How to Increase Productivity
I like getting things done. I love it when my house is clean, I'm on top of my writing schedule, all of my errands are finished, the cats are fed, and I can just relax and enjoy feeling good. That being said, procrastinating is probably one of my worst flaws and I feel like no matter how much I try somedays, I can't muster up the energy or willpower to get stuff done.
Personally, I feel my best when I'm being productive, and I would love to be able to tell you that I've been using this quarantine to get everything I ever wanted to do done. Realistically though, having been home for two months (almost three) straight, I've kind of run out of energy.
Due to stress and some minor bouts of depression, I've been having an unproductive couple of weeks trying to figure out what to post today, and in trying to get over writer's block and a massive lack of motivation, I ended up writing a list of ways to be help myself be productive. I want to share them with you guys because maybe they can help you too. These are some steps I've used in the past, and I know that they work, for the most part.
So without further ado, here are some steps on how to increase productivity.
Make a To Do List
I LOVE to do lists; I think I have like five going at all times. I personally like to make a master list of everything that I can think of that needs to get done and then I split it up from there into time periods or importance or into categories. Seeing everything you need/want to get done written down makes it easier to stay on task.
Use a Planner
Once I have my to do list, I'll put some of the bigger tasks - in my mind, that's anything I have to leave my house to complete - into my bullet journal or into my Google Calendar. The smaller tasks like household chores, I put on the big whiteboard calendar in our hallway. If I schedule specific days to get things done, I'm less likely to put them off.
Set Apart a Time to Get Stuff Done
For the smaller tasks or at home tasks, I tend to put off more due to distractions or just having no motivation to get off the couch and get it done. When I find myself putting off my to do list at home, I set a time limit for myself. If I'm being distracted by the TV, I'll look at the clock and be like, "Okay. You have the rest of this episode and the next one before we take a break from tv and do this part of my list."
If you don't think you can cut yourself off from fun things, pick a time when you wake up or the night before that you can set aside to get stuff done. There are some days where I tell myself that I don't have to do anything productive until after 1pm, and that helps me keep myself on track.
Put on Some Background Noise
I have ADHD so somedays I'm hyper-focused and put all and other days, my focus is all over the place and I'll start so many things without anything ever getting fully completed. I've discovered in the last couple years is that if I have something going on in the background, I'm able to multitask better and be less prone to distractions.
When I'm writing, I like to put on Netflix as my background noise. I try to pick shows that aren't too terribly interesting that I get sucked into only focusing on the TV but also aren't complete nonsense that I get annoyed with what I'm hearing. When I'm cleaning or shopping or working, I like to put on music. I have a playlist specifically for each of those tasks full of music that motivate me and make it fun.
Give Yourself a Prize for Completing Tasks
This isn't just for children. Make completing things on your list worth it. If you fold the laundry, you can have some ice cream. If you go to the grocery store, we can go look at the muffin pans. If you work out three times this week, you can buy new smoothie fruit. If you get everything on the list done, we can go get a manicure. These are all things I've said to myself and I like getting stuff even if it's just a bath or getting to bake.
When I was in college, my professors always told me to not cram study, but if I did, I needed to take breaks to give my brain some rest. Being productive all day is great, but in my experience, it's pretty exhausting. I like to add in breaks so having to start another task doesn't start to feel like the end of the world.
This can tie into giving yourself a prize for getting stuff done too! On my days off, I typically have two a week when I'm working full time, I use one day for errands and the other for rest and relaxation. On my really full errands day, I'll try to throw in some fun window shopping or a self-care activity like a hair appointment or a main-pedi. At home, I take art breaks or cat cuddle breaks. It's like a mini reset button for your productivity and prevents you from gettin burnt out.
Start with the Easiest/Shortest Tasks and Work Up
I find that if I start with my biggest task on my to go list, I tend to get bored or discouraged or just plain over working on it by time I reach halfway done. If I start with the easy stuff like vacuuming or small tidying or taking pictures for my blog posts, I tend to get more stuff done in a short amount of time without losing steam. By time I get to the bigger things on my to do list, I've already accomplished so much so it doesn't seem as daunting and typically will take me less time to finish it then it would have if I'd done it first.
Put on "Real Clothes"
I am WAY more productive if I put on real clothes. I don't mean like a suit or something fancy, but if I put on a bra, jeans, and a t shirt I would wear in public, I feel more awake and alert and motivated to get stuff done. If I'm in my pajamas or super comfy clothes, I'm more likely to end up putting off finishing my to-do list in favor of laying on the couch watching TV.
Include a Friend
Friends always make things way more fun and that includes chores and errands. If I have a lot to do at home, I'll call a friend or my mom or one of my sisters to talk to while I work on it. It makes time go a lot faster. If I'm going out to run errands, I'll try to plan a coffee date with a friend or see if any of them have their own errands or just want to go shopping with me.
Go Easy on Yourself if You Just Can't Do It
Somedays, no matter what I do, I can't muster up the energy to be productive. It could be a depressed day, burnout, or just plain having no motivation. On those days, I try not to be too hard on myself because there will always be more days and more chances to get things on a list done. Forcing yourself to do things when your brain just plain doesn't want to can cause more stress and depression, and compromising your health isn't worth a finished to do list.
Well, I hope you find some of these tips helpful! They helped me get out of my funk and get back to doing things I love to do and need to do, like writing new posts for the blog and finishing next month's spread in my bullet journal. If you have any tips or tricks that you've used that help you be productive, I'd love to hear them! I could always use more ways to get stuff done.
Take a shot for all of the unfinished to-do lists and toast to tasks completed