By Steve Xavier
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Everybody wants to be productive but what does that really mean? According to the American Time Use Survey (), the average American parent between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four has only about two and a half hours of free time each day. The rest of the day is composed of going to work, taking care of their children, running errands, doing household chores, and getting some shut-eye.
Two and a half hours of free time—that’s it!
In this book though, you’ll find tips and strategies that will allow you to accomplish more during the day with the same amount of time by prioritizing tasks. By increasing our productivity in this way, we will increase our free time, allowing us to do the things we really want to do and spend more time with the people that matter the most to us.
We all know that we should be more productive, but most of the time we aren’t. We know that 600-calorie Starbucks drink isn’t going to help us lose the ten pounds we told ourselves we would lose, but we drink it anyway. We know we should be working on that side project, but instead we binge-watch the latest trending show on Netflix and sleep in the next morning.
We’re all guilty of it, but why do we do it? And what can we do to stop these procrastination habits and become productive?
During my school days I was the king of procrastination. I passed my classes by doing the bare minimum. I waited until the night before to complete my assignments and crammed in a study session right before my final exams. Needless to say, this didn’t reflect well in my grades.
I eventually learned to go into peaks and valleys of productivity and procrastination. I did well enough to graduate from university with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in business. I then continued my studies to complete a degree in computer science and eventually found a full-time position in an IT company.
Even though I was doing well in school and was on a good career path, I noticed my productivity waned quite often and I still wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. I would spend hours on the couch on Sundays watching NFL games (much to my wife’s chagrin), and I would stay up until 2:00 a.m. constantly playing Xbox (and then sleeping in), all the while knowing that I should be working towards my goals instead.
Looking back, I had all of this time I could have used to be more productive and to accomplish more than I did.
That all changed when my wife and I were expecting our first child. I knew I had to get my act together because I would no longer have the luxury of all that free time. I had a sense of urgency to use my free time deliberately and to live with intention since free time was going to be a limited commodity.
So I read a ton of books and articles, listened to podcasts, and watched TED talks on productivity. Even though I had all the knowledge and understanding of the key concepts, this sense of urgency finally shifted my mindset and kicked my productivity butt into gear.
Since then, I have started my own self-incorporated IT Company, began a freelance writing career, wrote this eBook to spread the word about productivity, and found time to self-learn and self-improve every single day. I am a dedicated father to two beautiful baby boys, and spend quality time with my loving wife to build a better relationship.
I’m not telling you this to boast but rather to let you know that when productivity tools and strategies are properly implemented with the right mindset, there is no limit to what you can accomplish as long as you make it a priority.
“Action expresses priority” is one of my favorite quotes from Gandhi. I couldn’t agree more.
The number-one excuse I’ve heard from notorious procrastinators (my old self included) is that they don’t have enough time. However, everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day. It’s what you prioritize during each day that counts.
Finding out I was going to be a father lit the fire in me, but you don’t have to be expecting a child to have your “mind-shift moment”.
Gary Vaynerchuk (a successful entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker) spoke about this during one of his conferences. He said he spoke to dozens of elders in senior homes and asked them what they would tell their younger selves. Gary said all of them started with the same sentiment. “I wish I would’ve _____” or “I regret that I didn’t _____”. It may sound a little dark, but imagine yourself on your deathbed and think about what you will wish you had done more of and what you will wish you had done less of.
This sounds a little corny, but it’s a powerful exercise to practice because it really puts things into perspective. Doing this exercise will make you more deliberate with your actions and help you focus your time and energy on accomplishing the things that will provide you the most satisfaction.
I know, this is a little heavy compared to the rest of the content in this book, but you must have this mindset shift if you are serious about productivity.
Unlike other books in this genre that are long-winded and vague, this book will provide you practical and actionable tools and strategies to become productive and end procrastination once and for all!
In this book, I’ve compiled an informative list of productivity tips and strategies that you can implement in your life immediately to make your life more productive and to assist you in achieving your ultimate goal—whatever it may be. Of course, it’s not realistic to integrate all of these tips into your life, so pick and choose whatever works for you.
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start small and work your way up. Your productivity skills are like muscles that strengthen and improve over time the more and more you use them.
Enough talk … let’s get to the practical and actionable tips and strategies that you can use in your everyday life.
Let’s get it done!
1. Wake up earlier
There seems to be a universal perspective that there is not enough time in a day. We hear it over and over again. Nowadays, we are busier than ever, whether you’re a parent with a full-time job and driving your kids to soccer games, a millennial attending university while balancing extracurricular activities, someone looking for more work-life balance, or everyone else in between.
Whether you wake up an hour earlier or even more, starting off your day by working on something for YOURSELF feels very empowering because when we do that, we are waking up for ourselves, not for anybody else.
Use this time to work on whatever task or goal you are looking to accomplish. It could be a personal project, a work-related task, or working on losing those ten pounds that you said you would lose six months ago.
Studies have shown that our willpower is like a battery. It’s 100 percent full in the morning, but it drains slowly throughout the day with each individual task or interaction we have. By waking up earlier, you ensure that you devote that chunk of time and energy to something that is just for you, not anybody else. This is HUGE.
Start implementing this strategy in your life and it will do wonders. Trust me.
2. Create a morning ritual (You’ve woken up early. Great. Now what?)
If your schedule is packed, create a morning ritual to boost your daily productivity. Plan your ritual so that you will conquer every day. You can do this the night before so that you’re not wasting any time in the morning.
For example, here is my morning ritual:
1. Wake up—don’t hit the snooze button. We’ll talk about that later.
2. Brush my teeth
5. Meditate/be thankful for all the people and things in my life
6. Get dressed
7. Eat breakfast
9. Work on projects
Everyone’s ritual will be individualized and personal, but you get what I mean. Creating a set schedule takes out any guesswork and lets you focus on what is most important.
3. Avoid any “screen time”
You will notice that I didn’t include “check my phone” or “check email” on my morning ritual items. There’s a reason for that.
On the days that I didn’t hit the snooze button, picking up my phone used to be the first thing I would do in the morning. I would check work emails, personal emails, stock-market news, Facebook feeds, Instagram posts, and before you knew it, an hour had passed by before I even brushed my teeth.
That did not leave any time to work on anything for my own personal development or my personal goals. Instead of following this bad example, create and follow your ritual plan (like mine under #2 above). Your productivity will skyrocket and provide you a great sense of accomplishment.
If you’re thinking, “I’m already waking up early … now you’re telling me to exercise on top of that?!”, it’s a fair question. I used to be a night owl and was allergic to mornings, but now that we have two children, I’m the opposite. If you go to the gym after work or do a run during your lunchtime, that’s great! All I’m saying is that studies have shown that exercise has a ton of benefits to your productivity (info gathered at ).
– [_ You will have more energy._]
By exercising in the morning, you will have more energy throughout your day. It will release endorphins to make you feel good, reduce stress, and clear your mind, and it gives you a great sense of accomplishment to begin your day. I would say it’s equally beneficial to your physical health as your mental health.
– [_ You will feel empowered._]
Like I said, beginning your day feeling a great sense of accomplishment is priceless. It makes you feel and BELIEVE that you are in control of your life, and it positively affects your attitude and decisions for the rest of the day.
– [_ You will be more productive._]
By having a clear mind and being in the right mindset, your stress levels will be lower, and you will have fewer distractions, which will provide you a clear path to productivity.
Now, I know that telling yourself to exercise is easy, but the act of doing it is not. If it was easy, everybody would be running around with bodies like Zac Efron and Jessica Alba, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
Here are some tips to conquer the two hardest parts of exercising in the morning: waking up and getting yourself to the gym.
As I mentioned in the earlier, I was a notorious snooze-button hitter. I hit that button more times than a contestant on Family Feud. So what did I do to change this? Here are a few options you can try:
· Set the alarm for the time you want to get up—and I’m talking about the EXACT time, not ten or twenty minutes earlier, but the EXACT time. Then place the alarm, or your phone, on the opposite side of your room.
· Once you’re up and zombie walk to your alarm, you’ll increase the chances tenfold of starting your day instead of going back to sleep.
· Use an alarm app. There are some good alarm apps out there to help you wake up in the morning, but a great one is “The Rock Clock” (which is free for and [+ Android+] devices) developed by movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s company 7 Bucks Productions. Along with setting an alarm, this motivational app allows you to enter a personal goal that displays each morning when the alarm sounds on your phone and includes motivational messages to inspire you. Oh … and one more thing—there is no snooze button!
Any one of these will do. Just choose the one that works best for you that makes you get up each morning excited to conquer the day!
Getting yourself to the gym
· Lay out your gym clothes and pack your gym bag the night before and leave it right by your bed along with your car keys. You’ll wake up, pick up the bag, and go.
· If you don’t have a gym membership, you can do a home workout instead. I choose my workout the night before and write it down so that I’m not wasting time in the morning, trying to decide what workout to do while I’m half-asleep. Again, lay out your workout clothes the night before so that you can help your morning self-succeed.
· Note that it doesn’t have to be a long workout either. My home workouts take anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes each day, and they help me clear my mind and reduce stress.
If you’re looking for some home workout recommendations, there are a ton of great ones on Youtube. Just search for “home workout without equipment” or better yet, just click [+ here+].
You’ll notice a theme here: the path of least resistance. The goal is to eliminate the majority of (or all) the obstacles in the way (that you control) of achieving your end goal, which leads to more productivity in less time. Who doesn’t want that?
5. Eat breakfast
Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. After fasting for the past eight hours (or however long you slept), your body is craving to be fed.
Decide what you’re going to eat for breakfast the night before (or meal prep on Sunday for the week) so that you’re not wasting any time deciding “Should I have eggs this morning? Or cereal?”
It’s the path of least resistance, folks!
You can meditate anytime of the day, but I include it in my morning ritual and occasionally at night just before bedtime. This is very important in my opinion, and it may come easier to some than others.
Honestly, I am not a spiritual person, so initially the thought of meditation was a little uncomfortable for me until I realized that it didn’t have to be overwhelming. Meditating doesn’t mean you have to be “one with the universe” or sit cross-legged on a pillow. It’s definitely much more than that.
If you’re not sure where to get started, I recommend an app called . It walks you through clearing your mind with a calm, soothing voice guiding you, and it’s simple to use. This was the tool I first used when I began meditating during a stressful part of my life, and it definitely helped.
Meditation clears your mind, slows down your heartbeat, and provides a ton of benefits for your mental and physical well-being.
According to , here are a list of its benefits:
On a physical level, meditation:
· [_ Lowers high blood pressure_]
· [_ Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks_]
· [_ Decreases any tension-related pain, such as tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems_]
· [_ Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior_]
· [_ Improves the immune system_]
· [_ Increases the energy level, as you gain an inner source of energy_]
Meditation also lets you rejuvenate and allows you to focus and make decisions with a clear mind. With regular practice of meditation:
· [_ Anxiety decreases_]
· [_ Emotional stability improves_]
· [_ Creativity increases_]
· [_ Happiness increases_]
· [_ Intuition develops_]
· [_ Gain clarity and_]
· [_ Problems become smaller_]
· [_ Meditation sharpens the mind by gaining focus and expands through relaxation_]
· [_ A sharp mind without expansion causes tension, anger, and frustration_]
· [_ An expanded consciousness without sharpness can lead to lack of action/progress_]
· [_ The balance of a sharp mind and an expanded consciousness brings perfection_]
Meditation doesn’t have to be time-consuming. We are all very busy people, but making the investment to heal your mind will pay dividends throughout the day and exponentially throughout your life.
For me, meditation is taking five to ten minutes every morning to clear my mind and then thinking of at least one thing in my life that I’m thankful for. It really puts me in a peaceful state, and expressing gratitude for the people or things in my life that I love puts me in a happy and appreciative mindset. It reduces stress and helps me focus on the important things I want to accomplish in the day and in my life.
7. Express gratitude
As I just mentioned, self-improvement gurus like Lewis Howes talk about expressing gratitude all the time. It allows you to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you want to accomplish and puts your mind in the right state. It also allows you to take a step back and get perspective on your life.
For the person with a tight deadline at the end of the week, expressing gratitude for their health, their loved ones, and anything else they cherish will take the stress off and allow them to complete their work in the right frame of mind.
This is a great practice for not allowing you to take things for granted. I watched a YouTube video from which helped me begin this practice.
In one of his videos, the narrator states that we should all realize that we’ve won the lottery already. Anyone with a clean bill of health should consider themselves the luckiest person in the world. Imagine how much someone with a critical illness would give to be in your shoes. Or if you have your full eyesight, how much would a blind person be willing to spend to see what you see? It would be priceless. Be thankful for what you already have instead of focusing on the things that you don’t.
Instead of waking up, rushing to work, and living every day like we’re a program from the Matrix, think about what you want to accomplish during the day and what will fulfill you. “Stop acting like you live twice” is an anonymous quote that really stuck with me.
Rather than just checking emails and going to meetings, this action will put you in the right mindset to help you accomplish what’s most important to you throughout the day.
8. Make your bed
It sounds like a strange tip, right? That’s what I thought too until I started implementing this in my everyday life. Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit, says that the quick, simple task of making your bed can help increase productivity for the rest of the day.
Think it sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo? Well let’s think about it. Completing a task, no matter how miniscule we think it may be, provides us a sense of accomplishment. It gives us a good feeling, and we’re more likely to keep that momentum going throughout the day to prolong that feeling.
So instead of thinking of it as “just making your bed”, think of it as beginning a snowball effect that will gain more and more momentum throughout the day.
Duhigg puts it more eloquently: “A keystone habit can spark chain reactions that help other good habits take hold”.
9. If you’re thinking about it, DO IT!
I truly think if you follow this rule, you’ll never be lazy again in your life. How many times have you thought “I’ll do those dishes later” or “I’ll take out the trash later” and so on, and so on, and so on? I used to be that guy! And trust me, my girlfriend at the time did not appreciate it.
For you readers that are “that guy” or “that gal”, do yourself and the people around you a favor, and like Nike’s slogan says, “Just Do It!” And if it’s a bigger task or a project, then “Just Start it!” It sounds like common sense, but common sense isn’t always common practice. This is the simplest advice that we already know, yet the majority of us don’t implement it.
Nobody has achieved success by sitting back, overanalyzing, or waiting for the perfect time. Successful, productive individuals will always tell you that it all starts with taking action. It’s like going to the gym. The toughest part is getting there, and you’ll thank yourself when you do.
By the way, I implemented this tip into my life and that girlfriend I mentioned above is now my wife. Coincidence? I think not.
10. What would make today great?
Another tip that you can implement right away is to put some thought into what would make your day great. What are the things that need to be done throughout the day that will make it have meaning and provide you a sense of accomplishment?
It can be anything from taking the stairs instead of the elevator to writing 2,000 words in your blog post. No matter what it is, make it attainable and realistic. Going to the gym and working on cardio is realistic. Losing five pounds in a day is not.
You can write it down or have it at the back of your mind throughout the day. Doing this will make you more likely to focus on these goals than if you hadn’t practiced this.
How many times have your days been consumed by meetings and responding to emails? Before you know it, the day is done and you haven’t accomplished what you wanted? More than likely, you did not put enough thought into what your key goals were for the day.
I was guilty of this for years at my corporate position. Once I made the mindset switch, I was more productive than ever.
11. Monitor your current time use baseline
If you don’t feel like you’re as productive as you want to be, or if you feel like there’s not enough time in the day, try noting down all your daily actions in detail. This will show you which activities were productive and which weren’t. It will also give you a bird’s-eye view of your day, which is a perspective we rarely see for ourselves.
This activity gives us the data that will allow us to eliminate our nonproductive behavior while allowing us to add to our productiveness and our most productive times. For example, when I initially practiced this exercise, I noticed that my most productive hours were from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. (before I started thinking about lunch) and from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. I would schedule in my most demanding tasks during these times because I knew I would get more done during my “peak” productivity hours.
Everybody is different, so give this a try to see which hours are the most effective for you.
12. Eliminate (not avoid) distractions
Our world is full of distractions. Technology has provided us all the tools we need to communicate and keep in touch with each other, which is fantastic … but not all the time.
How many times have you seen a notification on your phone while you were working? You pick up your phone, check your notification, check your email, check the photo your friends tagged you on Instagram, and so on, and so on, and so on. There goes thirty minutes or more that you could have used to put towards your important work.
The next time you’re focused on a task, try shutting down your phone completely. I know some of your hearts just skipped a beat at the mere thought of that, but seriously try it. After the initial shock, you will be surprised how much you get done. Putting your phone in airplane mode will also work if you can’t lay your phone to rest for an hour or so.
Now I understand if you have kids or a spouse and you would like to keep your phone on for family emergency calls, so there are some other recommendations you can use to eliminate these distractions:
1. Place it outside the room where you are working (if possible) or in your bag or purse. Out of sight, out of mind.
2. Turn off your app notifications. We easily get distracted by that flashing light on our phone or the little orange icon on your apps showing you how many notifications you have on social media. Turn off the notifications to eliminate this.
If you’re working on your PC or Mac and don’t want to be distracted, close down all the applications other than the one you’re working in. We are all guilty of interrupting our work to check emails just because we see a pop-up notification. Or we’re reading an article that leads to clicking on another, and before we know it, we have fifty tabs open in our Internet browser. Closing all other applications will eliminate these distractions.
If you feel like you need help with this like many do, there is an application called that blocks apps, websites, or the entire Internet on iPhones, iPads, Windows, and Mac computers, which allows you to be more productive. You can program which websites you want to block out and for how long, and the only way to access it before the set time limit is to restart your PC or phone. It’s a very useful tool for the noisy world we live in.
13. Learn to say NO
Distractions don’t always come in the form of technology. They can also come in the form of requests from others, whether it be a meeting or something that someone needs assistance with. In my personal opinion, “people” distractions are harder to deal with than technological distractions.
With technology, you can just shut it down or completely ignore it, and you won’t hurt its feelings. People, on the other hand, are more sensitive and trickier to deal with.
Think of it like you have a fixed quota for the number of times you can say YES each day. Each time you say “yes” to someone else, you’re going to have to say NO to a commitment you’ve made to yourself. It’s very important that you get good at this skill in order to accomplish the tasks and goals on your checklist instead of ticking them off someone else’s.
Also when you do say “no,” make it firm so that it doesn’t leave the door open for a “maybe” or “next week”. If you don’t make it firm, you will have to go through the process all over again. Before I adopted this mindset, I used to feel guilty or unhelpful, but there are positive ways to say “no”.
When I used to work in the corporate world, one of my colleagues asked me to complete a task for them that I had the knowledge and experience to do. I had a lot on my plate and deadlines to meet, so I told them that I wasn’t able to assist them due to my schedule; however, I sent them a document I had previously created that provided a step-by-step process on how to resolve their request.
In this example, even though I said no, I made it a positive by providing another helpful resource to assist them.
One of my friends received a parking ticket for $90 that he thought he didn’t deserve. He spent all day in court to wait for his hearing and fought the ticket. In the end he had the fee reduced by half, but he missed out on a full day of work. His hourly rate was $50, so in actuality, instead of making $45 by spending all day in court, he lost $400 by not going to work. To my math, that’s a $355 loss for the day.
That’s an extreme example, but the point is, time is literally money.
If you’re working on a personal project, you can hire a virtual assistant. There are a bunch of websites out there such as Fiverr, where you can find someone who can complete a simple, time-consuming task for you while you focus on the important things in your life.
Oftentimes when people are just starting out, people make the mistake of saying, “I don’t delegate because it takes just as long to explain it than to do it myself”.
Yes, that may be true, but you won’t be delegating just this one time. The old adage “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime” has never been truer.
If you’re going to be productive, you have to be good at delegation. I’m a big believer of your time is money, and you can’t do everything on your own. Sometimes it makes more financial sense to hire someone to complete a task rather than to complete it yourself.
15. Make a to-do list
But not just any to-do list. Include items or tasks that you’ve been avoiding, not just the ones that you know you will complete. After you’ve written them down, set deadlines for them so that you have some urgency to complete them.
A great tool I use is an app called . It allows you to write out your daily tasks, as well as your long-term tasks, and it makes you set a deadline for each one. You also receive daily reminders for your upcoming tasks to keep you in check.
You can also create separate projects with to-do lists within each category. For example, if you have a vehicle category, you can set items such as wash car, get an oil change, renew registration, etc.
It’s a very simple yet very powerful tool that has definitely increased my productivity.
16. Reward yourself!
This one’s my favorite for obvious reasons. Of course, we all need to work hard and work smart to be productive, but you can’t go 100 miles an hour all the time. That’s just not realistic—you’ll get burnt out.
Taking a break or rewarding yourself will also rejuvenate you and give you the push you need to strive on.
Even movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has cheat days after spending countless hours at the gym each week.
The reward will also motivate you when you’re in the thick of it to complete the task or reach the goal.
17. Focus on the end goal
This is another tip you can use the next time you’re struggling to complete your task or reach your goal. Sometimes we get lost in the grind and forget the very reason we’re working on a certain task. Your perspective isn’t clear when you’re in this mindset. Instead, focus on the end goal and the reason you’re doing what you’re doing.
For instance, when you’re at the gym doing 100 sit-ups, it’s not going to be fun and you may want to quit. If you think only about the present task, you likely won’t be motivated to follow through. However, if you think about the future end goals (for example, looking good and feeling confident for your upcoming beach vacation), you will become more motivated and more likely to complete the short-term task.
Big or long-term projects may feel like a grind at times. This may cause you to stray from doing the work you’re supposed to do and to get sidetracked. Focus on the end goal, especially on those tough days, because it will recharge you to go forward.
18. Be accountable
So you’ve added an item to your to-do list. Check!
You’ve added a deadline to your item. Check!
Next step is to complete the item. Check?
Listen, we’re all human, and just because we write something down doesn’t mean we’re going to do it. I know firsthand as a former notorious procrastinator that your brain will tell you, “It’s okay. I’ll do it tomorrow” or “It wasn’t that important anyways”.
If you’re the only one aware that it’s on your to-do list, disappointing yourself may not seem so bad in the short term since you’d rather watch Game of Thrones at the time. We often choose instant gratification over long-term term success because … well … let’s face it, it’s just easier.
My recommendation for this would be to get an accountability partner, someone who will help keep you honest for your must-do commitments. They will provide you encouragement when you need it and that extra push to help you keep moving forward.
Tell your partner, friend, or family member about a goal you’re setting out to do. Psychologists have found that saying something out loud makes it more real and we’re more likely to follow through with it, especially if we’ve said it to someone who will ask about it down the road.
Running partners often do this to make sure they wake up and complete their run. It could be as little as someone sending you a text to ask how your project is going or if you exercised yet today. Nobody wants to disappoint someone they care about.
19. The 2-minute rule
This is another piece of advice I wish I had followed earlier than I did. If it takes less than two minutes, then just do it!
David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, provides an example of this when he talks about his email management. When a message arrives in David’s mailbox, he decides if he can deal with it in two minutes or less by responding or deleting the message. This will definitely help you “Inbox Zero” enthusiasts and those of you who have a tough time managing email.
Of course, this can obviously be applied to everyday life with housework or anything that you feel would fit this mold.
20. Don’t be a perfectionist
One of my favorite quotes is “Progress beats perfection every time”. That couldn’t be more true.
The perfect idea, perfect situation, or perfect time will likely never come. There will always be another commitment or another event in your life that will deter you from achieving your goal. Life is messy. Life is busy. Deal with it.
If you’re waiting for the perfect moment or not completing something because it’s not perfect, you will definitely fall behind the pack. You just need to complete it and move on to the next task.
21. Take it one task at a time
With so much to do in our busy lives, we constantly multitask and think we’re being more productive, but in actuality our work may suffer from that.
When I started writing, I would start with an idea and write down a few hundred words. Then I would think of another topic that I thought would also be interesting to write about, so I would start a draft on that topic as well. And then another idea would pop into my head, and so on. I would go back and forth, thinking that I could accomplish more since I was working on three articles at once, but in actuality, my work suffered due to this.
I noticed when I sat down and focused on one article at a time that not only was I more efficient, but the quality of my work doubled.
Don’t get me wrong—multitasking is much needed for smaller tasks, but if you’re working on a large project or goal, your full, undivided attention will get you to the finish line faster and with better results.
22. Change your environment
Is your work environment optimized for productivity? Does it encourage you to get things done, or are there distractions that can deter you from your work?
During my first year of university, I would do my homework and study in my room. You know what else was in my room? A computer that I used to browse the web and to chat with my friends on MSN Messenger (yes, I’m dating myself here). And you guessed it … I had a terrible GPA that year.
I knew I had to make a change if I wanted to improve my grades and graduate. When my final grades came in at the end of the semester, it took that rude awakening to show me that my current studying environment was not working.
The next semester I started driving myself to the university library to study. No laptop, no friends, and no distractions. I was able to raise my GPA by two grade levels by the end of the year.
Environment preference varies for everyone. Some prefer a quiet place in their home while others work best sitting at a local coffee shop. Whatever the case, make sure you are comfortable with your surroundings and that you have everything you need within arm’s reach. Environment is an important, if not the most important, key to productivity.
23. Hang out with people that motivate you and make you grow
One of the best ways to stop procrastination and improve productivity is interacting with the right people. We all know people that are pessimists that settle in their life and bring down others that have big goals. These could be relatives, friends, or colleagues, but you know who I’m talking about. If possible, you need to cut these people out of your life, and if not, then don’t listen to them.
By interacting with others with like-minded goals and thoughts, you gain support, confidence, motivation, and knowledge. Communicating with others to share your experiences adds to your growth as an individual. I am a big believer in self-improvement and that everyone needs it in their life. If you’re not growing, you’re not moving forward.
If you don’t have any of these influences in your life, there are a ton of inspiring people in the world that you can follow off-line through books or online through audiobooks, podcasts, blogs, YouTube, or even Instagram.
An individual that really motivates me is YouTube Vlogger Casey Neistat. He is a filmmaker and software application founder that loves his work and shares it with the world. His motto is “DO MORE,” which is tattooed on his arm, and he always spreads the most contagious attitude to his viewers: positivity.
Surround yourself with positivity and you will see positive results. Positivity breeds success; negativity breeds failure.
24. Look for someone who has achieved what you want to achieve
Sometimes a goal is just a dream we don’t act on because we don’t feel like it can be accomplished by “someone like me”. If you are one of those individuals with this mindset, you are not alone.
Instead of not beginning to work on your goal, search for people that have done what you’re setting out to do. You will realize that these individuals were just like you—someone with a goal that ACTED on it.
“Success is steady progress of one’s personal goals.” – Jim Rohn
Once you start, you will already be ahead of 99 percent of everybody else that doesn’t.
25. Pomodoro technique
This is a time-management method that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. Don’t let the fancy name intimidate you. (“Pomodoro” means “tomato” for those of you who don’t speak Italian.) Cirillo had a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato in his university days, which is where the name originated from. Now that you’ve had your history lesson for the day, what is this technique, and how do you implement it?
At the core of this method is the idea of taking frequent breaks to improve mental agility and endurance. Working three hours straight may be efficient for a select few, but most would burn out, and their work would suffer as a result. Instead, try this.
The next time you’re ready to take on a task, work for twenty-five minutes, break for five minutes, then repeat. The idea is that you are most efficient in these twenty-five-minute “bursts” when you can speed through and get things done. It makes you focus on your one task because you have only a limited time to work on it, so your brain pushes you to get it done.
Again, everybody is different, so if you prefer working for longer periods with longer breaks, feel free to do so. The same principle applies.
There are a ton of free Pomodoro apps out there, so you don’t need to go through the hassle of setting it up on your smartphone. A couple popular ones are Pomodoro Time (iOS) and Productivity Challenge Timer (Android), which have a large number of positive reviews.
As another suggestion, if you’re not sure what to do during those five-minute breaks and are feeling antsy, here are a few suggestions:
· Stand up and stretch; it will reset both your mind and body to loosen you up.
· Walk to the kitchen and grab some water.
· Complete a small, mindless task that takes you only a couple minutes or less, whether it be shredding some papers or washing the dishes if you work from home.
Then get right back into it!
26. Pause and think
We do a lot of the little things every day out of habit, things that may not even be that beneficial to us. We do it because we’ve always done it. The total of all of these actions throughout the days and weeks may cost you a lot of time that could have been focused in another useful area in your life.
So before you start a task, pause and ask yourself, is this something that really matters? You’ll be surprised how many times you’ll answer “No” and move on to the next task that actually matters.
I find this really useful in helping me stay focused on my “must-dos” throughout the day so that I can accomplish the most important tasks first and put the “nice to haves” in the backseat.
27. Drink more water
Make a conscious effort to drink enough water throughout the day. Not only does staying well hydrated benefit your health, but it can also provide a number of benefits towards your daily productivity.
Scientific research has shown that drinking water will increase our energy, which we all could use more of when powering through tasks, and it also improves our mood. Even mild dehydration has been shown to have a negative impact on mood.
We’ve all heard of hunger causing someone to become “hangry”; well, thirst can cause that as well, to a lesser extent. I guess that would be called “thangry”? Drink your water to avoid it.
28. Avoid the sweatpants
This mostly applies to anyone that works remotely or solo-preneurs that don’t have to physically interact with anyone else during the day. Dressing up changes your mindset and mood. If you dress differently, then you will act differently.
It will also increase your self-confidence, which is great for any aspect of your life. Think about how you feel when you look at yourself in the morning wearing your baggy T-shirt and sweatpants as opposed to when you’re all showered and looking professional. I’m not saying wear a tuxedo or anything, but wear something comfortable that you feel confident in.
29. [* Group similar tasks together*]
Before I organized my days and weeks into sections or compartments, my days often felt hectic, and I didn’t have any structure, which often led to me feeling like I didn’t accomplish enough or what I wanted to by the end of the day.
To combat this, every Sunday I lay out my calendar and create my “perfect week”. Meaning, in an ideal world, what would I like to accomplish each day for the entire week, and how would I break it down?
For example, I would break each day of the week into four sections:
1. Morning – Wake up time to the time I start work
2. AM – Work starting time to lunchtime
3. PM – After lunch to the time I leave work
4. Evening – After dinner to bedtime
The morning block would include all the things in my morning ritual that I spoke about earlier in the book, e.g., shower, brush teeth, exercise, meditate, eat breakfast, etc.
For the AM block, I write down the must dos of the day and what I really want to accomplish. I complete these in the morning because I am most productive in the morning, and my focus is at its sharpest.
For example, I typically write in the mornings and schedule time for intellectual growth because those require the most thought from me. Make sure that you eliminate ALL potential distractions and interruptions during this time. Put your phone on silent, place yourself in a great work environment, and just do work.
As stated earlier, think of your willpower as a battery. It’s fully charged at 100 percent when you wake up and slowly depletes throughout the day. Working on your most important tasks in the morning guarantees that you will do the things that are most needed and provides you a higher sense of accomplishment by the end of the day.
For the PM block, I typically schedule in meetings and check email. These activities are less demanding on my mind but are still required to be productive.
Lastly, if you choose to include the evening block, you can schedule things like exercise (if you don’t have it included in the morning block), reading, or anything you like that helps you unwind for the day. My evening block typically consists of family time, reading, and planning out the next day.
Before I implemented this system into my daily life, I found that I had too much back and forth going on and was not as efficient as I wanted to be. Grouping similar tasks together allows you to get into a rhythm and become more productive and efficient.
You can also group all your “interruptions” together, such as booking off an afternoon for phone calls, external meetings, or answering questions. This will definitely save you time and mental energy.
Hopefully that gives you a better idea of how to compartmentalize your days. This is a very powerful strategy that I found almost doubled my productivity once I started using it.
30. Use your commute time
Whether you walk, bike, use public transportation, or drive your car to work, plenty of things can be done during this precious time. While many complain about the amount of time it takes them to travel to and from work, I actually enjoy this time because I make it productive.
If you use public transportation, you can read and answer emails on your smartphone or even work on projects if you bring a laptop.
All commuters could use this time for intellectual growth. Instead of staring out the window and daydreaming, listen to a podcast or audiobook. I’ve digested an enormous amount of information by listening to dozens of audiobooks just by doing this, which has increased my intellectual growth exponentially.
31. Create a “do not do” list
We’ve all heard of a to-do list, but few of us have heard of a “do not do” list. On a do-not-do list, write down all the potential things that could come up in your day that could potentially be distractions and deter you away from your must-dos.
It could be anything from not attending any meetings for the entire day, not answering the phone during the morning, not checking Instagram, etc. By implementing this strategy, you gain time simply by not wasting time.
32. Do things right the first time around
There’s a saying, “If you’re not going to do things right the first time, when are you going to have time to?” Although it may take a little longer to complete a task thoroughly the first time around, chances are it will save you more exponential amounts of time down the road.
Take the example of writing documentation for a process at work that others require. If you’re thorough the first time around, you can then pass on that document to others so that they can follow the steps and complete it on their own.
If not done correctly, your colleague(s) will likely come back to ask you questions, and you may have to rewrite the document, which will eat into your scarce commodity, time. However, if it’s done correctly the first time around, it will free up much more time down the road.
33. Go against the grain
This is a personal life hack that I’ve found to be extremely beneficial. Whether it’s the grocery store, the gym, or any other location that can get busy, I recommend going during the less busy times and avoiding peak times.
For example, when my wife and I grocery shop on a weekday night, we’re in and out in less than thirty minutes. In the past when we went on the weekends, by the time the grocery bags reached our car, we had spent an hour to an hour and a half.
Your time is valuable, especially your personal time. Instead of spending an unnecessary hour in crowded parking lots, aisles, and waiting in line, you could be spending that hour on more productive things and enjoying that time with family.
34. Clear your workspace
Make your workspace tidy. Before you begin your work, take a minute and clear any unnecessary papers or random material off your desk. A messy desk can add anxiety or stress, especially if you’re on a tight deadline.
Clean your virtual desktop as well. We’re all guilty of saving files to our desktop, never to look at them again, or we have files on there that shouldn’t be. Delete what you don’t need and move your important files to the correct location. Clearing these documents will help you avoid distractions.
Also, if you have a ton of windows open like I do sometimes, close down what you’re not working on to declutter your screen.
A clean workspace allows you to focus on what you want to accomplish without distractions.
35. Play music or background sound
Each person is obviously different, but if you find the sound of silence deafening, any little sound may distract you from your work. Playing soft music will cure this and may get you in the flow of work. If you’re like myself and find lyrics to be distracting (yes, sometimes I end up singing along), then find instrumental versions of some of your favorite albums.
If that doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of background-sound apps out there that you can download and play while you work. I currently use [+ Relax Melodies+] to play white noise for my newborn, but working adults can use it too, so don’t feel ashamed.
36. Do the hardest or most unappealing task first
Sometimes we push what we need to do the most to the background, typically because it’s the most difficult or the most unappealing task. This happens to be one of the main reasons people procrastinate.
So instead of leaving it for the end of the day, or telling yourself that you’ll “do it later”, do it first thing in the morning. As I mentioned earlier in this book, our willpower is the strongest in the morning, so prioritizing the difficult/unappealing task first will allow you to finally complete it.
Not only do you get the benefit of completing it, it will start a productivity snowball effect for the rest of the day. Most people who use this strategy feel like they can complete any other tasks throughout the day without a problem since they completed the hardest one first.
You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment, which will motivate you to keep pushing forward.
37. Write it down (capture every idea)
It’s happened to all of us. We’re sitting at our desk working on a task when something triggers our brain with an idea or thought that leads us to open up another application or web browser to work on that idea instead. Thirty minutes go by, and you realize that you haven’t been working on your task at hand.
There are applications out there, such as Freedom.to as I mentioned earlier in this book, to stop you from opening up other applications, but if you don’t want to lose your thought, just write it down on a text document or with a pen and paper and come back to it after you’ve completed your task.
This will reduce the distraction of your own thoughts, and you won’t be thinking, “What was that idea I had again? Darn … I should’ve written it down”.
38. Write a done list
So we have the to-do list, the do-not-do list, and now we have the “done list”.
At the end of each day, write down all the things you accomplished. Humans are instinctively visual learners, and looking at your list of accomplishments for the day can be very powerful. It gives you a sense of pride and motivation for the next day.
Some to-do list apps, such as , show a “Completed Tasks” section as well.
39. Get inspired
Sometimes we lose motivation, or we don’t feel inspired to complete that task or goal we’ve been working on or haven’t even started.
Reading inspirational quotes can give you the kick you need to get off the couch and be productive. I honestly used to think they were corny, but I tracked down some inspirational social media accounts on Instagram that I thought were really motivating when I needed an extra boost. A couple Instagram accounts I follow are @GaryVee (Founder of VaynerMedia), @AgentSteven (no, this is not me), and @before5am. These accounts provide practical motivation that I have found to be thought-provoking and inspiring.
If quotes aren’t your thing, you can also watch inspirational videos, such as by Casey Neistat (filmmaker and YouTube personality). After watching it, you’ll be ready to take on the world.
Productivity means different things to different people: leading your team in sales for the quarter, spending time with your kids, or having an exercise rest day to re-energize.
You will be productive as long as your actions align with your priorities for the day. Being conscious of this will fill your day with intentional, deliberate actions that build towards your daily and long-term goals. If you’re not deliberate with your thoughts and actions, you will end up procrastinating by falling into the “busy trap” that tricks your mind into thinking you’re productive, when in actuality you are not accomplishing what you want to … or you will do nothing at all.
In order to be productive and accomplish what is really important to you, you need to create that sense of urgency to prioritize what’s really meaningful to you.
Productivity isn’t about doing more things; it’s about doing the right things that will help you accomplish the goals that you value most.
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Allen, David. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. New York: Viking Penguin, 2001.
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. New York: Random House, 2012.
United States Department of Labor. “American Time Use Survey.” Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified October 26, 2015. .
Do you want to be more productive and stop procrastinating? Do you feel like there's not enough time in the day to get things done? Or is your day surrounded with distraction after distraction? Do you spend your free time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & SnapChat when you know you should be working on more important tasks? Are your workdays filled with meaningless meetings and a mountain of emails in your inbox? Or do you mindlessly surf the web for hours on end and by the time you know it, you don't know where the time has gone? Then you may need to learn how to better prioritize your day to accomplish your most important and meaningful goals. In this book, you'll learn 39 powerful techniques that can be used to increase your productivity. Unlike other self-help books that can be vague, these detailed actionable tips are realistic and can be applied to your life within minutes. You'll get more done, cut down on procrastination, and accomplish your goals. These techniques, learned from years of studying the psychology of productivity habits and implementing them in my everyday life, will ensure that you will waste less time on meaningless activities in order to accomplish the goals that you have been putting off or have been too busy or too distracted to finish. What actionable and realistic productivity tips will you learn? •How to prioritize your 24 hour day •How to manage your time efficiently •How to create a proper To-Do list •What to do in order to create the path of least resistance to productivity •How to create motivation that will keep you going •How to get more done by taking breaks •How to overcome procrastination •The most effective productivity habits •Useful productivity tools you can use in your everyday life •A procrastination cure to finally get things done •Skills to stop procrastination and task avoidance •How to increase productivity •And much, much more. Implement these tips and see your productivity skyrocket! Don't hesitate to pick up your copy today by clicking the BUY NOW button at the top of this page! P.S. You'll be able to notice a difference within 24 hours.