Having a productive day is what everyone constantly aims for. They want to complete more tasks in a shorter amount of time and get more relaxation time.
However, wanting to be productive is often easier said than done. In reality, you may find many obstacles standing in your way to be productive. There are procrastination, distractions, and lack of energy.
How then, can you be more productive?
Here are 10 productivity tips to tenfold your productivity.
Definition of productivity
According to James Clear, the author of the New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits, productivity is a measure of efficiency of a person completing a task.
This means that not only do you have to complete more tasks, but you also have to complete these tasks in a shorter period of time.
Think of it this way. You are given only 24 hours a day. 6-8 hours is already spent on sleeping. You also have to factor in eating, going to the toilet, traveling, and a few other compulsory tasks. This leaves you with very limited time to get things done.
With this limited resource, you still need to catch up with the growing demands of your work or school. This is when being more productive allows you to keep up with the growing demands while spending lesser time completing these demands.
How productivity is measured
Productivity is obtained by taking your output and dividing it by your input.
Your output can be the number of tasks you have done in work or school. Your input can be time.
So if you are completing more tasks in a shorter period of time, your productivity rises.
Why productivity is important
We live in a world where there are growing demands but the same amount of time each day to fulfill these demands. Some societies are getting more fast-paced, competitive, and stressful.
In order to meet growing demands, there is only one way – to be more productive.
Not only does being more productive help you accomplish more, but you also get more time to rest, which aids in improving your health and well-being.
There are many productivity curves out there with different variables. The curve that I like to use the most is the productivity-time curve.
It shows you how your productivity levels vary throughout each day.
The curve above shows my productivity levels throughout the day. I am most productive in the morning, quite productive in the evening, and least productive after midnight.
Obviously, if I were to complete tasks after midnight, I would not be able to accomplish much due to my low productivity.
Hence, with this curve, you will know how to allocate tasks so that you can complete more of them every day!
10 productivity tips to 10x your productivity
1. Create goals
I can’t stop emphasizing the need for goals in everything you do. Goals help you stay focused, give you a direction to work towards, and motivate you to push on among other benefits. You can read my article here where I list why goals are so important and the many benefits they have.
Goals are truly incredible. I can’t stop talking about them because I love them. I always have them no matter what I do. They keep me working hard and motivated, raising my productivity significantly.
One thing to note is that, however powerful goals are, there are effective and ineffective goals. Effective goals are called SMART goals that will aid you in accomplishing more while ineffective goals will simply be irrelevant and not helpful to you at all.
Why are SMART goals so effective?
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Each component plays a role to make your goals more powerful. To learn more in-depth about how to create a SMART goal, you can click here to read my article: SMART Goal – Its Importance And How To Create One.
The one component I particularly like about SMART goals is the time-bound factor. Because productivity involves time, by restricting you to a time limit, you are more likely to complete a task faster, increasing your productivity. You feel stressed and you know there is a deadline so you try to keep up so that you won’t fall behind.
Furthermore, being limited by time, it encourages you to think of faster ways to complete tasks. Be it skipping redundant steps or modifying a method, you complete a task faster and become more productive.
Thus, a SMART goal is one way to go to raise your productivity to a whole new level.
2. Completing tasks strategically
Next, the order in which you complete your task is also important and impactful.
By completing the most difficult task when you are most alert and motivated, you can get it out of the way as soon as possible. The most difficult task is often the most dreaded one too. There is no point in forcing yourself since the quality of your work and your efficiency will fall with low focus and motivation.
When I look at how to increase productivity, I do not just brute force a way to increase my output by forcing myself to keep doing work. What I really value is quality and efficiency. With the right mindset and motivation, not only are you able to produce excellent work, but you are also able to do it incredibly fast.
3. Make a timetable
Every minute counts and being able to know what is next on your to-do list enables you to prepare your mindset for optimal results.
This is where a timetable comes into handy.
A timetable helps you with the scheduling of tasks and tells you what is next for you to do.
By having the clarity of what to do next, you are able to reduce the time spent thinking of what to do next if you did not have a timetable. However small or short the time is, doing this for months and years will gradually add up and save you a tremendous amount of time.
Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, knowing what is next allows you to prepare yourself. When the time comes, you can easily shift your mindset and get into an optimal state immediately to complete your task efficiently and superbly.
Your mindset is really important and should not be something taken lightly. Tony Robbins, best known for his incredibly successful motivational books, emphasized the importance of achieving an owner mindset rather than an operator mindset. He found that success and growth is 80% psychology and just 20% skills.
4. Look at each task and think of the fastest way you can complete it without sacrificing quality
Abraham Lincoln once said, ” Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
What Abraham Lincoln was doing is finding the fastest way to complete a task, which is how you are going to boost your productivity.
Ensuring you are using the fastest method and best tools will increase your productivity miles more than just starting straightaway.
Furthermore, if you are just completing a task quickly for the sake of completing the task, the task will likely not be done well.
This is why you need to do a task well while ensuring you are using the most efficient way.
For example, if you are planning to memorize a document, one method would be to continuously read the document. However, is it the most efficient and effective way out there?
No. There are so many better memorization techniques out there like active recall, mind maps and more so simply reading the document is not the most efficient way.
Moreover, if you tried it before, simply reading the document is a very difficult way of memorizing information.
Hence, you are sacrificing quality here by simply reading to memorize.
In this case, to do the task well, I would use active recall and mind maps as they are the most effective and efficient way for me to memorize.
5. The 5-minute rule
Earlier, I talked about how goals can motivate you to get things done.
The 5-minute rule is another way you can use to motivate yourself.
So what is the 5-minute rule?
The 5-minute rule simply requires you to always start work at least 5 minutes earlier.
What I mean by the sentence above is, if you plan to start studying at 5pm, try starting it at 4.55pm or 4.50pm instead.
It may sound weird to you how this could be motivational but it works!
Let me give you a scenario. At around 4.50-4.55pm, you have finished your current Youtube video or Netflix drama, You are searching for your next video and it turns out it is 20 minutes. You did not see the duration of the video and proceed to click on it anyway. After watching the video, you realize you are at least 10 minutes past your scheduled study time at 5pm.
But then… you see another video that interests you. In the case for me, this is when I start procrastinating so much. I start telling myself that since I am already past my study time, one more video will not hurt. So I continue watching and telling myself the same thing until bam! The time shows 5.30pm. I am 30 minutes late to study.
Now, let’s rewind to 4.50-4.55pm. You have just finished your current Youtube video or Netflix drama and you see another interesting video. You have 2 choices: Watch the video or start studying.
In this case, I feel significantly easier to start work as compared to the above scenario. I start thinking that I can start my work early and end it early so that I can go for a longer break afterward. The idea of a longer break later tempts me and motivates me to start studying now.
Although this is only a few minutes difference, I feel that it makes a lot of difference.
On one hand, if you start early, you have a driver to motivate you to look forward to your next long break.
On the other hand, if you start later, you are wasting more time telling yourself ‘one last video please’ and you end up watching more and more videos.
This difference in results can boost your productivity and help you remain motivated while completing more tasks.
If you would like to read more on how to motivate yourself and get things done, click here for an article that I have written. In the article, I laid out 6 steps you can use to overcome procrastination once and for all.
6. Complete tasks whenever and wherever you are
To boost your productivity, after all, is to make better use of your time.
So why not use every minute of your spare time to complete tasks whenever and wherever you are?
This means completing tasks while commuting or waiting for someone.
As long as you have some free time, start completing tasks.
It is especially useful to apply the 2-minute rule here where you should complete whatever tasks that take less than 2 minutes to do.
Not only will the 2 minutes not hold you down for so long, but you also get to cross out tasks on your To-Do list quickly.
A few examples of such tasks could be to book an appointment, add things to your calendar, etc.
Furthermore, even if you do not have any tasks that take 2 minutes, you can break down large tasks into smaller portions that can be completed within 2 minutes.
For instance, if you need to read some essays for the next day’s task, you can break the essay into several smaller portions to be read in 2 minutes.
This enables you to continuously complete tasks on the go and raise your productivity significantly.
7. Remove technological distractions
With how pervasive technology has encroached into our lives, we are constantly on our electronic gadgets.
Every once in a while, a notification rings or you feel the urge to surf the web.
As such, it becomes insanely difficult for you to concentrate on whatever you are doing.
Your focus will not be able to last long and the task you are doing constantly gets interrupted by the urge to check your gadgets.
Thus, to boost your focus and productivity, it is best to reduce technological distractions to a minimum. Put your consoles, laptops, phones far away so that you will not be able to see or hear the notifications.
However, if you do need your devices for work, there is another solution.
And it is to use apps to disable notifications and restrict access to certain apps or websites. Until you have finished your tasks or worked for a scheduled time frame can you get back full access to these entertainment platforms.
Removing technological distractions is one way to create an optimum space for your work and study. In this article, I laid out 7 more tips you can use to find and create your optimum study or workspace. Do check it out if you are interested.
8. Do not multitask
When people talk about ways to increase productivity, this question always comes up – To complete more tasks every hour, why not do more than one task at a time?”
This ‘Doing more than one task at a time’ is called multitasking.
And as much as it sounds life-changing and productive for someone to be able to do many tasks at once, it is not!
This is the common misunderstanding surrounding multitasking – It does not increase productivity. Instead, it harms productivity.
This is shown in a research published in 2001 by Joshua Rubinstein, Ph.D., Jeffrey Evans, Ph.D., and David Meyer, Ph.D. They conducted four experiments in which young adults were tasked to switch between different tasks.
From the results, they noted that “For all tasks, the participants lost time when they had to switch from one task to another. As tasks got more complex, participants lost more time.
As a result, people took significantly longer to switch between more complex tasks. Time costs were also greater when the participants switched to tasks that were relatively unfamiliar.”
In essence, multitasking is counterproductive in helping you to complete more tasks.
9. Fuel your body sufficiently
With every task that you do, you require energy to think and complete them.
And this energy does not appear magically to help you increase your productivity.
Energy comes from fueling your body sufficiently, with both food and sleep.
With the recommended amount of sleep, you will be energized throughout the day to complete tasks efficiently, raising your productivity.
Most adults require between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night for them to be awake and perform optimally throughout the day. Children require more while the elderly still require a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.
As for food, consuming food alone is not enough. Taking note of what you eat and eating the right food is also important.
Some examples of food to eat include whole grains, blueberries, almonds, and more. These foods boost cognitive ability and provide a steady flow of energy for you to perform productively.
As such, with the right food and sufficient sleep, your body is fueled with energy to get things done fast and well.
You think fast and do things fast, raising your productivity.
10. Take regular breaks to recharge
It may be weird for me to recommend you to take regular breaks to increase your productivity when you should be doing more tasks every day.
However, I assure you that taking regular breaks does boost your productivity significantly.
Regular breaks help you recharge and refresh your mind before going on to your next tasks. They let your brain rest so that the next task can be done better and faster.
Just take for example a runner. Running continuously for 5km will slowly drain his/her energy and cause him/her to run slower after a while.
However, if the runner breaks up the journey into five 1km fast sprints with rest in between, he/she will be able to complete the run much faster.
This is because the runner can rest and recharge during the breaks in between each sprint, allowing the runner to perform more optimally for the next run.
Similarly, an incredibly powerful productivity technique called the Pomodoro technique uses this concept of regular breaks.
For every interval of 25 mins, there is a 5 mins break and this goes on as a 30 mins block altogether. The intervals and breaks can be changed according to your needs such as a 50 mins work session followed by a 10 mins break.
Additionally, regular breaks are important to prevent burnout.
Once you experience burnout, there is a high chance that you won’t feel like doing any work.
As a result, your productivity drops, which is the opposite of what you want to achieve – a more productive day.