Trying to figure out how to be more productive? Use these five tips to help you get more things done every day. These tips are simple ideas that everyone can do whether you’re a stay at home trying to keep your house in order or someone working full-time out of the home. Great tips for everyone!
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Before I quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom, I was a full-time project manager for a large technology company. Being a project manager meant that I had to basically figure out how to get everything done for a project within the allotted timeline and budget.
When I was working, I never struggled with being productive and getting a ton during the day. I had to, there just wasn’t another choice.
Fast forward to my life now. I have a to-do list but it’s things like wash the dishes, go to the park, photograph a craft, and other things that just don’t seem as time sensitive. I mean, the dishes will still be there tomorrow for me to wash if I don’t do it.
I’ve really had to make an effort to be productive with my days so that when I’m talking to my husband at night, I can look back and see that I’ve actually accomplished something that day. And watching ten episodes of Dinosaur Train isn’t an accomplishment. These five tips have helped me learn how be more productive each day and hopefully they’ll help you as well.
How to Be More Productive Ever Day
#1 – Write It Down
When it comes to my life, I have to write things down with pen and paper. You can use Google docs, an app on your phone, or whatever you want to keep track of everything, but if you don’t write it down, you’re going to forget it.
How are you ever going to get things done if you don’t even know what you’re supposed to be doing? I have my Erin Condren planner for deadlines, appointments, etc. and two running to-do lists of things I need to do – one list of short-term/deadline projects and one of long-term, would like to do projects.
Writing things down also means that you can check them off once they’re done. I personally love pretty notebooks like these ones!
#2 – Pick Your Top 5
This is something that I heard from Heidi Swapp at SNAP, and I’ve been using the idea ever since. It’s also similar to a principle in a book I’m reading, The Productivity Project.
Pick five things from your to-do list that you want to focus on for that day. And then focus on those five things first.
If you finish those five things, go back to the list and pick something else to work on or give yourself a pat on the bat and take a break. It’s way too easy to look at your entire to-do list in the morning and get overwhelmed with all of the things you have to do; pick your five and finish those five.
#3 – Skip the Multi-Tasking
I am the queen of multi-tasking, and I always thought that was a good thing. When I’m writing a blog post, I’m almost always also watching TV. When I’m washing dishes, I’m typically feeding my son at the same time.
For some reason, I feel like I’m wasting time somehow if I’m only doing one thing. This is a habit that I’m trying to break, and I highly recommend you do the same. It is so much easier to get something done if you just let your brain focus on that one thing and not have to jump back and forth from multiple things.
Close your extra tabs, turn off the TV, hide your phone, and focus. Not only will you get things done much faster, they’ll probably get done much better than if you’d done them while distracted.
#4 – Set a timer and take breaks
I know it sounds a little counterintuitive to take breaks while you’re trying to get things done, but it works.
Set a timer and tell yourself that you have to answer emails for 30 minutes straight and then you can take a break. Or set a 15 minute clean-up timer and clean straight for those 15 minutes before you look at your phone. But the secret is, you have to set a timer for your breaks too. 15 minutes to clean up then a five minute break.
#5 – Reward Yourself
We talked about taking breaks throughout the day. Take that one step further and after a productive day or a productive week, give yourself a small reward or if you finished a really big project, a big reward.
Small Reward Ideas:
- Dinner out with my family
- Watching an episode or two of my favorite TV shows (hello Gilmore Girls, Friends, and The Office)
- Going to a class at the gym
- Watching a chick flick like The Notebook
- Reading a book at night. Here are 15 books on my to-read list.
- Picking up my favorite magazine at the grocery store to enjoy
- Making my favorite mocktail and drinking it outside
- Going for a walk
Big Reward Ideas
- A massage
- New outfit
- Girl’s night out with friends
- Getting a baby-sitter and going on a date night
And last but not least, my favorite big reward for being super productive is to plan a vacation with my family. We’ve got all sorts of trips planned for this summer including one to Ketchikan, Alaska (a cruise for my mom’s 50th birthday).
Some of My Favorite Tools for Being More Productive
Mechanical Pencils (for writing in your planner!)
Gel Pens (so much more fun to write your t0-do list)
Planner Stickers (to make things more colorful)
Decorative Spiral Notebooks
7 Habits of Highly Effective People (good book to read on prioritizing)
Digital Timer (for keeping you on task!)