Boost your productivity for the new year.
With the start of a new year we often return to work with grand designs for what we hope to achieve in the next twelve months. We want to get rid of old habits, gain new ones, and generally achieve greatness. In order to do this, we can all stand to be a little more productive. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about staying productive when working from home; this post follows on from that with some nifty ideas to keep you heading in the right direction…
1. Get Up Earlier
Last year I read Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning, a book that has just had its official release in the UK. It inspired me to get up at 5:30 in the mornings and begin my day in a more positive way. I don’t manage this every day, but on the days I do, there is a marked increase in my productivity. Instead of getting up, checking my emails, thinking oh crap I forgot about that… I begin my day with intention. First I exercise, meditate, spend some time writing and thinking about what I want to achieve with my day. Then I get my daughter up and ready for her day. When I come home from dropping her at nursery, I am ready to sit down and work hard at my day.
2. Take Breathing Breaks
Ok, I know this sounds really silly – but it’s working for me so far this year! I watched a video by Brendon Burchard where he talked about his daily breathing routine. He pointed out that it’s hard to be creative all day, every day if you’re sitting still at a desk all day. He sets an alarm on his mobile to go off every hour, and when it goes off he stands up and bounces, taking 20 deep breaths. I’ve begun doing this every hour through day while I’m working, and it does seem to be improving my energy and creativity levels. It’s one of those things where you think oh, come on… but realistically, it’s a few minutes per day – so what do you have to lose? Give it a try!
3. Craft Your To-Do List
I post a lot about Todoist; I love it and it helps me to keep on top of what I need to do. The trick to using an app like this is to really use it to keep track of everything you need to do. I have it linked to my email, and if an email comes in with a piece of work, I can add it to my Todoist to make sure it gets done. I have numerous recurring tasks set up so that once I mark something as done, it immediately comes up on my list for the next day/week/month. I use this to keep track of my blogging, my work, phone calls I need to make, everything. This works really well for me – as well as giving me a tremendous sense of satisfaction when I get to the end of my day and have ticked everything off!
4. Figure Out When You’re Most Productive
This is another one that sounds silly but it can be really useful to figure out what time of day is your most productive time. For some of us, that’s first thing in the morning; for others, it’s late at night. Some people are most productive at lunch time! Once you know when your most productive time is, you can schedule your day around that, and use your less productive times for … catching up on TV box sets?
5. Make Bad Habits Harder to Indulge In
There are so many welcome distractions, where you have a job to do. I am the queen of procrastination; I am terrible for just nipping off to check my Facebook between paragraphs. It makes everything take twice as long, and there’s never something happening on Facebook that couldn’t have waited until I was finished. We all have these bad habits which distract us from the task in hand; the trick is to make it harder to indulge in them. Close the Facebook tab on your laptop; if that doesn’t work, log out. You can still access Facebook if you need to, but by adding those extra couple of steps, you force yourself to stop and think do I really need to do this? Often that’s all it takes for your internal grown up to say no, get back to work!
6. Tackle Those Five-Minute Tasks
When you’re having a bit of a lull in your productivity, take a look down your to-do list and identify any tasks that will take you five minutes or less. Without stopping to think, crack on with getting those done. Being able to tick something off your list gives you a sense of accomplishment, and often provides that boost that allows you to move on to the next thing.
7. Block Your Work
This is one of those things that works really well, if you can make time to start it off in the first place. Block together all of your similar tasks, and do them at the same time rather than spreading them across the week. For example, I have a client for whom I write one blog post every week. I could get up every Monday morning and scratch my head for twenty minutes, login to the client’s website and write a post… or I could sit down on the first Monday of each month, and schedule every blog post for that client for the month. Then that job is out of the way, and I have time on Monday mornings to do other work. Blocking your work can work really well for bloggers as well.