Being productive is a lot like eating your correct portions of fruits and vegetables every single day.
It’s insanely healthy and beneficial for your body, most people are aware of the positive effects, but almost no one does it as much as they should.
Much like maintaining a proper diet, increasing your productivity can provide you with a higher quality of life.
This comprehensive guide was put together to give you actionable steps, along with useful resources to make you more productive and do more with your life than you ever thought you could. It is also organized in a way that’s easy to digest and find exactly what applies to your life the most.
There are three main sections (click to go straight to each one):
- Ease Into It – Things you can do today.
- Focus Up – Techniques that aren’t instant but will help after getting used to them in a short period of time.
- You’re All In – These take time and effort to develop but will be incredibly beneficial once you get into the habits.
Each of these was designed to accommodate your productivity needs along every step of your journey, no matter if you’ve never done a productive thing a day in your life, or if you run your own fortune 500 company.
But before you get started, let’s take a look at what exactly productivity means, and why it’s so beneficial.
What Does It Mean To Be Productive Anyway?
Great question. Your enthusiasm is the perfect first step.
The almighty Dictionary.com describes it as “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services”, or in economic terms “the rate at which goods and services having exchange value are brought forth or produced”.
So essentially, productivity is how much you get done and how quickly you get it done.
This is wildly important because life tends to go by more quickly than we’d like. Most of your lives revolve around work, family, relationships, hobbies, and much more. The 24 hours in each day that you have to make things happen is precious, and anything that you choose to do with your time should be fairly important.
Increasing your productivity will allow you to add more important things into your life in the same amount of time as you were doing before.
That’s something that everyone wants. So let’s get to it.
Productivity Ninja Toolkit
These are the best and most thorough resources to help enhance the productivity in your life that are available. It includes lists of the most helpful books, blogs, podcasts, and digital tools that were designed with life efficiency in mind.
Some of the points made in this guide might overlap with these resources and vice versa, but ultimately, the two are meant to be used in conjunction with each other and bookmarked, so you can refer back to them later.
Best Productivity Books:
- 4 Hour Workweek – written by Tim Ferris – Ferris gives actionable insight into how to be more efficient with your time, work smarter, and escape the recurring cycle of most American’s unbalanced work-life struggle.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – written by Stephen R. Covey – This highlights the importance of 7 key concepts of effectiveness. Or as Covey refers to them, “principles”. He claims that everyone has the ability to create these principles, and instructs the reader how to maximize your life’s potential while putting them into practice.
- Life Hacker – written by Gina Trapani and Adam Pash – A very technical guide to being more productive. Plain and simple. It is all about building specific habits to increase your output in the same amount of time.
- Time Warrior – written by Steve Chandler – Chandler provides a unique take on the personal productivity model. He dives deep into the very way that we think and process information. From there he goes on to teach how we can reshape that functioning, just from paying attention.
- Getting Things Done – written by David Allen- In this book, Allen is all about effective time management. It goes over principles that will help reshape how you use your time, organize your life, and ultimately, how you go about getting things done.
Best Productivity Blogs:
- Lifehack – This blog offers easy to follow tips about a wide variety of subjects and is designed to make your life better.
- Unsettle – Unsettle is about offering perspective and inspiration to create a more enjoyable future.
- Dumb Little Man – Each article from DLM is honest and offers direct advice that is dedicated to helping you improve in a variety of ways.
- Zen Habits – Zen habits features posts that focus on quick, and applicable ways to be presently focused in everyday life.
- Time Management Ninja – Every blog post on this site gives great tips on how to boost your daily time efficiency.
Best Productivity Tools:
- Google Drive (Obviously) – App – Google drive is an incredible organizational tool. It allows you to use the same functionality as the Microsoft suite, but with your information saved instantly to the cloud, and the ability to collaborate with others.
- StayFocused – App – This tool is all about efficiency. It will help you stay on track by restricting access to programs, websites, etc while you focus on the task at hand.
- Instant 3.0 – App – Instant 3.0 is essentially an analytics program for your life. It keeps track of your phone time, social media time, sleep, and more. Once you understand how you’re spending your time, you can work towards maximizing it.
- Blinkist – App – Much like Sparknotes, this app will give you summaries of any personal development book imaginable. You will be able to be inspired and gain knowledge in a fraction of the time of reading a full book.
- Grammarly – App – This amazing app automatically makes suggestions about your grammar, syntax, and spelling as you type. It does this right in your browser no matter if you’re on facebook, the backend of a website, or whatever else.
- BONUS – Pen & Paper – Seriously. It’s an oldie but goodie that will help you retain information better.
Best Productivity Podcasts:
- 5 AM Miracle – The 5 AM Miracle is all about maximizing your day right from the time you wake up. It tells about how to get work done at your peak work time, which usually happens earlier rather than later.
- Getting Things Done – In this podcast, host David Allen really boils down how we organize and process tasks, and gives listeners techniques on how to management time more effectively and in a way that can be processed more easily.
- Extreme Productivity – Extreme productivity is the mecca of productivity podcasts. It offers extremely actionable advice of all kinds to truly improve your productivity and the efficiency in which you get things done.
- Quick and Dirty Tips – QDT much like the name, is all about offering easily digestible, yet very helpful tips on just about every life topic imaginable.
- Beyond The To Do List – Beyond the to-do list gets back to the basics. It provides valuable insight into how we prioritize tasks in our lives, and how better delegate those tasks to ultimately accomplish more in a shorter time frame.
Now that you’ve got your pep talk, understand why productivity is so important, and have the tools in place to put what you’ve learned in action, It’s time to be more productive.
Read on to start your awesomely productive future!
Ease Into It
1. Ease into it
You’ve just decided to start getting more things done and you’re jacked.
That’s good! But you can’t just jump right into doing 18 new things by day’s end, you won’t be as likely to stick with it.
Instead, pick 1 or 2 things a day that you can do slightly differently to make yourself stay on task.
One example of this could be to spend 30 minutes extra a day getting work done instead of relaxation time. Or if you like to watch an hour of tv before bed, instead, watch just 45 minutes.
2. Small projects first
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything that you have to do.
Same goes for getting starting on “becoming productive”. Instead of trying to completely overhaul your entire life all in one move, start off with easy things.
For example, instead of setting a goal to make 1 million dollars by next week, start by making that goal to make your bed every day. Do that for two weeks to get into the habit of something, and expand from there.
For some easy ideas to get started on check out refinery’s productivity guide.
3.Write your goals down
This tip is another no brainer.
Research has shown, that we retain information better, and are more likely to get things done if we write them down. Here’s why:
Writing is harder than reading – When we read, it’s possible to just skim without fully digesting the information. Writing it makes you more involved, and helps the information stick.
You’re making it real – It’s very easy to make a commitment to yourself in your head, and then attempt to try and stick to it. But really, if you write something down, especially in a place that you are going to see frequently, you’ve given yourself a constant reminder to keep in line with your goal.
Clarity – Our minds aren’t perfectly organized machines that carefully put everything into the right category and instantly make sense of everything. No matter how hard we try. Forcing yourself to write down what it is that you want, will help it become clearer and more concrete.
4.Make time for fun
This is probably one of the most simple ways to be more productive, but also one that enough people don’t do.
Making time to have fun and enjoy yourself is imperative. It helps you break up the monotony of just working all the time, which leads to less stress.
Less stress means working with more fervor and being more involved while you are actually getting work done.
If you don’t even remember how to have fun, here are some choice ideas:
- Take a walk
- Go see a movie
- Invite your friend out to coffee
- Find a day trip destination
5. Make a list of things you want to do
Now that you’ve got lists on your brain, there’s another type of list you need to keep in mind.
You’ve also got to write down things that you WANT TO DO as well. Why you might ask?
I’ll tell you.
Keeping in mind the things that you’d like to accomplish for fun or that make you happy will motivate you to work diligently in order achieve success and be able to enjoy them more often down the road.
A solid list will keep your priorities straight when you don’t feel like being all that productive.
6. Set short term goals
These are your baby steps.
They shouldn’t be too lofty like lose 50 pounds or get married. Short term goals are somewhat challenging but also achievable, realistic, and within the near future.
When done consistently over time, these can lead to accomplishing much larger goals that seemed impossible from the beginning.
The saying goes, long are the days, but short are the years, progress will add up into incredible results.
Short term goals are best kept by:
- Writing them in a planner
- Sticky notes around your desk
- Planning them out/reevaluating them frequently
7. Get a whiteboard for your kitchen/bedroom
A whiteboard is the sticky note’s much larger, intelligent, and more athletic older brother. Who was voted prom king in high school and was probably even both of their parent’s favorite child.
When it comes to accountability, nothing beats these things. Whiteboards can be placed anywhere in the house or workplace, and because of their stark white color, can stand out in any situation.
They’re also incredibly easy to make edits to, because of the always amazing dry erase technology, you can quickly and easily change your goals, make additions, or erase anything that is needed.
Whiteboards are not only efficient, but they are pretty good at holding you accountable. Physically taking the time to write down what you need to accomplish each day, week, or month, and getting in the habit of checking what you’ve written each day, will allow you consistently take steps towards reaching your goals.
8. Procrastinate a little bit (let your mind wander)
One of my favorite childhood heroes once said, “Hakuna Matata”.
If you don’t know what that means, then you need to go make your parents give you an apology for allowing you to have such a terrible childhood. That particular quote is from The Lion King, and more specifically Timon, who was a role model of a meerkat.
It very simply means “No Worries”.
But Ken, how could worrying less about something possibly get me to be more productive??
Part of the reason why some people don’t get things done or don’t seem to be able to motivate themselves is because they’ve actually fried their brains. Life burnout can occur when too many points of stress have invaded someone’s life at the same moment, causing them to effectively just shut down.
Taking the time to get away from all of that stress, even if it’s just for a few moments in between your workflow each day, can help clear your mind, boost creativity, and even help keep your morale high enough to keep you focused and determined.
So yeah, Hakuna Matata.
9. Take breaks in between important tasks
I bet you can’t take a guess what the only animals that will run until exhaustion are?
Not even close.
The correct answer is horses, dogs, and people.
That’s right, us humans are so stubborn (I use that word intentionally), that we will actually kill ourselves trying to accomplish a task in one try, rather than pacing it out, or admitting defeat and living to try again.
When you’re in the middle of working for long periods of time, and you realize that you haven’t eaten, slept, or bathed in awhile, it’s time to take a break.
This isn’t just some kumbaya hippy advice either, taking small breaks between periods of intense focus can increase efficiency, ensure that you stay on task longer, and even allow you to be a happier person.
Don’t believe me. Go check out those links. ^
10. Drink coffee
Personally, nobody out there has to convince me to drink this perfectly bitter, rich, and tasty nectar from the heavens. But if you’re not too big of a fan, I’ve got some news for you.
Coffee in moderate amounts has been linked to higher productivity and even achieving greater success.
Think about it. Picture yourself at the office, it’s only 10 am, you’ve only gotten about 5 hours of sleep, and you’re already dozing off.
You’ve got about as much chance of getting your work done as a millennial figuring out how to do their taxes. But that’s exactly where coffee comes in handy, the caffeine can give you that boost you need to power through the day.
“Hold on though, I work a 9-hour shift, won’t the energy fade away?” Yes, you are absolutely correct. That’s where cup number two comes in. Drinking another cup of coffee around midday will provide the second spike you need to finish your workload with eyes wide open.
According to Redbooth, not only does coffee contain health-boosting antioxidants, but it literally stops your brain from thinking it’s sleepy by blocking your brain’s adenosine receptors (tired makers).
The recommended amount is between 3-5 cups a day for maximum productivity. But rest assured, “a cup” is actually only 8 ounces officially.
11. Write things down with a paper and pen instead of electronically
This one comes down to plain old fashioned science. I’m talking about facts here.
You are more likely to remember a task when physically writing it down, than recording it electronically. The TLDR version of why this happens boils down to a debate of quality over quantity.
When we record things electronically, versus writing them down by hand, we actually aren’t engaging our brains as much into the activity. Using a device is pretty efficient and can even keep things organized easily for you, but when it comes to long-term comprehension, the two just don’t compare.
Requiring yourself to decide on how to write the letters of each word, and physically organizing the information actually helps it stick more in your mind. This increased memory will allow you to keep the task at the forefront of your thinking, which will help lead to accomplishing it ultimately.
So if you really have something you want to get done, be sure to write it down a lot.
12. Tell your friends about it
Sometimes the only people that are going to give it to you straight, be completely honest, and keep you in line are your friends.
Whether it’s getting a little chubby from those late night taco bell runs, those bell bottom pants that probably belong back in the 70s, or when you’ve got a major attitude problem, a good friend will always let you know.
Whenever you decide on a task that you really want to make happen, it’s a great idea to announce it publicly.
Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Get your goal out there as much as possible. Doing so will help you reach your goals faster, and the reason is quite simple.
That’s right, the thought of complete and total guilt and/or shame can be an incredibly powerful motivating factor. Just picture when the last time was that you let down or disappointed someone that you cared about. It felt pretty awful right?
So by simply spreading the good word about your new endeavor, you’ll be getting a whole new channel of motivation because you don’t want to disappoint those around you.
This also has the added bonus of giving you positive encouragement. Your loved ones and social circles will now essentially consist of a group of dedicated cheerleaders that will be rooting for you the entire way.
They’ll post encouraging words on your timeline for you, potentially join in on your training to support, engage with your posts about your progress, offer advice and tips on how to get better, and when you’ve accomplished your goal, they’ll be the first to congratulate you.`
13. Reward yourself
Success calls for a celebration.
When you crush a goal or reach an important benchmark, you need to celebrate the occasion.
Whether you celebrate by taking yourself out to dinner or buying some much-needed gems for your Clash of Clans game, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something!
Long durations of hard work can make you feel depleted and burned out. Rewarding yourself combats these negative feelings and gives you a sense of accomplishment. From a psychological standpoint, rewards tell your brain to continue your current behavior.
Rewards serve as positive reinforcement when you’re having success and making daily progress towards the completion of your goals.
14. Go outside/leave your house once a day
“Getting some fresh air” isn’t just some cliche’ that your grandpa made up to sound clever.
There are real benefits to going outside, being in nature, and generally leaving your house at least once every day (aside from your commute to work).
The first is that it breaks up the monotony of your day. It has been proven time and time again that focusing on one task for too long (especially in the same place) will hinder your productivity.
For maximum getting-things-done-ness, follow these easy tips:
- Spend at least one hour of your day outside
- Even if it’s just taking a walk, add a little exercise to your not-inside time
- Do it when it’s sunny out (our bodies love the sun)
Second, you get the opportunity to spend time with other human beings. Seeing, talking to, and spending time with other people can be both inspiring and motivational. They can take your mind off of your current issue long enough for your brain to actually process it instead of being fried from over focusing.
Giving your brain a break, and doing activities that are stimulating and exciting will recharge your batteries and be more efficient when you get back to working.
15. Give a consequence for failing
Almost as important as having an incentive to keep you going in the form of a reward, is creating risks for yourself if you fail.
Just being disappointed or discouraged isn’t always enough of a deterrent when it comes to sticking with our goals and plans for ourselves. Sometimes you’ve got to take things a step further and truly light a fire underneath yourself to give you that extra bit of motivation.
For example, if you usually take a weekend trip every other week, if you don’t meet that deadline or goal you set for yourself, skip the trip and get back to work. If you treat yourself to a steak every Thursday for a successful week at work, and you end up slacking off all week instead, you’re getting broccoli.
Get the picture?
The goal here is to associate the bad behavior with a negative consequence (one that is powerful enough to truly influence your choices) enough times that you learn to work harder just to avoid it.
It’s a good idea to involve others with this tip who can keep you accountable and even help administer the consequence if needed.
You’ve got to make it real though. When done correctly, you can train anyone to make just about anything happen.
16. Wake up at the same time on the weekends
Waking up consistently isn’t just beneficial during the week.
Getting into a natural rhythm on the weekends can help your body get used to getting up and taking care of all of your responsibilities. Even if those responsibilities are just to get out of the house and have a little fun.
It might be easy to allow yourself to “sleep in” or stay in bed all day long on the weekends, but in reality, the extra sleep is more counterproductive than anything. It will make you groggy and take up a good portion of your day, which will make you feel rushed.
17. Start the day with a workout
Exercise isn’t always fun. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.
But, working out does release serotonin (chemicals that make you happy) in your brain. Also, doing that first thing in the morning will give you a huge sense of accomplishment and feeling of positivity as the first thing that you do.
From this point on, you will want to continue that momentum and keep it going throughout the day. It will wake you up and keep you alert throughout work or any other daily task you have.
Here are some easy and effective workouts to implement inside and outside of the gym:
18. Give yourself time to do everything
This is super important.
When planning your day, and in order to actually get things done, be sure to give yourself the proper amount of time to get everything done.
That means figuring out how important each task you want to get done is, and giving yourself a reasonable amount of time to accomplish them.
I know if I am running late or feeling rushed, I end up being less productive because I get anxious/on edge and then frustrated. You probably do too. So make sure to give yourself enough time!
19. Make lists of things you need to do
Go make a list.
In fact, go make all of the lists.
Lists are a great tool because in modern society we like to juggle about a million different responsibilities at once. Work, school, friends, family, maintaining a blog, time with our significant others, binge watching Breaking Bad, it never ends.
So these can be an excellent way to organize what really needs to get done and remind you about what your priorities should be.
If you want to learn how to make a proper list, check out this guide for to do lists.
20. Wake up at the same time during the week
The real magic behind this tip is helping to get yourself into a routine.
Being in a routine helps you be more productive with anything involved in the routine because you’ve hardwired the activities into your brain from WANTING to almost REQUIRING them to get done for you to function.
Waking up at the same time during the week will allow you to more accurately plan your time, get a set sleep schedule down, and will get your body on board with what you expect of it.
21. Keep true priorities in life in mind
Sometimes it’s easy to get tunnel vision when we’re really going. To some people, being constantly busy goes from being part of the journey, to the end goal.
That isn’t what true productivity is, because you’re not being useful. Don’t lose sight of your goals.
Be sure to remind yourself DAILY, or even more frequently if need be, what it is that you’re wanting to accomplish. Here are some good questions to ask yourself to make sure that you’re still on track:
- What are you working for?
- Why are you getting up each day?
- How closely are you sticking to your goals?
- Is what you’re doing right now or later going to help the one or two major goals you set for yourself previously?
If you said no to any of those, you’re just going through the motions. So stop, take a deep breath, and reevaluate.
22. Limit screen time
The average adult in America spends an average of 10 hours consuming media each and every day. That’s so much time that could be spent towards other activities. Online time is one of the biggest killers to being a productive person.
There also isn’t anything wrong with Facebooking friends or watching a few funny videos on Youtube, but it falls under entertainment, and entertainment should never take up the majority of time on any given day.
Start off by keeping track of and recording how much time you spend online each day. You can use this handy tracking app to do this.
Once you’ve seen how outrageous your internet time is, challenge yourself to spend the next week only using half that amount of time total. Trying to quit using your phone or using social media all in one week or day will probably lead to failure, and you being very discouraged in yourself.
Instead, try cutting your times in half or taking away a ⅓ of the time each week until you are at a point where you are comfortable with your productivity and are getting to the point where your desired short and long term goals are being consistently accomplished.
23. Spend a day without your phone
Our phones have taken over our lives, and we’ve formed somewhat of an addiction to them and the portals of the internet they bring us into.
One of the biggest killers of productivity is the huge amounts of idle downtime we spend typing and swiping each and every day.
It’s poisonous. And you do it much more than you think.
Instead of just pulling out your phone by default and making it your go to throughout the day at all times whenever you have a moment of downtime, try spending an entire day without your phone.
Hiding your cellular device away for a day will help you get more things done for two main reasons:
- It’s really good to learn alternate methods of how to spend your downtime and find ways to be productive.
- Spending time away from your phone will allow you to disconnect from the influence of media and others and will allow you to put your priorities back in order.
24. Mentally plan out how you’re going to accomplish what’s at hand
There are times in life, where we get so excited about starting something and making it happen that we forget to do one of the most important steps to success…
Taking time think about what it is we want, why we want it, and most importantly, how we’re actually going to get there is imperative.
- Why do you want this?
- What is the time commitment going to be?
- Realistically, how hard is it going to be?
- Is this the right time to try?
- What are you willing to give up for it?
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Get your mind right and set your eyes on the RIGHT prize.
25. Get a hobby
If you have a hobby, and it’s something you care about, you will put a great deal of effort into it. Plain and simple.
So if you don’t have one, getting one can be good for learning how to properly structure your time and become motivated to accomplish one specific thing. You can use that same mentality and apply it to other aspects of your life and personal development as well.
Hobbies also help to relieve stress and can keep your life running highly at a smooth and more balanced level.
Here are some common hobbies of successful people who know how to get things done:
- Guitar or Piano
26. Use your “down time” more efficiently each day
Downtown is amazing.
It’s the time away from work, the kids, the pressures of everyday life that you don’t really have designated towards anything specific.
But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be useful as well.
If you want to be more productive and successful then you’re going to have to start structuring that unstructured time in a more….you know…structured way.
There are two things to keep in mind to try and get this done.
Plan it out. I know planning out your only non-committed time of the day seems like a huge drag but it’s actually for your own benefit. If you don’t plan out the time, chances are that life will get in the way and you’ll end up not giving yourself any formal time that’s open to new things.
You will end up compensating for this by not being as productive during activities that require your full attention and by taking “micro procrastinations”.
Make time for every type. The different kinds of free time filler categories are as followed:
- Nothing Time
- Personal Development
- Health and Wellness
Be sure to allocate enough of your planned free time to fulfill each type so you have a well-rounded and balanced lifestyle. That way when it comes time to getting the things done that you really need to, you’ll be fired up to finish them because you know you only have those few precious moments each day.
27. Read more and listen to podcasts
Knowledge truly is power, and on the path to knowledge, you’re going to have to accumulate information.
The more you read, the more you know, and the more you know, the better equipped you will be to accomplish your tasks at hand more efficiently. You will also be less likely to make mistakes on your journey.
Take 15-30 minutes out of each and every day to read, or listen to podcasts or audiobooks.
Learning while listening is great because you can do it on your morning commute, while you work, while you’re exercising, and many other situations. It’s a very flexible medium. The productivity tool kit will have some great examples of books and podcasts on productivity to get you started.
28. Wake up earlier
If you’ve ever wondered why “there just can’t be more time in the day”, then you’re going about your dilemma of unproductiveness all wrong.
Of course, everyone would love more time on any given day, but twenty-four hours truly can be plenty. You just have to learn how to use the time that you do have more effectively, which can be done simply by waking up earlier.
Think about it.
If you have to work 8 hours a day, are commuting for an hour and a half, and sleep for 10 hours into the afternoon, you now only have roughly 4 hours to get anything else done with your day. This doesn’t even include getting ready for bed, making or eating dinner, and any other daily task.
So waking up an hour earlier each morning and dedicating that to completing a task you have set your mind to will give you a little wiggle room for anything you want to accomplish that goes outside of the general life category.
It may be a little rough at first, but the more you do it and once you make it a habit, your body will adapt and you’ll soon find yourself enjoying all the extra time you’ve created for yourself during the week that you had previously been wasting on dreaming a little longer.
29. Get more sleep
One reason that you’re lazy and not getting enough things done is because you’re tired.
You’re tired because you don’t get enough sleep.
It’s literally that simple.
The whole 8 hours thing isn’t just a cute cliche designed by parents to get some quiet time away from their kids at night, it’s been proven by research that we each need that many hours to be at our maximum performance throughout the day.
When you don’t get enough sleep you can think about yourself as a Porsche that hasn’t gotten an oil change in about 2 years and has very little gas left. Your body is still a pretty decent machine, but it’s not going to run anywhere near it’s maximum performance.
If you’re someone who has trouble sleeping (and not just an insane person who keeps convincing themselves that sleep isn’t something they need), then there are a few things you can do to make sure you get more:
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Get the room a little chilly
- Don’t eat anything prior to 2 hours before you go to bed
- Say no to the screens
By getting the necessary amount of sleep that your body needs you will be more alert, and your brain will respond better to the tasks that you have before it.
A better-performing brain = accomplishing tasks more effectively.
30. Have a designated work space
We’ve all heard the old cliche that you are what you eat right?
It also happens to be true that you are where you work.
Okay, that didn’t quite sound as smoothly in writing as it did in my mind, but it’s true. Your physical work environment can be the difference in how much you get done, how quickly you get it done, and can determine the overall quality of your work as well.
There are four big things you want to keep in mind when selecting the perfect workspace:
- Keep it consistent
- Loved ones don’t belong
- Minimize the media
- Make it comfortable
Creating the ideal workplace will ensure that when you sit down to get started on your work (or stand), your mind and body will associate where you are with productivity. This will help get you into work mode more quickly and ultimately get more things done.
31. Plan your schedule ahead of time
This is all about giving yourself direction. Nothing can be more of a productivity killer than trying to figure out what it is that you should be doing in the first place.
One way to dramatically cut down on your decision-making time (which takes up production time) is by planning your schedule out way ahead of time.
Sunday is a great day for this because it’s usually a lazy day for most people recovering from their weekends, the day before having to go back to work for the new week, and lets you take into account what you did the full prior week as well.
In general, it’s a good idea to make (or use an already existing) calendar with:
- The day
- Activity name
- How long you’re going to work on it
- Order of importance for what has to get done
Remember not to schedule in too much or you’ll risk getting overwhelmed. Instead, try to challenge yourself and watch the magic happen!
32. Meal prep
This is a two-for-one.
Meal prepping is not only good for being as productive as possible, but it’s incredibly great for your health as well.
The first week that I started preparing my meals ahead of time , I saved seven total hours of time during the week, which if you’re anywhere near as busy as I am, that’s a significant amount of time.
Seven hours of week can mean the difference of writing a book in 6 months rather than a year, it can be the difference in working in a workout every day of the week because you don’t have to prepare dinner, or it can even mean more time to dedicate towards starting or running your own business.
Meal prepping comes down to being more efficient with your time.
Sometimes our time is taken up by a bunch of mundane and very small tasks that add up to take over large periods of our lives but don’t actually lead to accomplishing any bigger or more meaningful goals or dreams.
It also has the added benefit of making you a healthier you as well. Meal prep allows you to:
- Control what ingredients go into your body & how they’re prepared
- Portion out your meals in a structured way to make sure you’re eating at the right times
Getting your meals together isn’t hard either. Here is how to prep your meals like a champion:
- Figure out how much money/food you’re going to need for the month
- Buy all of your ingredients that you’re going to need for the week
- Find a day during the week where you can cook up a storm for a long time
- Cook all of the food you got for the week all at once
- Store it in containers of your choosing in the refrigerator in the exact portions you’ll need for the week
- Enjoy your free time and deliciously prepared food!
33. Collaborate/Get help
Don’t be the dad on the road trip who’s driven past the same Walmart in Albuquerque 3 times because he doesn’t want to stop and ask for directions.
Working with others isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s the perfect way to get things done better and more quickly.
Even the most talented individuals on the planet don’t know and aren’t good at everything. Often, the most successful people surround themselves with other talented folks who will either compliment their skill sets or bring a completely new perspective to the table.
Next time you’re stuck on a problem, instead of sitting, not getting anything done, and being frustrated for hours, GO GET SOME HELP.
Ask a friend, post it on facebook, call your mom, anything helps. Or if you’re seeking some next level assistance, check out these online help resources:
- Craigslist – You can reach out to others in your local area for assistance.
- Quora – Quora is an online forum that allows you to post questions and have them answered by the rest of the community.
- RedPen – An easy way to get quick feedback and make improvements to visual based projects you’re working on.
- Youtube – Because of the vastness of its user base, there are such a wide variety of helpful and instructional videos on virtually any subject.
- Scribblar – Think of this as a giant, online whiteboard. It’s an amazing tool if you have a project that requires collaboration.
34. Compare/keep track of your progress week over week
It is extremely difficult to truly know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been.
Positive reinforcement is also an incredibly effective motivational tool.
These two realities of life are why it is so important to record your progress throughout the entirety of any type of journey that you embark on. Not only does this process improve your vision for the future, but it helps keep you moving forward when you might not feel like you’re making any progress.
One helpful way to compare your results is by either purchasing or making a giant calendar. On the calendar, you can record what steps you need to take to achieve your goals each day and the timeframe for how long you want it to take.
Not only does this help keep you on track for the future, but at the end of your journey, you can take a look back and see how far you’ve come. Also, keeping a journal or a diary of what you were able to accomplish each day will allow you to look back on your progress whenever you need to.
Bufferap’s got a great post that elaborates on measuring progress.
35. Read inspiring books/articles
Staying motivated and optimistic is key when working to achieve a goal. But as you may well know, doing so is not always a walk in the park.
Reading inspirational material that others have written is amazing because it offers a different perspective that can give you the slight mental push needed to continue on, and can offer insight into a situation you’re currently in that they have already conquered.
Here are the must reads in terms of productivity and success:
- Eat That Frog by Brian Tracey
- 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
- 168 Hour: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
- Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
- The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- The 4-hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
The great thing about these books is that they are written in a way that’s easily digestible, by authors who are either experts, or have done what they’re writing about, and offer truly actionable pieces of advice to help you. So get reading!
36. Get post its for the office
Post-its are incredible.
They have the ability to switch any normal man or woman’s brain into full on photographic status.
Post it notes allow you to quickly jot down what’s going on in your brain, and have the information quickly and readily accessible to you whenever you want.
This will end up freeing your brain from the burden of concentrating on remembering a list of tasks and allow you to process the most immediate tasks at hand.
PRO TIP: Attach the sticky notes directly to the inside of your eyelids for maximum exposure (except not really, your computer or laptop screen will actually sacrifice).
You’re All In
37. Set long term goals
*Cue larger and seemingly impossible goals.
Your long term goals are the ultimate prize, the final destination, and what should be written on your bathroom mirror and/or refrigerator to keep you motivated each day.
Long term goals are any aspiration you have that is most likely not going to happen for awhile, and is certainly not going to be easy. It should be something that you ultimately want to happen with your life or one important aspect of your life.
Whether it’s paying off your mortgage in under 20 years, starting and owning your own company, or becoming a 3-time Olympic decathlete, it’s going to take a lot of effort, time, and dedication.
When developing your long term goals, really give thought to what 2 or 3 things are most important to you in life and go after those. The focus on these will help keep your eye on the prize.
38. Find your best time to get each thing done (work, friends, side projects)
Life gets a little busy sometimes. For everyone. That’s perfectly understandable.
But, if you really want to get more things done, you can’t let that be an excuse. Successful and productive human beings find a way to prioritize the important things, and allocate the right amount of time to the right task.
To easily get started on your journey of prioritization, there are a few easy steps you can take.
Start by writing everything down that you usually do each day and how much time out of your day it takes. This can be anything, work, school, significant other time, Netflix and chilling, whatever. Then while you’re thinking rationally and as objectively as possible, order each item from most to least important in terms of what you want to achieve.
The goal is to be spending the most time on the items you are most passionate about. So find out where the discrepancies are of where and how you’re spending your time. Then make the necessary changes.
39. Get rid of physical/mental distractions
Here’s an easy one, just move to the Himalayas and become a monk. The lack of people, societal influence, and solitude will force you to accomplish your goals.
Oh, that’s a little too extreme for you? Fine, I guess I can offer an alternative.
You need to have a designated space and time when you get your work done that isn’t noisy, away from friends and family, and is conducive to getting things done where you can go repeatedly until it becomes a habit.
Getting into a routine with your workflow in a designated workspace will take away from the excuses that you might make that could potentially take you away from your work.
Also, if something is weighing heavily on your mind, trying figuring out a way to resolve the issue or put it away into a different part of your brain prior to starting, so that you aren’t stopping constantly to give thought to it.
Nobody is perfect or has completely unwavering mental fortitude, but we can take necessary steps to removing distractions from our lives and mind while we’re working.
40. Have a better diet
Bacon cheeseburgers are tasty. Cake is delicious. Cheetos are little orange pieces of perfection.
But what do all of those have in common? They give your body very little nutrition, and nutrition isn’t just about gaining or losing weight. Remember that our bodies are machines that run off of energy which comes in the form of calories.
Foods that don’t have all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need to keep that machine running, will keep you propped up, but definitely not running at full capacity.
When you aren’t eating well, that’s when you’ll tend to feel more lethargic and less energetic, which will cause you to not feel like getting as much done. Here are the biggest tips when it comes to healthy eating:
- Stay away from foods with more than 5 ingredients in them
- Cook as often as possible
- Try and go for a variety of foods in each food group
- Limit sodium and sugar intake
- Drink more water
Try implementing those and you’ll be surprised at how many more things you end up getting done during any given day.
41. Stay sober
Alcohol is a depressant. Plain and simple.
No matter how much fun you think it enables you to have, no matter how much everyone associates it with highly social activities, and no matter how many “good times” you’ve had while drinking, it’s still a downer, not an upper.
This is the definition of a depressant drug (yes, alcohol is a drug):
“a drug that lowers neurotransmission levels, which is to depress or reduce arousal or stimulation, in various areas of the brain…When depressants are used, effects often include ataxia, anxiolysis, pain relief, sedation or somnolence, and cognitive/memory impairment”
Now, I’m definitely not a neurosurgeon, but you don’t have to be one to understand that what Wikipedia just described is the complete opposite of being highly productive.
Sure, anything in moderation really won’t ever be that bad for you in the long run, but consider seriously limiting your drinking, or going completely cold turkey if there is something that you truly want to achieve. Waking up hungover, bloated, and sick does not make for a day full of activity and progress.
42. Find a good routine
Ask any successful person if they follow some sort of routine and the greater majority would answer yes!
Established routines can help you become more efficient at your daily activities. A routine is essentially the practice of your daily schedule. When you discover things that benefit your daily productivity, you should do your best to incorporate them into your routine.
Bill Gates likes to watch instructional videos in the morning while running on the treadmill, he believes it awakens both his body and mind.
Your routine could be as simple as doing 15 minutes of yoga or as complex as solving a Rubix cube in under two minutes, but regardless of the activity, make sure it helps your overall productivity for the day.
Mark Twain offered up some great advice about routines, he said “start your mornings by eating a live frog and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”.
That man had a great sense of humor, you don’t have to be that extreme when it comes to your routine, just make sure it influences your life in a positive manner.
Often times when in the middle of a project, there can be a bit of a slump. Especially if you’ve been working on this particular piece of work for a great length of time.
It’s incredibly frustrating and it seems like your brain just shuts down and no longer has anything to offer.
Some do yoga, others mentally prepare before getting started with their work, and there are even people who might meditate in the middle of a given task. How you meditate is completely up to you based on what your needs are.
But the importance of meditation is relatively simple. It’s taking the time to separate your mind and thought process from all external factors that are competing for your attention and taking your brain in too many directions.
When done correctly, meditation can allow you to clear your mind of anything that won’t help towards allowing you to reach your goal and be a great tool to get focused again.
44. Use technology
Back in more ancient times, people had to use these contraptions called encyclopedias to look up information. Nowadays Google delivers us more information than we could ever want. You literally can Google how to do anything, and you will receive answers!
Technology has made many aspects of our lives much easier. In the past, you had to physically attend meetings. But thanks to software like GoToMeeting, we can attend meetings in suit jackets and pajama bottoms.
Technology has given us many tools that can drastically increase our productivity. There are countless apps and website that you should utilize to facilitate your daily activities.
Here’s a list of apps that can make you life easier:
- RescueTime – Time management software that keeps you productive
- Asana – Helps teams stay on track by managing projects
- Everydollar – Budgeting app that allows you to manage your spending
- Sunrise – A calendar app that puts all the important dates and events in one place
- Clap Phone finder – Seriously folks, the future is now, just clap and the app will do the rest
- Sleepytime – helps you get to bed on time-based your circadian rhythms(aka sleep magic)
- OhDon’tForget – sends you text reminders of important stuff
Many of these apps can make everyday tasks just a little bit easier, which in turn helps you be more productive.
45. Become a morning person
You know that saying your grandpa lectured at you as he gave you stale butterscotch candy “The early bird gets the worm!”
Well according to scientific research, it’s true.
Christoph Randler, a professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg Germany, research suggests that morning people are more productive than so-called night owls. Getting up earlier helps you anticipate what the day will bring forth.
Many successful business moguls take the phrase morning person to the extreme.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz likes to be in his office every morning by 6 a.m.
Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up every morning at 3:45 a.m. so that the folks on the east coast don’t get a head start on him.
Being a morning person doesn’t mean you have to wake up extremely early, but it certainly helps to get up at during an early hour to begin a productive work day.
46. Work Less
Sometimes you need to stop working so much in order to get MORE work done.
Yes, I know what I just said. Don’t worry, i’ll explain.
Here is what a typical day looks like for a good amount of people in the United States.
Wake up, commute, work 8 hours, commute, make/eat dinner, consume some form of media, get ready for bed, go to sleep.
See anything wrong there?
There’s no time to go out and make their dreams matter. That mentalit revolves around just getting things done. Also, for a good number of people, between extra deadlines, emails, and everything else, those work hours can be even longer.
In order to put time towards truly important things, you’ve got to prioritize your time in a way that minimizes your time wasted and maximizes the rest of your time so that you can dedicate it to better things.
I’m not necessarily saying to quit your job, but you should only work on your job as much as you have to if it’s not your ultimate goal.
If you’re trying to get more things done at work, then you’ve got to eliminate distractions outside of work as well so you can grow and develop within your company as well.
47. Don’t “multitask”
“Multitasking” is actually one of the quickest paths to being unproductive. Focusing on one thing at a time will enable you to get more done.
You’re probably thinking I’m crazy right now because that sounds pretty counterintuitive right? Well here’s another curveball for you.
Humans can’t multitask. Our brains aren’t capable of doing it. Even NPR and science say so.
Basically, we are just incredibly good at rapidly switching between tasks. But just because you’re good at something, doesn’t mean you should do it. When trying to switch back and forth that often, what’s really going on is thaty you’re spreading yourself thin and not fully allowing yourself to become all the way involved with the task at hand.
Instead of multitasking, schedule each task or event that you have planned for a specific amount of time each day. During this time, don’t work on anything else or allow yourself to be distracted by any outside stimulus.
You will end up finishing each task as you go, instead of having to try and keep track of how much progress you’ve made while attempting to multitask.
48. A happy life is a productive life
Happiness is central to having a good life as well as a productive life.
get and it’s affecting many aspects of their lives, including their productivity.
What you need to understand is that happiness is a personal choice. When you choose to be happy, you will notice life through a positive lens.
This positive lens will allow you to better handle issues that arise throughout your daily activities.
Gretchen Rubin, author of the New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project outlines what she calls the Eight Splendid Truths about Happiness. If you are having issues with your happiness go give her book a read, it will do wonders!
Happiness better equips our brains and bodies to deal with the difficult thing we call life. Here are some ways happiness does that:
- Happiness increases immune system function, less days spent fighting the flu means more days getting work done
- A state of happiness results in improved memory and enhanced cognition
- Happy people have more meaningful relationships
- Happiness helps you rebound from setbacks
Remember these tips and stay happy Folks!
49. Learn to say No
You’ve just sat down and prepared yourself for an intense work session and the phone buzzes.
It’s your best friend on the other end and she’s headed downtown to her party on. Temptation takes you. You agree to go out with her. You’ve succumbed to social pressures and subsequently squandered your working time.
We must learn to say NO, even when we really want to say yes. This kind of self-control is what sets productive people apart from the rest of us.
By saying no, you’re communicating to another individual that your time is valuable to you and you can’t just do whatever you want with it.
Time is the one commodity that you can never have enough of.
An unproductive individual would complain and say “I don’t have enough time to do it” and then proceed to go out for Saturday night drinks with her friends. The productive individual says “no” to Saturday night drinks because they understand how valuable their time is.
One thing that successful people understand is that saying yes to something that isn’t going to benefit their production is a waste of time.
The uber successful businessman Warren Buffet says “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything”.
Learn what to say yes and no to in your life, it will make a huge difference.
50. Becoming a productivity machine
Implementing the tips above will benefit your life tremendously. Here are a few things to remember as you begin your journey down the path of becoming a master of productivity.
When you begin to implement these new habits into your life, it may seem a bit overwhelming while looking at all the new changes about to made in your life.
Make little adjustments first.
Instead of getting up three hours earlier, try getting up just 30 minutes earlier. Instead of quitting Taco Bell cold turkey, limit yourself to 5 gordita crunches a week.
An Uphill Battle
Many of these changes will require drastic changes in your life. Humans don’t like change, they resist it, and resistance leads to noncompliance.
There are going to be days where don’t feel like getting up early and days where you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.
THAT’S OK! As long as you don’t completely revert back to your old unproductive ways.
You’ve got to build momentum when practicing productive habits.
A Productive Lifestyle
Just stick with the process and continue practicing habits that you know will lead you down the path to a productive lifestyle.
Now get out there and live the productive life you’ve always deserved!