In my life, I’ve found that that best ways to be productive are to have a plan and just get started. Even if I don’t spend too much time on something, I made progress and took a step forward. Taking many small steps forward can lead to big results.
Here are some things that have helped me to be more productive. Maybe they can help you, too.
1. Do Your Worst
Also called “Eat the frog”, do your the thing you want to do least right away, then it will be off your shoulders. It may help to imagine yourself in the middle of a storm shaking your fist and shouting “Do your worst!”. Or set aside an hour each week to tackle the projects you keep putting off.
Make a list of the bigger projects and do one each weekend. But I have to say, it can feel pretty good to tackle two or three in one day.
2. Just 1 Minute
Always wanted to write a book? Clean your closet? Promise yourself you’ll just do one minute. If you stop, you stop. If you want to keep going, keep going.
Even if the book takes you 5 years, you still wrote one.
3. Create a Routine
What do you want to do most in life? What is that list of worsts? Make a list of these things and if desired, make a list of some steps you will need to do to accomplish each one.
What do you need to do to keep your household running? Many of the things we might consider of little importance each day are things that can make us and our families really uncomfortable if they were not there, like taking out the trash or cleaning litter boxes. They might be small tasks, but they are important nonetheless.
Take these steps and create a daily routine to tackle them, even if you only spend a few minutes on each goal per day. For example, I have on my routine list to clean 1 room each day, write on my book for 1 minute, and to write a sentence on my blog. Small things, but in one week I can do quite a bit.
4. Block the Internet
Use an app or browser extension to keep you from spending your early morning time surfing the web. I use Website Blocker on Chrome. I hear Freedom is good for phones and computers. Just block out an hour or two when you are most likely to sit around and surf (early morning for me), and have a routine set up to do something productive.
There are also apps to allow parents to block phone and computer time, such as Kidslox.
5. One Step More
In addition to doing one thing, if I am near the end of a project and just want to finish it quickly, sometimes I tell myself, “Just do one more thing to make it better.” For example, after I clean my office, I go through one shelf and see if there is anything I can throw out or donate.
Even if I am running short on time, it usually doesn’t take very long to add in one small thing that might improve the space. It also helps me to look at an area or a project, and find a weak spot that could use improving.
6. Make Your Bed
Apparently, there’s science to back this one up. My tip: Use a duvet and no sheet. Just fluff and you’re done.
Think duvets are hard to put back on after washing? Here’s a hack for putting a duvet cover back on your comforter.
How does this work on a practical level?
I installed Freedom on my computer and phone, and have it set up to block an hour and a half each morning. I go to a day job, but if you work from home, you might want to consider blocking out more time. I set my alarm so I am up two hours before I have to go to work, and Freedom is set to block most of that time.
I made a list of all the things I wanted to complete by the end of the year. I took that list and put it on a sticky note on my Windows desktop.
My list looks a bit like this:
- Make bed
- Workout for 30 minutes
- Straighten 1 room or “Do Your Worst”
- Watch a Udemy lesson
- Write 1 sentence on book or blog
- Shower and get ready
I do allow myself to write more than one sentence if I want, but sometimes one is all I have time to do. And I let myself do that, too. I use Udemy to learn languages, programming, and also to take classes on new skills that could help me at the nonprofit where I work.
I do have a weekly cleaning schedule, so I generally get through most of the house in one week. On Saturdays, I challenge myself to “Do Your Worst”, and tackle things like cleaning my closets or my car. On Sundays, I do a quick clean of all rooms and make note of anything I need to add to my “Do Your Worst” list.
There are as many routines as there are people. If you have kids, a night routine to set up everything needed for the next day might ease the morning rush from checking journals, to having the kids pack their backpacks, to making overnight oatmeal in the crockpot.
Have other tips for a more productive life?
Many of you probably have some awesome tips for living a more productive life. Share them with us in the comments!