I think that there are two kinds of people in the world — those who get things done and those who procrastinate. I fall very squarely into the latter camp.
Every Monday, I promise myself that this will be a new week and I won’t leave things to the last minute and I’ll use the productivity tips I keep reading about. And at the end of every Monday, I promise myself that tomorrow, I will really buckle down and get things done. Please tell me this sounds familiar!
I’ve been a procrastinator for as long as I can remember. I tell myself that I work better under pressure — that that’s when my best work surfaces. However, even if that is the case (which is very likely isn’t), this stress-fueled way of working probably isn’t that great for my health and I need to find a better way.
So when I actually need to get things done (Hi deadlines), I’ve found that these four productivity tips and tools help me focus and get sh*t done.
OK, I know that this sounds hippie-dippy but you guys, it helps. Even though I practice yoga and I’m a yoga teacher, I only started meditating this year. As someone who very much has a science- and research-based mindset, I didn’t really get it, how it worked and what I was supposed to do and feel when I meditated. Also, I didn’t think that I had the time to meditate.
But I find that when I find the time to sit for 10 minutes in the morning, I’m much more focused during the day. My brain doesn’t feel as scattered and the things that would normally stress me out during the day don’t make my heart race. I’m able to handle each one of those things calmly. I swear. Not making this up – seriously 10 minutes helps.
2. Brain dump
Part of the reason I have a hard time getting things done is because I constantly have thoughts flitting around in my head — calls to make, emails to follow-up on, a brilliant line for an article I’m working on, an upcoming deadline, something I want to do around the house — all of which makes it nearly impossible for me to focus.
I need a system to manage all of these thoughts and to-dos and while I’ve tried every productivity and to-do app out there, I’ve found that what works for me is a good old fashioned paper planner.
The goal? Get everything out of my brain. On one side of my planner is my weekly schedule, which I color-code depending on whether it’s work related, kid related, etc.
One the other side, I dump my brain on the page. I have sections for blog/freelancing, consulting work, yoga and other and I write down every single thing I need to do or what to remember. Once it’s out of my head, I don’t have to worry about remembering all the details (or trying to keep track of a bunch of to-do lists scribbled on different scraps of paper). Once it’s out of my head, I can focus.
Every Sunday, I sit down and go through the upcoming week — double checking my schedule and transcribing my to do list. I transfer any thing that’s left on last week’s list and add any new items. For me, I like the physical act of writing things down. It helps me focus. And, since I stare at a computer and my phone all day, I like not having to be dependent on a device to keep me organized.
Or, put it another way, I am easily distracted by email and social media and all the shiny things on the internet. It’s like an unconscious tick. I’ll be working on something and the next thing I know I’m over looking at the latest updates on Facebook or Twitter.
While some people say to turn off wifi when I need to work, I can’t. I often need to research things online as I’m writing or look something up. I have the app SelfControl installed on Chrome that will let me block specific websites for a period of time. During that time, I can’t go to those distracting websites. I have to do my work.
4. Pomodoro Technique
When I really need to get things done, I use the pomodoro technique. It’s a time management method that breaks down your work into small chunks. You work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minutes break. What I like about this is that it makes it feel management. Instead of dreading working for hours on end, you just have to focus on working for 25 minutes which is totally doable. And when you actually sit and do focused work for 25 minutes, instead of futzing around on social media or email, you can actually get a good amount of work finished.
So whether you are a procrastinator at heart or are just feeling a bit unmotivated, I hope these productivity tips help you be more productive.
What’s your best productivity tip?
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