It seems these days we are all interested in how we can get more done with less time and effort. In fact, searches for “productive day routine” are up 180 percent, according to a recent Pinterest newsroom report. The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take from morning until night to increase your productivity each and every day. Check out our seven suggestions for a boost.
1. Start a Routine
When you get into a routine, you are more likely to accomplish the tasks you’ve set out for yourself each day. Plus, getting into a consistent routine can help you identify your most productive time of day. Maybe you are a morning person who tackles many tasks at the onset of each day. Or maybe you are a night owl who becomes most productive in the evening hours. According to Katherine Lawrence, certified professional organizer at MySpaceMatters, one of the keys to having a productive day is actually starting the night before. Even seemingly simple tasks like jotting down your to-do list, prepping a week's worth of lunches, or picking out tomorrow's outfit can help you save time and streamline your routine.
2. Make a Physical List
Write it down not only so you remember a task but also so you can check it off. The act of crossing off a completed task makes you feel accomplished and fuels your drive to complete more tasks. Keep in mind your list should be reasonable. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by putting too many things on the list to begin with. Perhaps make a to-do list for the day, the week, and the month so you can balance accomplishing tasks that take less time with tasks that need more attention.
3. Tap into Productivity Tools
Although technology can be a drain on our productivity at times, it’s no surprise that a host of apps have been created to up our daily efficiency. A free app called ToDoist takes your to-do list to a virtual level. If you work with a team of people in the office, it’s worth checking into project management software like Trello (free for the basic version), Slack (from $6.67 per person, per month), or Basecamp ($99 per month). Other apps, like Freedom ($29 for one year) and SelfControl (free), allow you to set up restrictions on accessing the internet when you really need to buckle down and be productive.
4. Hide (or Delete) Distracting Apps
If you find yourself popping online when you have spare minutes, it may be time to hide or remove those distracting social networking apps from your phone. While you are at it, take a break from staring at a screen altogether. Go for a walk, grab a snack, or simply stand up and stretch. Also, keep in mind, it can be mentally beneficial to practice self-care—whatever that looks like for you—before you check your phone in the morning. That way you control the direction of your day instead of messages from others dictating the direction of your productivity.
5. Prep for Meals
Often when you hear about meal prepping it refers to planning family dinners for the week. That is an important way to make the most of busy weekdays, but remembering to plan for breakfast and lunch is as vital. Find a recipe for breakfast burritos you can freeze, whip up some overnight oats, or find a go-to protein smoothie recipe for breakfast. Pack a healthy lunch the night before to help avoid eating out or reaching for less-healthy options. Stash some superfoods snacks in your purse or desk, too. Fueling your body with the right nutrients will keep your energy levels up so you can be more productive.
6. Set a Timer
One challenge to productivity is the tendency to multitask. If there’s something you need to get done, set a timer and focus solely on that task for a set amount of time. Focusing your physical and mental energy is key to productivity. Also, knowing how much time you spent on a given task helps develop productive habits for the future. You can use a physical or virtual option (like Toggl, from $9 per month) to keep you on time.
7. Clear Your Space
Being surrounded by a mess creates stress. Research has shown that going clutter-free helps free mental space and allows you to be more productive. Make time in your schedule—whether daily, weekly, or monthly—to tidy your workspaces, kitchen counters, and other productivity zones.