A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to accomplish your goals. The message was simple: you need to chip away at them every single day.
Easier said than done, right? After work, working out, and family time, there’s only so much you can do in one day.
BUT there are ways to improve your productivity. Some are straightforward — wake up earlier, drink coffee, etc. But some are a little more unique.
1. Get a Social Media Blocker
There are only so many hours in the day, and some of them must be spent on social media, right? WRONG!
If you start observing how much time you spend scrolling through various newsfeeds, I think you’ll be shocked. Maybe it’s just me, but considering how rarely I post on Facebook/Twitter, it’s embarrassing that I’m on them several times a day.
Not saying you need to relinquish all the followers you hold dear and live in a cave, but social media blockers can be a useful tool for the times you actually want to work.
It seems to be the most versatile of the sites (works on Macs, PCs, multiple browsers), and it’s pretty easy to use.
What I like most, though, is that it allows you to customize the sites you block. With my history in current events writing, I still have this tendency to want to know what’s going on in the world every single second. A new Canadian PM? I better spend hours reading all about him. An EgyptAir flight crashed? I better check up on it every day until they’ve found the black box.
Total waste of my time, but I need help breaking bad habits. Freedom makes it easy to tailor your blocked sites to your weaknesses.
2. Try the Pomodoro Technique
You know those cute little tomato-shaped kitchen timers? With the Pomodoro Technique, developed in the 1980’s by Francesco Cirillo, you use one of those timers to set a finite work time. Once it’s set, you work on that task, and ONLY that task, until it rings.
The philosophy has snowballed in recent years, giving birth to the Time Cube (which the Skinny Confidential swears by), and an app called BeFocused that takes the philosophy to the next level with charts of how many intervals you’ve done, etc.
Some people say they never would’ve accomplished their magnum opus without the Pomdoro Technique, but it’s not for everyone.
I tried it out, and just felt a little under the gun. I personally think it works better for tasks you want to limit your time on — social media (if you don’t want to go with #1), procrasti-cleaning, that sort of thing. If I want to write for three hours straight, though, I don’t need anything beeping at me to take a break.
But again, some people say they couldn’t live without it, and would never have had the energy to write their book, etc. if they hadn’t broken it down into small chunks. Try it out and let me know how it works for you!
3. Revamp Your Work Space (Or Find a New One)
#OldManProblems but honestly, my back’s going to give out if I keep trying to write my book on the couch. At some point, your physical environment impacts your output.
Look around where you’re working. Are you comfortable? Are there little things you can change to make it more inspiring? Go for it!
Or maybe you work from home, and just want a change of scenery every once in a while. Check out coworking.
The premise is simple — there are so many bloggers/entrepreneurs/etc. out there now, people are getting sick of being at home alone all day. With coworking, you all get together and work on your own projects, but you do it together — often in a super cute space.
You may have to look around a bit before you find one you like. Some might not be an improvement over your couch, but some are SUPER cute. Google “Coworking” and the name of your city and most likely, you’ll get a list of results.
I just checked out one in Coppell, TX called The Collective Office and could gladly work there every day. They can get pricy, though, so you can also check out “pop-up coworking” MeetUps in your area. Those are more likely to be free.
4. Respond to Emails When You Get Them
Ever feel like you’re doing twice as much work as you need to? When it comes to your email, you might be. Many of us have our email hooked up to our phones, so we read emails the second they come in, even if we can’t respond right away.
This is bad for two reasons 1) It’s more likely that you’ll forget about something, since it’s already been read and therefore will no longer be in bold. 2) You basically end up doing everything twice, since you read it on the go, and then again when you’re actually responding.
If possible, always respond to emails and requests when you get them. If you plan on reading emails on the go, also try to respond on the go. Otherwise, just respond to all of them when you get a bit more time.
5. Do the Hardest Thing First
Ok, this one isn’t that unique. But it will help improve your productivity. Each night before bed, make a list of what needs to be done the following day, and if possible, get the hardest one done first.
I don’t know about you, but when I’ve got a lengthy paper due, it seems like the perfect time to vacuum and bake a batch of cookies. Never mind that neither of those things actually need to be done.
If you get your most important task out of the way first, you’ll have much more control over the rest of your day, free from the procrastination genie.
Some of the links in the post are affiliate links, but all opinions are my own.
Feel free to share this post if any of the tips helped you! If you have any other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment box!