There are a ton of articles out there telling you how to be more productive. The problem is that implementing several new processes all at once doesn’t work for most people. Kind of like starting a crash diet and intense exercise program simultaneously, it may work for a while but eventually, you will get burned out.
To combat productivity implementation burnout, try starting out slow. Implement one new method per day, adding it on to those from the previous days, and you will find yourself more productive in just a month.
Day 1: Set goals for three things you want to complete today.
Day 2: Instead of checking email first thing when you wake up, get out of bed and start moving to wake up your whole body.
Day 3: Use your commute time on the subway, bus or in the school drop off line to relax. Sing to the radio, think about your day or talk to your child. Staying off your phone or tablet will make you feel like you got an unexpected break in your day instead of frantically trying to send the last email before your next stop.
Day 4: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask someone you admire for their productivity, and you’ll see their methods in action while getting more done yourself.
Day 5: Get some fresh air. Go for a walk, or if you don’t have time for that, open a window. It can be refreshing and inspirational.
Day 6: Write down your to do list (or keep track of it on your computer or phone) as soon as a task comes to mind. Making a physical list will free up space in your mind for more creativity and fun.
Day 7: Don’t get too wrapped up in work that you miss your life. Take time to notice and appreciate the people and events going on around you.
Day 8: Don’t procrastinate. Even on a big project, doing something to start alleviates stress and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Start by simply jotting down ideas and the momentum will grow.
Day 9: Draw a line between work life and home life. Even though you may have to check email or work from home from time to time, let that be the exception and not the rule.
Day 10: Do something new. Learn a new skill. You can read an article about a different line of work or simply ask a friend in another industry about his or her job. Learning about other areas of business gives you a better overall perspective and can make you a more well-rounded person and employee.
Day 11: Do the most difficult task (or the one you are dreading the worst) first. After you cross that task off your to do list, your day will seem so much better.
Day 12: Turn off popup notifications on your computer and cell phone. While these reminders can be helpful, most are probably for things you would know to do anyway. The popups actually just put extra pressure on you and makes you frantic while working.
Day 13: Take time to refresh and recharge. You will be more productive when you return to work after taking some time away.
Day 14: Everyone gets unwanted email. Believe it or not, if you didn’t have to deal with all of those spam emails, you could get a lot more done every week. Unsubscribe to five or more emails lists you don’t need to be on.
Day 15: Really examine what tasks are truly urgent. You will find that only a few are, and that those should be the ones you focus on. While it may seem important for you to check Facebook, it is not truly as urgent or important as meeting your deadline at work.
Day16: Limit time on your phone, which can be a huge distraction. Try checking it only on the bottom and top of the hour, not each time you get an email, text or Facebook update.
Day 17: Set aside time for uninterrupted attention on connecting with others in person. This needs to be done both at work and at home so that you can nurture relationships with your family, friends and coworkers.
Day 18: Be intentional about your attention to each task. Try focusing on one thing at a time, rather than dividing your attention through multi-tasking.
Day 19: Try something different and do a digital detox. Take a breather from technology for 24 hours by turning off your phone, computer, TV, etc. You will be refreshed and ready to take on the world the next day.
Day 20: Give yourself grace. If you have a particularly unproductive day, let it go. Try to evaluate what went wrong and learn from it. Set aside a big block of time the next day for highly-focused attention on the most important item on your to-do list.
Day 21: Make it a point to go speak to someone in person instead of sending an email, text or instant message. This can build relationships and lead to other benefits that digital interactions do not.
Day 22: Get more sleep. That may mean turning off your cell phone early, making a point not to check email and just relaxing. You will be more ready for the next day when you rest more.
Day 23: Concentrate on concentrating. Take pride in the task at hand and leave other things for their appointed time.
Day 24: Minimize disruptions. It takes a significant amount of uninterrupted time to come up with ideas and get work done. Seclude yourself, if necessary, and think deeply.
Day 25: Think about the (probably unrealistic) expectations you put on yourself. Your boss, clients and coworkers probably don’t expect you to respond to emails right away 24/7, so why do you put that pressure on yourself?
Day 26: Schedule periods of uninterrupted time to complete your top to-do items. You may have to train your brain to build the amount of time you are able to concentrate at one sitting. You may have to start at 15-minute spells, then build up to 30 minutes and an hour.
Day 27: Our digital world keeps us connected and allows us to do work from anywhere and everywhere, but it can also hamper our productivity. When email, social media and the Internet start to distract you from the task at hand, bring your focus gently back to the task and continue on.
Day 28: Pay attention to when you are feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Take a 5-minute break and do something fun. Call a friend, take a walk or get some coffee.
Day 29: You control your life, not your smartphone. Remember that and ignore it sometimes in favor of the item you are currently working on or the activity you are participating in.
Day 30: Ultimately, productivity is all about correctly prioritizing your work. Figure out what or who needs your attention today. Delegate items that you can then get to work on your own tasks.
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