Let me start by saying that I am not the most productive person to have fallen on this planet. I am your regular procrastinator who spent most of her life self-sabotaging herself for wasting her time like she has an unlimited supply of it. While in school, I used to spend my free hours studying because it gave me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day and not because I liked studying. Well, none of it affected my life in a negative way. But I suddenly started feeling that I was being harsh on myself. I realized that I don’t need to measure every hour of my day in terms of productivity and that it’s alright to live a little.
I still don’t like spending my free hours doing nothing but I have stopped cursing myself for not being productive enough. Life is not a productivity race. Being a slow walker is fine if you are happy and satisfied with whatever little you have.
Now that you are here reading this post, I want to give you a virtual hug and let you know that you need to accept yourself the way you. So make it a point to be kind to yourself even during the days when you didn’t do anything productive.
Most people don’t like going to the bed knowing that they didn’t do anything productive during the day. Needless to say, it’s human nature to want to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with being productive, it certainly can’t be achieved within a day. And if your mind tells you otherwise, remind yourself about the time it took you to learn a new language or to inculcate a new habit. Well, I’m sure none of it happened overnight. So cut yourself some slack and take all the time you need to be productive.
Here are a few simple tips and tricks that will help you be more productive in your day-to-day life:
1. Set Your Eyes On Small Goals First
I’m totally a fan of dreaming big. But what often keeps us away from achieving our dreams is the desire to make that one big jump. We want to achieve it all at once. But the fact is that nothing worth dreaming can be achieved in a day. But when you set small goals leading you towards that big goal, you’ll find it much easier to avoid procrastination.
For example, imagine yourself as someone who wants to make it big as an entrepreneur. Now list down the pointers that will take you towards that goal – Building the basic idea, planning the business, talking to people who will form a part of your team, completing the paperwork, gathering the funds and assets, launching the business and so on. You know that getting established as an entrepreneur follows a timeline that involves setting small, achievable goals. And you won’t find yourself procrastinating if you set your eyes on these small goals that form the stepping stones towards that one big goal.
2. Make A Realistic To-Do List
I can recall myself making hectic study time-tables while in school. My 12-year old self made it a goal to study 8 hours a day after spending 6 hours at school leaving no time to play or watch cartoons. And above it all, I used to feel guilty for not being able to catch up with the time-table. It took me a month to realize that I had set up unrealistic expectations for myself and that I needed myself to be.
To-Do lists are something that I still follow. But I have stopped forcing myself to complete an unreasonable amount of tasks within a day . An ideal to-do list is the one that doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed and allows you to live your life. If you need some help making a to-do list, here’s a great post on how to make one that actually works.
3. Use Your Most Productive Hours
The best way to be more productive is to make use of your most productive hours to complete the most important tasks. Every one of us works differently at different times of the day. While some minds work the best at night, others find themselves to be more productive in the morning. It’s on you to figure out your peak productivity hours and make the best use of it.
4. Keep Away From Distraction
The amount of distraction – in the form of music, people, smartphone – often determines how effectively you carry out the tasks. Productivity requires an attention span that allows your mind to stay focused for at least a few minutes at once. In order to build your attention span, make sure you keep the noise around you to the minimum. Besides that, keep your smartphone at a distance where you can’t reach with one hand. Also, ask your family to allow you some time alone to complete the job in hand.
5. Take Short Breaks
While studying for my high-school exams, I remember how one of my friends’ father told us to follow a time protocol while studying. He asked us to take at least a 5-minute break after a 30-minute long study session. His suggestion has been living with me ever since. I do believe that taking short breaks every now and then helps your mind bounce back with more energy.
6. Declutter Your Mind And The Surroundings
Visual clutter in your room, office or the place that you are working in often interferes with your productivity. Your mind requires to be working in a place that looks clean, peaceful and devoid of distractions that clutter is. Also, make it a point to rid your mind of any disturbing or negative thoughts while trying to do the task in hand. You’ll be surprised how a clutter-free mind and space helps your productivity get magnified.
There’s no magic wand that can make you more productive. And if you are struggling to be productive to do even the basic tasks, the true challenge lies in getting up from the couch to do what you need to do. And just in case you let a day go by without accomplishing anything, don’t forget to be kind to yourself.