Have you ever experienced a day where you complete your to-do list, but still feel like nothing really got done? Welcome to the majority of human culture. Being unproductively, productive. Aren’t you sick of wasting your time? Today I’m going to tell you if you’re being one of these people (signs and symptoms, WebMD style!) and if so, how to fix it and get back on track.
Are you guilty of useless productivity? (if there even is such a thing??)
- Exhaustion. There are two sides to this. Sometimes, we are literally too tired to perform our best, let alone perform well enough to produce something useful. This is why it is essential to get your sleep! If you find yourself too tired to even open your eyes, take a two hour nap and try again afterwards. If you’re mentally exhausted, you need some time away. A hike outdoors, bubble bath or seeing friends/family will cure your creative burn-out.
- Busy Work. Also known as cleaning out your inbox, scheduling appointments, cleaning your desk, etc. These tasks are not useless – they’re actually quite important to your workflow. But beware of completing busy work at the wrong time. If it isn’t essential for you to check emails at the moment, but there is a bigger project to be completed ASAP, put off the busy work.
- Laziness. Come to terms with it and be honest with yourself. Sometimes we just “don’t feel like it.” It happens to the best of us! Are you just being plain old lazy? Or are you lazy because you’re not working towards a goal you actually care about? Reassess.
- Procrastination. Ah, yes. You knew this was coming. Stop making excuses for why you can’t complete the task with the #1 priority on your to-do list. Stop putting it off until “tomorrow.” Suck it up, whip your hair into a ponytail and get it done.
- Scheduling. Just as there is such thing as “overscheduling”, “under-scheduling” is a valid term as well. Don’t jam pack your schedule so all creativity falls flat due to stress, but don’t leave your schedule so open that you find yourself lazily moving through your tasks. Efficiency is key.
- Distractions. This starts with your work environment. Is your work space next to a TV? Near lots of noise and commotion? Is it cluttered? Fix it. Now turn to the main culprit: your phone. Yup, you saw this coming too. Turn off push notifications for ALL social media, and then turn it to Do Not Disturb.
- Avoidance. We’ve all done it. There’s an important task to be completed but…we don’t do. We avoid what actually needs to be done and instead fill the void of time with busy work. Stop.
How can I become productive in the most productive sense of terms? (Yup, I said it)
- Motivation. Make sure you actually care about what you’re working towards. What do you want to get out of this? What’s the end goal? What is this all for? (Hint: There is no wrong answer)
- Schedule out your tasks smartly. Split them up over the day, week and month to avoid overwhelm. Batch tasks together to maximize productivity.
- Work Zone. Fix up the space. Clean it, declutter it and organize everything. Put on some of your favorite work music, this is my favorite playlist to listen to while working, and light a fresh smelling candle to put you in the zone.
- Work Flow. How do you work best? You know you best, so ask yourself and be honest. Create a system (or flow) and stick to it. Do you do best beginning with emails, moving to writing and then completing your research while stretching? Do you like researching while running on the treadmill? Do you like multi-tasking? How many tasks can you handle per day? Per hour? How often do you need breaks?
- Caffeine. It is truly essential. Even being young, the grind is tough and tiring. Caffeine helps. Whether your drug of choice is coffee, tea or an energy drink, utilize it and enjoy it. Just make sure you don’t have too much or your brain will be far too wired to work or think creatively. I like to sip on coffee within the first two hours of working to propel me through. Besides that, I chug water consistently to keep up my energy. Not enough water will leave you feeling sluggish!
- Time Management. Set a timer for all of your tasks based on your work flow. For example, I spend 20 minutes reading and responding to emails twice a day. But I spent 45 minutes on graphic creation and 30 minutes on writing drafts. When the timer goes off, move onto the next task. Order your tasks appropriate to your needs/preferences. I begin with emails because it makes me feel organized, then I do a task I enjoy before diving into the biggest task at hand, and then I fill in more busy work and end with communications. What works for you? Only you will know. (Hint: It might take a couple trial runs to figure it out!)
Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to being the most productive version of yourself yet. Do you have any tips you want to add? Drop a comment below and keep the convo going!