The beginning of a new year is a time to get realigned, focus on our goals, and make adjustments so we can succeed in the areas where we want to improve ourselves. Productivity is one of those areas in which we all probably feel we could be doing at least a bit better.
Productivity coach and speaker Mridu Parikh of Life is Organized says she lives and breathes productivity and offered her top tips for becoming more productive.
“If you want to feel in control, wake up without feeling overwhelmed and end the day feeling accomplished, I’ve got three words for you: Block your time,” she says.
Take a look at your schedule for tomorrow, she suggests, and then look at your to-do list. Then, block off the time for work, errands and for driving, prepping, setting up or anything else you have to do.
“If you find yourself regularly operating in ‘reactive mode,’ I can guarantee you’re not taking the 10 minutes it takes to plan and block your day,” Parikh says. “There has never been an easier way to take control of your time, attention, and productivity.”
Failing to plan is planning to fail
It seems the old adage rings true. If you are an ambitious person who wants to be more productive, Parikh says, the number one asset you need to learn to build and invest in is planning.
“Planning impacts your income, consistency, control, relationships, personal development, fulfillment, and time,” she says.
All work and no play isn’t the answer
Yes, planning is key, and becoming more productive does take work, but that’s not all there is to it.
“Consistently productive people know they need to get focused,” Parikh says, “but in order to keep themselves focused, they have to make the time and space for their distractions, too.”
So how do you do that? Parikh suggests a two-step process.
Step 1: Schedule five to 15 minutes for ONE of your distractions (email, social media, etc.) after you have scheduled and completed 30-60 minutes on one of your priorities for a focused period of time.
Step 2: Set a timer for your allocated distraction time.
“Without boundaries around our distractions, or worse, not creating dedicated time for them at all, they interrupt our thoughts and progress and significantly lower [our] productivity,” Parikh says.
Parikh’s tips can be applied to any area where we want to become more productive, but for some career-specific productivity hacks, we got insight from Daisy Jing, a YouTube vlogger, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of beauty product line Banish.
- “Instead of calling, send a voice message through WhatsApp messenger,” she says, to avoid spending time talking about unnecessary topics.
- “Wear comfortable clothes like athleisure, giving you a chance to work, be comfortable and exercise anytime you want. [There’s no] need to really look fab and stylish at work! Just be productive and practical!” says Jing.
- “Be aware of your weaknesses and delegate those tasks. Always make sure that you only spend time on tasks that only you can do.”
Changing your lifestyle
Let’s face it: Becoming more productive, especially for those of us who have perfected the art of procrastination, is a lifestyle change.
Tiffany Toombs, lifestyle coach at Blue Lotus Mind, shares her advice for changes we can make to our daily habits to give productivity room to thrive.
- Prioritize: “When it comes to your goals, decide on the most important things you need to do each day to move closer to that goal and do those things first in the day,” she says.
- Declutter: “Our physical environment reflects our mental and emotional state. If we hold onto ‘clutter’ (both physical and emotional) from the past, we don’t have the energy or space to create something new in the future,” Toombs explains. “Your physical space should reflect the person you’re striving to become, not the person you’ve been.” To declutter your space, she recommends picking one room (she suggests your bedroom) to start with.
- Meditate: “Meditation and other mindfulness practices such as journaling allow us to slow down our ‘monkey mind’ and be more present and in the moment,” says Toombs. “When we focus on being present, we’re more likely to get things done, and [get them] done faster with a higher quality because we’re not distracted by things from the past or the future.”
- Stop hitting snooze: Getting up earlier quite simply gives you more time in the day to work with. “Studies show that if we hit the snooze button an average of four times a day on weekdays, we lose an extra six days a year to sleep!” says Toombs.
- Create a routine: “Creating routines (especially for the evening and morning) allow our bodies to wind down in the evenings or gear up in the mornings faster,” Toombs says.