7 Ways to be More Productive at Home and Work
By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
We all want to make the most of our time. It seems like time slips by quickly, and we may often feel that we have nothing to show for it. No one wants to waste valuable time but often it can be difficult to manage our time wisely. Here are some principles that will help you to become more productive, whether at home or at work.
Get Enough Sleep
“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” -Thomas Dekker
Everyone has a different requirement for how much sleep they need, but the one thing we all have in common is that we do not function at our best unless we are getting enough. Try to find your sweet spot as far as how much sleep is best for you, and make it a priority to get enough. During particularly stressful times, you may find that you need more sleep than usual. Listen to your body’s signals. Notice when you are hungry in the evening. Are you actually hungry or are you trying to push yourself to keep going even though you are tired? Sleep is restorative, essential for our health and it helps us keep our problems in perspective.
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” -Unknown
I am not sure who said this but it illustrates the importance of understanding what you want and the reasons you want it, “Set goals that make you want to jump out of bed in the morning.” If you don’t know where you want to go, or the reason you want to get there, you are not likely to get where you need to or at least not as quickly as you could otherwise. What is your why? Why do you want this? Set goals to guide you where you want to be. Also, don’t try and “eat the whole elephant at once.” Break those goals up into small chunks and conquer them bit by bit.
For example, if you are trying to tidy up your home, go from room to room rather than trying to take on everything at once. Try setting a timer and only “allowing” yourself a certain amount of time to work on the project. This is especially helpful if you find the task overwhelming and/or unpleasant. If you have a project at the office, do a few things every day in order to complete it by the deadline.
Thrive on Routine
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.” -John Maxwell
Our bodies function well when we have a daily routine. There is no need to be boxed in by a rigid schedule, but if you loosely follow a certain pattern each day you will find that it leads to greater productivity.
A Clear Space Equals a Clear Head
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is gained.” -Benjamin Franklin
Keep the space around you tidy. Make this a priority. When you live in chaos, it is distracting and can be stressful. On the other hand, a clean and orderly home and office contribute to clarity of mind, which will increase your productivity. Marie Kondo, bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing gives this advice, “When you surround yourself with possessions that spark joy, you’ll create a home and a life you love.”
“Multi-tasking means messing up several things at the same time.” -Unknown
No matter how many people believe that multi-tasking is a positive and necessary trait, it is actually counter-productive to getting anything of value done. You may think you are making good use of your time by multi-tasking, but it actually makes it impossible to focus on anything fully and lessens the quality of your work. In addition, it can be stressful to switch between several different tasks at once. See what happens when you focus, really focus on the task in front of you.
As mentioned earlier, if it is an overwhelming task, pick an amount of time that doesn’t feel overwhelming to you, set your timer and GO! Starting is usually one of the most difficult parts of any job. Once you get going, you will most likely find that you want to keep going. We make things harder by thinking about them and dreading them instead of getting to work. Wayne Gretzky says, “Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases. Its toll on success and happiness is heavy.” A Spanish proverb says, “Tomorrow is often the busiest days of the week.” Do something that will get you closer to achieving your goals today.
Treat Your Body Right
“Food is the most abused anxiety drug. Exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant.” -Unknown
An important component of being productive is taking care your body. Make time for exercise because it releases natural “feel good” chemicals which will give your day a boost and provide you with a positive outlook. Eat nourishing meals and be sure to drink plenty of water. Both will give you the energy you need to make the most of your day.
“They key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey
None of us has time for everything. As much as we try to get everything done, sometimes there are simply not enough hours in the day. Make a list of what needs to be done and decide what is most important, what is least important, and what falls in between. You might have many good intentions on your list, but you need to decide which are the most important to you.
Our society is constantly on the go. We want to accomplish a lot and squeeze everything into our busy schedules. Start putting these tips into practice and watch your productivity grow.