When I’m saddled with multiple devices, flooded with 20 new emails every morning and just generally too busy to take a breath, productivity tends to go out the window. Ironically, these are the times when working efficiently really matters the most. But I’ve found that when I rely on effective personal productivity tips, it’s much easier to stay on top of everything — and do it without snapping. Here are a few I rely on almost daily.
1. Just Say No
In a world that demands you take on any challenge that comes your way, especially in the workplace, it’s tricky — and uncomfortable — to turn down an assignment. It can be even harder to say no to a friend who wants to grab a happy-hour drink after a long week. But ultimately, you have to prioritize the important things in life and say no to everything else. This piece of advice is perhaps the most important of my personal productivity tips because it helps maintain a healthy work-life balance.
2. Focus on One Task
Multitasking has become a way of life. If you’re like me, you probably sit in front of the TV with a device on your lap and another in your hand. That isn’t the way things were even 10 years ago, though, and people still managed to get work done and maintain social lives. When it comes to personal productivity tips, heed this one: Don’t make a habit of multi-tasking. Wouldn’t you rather do one thing well than several things poorly?
3. Power Down
It’s almost impossible to tear myself away from my phone when I’m expecting an important work email, even if it’s outside business hours. That’s why I had to choose a specific time to step away from my devices and unplug for the evening. This practice helps set boundaries at work — tell your boss and colleagues they shouldn’t expect you to respond to an email at 10 p.m. It can even improve your sleep, since the light that emanates from your phone can mess with your sleep cycle if you’re surfing late at night.
4. Fuel Up
Have you ever skipped a meal in the name of productivity? You’re not doing yourself or your co-workers any favors. When you miss breakfast or lunch, your brain doesn’t have the fuel it needs to make it through the day. Your energy level will dip until you totally crash. To avoid this, make sure you take the time to eat at least three square meals a day. If you often forget to eat, stow some healthy snacks in your desk drawer, like trail mix with nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
5. Keep Things in Order
Cleaning your desk might not seem like a top priority when you have a million things on your to-do list, but it really should be. The longer it takes you to find a piece of paperwork or a pen that works, the less time you have to devote to truly important work. What’s more, the aesthetic of an overloaded desk might make you feel overwhelmed and disorganized, which could contribute to a mental sense of chaos that infiltrates your work ethic. So take a few minutes every day to remove any excess clutter from your desk.
6. Treat Yourself
You might think productivity is all about powering through your mountain of work until you can check every last task off your to-do list, and that’s obviously part of it. But I find I’m actually more efficient when I take the occasional break to treat myself. Did you email back five clients? Stretch your legs with a lap around the office. Just completed a big presentation? You deserve to take a quick break with your favorite La Croix. Find small ways to reward yourself as you check tasks off your list.
With the frenzied pace of today’s world, plowing through work at the office or at home may seem like a daunting — maybe even never-ending — task. But when you practice some simple techniques for improved productivity, you’ll probably find you have no trouble tackling another Monday. Try a few of these approaches this week and see what happens.
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