For the past few years, I have been really interested in time management, organisation and productivity. I don’t really know what sparked my interest, but it’s there and I can just spend hours upon hours reading stuff about these topics. Now, over the years I have found a few productivity tips and tricks that are really easy to implement and can make such a huge difference, so I thought I’d share them with you today!
1. Plan your week ahead.
If you take the time every week to plan out the upcoming week, you’ll definitely be a lot more productive. It doesn’t matter how you do it, you can do it really in-depth by also reflecting on the previous week. The easiest way to do it, is to just write down the stuff that will happen and the tasks you need to complete for the whole week (preferably divided by day). This could be on a blank piece of paper, in your Notes-app, in your planner. Literally wherever.
Doing this will get your head in the right mindset and you won’t be set up for surprises, really. There’s still that possibility of something important coming up throughout the week, but you’re more prepared.
2. Plan your day ahead
This is basically the same as with planning the week ahead. The best time to do this, is the night before. You’ll go to bed with your mind at rest, as it will not keep thinking about all the stuff you will need to do the next day and you’ll wake up with a game plan and you’ll be much more likely to start the day of the way you want to. Extra tip: when you make your to-do list the night before, already knock out one of the tasks if that’s possible. This way you’ll wake up with already having made progress on the day’s tasks.
3. Break down big tasks
Any big task will always seem as this daunting thing and most people will do their best to procrastinate on whatever it is they need to do. But, by breaking down these big things, which are probably easier to see as projects rather than tasks, it won’t be this big hill you’d have to conquer. Say, for example, there’s this big essay due for next week. Writing down “write essay for [subject]” will be daunting and your brain would like to avoid it at all costs.
Instead of writing this, you could break it up into:
- Brainstorm possible topics (if it’s not already set, of course)
- Do research on the topics
- Based on the research, brainstorm sub-topics
- Write the introduction of the essay
- Write the body of the essay (this could also be broken down into the sub-topics you’ve decided to discuss)
- Write the conclusion of the essay
- Add any media (pictures, graphs, etc.)
- Set up the right format (font, size, etc.)
- Possibly let someone else proofread
- Submit the essay
“Brainstorming sub-topics” is a lot less daunting than writing the whole essay on one day, it’s almost a guarantee that you will complete that task, because it seems so simple to start. Once you’ve started and you’re focused, you might finish the whole essay. Starting is the hardest part, though.
4. Avoid multi-tasking
I really need to get better at this, even though I really know that multi-tasking is really the one killing my productivity. It seems so smart to watch that one episode while you’re also cleaning your house or something. But are you really cleaning your house in this scenario? Good chance you’ll be standing in front of your tv, with the vacuum in your hands, and just watching whatever is playing. That vacuum is not doing anything though. This is an obvious example.
A less obvious example is constantly having your e-mail open and reading the e-mails right as they come in. It doesn’t seem like it’s multi-tasking, but you keep switching between different things and you never completely focus on that one thing. So, focus on that report you have to write and have your e-mail turned off. When you’ve finished, you can schedule some e-mail time, but it’s best not to have the app open all day long.
Having daily habits could really improve your productivity overall. It will only really pay-off in the long run, because in the first few weeks you will still need to remind yourself of doing so. But once it is engrained in your routine, you will probably do it without any need to remind yourself. For example, tidying the living room at the end of every day will take some energy to do it at first, but you’ll recognise the benefits in the morning and it will motivate you to do the same the following night.
Extra tip: To make building habits easier, make a tracker where you will cross off every time you completed that habit. This could be in an Excel-spreadsheet or just on paper (like a bullet journal, or anything). The act of crossing off will be a small act, but for most people it’s really motivating. It’s like crossing off a task on your to-do list.
For my goals of the month of July, I made a habit tracker in my bullet journal to cross off whenever I took a long walk, or did a workout at home. It reminds me to keep working towards these goals.
What’s your favourite productivity hack to get your day going? Have you tried any of these hacks?