In this post, I am going to point out 15 simple ways to be productive every day. But before that, I want to clear some misconceptions most of us have about productivity.
Misconceptions of Productivity
Table of Contents
- The first misconception about productivity is that we tend to think productivity is about getting more things done.
- The second misconception is that productivity is a hoax and instead, we must just do whatever we wish and just enjoy life.
What Productivity actually is
Productivity is not about doing more and getting more things done. Instead, productivity is about getting the right things done.
If there is something that you care about and you know that is important to you, then you need to get it done. How smoothly and efficiently you get those things done that matter to you is productivity.
Also, productivity is not sabotaging your enjoyment and being a workaholic.
Instead, being productive helps us to enjoy life to the fullest because true productivity happens only when you are focusing on the right things that matter which in turn gives you a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
How well we do those things is what productivity is.
And there are definitely great tips to do these things better. These are the tips that help you be productive every day and this is what this post is all about.
So let us get started.
Simple Tips to be productive everyday
1. Plan your day
One can never be productive without a proper plan. When you get up in the morning plan your day first thing.
Now, this can be very simple. This just means being clear on your intentions and getting clear about what you want to do and when you plan on doing it.
Many people say to plan your next day before you sleep but I like to plan my day early in the morning.
I write down on a sticky note the things I want to do and when I plan to do them.
2. Do less
Cut down this to-do list and do less. Do only those things first that are hard, but essential for you.
Productivity is about doing less, but doing the right things so you have energy and time left for other things as well.
There is no need to feel guilty if you’re not working at all hours. Do less. Do it right and be satisfied.
3. Learn to do whole tasks
A simple way to be productive every day is to practice doing whole tasks. What this means is that you must eliminate half work at all costs.
Half work happens when we try to multi-task
Multitasking is the greatest myth of productivity. It hampers your productivity more than anything else.
Practice doing whole tasks. Give it your attention and do it fully.
If you’re reading something, read. If you’re writing something, write. Practice doing whole tasks.
Don’t switch from one thing to another. You will save enormous time and your mind won’t feel heavy and burdened.
4. Keep a distraction list
Ever notice the list of things you remember you have to do once you just sit down with your one main thing?!
I don’t know if it happens to you, but whenever I sit down to do one thing, I suddenly remember I need to send an email to someone, I need to wash my clothes, I need to correct my student’s assignments, I need to do this and do that.
And the urge is great to start doing those when I am already trying to do this one whole task.
In order to tackle this, I have found keeping a distraction list very helpful.
In your distraction list note down whatever things you remember you need to do so that you can remember to do it later.
Note them down and do it later one by one. Until then do your one whole task which you set out to do.
5. Utilize your mornings for a prodcutive day
Start utilizing your mornings by creating a morning routine. How you spend the first few hours of your day is how you will spend the rest of your day.
All productive people have one thing in common. They wake up early and get things done while the rest of the world is too busy sleeping.
6. Do your M.I.T early in the morning
One of the simplest ways to be productive every day is to do your M.I.T (Most Important Task) early in the morning. This might be the only productivity tip you need. I have written a separate post about this too. Read more.
7. Make a ‘next actions list’ for bigger tasks
We often tend to procrastinate on the bigger tasks not because we are lazy, but more because we aren’t really clear on the steps that need to get done.
The enormity of the task makes us feel overwhelmed and so we keep procrastinating on them.
A great tip to be productive when this happens is to make a next actions list.
This is something I learned from David Allen’s book, ‘Getting things done’ where he points out,
Creating a next action list means chunking bigger tasks into smaller pieces. It is called an ‘action list’ because these are actual physical activities that you need to do in order to complete a big task.
For example, publishing a new blog post is a big task. The next actions list would be
- find out the keywords
- write down different headings
- read other articles on the topic
- write the post
- edit the post
- Search for images
- Make pins for the post
This way, you know exactly what to do at each step and you break the big thing into small chunks of work which becomes more doable.
8. Be aware of your energy
We don’t have the same energy at all times.
Ever since I have become a morning person I have much greater energy in the morning so I get my most important tasks, the tasks that require more mental energy like preparing for my class, finding notes, writing a blog post, and that kind of things in the morning.
The tasks which don’t require much energy like reading, writing my journal, going through certain courses, making pins for Pinterest, etc in the evenings when I don’t have much energy.
So be aware of when you have the most energy to be productive for the things that matter.
9. Watch your resistance and urges
To watch means to be mindful. Mindfulness is not only great for finding peace and balance, but it is also an essential aspect of productivity.
Be mindful of yourself and watch your resistances and urges.
What is your mind trying to avoid, or what is your mind craving for? Simply notice it and bring awareness.
If you end up avoiding your important task, bring awareness to that too, and avoid your task with awareness. See how long you go on avoiding.
If you end up fulfilling your urges, bring awareness to that too, and fulfill your urges in awareness.
Be lazy if you want, but be lazy in awareness. You will notice that you will stop it and then find yourself wanting to work on your main task again.
10. Read books on productivity
Read and learn more strategies and hacks to productivity. Here are some best books that has helped me on my way to being productive
11. Create your space to be productive
This might seem unessential but I consider it as a very important part of helping one be productive.
At home, I have my desk, but whenever I go to stay at my grandparent’s place, the first thing I set up is my personal space where I can read, write and work in peace.
I believe until and unless you have your own space which is neat, tidy, and uncluttered, one cannot really be productive.
12. Work Offline
The Internet is the biggest distraction. If you want to be more productive, work offline for as much as possible.
Turn off your internet and just focus on doing one whole thing for a minimum of 20 minutes and take breaks.
Or you can turn off your notifications from apps or delete the apps that distract you.
13. Don’t use phone first thing in the morning
This need not any elaboration. Not using my phone first thing, that is, not opening social media first thing in the morning has been a game-changer.
My productivity has improved, my life has improved, my energy is kept high and I get the things that matter to me done before 9 am.
14. Use sticky notes to be productive
I have found sticky notes very helpful. Earlier the reason why I didn’t use to get things done or have so many important works pending and procrastinating was that I didn’t have any cue to do them.
Sticky notes act as a great tool for giving cues to your brain about what needs to be done. Use sticky notes and stick them in front where you can see them.
15. Learn to say No
Lastly, people think productivity is about saying yes to everything and get more things done. It’s not. It is the opposite.
In order to be productive, you need to learn to say no often, so that you say yes to the right things.
Learning to say no might be difficult, but is very essential that you learn to do it and not feel guilty about it. If your heart is saying no, your lips must not be saying yes.
Here is a related post: What I lost and gained by learning to say no