The thing about being more productive is that it’s absolutely attainable. If you’re looking for very easy, very manageable ways to be more productive, here are 15 little things to help you achieve that goal.
1. Wash the dishes as soon as they hit the sink. Waiting for them to pile up creates a chore that’s going to take half an hour instead of a few quick minutes. Washing the dishes is one of those things that seems like it’s going to take forever but really only takes a few minutes (unless you let them pile up).
2. Actually focus on just one thing at a time. This is another thing that seems like it’s going to slow you down, but tasks take much less time if you truly give them your undivided attention, conquer them, and move on to the next one. Not only does trying to do 18,397,397 things at once make you feel crazy, but it almost certainly means something is going to (1) get done poorly, or (2) get utterly forgotten.
3. Make. Lists. Depending on your personal preference, this could be a list of big, general things you need to accomplish in the day, or (if you’re the sort of person who loves to cross things off a list), it could be every single tiny thing. Like, “drink a glass of water” and “eat lunch.” Having a visual reminder of what you have to do, and what you’ve already accomplished, helps ensure things. Get. Done.
4. Keep your desk/home office/studio/whatever nice and tidy. Yes, cute desk decor is nice to look at. But a crowded workspace filled with trinkets is distracting and gets annoying when things start to get in the way. Keep your desk as empty as possible — it’ll make your brain happy.
5. And keep your bedroom nice and tidy. This means no clothes strewn all over the floor, no piles of shoes you thought you were going to wear before changing your mind, no stack of purses piled high on The Chair (you know the one). A messy room is just one more thing you’ll have to address and takes your time away from other things. As everyone’s parents like to say: It only takes a few seconds to hang a shirt back up. Cleaning a room takes much longer.
6. Schedule social time on your calendar. OK, yes, it’s funny to get a calendar alert for “Hang out with Chelsea!” or “Get drinks with Ryan!” but it also prevents one of the most stressful, productivity-wrecking mishaps ever: double-booking. Also, this allows you to actually mean it when you say, “I’ll pencil you in.” How fun.
7. Leave a little wiggle room between meetings. Another big productivity killer is lateness. Don’t set your schedule up for failure by planning to get coffee from 1 to 1:30 p.m. and lunch with a coworker at 1:32 p.m. In the grand scheme of things, setting something back 15 to 20 minutes isn’t going to wreck anyone’s day. Rushing only makes you stressed out and, therefore, less productive.
8. Make lunches ahead of time. You don’t have to go full-on MEAL PREP, but a very simple thing anyone with a kitchen can do is make enough food at dinnertime that you have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Not only does this check off your lunch plans for the next day, eliminating that 30 minutes of wondering, What will I eat for lunch? but it also saves a lot of money. A true win-win.
9. Set timers for how long you know certain tasks should take. One of the biggest productivity killers is to spend 90 minutes on a task that you know in your heart should’ve only taken 20. Train yourself to not waste time dillydallying and set phone timers to remind you when it’s time to move on to the next thing.
10. Accept that not every single thing you do can be 110 percent perfect. A big part of staying productive is not getting mired down in perfecting every detail of everything you do in your day. That’s just exhausting. Prioritize things that truly need to be above and beyond, and accept the fact that sometimes “good enough” is really and truly good enough.
11. And also accept that there’s nothing bad about delegating. Yes, yes, asking for help can suck. But sometimes you have to do it. If you can’t get something done that someone else is not only able to do but is willing to do — ask for assistance! Chances are you’d return the favor if they ever asked you so it all works out in the long run.
12. Don’t waste time on fancy organization tactics you saw on Pinterest just because everyone else is doing it. Bullet journaling looks so fun (it’s basically adult arts and crafts!) but if you’ve tried it and know it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it! There’s a lot of bullshit pressure out there to make organizing the humdrum parts of your life ~cute~ and ~Instagrammable~, but there’s no need. Quite frankly, very few of us actually have time for that mess.
13. Set aside designated chunks of time for replying to emails and texts. If you replied to every single message you got in real time, you’d spend 98 percent of your day … replying to messages. Don’t leave people hanging and use your best judgment with this one, but almost zero emails need an immediate response. If you’re that important, you’re probably not reading this list.
14. Put that group text with all 18 of your closest friends on do not disturb. Nothing is more distracting than watching your phone light up across your desk with a million messages because the group text is currently popping off. The magic of phones is that all those messages will be there when you actually have time to read them and catch up. What a delight!
15. Say no to things. This is advice that’s often given, and even more often ignored. But saying no to things is perfectly fine — it’s even healthy and good. Don’t overextend yourself or waste time doing things that aren’t helpful and that you don’t even want to do. Only rude meanies will be offended if you politely turn something down and who has time for rude meanies?
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