Become a Pro at Productivity

The Inkwell • May 28, 2020

Many of us may be feeling less productive than usual right now and that’s understandable. It’s a challenging time for all but it also presents the opportunity to take advantage of a valuable resource: our time. Whether you’re working from home, getting back into the office, or just feeling unmotivated lately, these easy to implement tips may be just what you need.

#1 Write down your to-do list for the day, then cut it in half

We often overfill our to-do lists with tasks we’d like to accomplish that day but realistically won’t be able to. Then we become frustrated at what appears to be a lack of progress. Instead, start by writing down everything you want to get done that day, then cut it in half by pulling out just the top priorities and starting with those. You can always circle back and complete more tasks if you have the time, but being able to complete a list instead of being buried under a never-ending one will be rewarding and motivating!

#2 Upgrade your to-do list

Is your desk covered in a rainbow of sticky notes and notepads with random to-do items listed on each? Consider simplifying your to-do list with a task management tool like Asana or Trello. How you track your tasks depends entirely on the person or team. Are you looking for a simple interface, or hoping to color-code and categorize hundreds of tasks at once? Is this to-do list just for you or your entire team? With hundreds of to-do list tools out there, there’s a right one for you.

#3 Try the 2-minute rule

If a task or action can be completed in two minutes or less, do it immediately. Doing the task right away will actually take up less of your time than if you continued to push it off and had to get back to it later. Plus, you’ll feel better once it’s done and out of the way.

Pro tip: Schedule time each day to get your to-do list for the day in order. While building this list, take note of the tasks that can be completed in a couple of minutes and knock those out first.

#4 Stop multitasking (or trying to)

We actually can’t multitask. What we do is called task-switching where we move back and forth from one task to the other which actually decreases productivity and drains energy. Instead, give your all to one task or action item at a time, complete it, then move on to the next thing.

Pro tip: If you’re working on a project or series of tasks that can’t be completed in one sitting, try the Pomodoro Technique by breaking the work down into short, timed intervals that are spaced out by short breaks.

#5 Remember to give yourself breaks

You are not the energizer bunny and you will burn out if you push yourself too hard. Breaks are crucial. They allow you to unwind, recharge, and return to your work refreshed and focused! Plus, research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance; while no breaks can lead to a steady decline in performance.

#6 Find your productivity playlist

In addition to providing background noise, music has been shown to improve both productivity and cognitive performance. Finding the right playlist can give you an energy boost and help block out distractions so you can stay focused.

Pro tip: Making a playlist doesn’t have to be an all-day chore. When you hear a song you like that makes you feel energized, pop it into a playlist. As the playlist grows, arrange tracks in the order that makes sense for the way you work.

#7 Snack smarter, not harder

The food we eat is extremely important in boosting our brainpower and impacting how productive we are at work. Junk food causes decreased productivity and energy crashes and working on an empty stomach can cause us to lose focus easily. Keep healthy snacks stashed in your desk to stay fueled for the day!