We all struggle with productivity, especially during this time when we’re supposed to #stayhome and keep ourselves in check, on our own. It seems to be our destiny to juggle endlessly with laziness and motivation, that’s the lazy human nature. As a master procrastinator I’ve learned things to tackle that tendency. With effort, organizing and a little bit of psychology, you CAN get things done. Here are all my favourite tips that I’ve noticed work very well whether you’re working on your goals, studies, job tasks or even household chores.
1. Plan your day
I once heard a sentence that went something like this: you can have the day you want if you plan it beforehand. I’ve noticed it’s true and works. It’s better to plan the day before it begins, so that you wake up with the right attitude. If you think “oh I will make tomorrow’s to do-list tomorrow” it’s more likely you’ll procrastinate and even forget that you were supposed to do something. You can determine what you’re going to do and when, and how much time you want to use doing certain tasks. Do more in the morning if you’re a morning person, or at night if you’re a night owl. I’ve noticed it’s easier to get everything done if I start early in the day.
2. Make to do- lists
Make them tempting for yourself. Draw boxes that you can check when they’re done. It’s better to have a notebook where you can write your lists, it will help you to remember to look at your list and know where it is, and can also sometimes go back and see how much you’ve accomplished. You can obviously use your calendar as well if you like, I prefer my calendar digital and lists on paper. However, if you have noticed your old habits are not inspiring enough, try something new.
3. Chop goals into smaller pieces
If you think there’s a huge project ahead of you, you’re again more likely to procrastinate. Make smaller goals and tasks, it’s more satisfying for you to achieve and check five small boxes than one big. Remember to start your day with something nice and easy. No one feels like getting out of bed if the first thing on their list is buckets of laundry, a HIIT workout or an essay.
4. Trick yourself
If you can trick yourself out of productivity, you can trick yourself into it as well. It really matters how you phrase your goals. I’ll give you an example: I really like writing but often procrastinate, so I make it easier by telling myself that today I’ll start instead of telling myself that today I’ll complete it.
There’s a clear difference that takes the pressure away and makes it easier to take the first and most important step. Once I’ve started, the letters just flow into place and I often end up with something that’s ready to post. Even if not, at least I’ll work on it for two hours or any amount of time I promised myself.
Another trick I use when I want to work out at home is that I’ll put on workout clothes. That will make me feel like I should do it, since I don’t want to be lazy in my workout outfit. Sometimes I also start doing exercises on the floor while watching a movie, and by the time the movie ends I’ll have the mood to finish my workout. Magic!
5. Create routines
What do you want to achieve? You decide what it is but do something every day. When we have a routine, it keeps feeding itself and so it’s easier to continue a project than it is to start one. I believe we have all been there when we start working out regularly. Once we feel like we deserve to get a day off, it won’t harm the project, but two days, three, four days… you’ll forget the whole thing and order pizza for your Netflix marathon. It’s the same thing no matter what your project is. Keep your eyes on the goal and don’t look away for too long or you’ll have to start searching for motivation all over again.
If your priorities consist of everything else but your goals and tasks, you won’t get anything done because there will always be distractions. Your time and your goals matter so you’ll have to put them first and stand your ground sometimes. If you have a meeting, try to get things done before that if you know you won’t have energy to complete tasks after it. Remember balance.
7. Remove distractions
Recognize what it is that’s stealing your attention and do something about it, if possible. If you know certain things are a trap to you, like your phone, do not have it around you or just simply turn it off when you need to work. If it’s hard to say no to sweets when you’re making a healthy lifestyle change, don’t have any of those in your house. If you have a big project coming and you really need to focus, you could even cancel your online streaming services or delete games and/or social media apps off your phone. Sometimes nothing helps and that impatient little child living inside all of us is just screaming for attention. Just remind yourself that self-discipline takes practise.
8. Let other people know
If it’s difficult to stay in the right mindset, tell other people that you’re working. Ask for support. If working on your own is difficult, work together with someone. Productivity can be contagious – just sitting in a room with someone that is working hard on their own goals, makes you want to do it too. You can work on separate things and share the spirit – or you can work together on the same project, like sports. You can encourage and hold each other accountable. It’s team effort, and it works!
Give yourself a reward sometimes but make it one that won’t ruin your work. Don’t reward yourself with a chocolate bar if you just got out of your sugar hook. Make it something that supports your goals; maybe buying a new piece of quality active wear after a month of working out regularly. A cute notebook after studying hard for exams. Maybe simply a relaxing moment with your favourite cup of tea after two hours of work. Whatever it is that brings you joy and inspires you to continue.
10. Time management
It’s so easy to use a great amount of time procrastinating, avoiding and postponing tasks, floating in anxiety. If you had just started instead of overthinking it, you’d be done by now. Value your time enough to start right now. NOW! When it’s done, you’ll feel good and you’ll have the rest of the day for something else. Don’t be one of those who always say they will start next Monday, and when they feel like quitting by Thursday, they say they’ll start again on Monday. Don’t do that to yourself. Life is now and today is a great day to do whatever you want or are supposed to do. Tomorrow is not promised and if it comes, it goes by faster than you planned.
Overall, productivity is a very important life skill that demands practise and focus. It’s sometimes very difficult and demanding but only by practising it you’ll achieve what you want in life. It might be something we’ll perhaps never master fully but it doesn’t hurt to try! 🙂 It is also worth mentioning how amazing you feel after a good day of crossing things of your list. Possibly one of the best feelings in the world.
Were these tips helpful? What tricks do you use to get productive? Share in the comments!
PS. A while ago I wrote about the other side of the coin – the toxic aspect of the pressures related to productivity. I’ve also written about the ups and downs of life and how to deal with them, when you’re trying to heal yourself and are not feeling well. That’s an important topic – don’t be too hard on yourself even if it’s sometimes difficult to even write a to do -list. It all comes down to being reeaally honest with yourself. Is this time for rest, or for taking action, it’s up to you.
Sending willpower to your day. ♡