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8 Ways to be more productive everyday

Updated on August 5, 2013

Whether you're running around after kids or running around after a boss (almost the same thing), we've all got a lot to do and trying to juggle everything without dropping a ball or giving up, can be difficult.

There are an average of eight working hours in the day and at least ten hourly distractions that keep us from what we need to be doing. So if you catch yourself staring off into the distance, overwhelmed by an ever increasing work load, take a deep breath and relax. These 8 productivity tips will have you putting the ‘pro’ in productive! And not the ‘pro’ in procrastinate

1. Make a 'To-Do' and ‘To-Don’t’ list

A bullet pointed list of everything you need to get done by the end of the day is a great way to set a deadline for your goals and define exactly what you should be doing with your time.

Just remember to make the list reasonable and achievable, writing something like: 'I will wash ALL the windows today' if you're in a mansion with a hundred windows, may be unrealistic.

Although, if you're in a mansion with a hundred windows, you might want to hire someone else to take care of that sort of work - you could be relaxing by the pool!

There's no point in making a to-do list, if you're going to be distracted by everything that should be on your to-don’t list.

Creating a to-don’t list will help you realise when you may be sabotaging yourself so that every time you feel like you’re heading off the rails, you can check your 'to-don't' list and get back on track.

An example of things that you might include:

1. Don't let the fridge distract you with its treats

2. Don't check Facebook or Twitter for more than 30 minutes today

3. Don't waste time staring blankly into the distance

If hand written lists are not your thing, get tech savvy with the Carrot app, a moody to-do list game that’ll make you never want to procrastinate again! Check it out here

2. Plan to catch the worm

The early bird catches the worm, but only if he plans his strategy the night before.

If you're trying to be more productive, but find yourself constantly making the excuse "I don't have time!” find some.

Going to bed and waking up an hour earlier, means you'll have an extra 60 minutes in the day.

If you don't want to spend it planning how productive you want the day to be instead of actually being productive, make sure you’re able to take advantage of your new found hour by planning for it the night before.

That way you can go into the office, or tackle the housework bright and early, armed with a to-do and to-don't list and an extra hour to get things done!

Does working from home increase productivity? Study of 2000 employees revealed:

(click column header to sort results)
Increased productivity in 69% of employees  
75% of employees showed improved timeliness of work
83% of employees reported the same, if not better, communication and collaboration with co-workers
67% of employees said their overall work quality improved
80% of employees said their quality of life improved

3. Be Anti-social

There are a million distractions to drag you from your work but social media, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, BBM or Whatsapp is one of the worst.

So declare an anti-social day! Change status's to let everyone know that you won't be replying, if there's an emergency they will find a way to get hold of you.

If you know you’re likely to be tempted, block yourself from the websites for a limited time using Leechblock for Firefox or Nanny for Google Chrome

4. Cook an egg

If you’ve called an anti-social day, blocked social media sites and are still finding it difficult to concentrate on one task, make it competitive and time yourself!

The average hardboiled egg takes 15 minutes to cook, if you think of each task as one egg, how many do you need to boil in order to get your days’ work done?

Try using Egg, it'll keep a countdown and alert you with a noise when your time's up!

Give it a go and become ‘eggceptional’ at managing your time!

5. Think like an elephant

Your to-don't list is there to remind you of how you could be sabotaging yourself throughout the day, but it's difficult to avoid distractions when unrelated things keep popping into your mind. You could be in the middle of an email to a colleague when you suddenly remember that you need to drop something off at a friend’s house on the way home.

Write it down. Keep a notebook or try the Evernote app, so that whenever something unexpected pops up, you can get it out of the way and move on without worrying that you may forget it.

Think like an elephant, they never forget!

6. Sticky notes, everywhere!

A sticky note on the washing machine, dishwasher or vacuum cleaner at home will alert you to do the laundry, dishes or to vacuum the carpets.

The same principle applies at work. If you have a ton of phone calls to make, or an endless stream of emails to reply to, list them on individual sticky notes and stick them in a pile on the phone or around your monitor.

It's a great way to tick things off your to-do list, and a brilliant rewards system as each time you're done, you can throw away a sticky note - like getting a gold star on your forehead!

To give yourself a bit of extra encouragement write motivational messages to yourself, so that when you get to a task, you'll be inspired to do it!

7. Make your bed and do the dishes!

I'll never forget my great grandmother’s advice, she always said that 'If your bed is made and the dishes are washed, half your work is already done'.

Whether you’re at home or at work, tackling the bigger tasks that stand out more than the rest of the clutter first, will make your work load seem a lot less daunting.

8. Apply Mary Poppins’ logic

Mary Poppins taught us a few things, but one of the most important was that work can be fun. She said 'In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun you find the fun and snap, the job's a game!' after which she went on to sing with an incredibly stiff bird and magically tidy a nursery.

I'm not saying you need to tame nature or acquire super powers, but finding what you enjoy in any job that you have to do will make the work load seem lighter.

If you're struggling to find the fun, put some music on! An upbeat tune will increase your productivity and you'll be surprised at how quickly you manage to finish something you thought would take forever.

For a scientific approach to becoming more productive, check out The Science of Productivity

It was Yoda who wisely said

“There is no try, there is only do and do not”

It’s especially difficult to be productive after coming back from a holiday. If you’re struggling with the work routine or feel like procrastination is dragging you down, check out these articles for tips on how to get back into work mode and beat procrastination!

The Science of Productivity


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    • Jetstream profile image

      The Jetstream 4 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you for the additional info. It is much appreciated

    • profile image

      Gautam Jain 4 years ago

      Thanks for your motivational tips.

      With regard to sticky notes, if at work you are always using a computer then you can probably use some sticky notes app for Windows or Mac. There are some free available. If you looking for a professional sticky notes app for Windows then I would suggest Notezilla - . It is not free. But worth it over expensive post-it pads.