There’s a lot of advice about how to increase productivity. Many of them are apps that are call us out on how much time we spend on facebook or how little time we spend on JIRA. Some people suggest things like locking yourself in your office, not answering any emails, and using standing desks to stay awake.
Those strategies seem counter intuitive. It doesn’t make sense to use a distracting app to illustrate how distracted I am. I also work in consulting so isolating myself for more than an hour isn’t realistic or helpful to my team.
A lot of those gimmicks didn’t work for me, but I was able to implement small changes that did make a significant difference in my productivity and energy levels.
Wake up earlier in the morning
A few weeks ago, I started waking up two hours earlier in the morning. I used to feel rushed to get out of the house and only a small part of my day was reserved for doing things that were outside of my job. I love my job, but when I neglect my personal needs my capacity to be present at work goes down.
So, I gave myself an extra couple of hours in the morning. I take this newly allotted time to learn new technologies, write, read, or just take my time to get without rushing. I’m not a morning person, but getting up earlier has helped me reduce my stress, increased productivity, and gave me more mental stamina. I realized that in order to give other people my energy and attention, I had to fuel myself with it first.
Write down my intentions for the day
Call this a fancy to-do’s list. Before I start my work day, I write down what needs to get done and cross them off as I do it. It’s the simplest way to keep me on track and provides record of what I worked on during the week.
Close out of windows and browser tabs I’m not currently using
We’re all guilty of doing this: we work with a bunch of tabs open and often get tempted to check our email, social media, or the previous thing we were working on. To make it easy on myself, I close out of the tabs I’m not using. This not only helps the browser to run faster, but it keeps me focused on what I’m working on.
Set aside time for email, social media, and content consumption
Taking breaks throughout the day helps me to stay focused on each task because I have more bandwidth. On some of these breaks, I set aside 15 minutes or so to read an article on my favorite blogs, or check facebook. I like to do this right after lunch when I’m still in a social headspace. Knowing that I’ll get this time, at some point also, makes me less tempted to go on social media while in the middle of a task.
Be intentional with time spent listening to music or podcasts
If I’m doing a repetitive, mundane task, then I’ll put my headphones on to play music. If I’m working on something that requires focus, I keep the music off. What I like about this strategy is that I have the momentum to get through things that aren’t super exciting and I won’t be distracted from things that are more challenging.
Alternate easy tasks and difficult tasks
I like to go back and forth between easy tasks and tasks that take more focus. It keeps my mental stamina up and prevents me from going too far into the rabbit hole of something I’m struggling with. Giving myself a little mental break clears my head and allows me to have fresh eyes to tackle the problem again. It also helps me to avoid procrastinating on those little things that might be easy, but add up quickly.
So there you have it, these are just a few things that I do that help me get more things done and the energy to do it.
Comment below and share some things you do to stay on track during the day.