It’s not just the idea but the execution that leads to success. So productivity is a major part of the equation.
But what happens when you hit that wall? How do productive people work through creative blocks and energy crashes to get so much work done? Here are 20 suggestions to boost your personal productivity.
1. Know When to Take a Break.
The most productive people know when to take a step back and take a break. Working at maximum productivity for hours at a time is exhausting and stressful. Instead, working in short bursts is more effective, writes Kim Roch at Lifehack.org. Setting a timer and working until it goes off then taking a 10 minute break, might be helpful in keeping you on track.
2. Don’t Multitask.
Despite what you might think, jumping between tasks isn’t the most effective way to work. A 2010 study by researchers at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris found the brain can only handle about two major tasks at time, NPR reports. This means our capacity to multitask may really be quite limited, researchers say. So try to focus on one job (or at most two) at a time and get them done effectively.
3. Love What You Do.
If you’re unhappy with what you’re doing, your work will reflect that. Finding pleasure in your work is important in preforming at your best. As Robert Frost once said, “Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” Take pride and pleasure in what you’re doing, instead of viewing it simply as work, and it will become a more personal project instead of an assignment.
4. Know When to Step Away from the Computer.
The Internet is a major tool for many entrepreneurs allowing an access to information hitherto unknown. Entrepreneurs need information. They do research on new ideas and also on ways to improve upon existing businesses. While there are plenty of fear mongers out there talking about the threat of the Internet, its usefulness remains a known fact. Of course, too much of anything isn’t necessarily a good thing. If you’re worried you’re spending too much time at the computer, simply step away from time to time and do some offline work, recommends Thorin Klosowski.
5. Eliminate Unnecessary Distractions.
Whether it be the internet, TV, or anything else, eliminating distractions is key in maintaining productivity. Try taking a deep breath, finding a quiet place to work and focusing on essential tasks first, suggests Leo Babauta. Create a list of things you need to get done, then focus on the essentials first. Are there any unnecessary tasks that could be eliminated? After getting your mind on track, find a positive, quiet environment, like a coffee shop or other peaceful location where you can work, writes Rau Hsu, also at Lifehacker.org.
6. Try Working Outdoors.
Take your notebook, computer, or tablet outside or to your local park and try working there. The new environment, fresh air, and vitamin D from the sun can help stimulate and maximize your productivity. On cooler days, the cool, crisp air can perk and wake you up, and the fresh air will vitalize your brain and help you work better, Hsu says.
7. Seek Knowledge.
Whether it be watching documentaries, listening to audio books on the way to work, or simply reading a book, the most productive people crave and seek out extra knowledge, says Kalen Bruce. Take a few minutes out of the day to read the paper or a novel, watch the news or listen to a podcast. Staying away from TV for an hour and opening a book can do wonders for your work.
8. If You Fail, Keep Going.
The road to success is marked by many failures. There is a term ‘fail forward’ or ‘fail up’ which refers to taking a failure and viewing it as an opportunity. Travis Smiley has written a book about just that where he urges readers to reconsider how they view their past mistakes. He gives twenty examples of ‘failures’ that helped shape the principles and practices he uses today.
9.Write Things Down.
Creating a short to-do list of two or three important items can help boil things down to the most important tasks and eliminate the overwhelming feeling of looking at a 10-item long list, writes Henrik Edberg of The Positivity Blog. Edberg claims sometimes his to-do list might have only one item, but that one thing might be more important then a huge number of minor to-dos on a much larger list.
10. Complete the Most Important Tasks First Thing in the Morning.
Waking up early might not sound pleasant to all of us, but getting out of bed a bit earlier to complete your most intimidating task can help make the day seem easier. Don’t put off your most important task until last minute; instead, according to Edberg, focus on the most important task first, complete it, and then start on ‘secondary’ tasks. Completing the most daunting task first will help you feel less inner resistance towards tasks later in the day and your productivity will increase.
11. Take Small Steps and Move Slowly.
Focus on one smaller task at a time instead of looking at all the things you need to complete. You’ll find your stress level decreasing. Large tasks can be intimidating and difficult to get started on. Breaking things up into smaller steps and slowing down can help you concentrate and reduce mental stress. Continue taking steps forward, but perhaps at a slower pace, Edberg says.
12. Balance Focused Work with Focused Rest.
Sleep and rest are important parts of keeping your productivity level high. Setting a specific amount of time for working and another shorter period for resting, can help you feel less intimidated by larger tasks. Eliminating distractions before bed like your cell phone, computer, or TV can help relax your mind and give you a more fulfilling sleep.
13. Schedule Your Email and Social Media Checking.
Periodically checking your email or Facebook every twenty minutes can really eat up your time. Instead, check your feeds in the morning, at break times or lunch. Keep your eyes on your set goals instead of on your inbox. Disconnecting for a day, or a weekend, if possible, can recharge and revitalize.
14. Concentrate on the How-to’s, Not the What-if’s,
Analyzing and overthinking the outcome and what might happen instead of researching and preparing for the actual process can rob you of your productivity. Instead of worrying about possible speed bumps, focus on how to get to your destination.
15. Seek Help When You Need It.
Instead of stressing over a task you’re unsure about, find someone who can help you, writes Amit Chowdhry in Forbes. This can save you the time and perhaps the need to redo it afterwards. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you trust your colleagues enough to let them help you. Be sure to include any information they may need when helping you complete the task as well.
16. Set realistic and achievable goals.
Setting a goal with a deadline and sticking to it can help increase productivity immensely, says Chowdhry. One reason people have problems reaching and completing their goals is the lack of a deadline. Set personal and professional goals that are both attainable and ambitious — even if the deadline is weeks away. Work towards something big, and complete smaller tasks along the way.
17. Reward Yourself for Completing Tasks.
If you reach a goal or deadline, give yourself a reward. Whether it be waiting until you finish to start the newest season of your favorite show, or buying yourself that new purse when you get a promotion, give yourself a reward to work towards. This gives you something positive (other than the relief of completing the project) to look forward to once you complete the task.
18. Prepare for the Next Day.
That feeling of ‘I have (blank) to do tomorrow’ that often keeps us up at night can be avoided by writing a quick to-do list before bed. Keep a pad and pen next to your bed to jot down any ideas or worries before you go to sleep to avoid them stewing in your mind and keeping you awake. If you have an idea while you’re laying there, jot it down quickly. This helps relax the mind and prepare you for the next day, and having it right next to your bed means on awaking, you can complete the tasks as quickly as possible.
19. Get to Work Early.
Nearly everyone has heard the saying ‘The early bird gets the worm’, and in the world of productivity that seems to be true. Getting to work early, to a quiet and empty space, can help you focus, claims U.S. News & World Report. Going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier helps you get more in tune with your naturalcircadian rhythm and can help you feel more energetic upon awaking as well.
20. Snack Smart.
Keeping yourself fueled is an important part of maintaining productivity. High protein snacks like almonds or peanuts, or high fiber snacks like Greek yogurt with granola are great energy boosters. Simple sugars, like those found in pretzels, chips, and other ‘junk foods’, are good for quick bursts of energy but not for longer work periods and will result in a crash. Plus, they’re unhealthy.