It can be so hard to remain productive when you feel like your mind is everywhere else. I love my job so I feel bad when I don’t maximize my productivity, but sometimes life just throws weird curveballs at you.
There are plenty of things that can keep us from being productive, and they come in different forms: lack of motivation, sickness, overwhelm, overbooked, life transitions, distractions.
We can’t avoid these things all the time. They just happen! So when they do, here are a few things that can help you stay on the productive train and help you fight the battle… and WIN!
GO TO SLEEP EARLY AND WAKE UP ON TIME. This is killer for me. It’s so funny because it’s really not a hard task. Set an alarm. Go to bed early. Set an alarm. Wake up on time. This is not rocket science but it is so hard for me! Maybe you’re the same. Or not? Regardless, do it because you are setting yourself up for success, physically and mentally. It’s a good habit to create for yourself.
DUMP IT. DEADLINE IT. PRIORITIZE IT. When I begin my work week, before anything else starts (at least I try), I will dump everything I have to do that week on a piece of paper. It is sloppyyyyyy. When you start brain dumping, it triggers other things to your memory that you have to get done. Then, LOOK AHEAD. Take a look at your calendar and see what you have coming up. It doesn’t help to only look at the small picture (this week’s tasks). You need to see the big picture too. Some events and deadlines need my attention ahead of time… not the week of. If high school taught me anything, it’s not to wait ’til the last minute to finish a project.
Seeing everything that you have to complete can feel overwhelming at first, but I find
that once I see what’s going on and assess, I’m able to do. Once I dump everything down,
I throw deadlines on them. If projects don’t have a deadline… it opens up the possibility to push them off. Don’t do that. Pull up your big girl pants and get it done because you can do it! What’s important for this week? What can wait ’til next week? Then I prioritize and fit my tasks into my work week.
BITE THE BULLET. This is rough. It’s the daunting task on your list that you don’t even want to start. It’s the difficult conversation you have to have. The insurance company you need to contact that is going to keep you on hold forever (change your waiting music already)! It’s the long list of volunteers you have to call. It’s the meeting you have to plan for that you feel like you’re not equipped to lead. The email you need to write. The diaper that needs another change. It’s the new project you have to begin. You know, the one you have never done before! STARTING can be the hardest part. It is for me at least.
When I first heard the term “eat the frog,” I laughed, because that is exactly what it feels like. You’re staring at that gross, slimy looking frog and you’re like, “I have to eat this thing but I DON’T WANT TO!” You’re gross, you scare me, I don’t know what angle to tackle (Head first? Munch on the legs?) It’s ok. You’re not alone. I’m here to push you and say, “just stinking do it.” Whatever task you are dreading the most, tackle it head on and just give it a shot. One, you’ll feel so much better once it’s over. Two, you’ll be more productive after because a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Three, the unknown and wondering is over- you did it! Four, you learned something new about yourself.
25 MINUTE WORK FLOWS. I don’t mind multitasking, and, most days, it’s just something I have to do. BUT, in times when productivity is hard to obtain, I try to take one project on at a time and put a time limit on it. Pick your project and give yourself 25 minutes. Then stop for 5 minutes and go back to your task. This will help your workflow, get you to your end result faster and provide you insight on how long you actually spent on that specific project.
TAKE YOUR LUNCH BREAK. Another one that is hard for me! You think this would be easy because I love food. I can’t get the simple tasks straight people! For me, when I am in a work groove, I’ll just work till I get it done. I’ll keep going till 12:00am. But seriously, take time to stop, eat your lunch and how about this… socialize? Not a bad idea. Try it out!
DECLUTTER AND ORGANIZE YOUR WORK SPACE. If you are cluttered and not organized, you will waste time. You’ll waste time looking for things and that causes unnecessary stress. Clutter can make easy tasks complicated and steal time from what you really want or need to do. If you feel like you’re not productive, before you start anything, organize your workspace. Put your files away, clean up those receipts or kids toys and put your books on a shelf. Keep your space clear and distraction free.
CHANGE YOUR SPACE. Not everyone has this option, but if you do, it’s nice to switch up your workspace; especially when you feel you are not being productive. Go into a different room, head to a coffee shop, library or your back porch. Even though this wasn’t planned, last week I went to go find my boss and he was on top of our roof! Long story (haha) but I climbed a ladder, onto our roof, and we had our meeting up there. A change of place was kind of nice and refreshing. I still got my work done and you know what? It felt good to be outside for a bit.
PERSPECTIVE. You will have ups and downs when it comes to workflow. On the days that are low, remember why you are doing what you are doing. Remember that cheesy, inspirational quote hanging in your fifth grade classroom? “Keep your eyes on the prize!” Don’t hate. It’s true! Having your goal and purpose in mind is your light at the end of the tunnel! It keeps you passionate and pushing through the temporary hiccups or setbacks.
“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.” (Denis Waitley)
Hopefully some of these tips help. Go get ’em! What do you guys do to stay productive throughout the week?