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Does the scenario below sound familiar?
You have grand plans to check a lot of to-do’s off the list today at work and home. The day starts strong and you’re out the door on time to take the kids to school. When you’re almost there, your child says “Oh no, my backpack! Mom……..” Being the mom that you are, you tell your child to go on to class and you’ll bring it back.
It never fails! We can have the best of intentions and one thing like a forgotten backpack or an urgent email waiting on us at work can send the day in another direction.
This happens to all of us. We have a choice to get stuck on the things out of our control, or move forward with the things that we can control.
The truth is increasing productivity comes from finding ways to manage our time better despite the curveballs we get during the day.
There’s not one “secret sauce tip” when it comes to increasing productivity, but there are several simple things we can do to make it better each day.
Increase productivity at home
Simplifying cuts down on decision making. The decisions are made for you so you can spend your time elsewhere.
One area to simplify could be your wardrobe. I continue to work on creating a capsule wardrobe that works through all seasons. Another area to simplify is cleaning. Just doing a few of the same things each day increases productivity and keeps cleaning manageable.
2. Practice self-care
Productivity takes a back seat when our health is compromised. We’ve got to take care of ourselves to be able to take care of other people and things.
In addition to good diet and exercise habits, things like taking short breaks throughout the day and stepping outside for some fresh air can give us an instant productivity boost.
3. Meal plan
Meal planning is a huge time suck when it’s done day to day. When meals are planned in advance, it’s another way to gain back a lot of time and simplify the decision-making process.
Our meal plan on a budget is not creative at all, but it is effective. It’s a way to increase productivity and keep your budget in tact… two wins!
The most shared piece of content on this site is this infographic of how to declutter. I believe that’s because people realize how decluttering can improve their home and lives.
Decluttering goes along with the less is more mindset. It increases productivity because it drastically cuts down on time spent looking for things you need. The time spent decluttering comes back to you in abundance!
5. Get adequate rest
This goes back to self-care, but it is so critical to get adequate rest. Your car cannot run on fumes and neither can you!
The amount of rest each person needs varies. You can figure out that “sweet spot” of amount of rest for you just by recognizing when you feel more alert and refreshed.
This is a great article on what to do if you’re not getting enough sleep. I have several areas to improve in this area (especially reducing screen time before bed) and I’m already feeling the benefits of increased productivity from our efforts to get more adequate rest.
Increase productivity at home or work
6. Prioritize your “one thing”
Determine your MVP (Most Valuable Project) of the day and prioritize that one thing.
When we prioritize everything, we get nowhere, and we’re disappointed with the results.
A good way to prioritize your one thing both at home and work is to ask the question “what absolutely has to be done to keep our home/business running smoothly?” Then make sure that task is given priority.
7. Make the most of your mentally alert times
Do your most important task(s) when your mind is most alert. This is different for everyone.
For me, it’s early to mid-morning and right before supper. I know that anything I try to do at 10:00 at night is going to be mediocre at best because I’m mentally zapped by that time. I also know that it’s better for me to check emails right before the work day ends because it’s another time that my productivity takes a dip.
Tackle your priorities when you feel most mentally alert and your productivity will increase both at home and work.
8. Create routines
Make your bed each morning if you don’t already. This is a productivity hack because it’s a simple way to check off a task in the morning and put you in a “let’s do this” frame of mind!
The same is true for work. If you need a clean desk space to increase productivity, then take a few minutes each morning to get your supplies and space in order before you get started. These simple routines create a more productive mindset.
9. Multitask by batching
This is one of my favorite ways to increase productivity. It’s kind of becomes a game when you start figuring out the different ways you can batch your similar tasks.
For example, if you’re going to the post office to pay bills, is there also a check that needs to be deposited when you pass the bank, and does your car need gas? Batching tasks together saves so much more time than doing them separately.
10. Plan ahead
Let your master calendar be your brain on paper! Dump everything onto your master calendar, no matter how small, so that you can plan-and be thinking- ahead.
Planning ahead is one of the best ways you can increase productivity because it makes your time more useful when you know what’s ahead. I have several different planning printables in the resource library if you would like to check out some (free) tools for planning!
11. Keep your day positive
Harness the power of positivity in your day. It’s something everyone needs more of in the day to day hustle! It’s a way to increase productivity as well as your health and overall outlook on life. I wrote an article on 11 simple ways to keep your day positive if you’re looking for some new ideas to cut out the negative noise.
You could also get some ideas to Feng Shui your home (or office) for ways to improve positivity and increase productivity in the process!
12. Use a checklist system
Use a checklist system that works for you, whether it’s a list that you cross off on a legal pad or a sticky note that is thrown away once the tasks is completed.
A checklist system gives us direction when we’re just not sure what we should do next. Instead of wasting time trying to decide what we should be doing, we instead can choose the next task from our list.
When it comes to automating, most people think of technology such as apps, options for online banking, and things like bill pay. However, automation as a way to increase productivity could simply be using the features on your appliances to make sure things get done.
As an example in your home, many dishwashers and washing machines come with timers. You could use those to spread out water usage and make sure you don’t forget to start them. A coffee pot is another appliance that can usually run on autopilot. These things save time and sanity! If you’re an Amazon Prime Member , you could even try out a dash button that lets you restock your most used products by one push of a button!
With technological tools, there are tons of apps and programs to increase productivity. The best way to sort through them is to decide what issue is causing you to lose the most time (you guessed it- there’s an app for that very issue called RescueTime!)
One issue I had was the need to find a tool to simplify the password process. I ended up using Lastpass. Instant game changer!
14. Take time off
It sounds counter productive, but taking time off is like the digital version of “system reset.”
We all need to take some time off from time to time and do nothing. It’s hard to increase productivity when you feel totally depleted! Take time off for a system reset in order to increase productivity.
15. Reduce distractions
Okay, be honest. How many tabs do you have open right now in your Internet browser?
I have 12! Those are a dozen places that will send me in different directions within seconds. I really would like to take a peek to see what’s trending on Twitter or hop over to Pinterest and find some good meal ideas for later this week. But that’s not going to increase my productivity on an article about productivity 😉
Turn off notifications and alerts, close tabs, and reduce distractions so that you can accomplish what you set out to do. It’s amazing how many different things are competing for our attention and what a little bit of strategic planning to reduce distractions can do for increasing our productivity.
16. Create your battle cry
There is a scene in the Angry Birds movie where two of the birds are trying to guess what their protector’s (Mighty Eagle) battle cry sounds like. They each take turns guessing what sounds might motivate Mighty Eagle show up when they need him.
I’m not suggesting you create a special bird call to increase productivity, but I do think it makes sense to find something that motivates you to get a job done.
I have a friend in the online publishing space who does a dance before he sits down to write. I have another one who listens to a certain song before she starts to work on her big projects.
My battle cry? It’s a little less interesting, but effective. I simply have a self-talk that sounds something like… think about how this will feel when it’s off your plate, now just do it!
Whatever motivates you, whether it’s music, meditation, jumping jacks, or self-talk, use it to gain momentum and get the job done!
17. Do a good deed
There are scientific studies about the benefits of performing a good deed. We reduce our own stress and create a more positive emotional state of being.
There is research that those who volunteer their time to help others have better health and longevity. This doesn’t even include what it does for the person on the receiving side!
Doing a good deed is not just a productivity tip, it’s a way to improve our lives by improving the lives of others.
Both at home and at work, there are times when you just have to delegate certain tasks. Sometimes the “I can do it all or faster without any help” mindset has the opposite impact on productivity because it creates overwhelm.
Delegating chores to your kids or working collaboratively with your colleagues is essential to increased productivity as well as healthy relationships. When we feel like we are doing everything by ourselves and no one else can help, it leads to negative emotions that slow down our progress.
19. Progress not perfection
Don’t get caught in the perfection paralysis trap. The key to overcoming the perfection paralysis is to think in terms of PROGRESS instead.
Let’s say you want to organize your closet. With a real life schedule, chances are clothes are still in the laundry room and probably in the floor! Thinking in terms of progress, your time would be better spent just putting clothes where they need to go instead of taking on a big organization project.
Once your smaller goals are accomplished, you can move on to bigger projects. The key with any big goal that you may have is breaking it down into more manageable tasks so that you can make progress instead of letting perfection paralysis hold you back.
20. Go contrary to the crowd
If you do your grocery shopping on a Monday evening, there’s a good chance you will be one in a crowd of many. Sometimes you can accomplish more by going contrary to the crowd!
21. Keep growing and getting better
If you are reading this last sentence, then you already know the power of constantly growing and getting better.
Just the fact that you are reading about ways to be more productive means you are seeking more efficient ways to get things done. You are willing to try new strategies. Increased productivity is a direct result of learning, growing, and constantly improving.
I’ve just started reading a book to help with productivity called The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months that comes highly recommended. It’s already giving me ideas about things I can change and do differently to get better results.
The best part of increasing productivity goes beyond the results… it’s the time that you gain back to use on your terms!
Any ideas about other simple ways to increase productivity each day? Please share by leaving them in the comments!