I encourage you try out each one. The strategies that work well for you, use them regularly to get things done. For the others, keep them in your productivity tool bag. They may come in handy in the future. Let’s dive in!
Tip #1 – Do what you can.
Often times we get so caught up in ALL the things we need to get done that we waste time spinning our wheels trying to figure out where to start knowing it’s impossible to get it all done. Focus on doing what you can. Making a little progress is better than no progress at all.
Tip #2 – Break down big tasks.
Large tasks can be so overwhelming that procrastination sets in. Take back control by breaking down large tasks or projects into smaller bite-sized pieces. Focus on the one bite in front of you before shifting focus to the next. Keep in mind the old adage…How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Tip #3 – Eat that frog! Do the tasks you hate first.
Mark Twain is attributed with the saying that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning it’s likely the worst thing you’ll experience all day. Do the hardest task or the one you’re most likely to procrastinate on first, while you have the most willpower. Then you can move on to the easier ones.
Tip #4 – Get one big job done before lunch.
By focusing on completing a big task or project before lunch you’re able to take a break with a strong sense of accomplishment. You won’t have the task looming over your head. This enables you to fully enjoy your break, return refreshed and ready to tackle the next item on your list.
Tip #5 – Delegate
Not all tasks are created equal. Everything on your to-do-list doesn’t necessarily need to be done by you. Evaluate your tasks by asking if the task is important or not, as well as, if it is urgent or not. If a task is urgent but not important, delegate it to someone else. A few examples would be to have one of your children or your spouse do a chore you typically would do yourself. Order your groceries online and have them delivered or pick them up on your way home. (This one will not only save you time but money. No visual temptations as you walk the store aisles.) Hire a personal assistant to schedule your social media posts or handle your bookkeeping.
Keep in mind, delegation does not mean you don’t participate in the process at all. Set checkpoints and verify delegated tasks remain on track. While it takes longer on the front end, delegation will save you time in the long run.
Tip #6 – Automate what you can
Automating tasks you do regularly can save you hundreds of hours over the years and many don’t take much time to set up.
Here are a few examples of ways to automate your life:
- Set up automatic payments for you bills
- Create rules in your email inbox to manage certain types of emails
- Subscription services for products you regularly use
- Write templates for correspondence your send often
- Get a meal prep or meal delivery service
Tip #7 – Take a break
It’s very tempting to hunker down and keep working until a task is fully complete. However, we can only focus for a limited amount of time before our effectiveness diminishes. Typically 90 minutes is all we can manage before needing a break. Don’t be afraid to step away from your desk for a few minutes. It will actually refresh and energize you. You will be able to return to your work with a renewed vigor and will be better able to work efficiently.
Tip #8 – Focus on one thing at a time.
Divided focus, also known as multitasking or task switching, is the #1 productivity killer. Research studies have shown that multitasking actually takes you at least twice as long to complete tasks as it does when focusing on a single task at a time. You’re also much more likely to make errors when splitting your focus between multiple tasks. Pick one project or task. Give your total attention to that item until it is complete or for a set amount of time, before moving to the next one.
Tip #9 – Declutter your space
Personally, my external space is often a reflection of my mental space. When my mind is cluttered with too many thoughts, my work space mirrors that. I have stacks of papers on my desk and little organization. Focusing on a single task becomes challenging, which decreases my level of productivity. I have found it helpful in clearing my mental space, when I take time to organize and declutter my physical space. If you find your mind racing and focusing difficult, take a look around your physical area. Chances are it is cluttered and disorganized. Take some time to put away the clutter and clear your physical space. When you go back to work on tasks, you should find it much easier to stay focused.
Tip #10 – Set boundaries
Setting boundaries for what can and cannot get added to your calendar or when you are available to clients and colleagues will help you be more productive by enabling you to be fully present in what you are doing at the time. Determine and clearly communicate under what type circumstances you are able to be contacted outside of established schedule.
Tip #11 – Create time blocks for thinking time.
Sometimes it is difficult to be creative or problem solve because we’re so caught up in the thick of daily life. This can prevent us from putting forth out best work. By setting aside time just to think, brainstorm or problem solve, you open you mind up to new ideas and strategies you otherwise might not have come up with. It also helps to hone your focus skills. If you’re more focused you can be more productive.
Tip #12 – Plan your day in advance.
Simply by planning what you will do, either at the end of your day or first thing in the morning, you will save time and be more productive. The act of writing out what you will work on helps to direct your focus to what’s really important. Set aside a few minutes each day to write out the most important tasks needing to be completed that day. Then, do those tasks first.
Tip #13 – Set yourself up for success.
Many times we rely purely on self discipline to achieve our goals. However, willpower can and often does fail us. Several years ago, I changed my workout schedule from right after work to 6 am. At the time, I had difficulties getting up to make it to work on time. I wasn’t sure if I could get up every day to go workout that early. I had to do something to set myself up for success. I moved the alarm clock as far across the room as I could. I got my gym clothes out before bed and placed them right next to the clock. Everything was right there – clothes, shoes, socks, a towel and my arm band for my iPod. When the alarm sounded in the morning, I got up, turned off the alarm, grabbed my clothes and headed straight for the bathroom. The first couple of weeks I dressed with my eyes closed because I was still sleepy. By the time I was a minute or two into my warm up, I had perked up. After a few weeks, I started waking up a few minutes before the alarm. I had trained my body to awaken at the new time. It never would have happened if I had not done something to remove the barriers to me starting the new routine. Find a way to remove as many barriers as you can to you being successful. By doing so you set yourself up for success.
Tip #14 – Recruit an accountability partner.
We are much more likely to get things done when we know we have to report back to someone else. Simply knowing someone is going to ask you about your progress on a goal will help you stay on track. Why? Because we don’t want to disappoint others. Plus, a good accountability partner will call you out when you’re not doing your best. They won’t allow you to make silly excuses for putting things off. Not only will they provide you with “tough love” when you need it but be there to celebrate your wins.
Tip #15 – Turn off notifications
We’ve all been there. You’re working on a project, in a state of flow, when all of the sudden your phone dings signifying a new text message. You grab your phone to read the message. You send a quick response intending on getting right back to the work at hand. But you see notification badges on your Facebook app, pop in there for a quick look, then 30 minutes later you catch yourself watching random cat videos. When doing deep work, turn off all notifications and close out your email so you can truly focus on a single task. If you have VIP clients or are worried about missing emails from your boss, you can set up rules in your email client to push notifications on emails from specific people. Personally, I keep my phone on do not disturb all the time and have turned off almost all notifications to reduce distractions. Play with the DND settings on your cellphone to find the right combination for you.
Tip #16 – Give yourself twice as much time as you think you need.
I have found it usually takes me twice as long and cost twice as much as I anticipate to do tasks. When blocking out time, set aside more time than you think you need to allow for things like slow technology or outages, distractions and just plain old underestimating. This way you’re not under the gun trying to meet a deadline.
Tip 17: Use templates for content you create regularly.
This tip can be applied to just about any writing task. Some examples are:
- Form letters or emails
- Social media posts
- Notes or outlines for podcast and video recordings
- PowerPoint presentations
I have several emails I send out on a regular basis that are quite detailed. Rather than type of the same information over and over again. I set up an email signature with the entire email. All I have to do is change a few details and voila! An email that might have taken me 15 minutes or more to type out is done in 60 seconds or less.
Tip #18 – Have a set file naming system.
Have you ever had a hard time finding a file you saved because you couldn’t remember what you named it? I know I have. If you set a standardized file naming format it is much easier to find what you’re looking for thus saving you time and frustration.
Tip 19: Set a timer
Setting a timer when you begin working on a project or task helps to create a sense of urgency. You know you only have a limited amount of time to get the task done. Focus is increased, therefore so is your productivity. This method is called the Pomodoro Technique. Try using it the next time you work on a project. You can learn more about exactly how to use this technique here.
Tip #20 – Just get started.
While planning is very important, having a plan means nothing until you take action on it. Pick a task today and get it done. Do the same every day and before you know it, what you’re working towards will manifest.
Tip #21 – Get support
Whether it’s by taking a productivity class, hiring a coach or getting a friend or family member to keep you on track, you don’t have to go it alone. Make the commitment to get the support you need to stop procrastinating and be your most productive self so you can progress in your purpose.
I didn’t really get into my favorite productivity tools, but you can learn more about those here.
If you’re ready to get the additional support you need to stop procrastinating and progress in your purpose, BOOK a 30 minute discovery call with me.
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