day. Start with when you'll wake up in the morning, add in meal times, gym sessions, when you'll write that report, and when you'll tackle your taxes. Getting into a certain rhythm makes it much easier to focus, so try to group like tasks in similar time zones. For example, scheduling your creative work in the mornings, chores in the evenings, and so on.
  6. Use Your Commute:
    Many people have long, monotonous daily commutes to and from work. Instead of using this time to idle through traffic or daydream about dinner, try turning your commute time into productivity: listen to an educational podcast or throw on a good book-on-tape. This will not only help to stimulate your mind and prepare you for the day, but it will also increase your rate of learning.
  7. Give Yourself a Break:
    As important as it is to try to squeeze productivity out of your entire day, it is also incredibly important to give yourself plenty of time to rest, restore, and rejuvenate. Whether this means scheduling yourself a few 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day or getting yourself to a yoga class a few times per week, taking the time to unwind now and then is a crucial element of success.
  8. Set Reasonable Goals:
    It is vital to be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish in a day. Rather than setting exuberantly high expectations for yourself, try to set reasonable, attainable goals. Knowing that your goals are actually realistic will keep your motivation and your productivity higher in the long run.
  9. Hone Your Focus:
    A little self-discipline goes a long way. Take a break from social media sites, turn your phone on silent, and spend your efforts diverting all of your attention to the singular task at hand. You will be shocked at how effective your one-pointed focus can truly be.
  10. Grade Yourself:
    At the end of each day take a look at what you had originally set out to accomplish honestly assess what actually got done and what did not, where you excelled and where you have room to improve. This simple exercise of self-evaluation and self-awareness will help you shed your unproductive tendencies and hone your most effective habits one day at a time.

Try implementing the above tips for a week straight and simply notice if your overall level of efficiency shifts. What other strategies do you use to stay highly productive?

[Credit: Gillett, Rachel (January 2015) "14 Tips to Make 2015 Your Most Productive Year Yet" Fast Company.]