staying productive
Fulfillment, Productivity + Time Management

Staying Productive: 17 Ways to always be Productive

“In a culture that values being busy, I’d rather be productive” a quote from me complaining about being told I should be doing more. I value being productive. Getting stuff done that is actually important and brings worth, to me, my life, or the world? That’s valuable shit. I don’t like just being “busy”. Being busy isn’t good. It leaves burn out and misery in its destructive path. Is that melodramatic? Yes. But I’m making a point of how much I hate being busy. However, I productivity is the bomb. Everyone wants to be productive. But how do you do it? It seems pretty hard to feel + actually be productive when we feel like there is so much to be done and no way to balance it all. Well I don’t know how you do it, but I can tell you the 17 top ways I keep staying productive even in times of great change.

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Morning Routine

My morning routine always begins with making my bed. Why? Well studies have shown that people who make their beds in the morning are more productive throughout the day than those who don’t. Crazy, right? But I definitely feel a difference.

A morning routine sets the tone for the day. There is structure (which has its pros and cons) so I never feel rushed or flustered starting my day. Going into the day with a clear and level head keeps my productivity up and prevents others from getting the wrath of me when I feel overwhelmed.

Evening Routine

In addition to a morning routine, an evening routine is essentially there for me to set up the next day. I set up my to-do list so I know what needs to be done, what appointment/errands need to be run, and what room I have for fun. I also know what to wear and have my pets’ food set up for the morning so that every morning starts *almost* stress free (p.s. have you ever been half asleep trying to feed a cat that’s yowling and weaving between your feet like a drunken sailor? If you haven’t, just know its super frustrating. If you have, you know the benefit of setting up the food the night before).

Daily Exercise

I hate working out. I really, really, really hate it. But it’s what keeps my mind clear and my confidence levels up. If I can actually make it to the gym, I feel like a god damn queen who can frankly do anything. Thus, I make daily exercise a priority. However, since it’s me and I’m the former master of excuses, I will push it off forever. So instead, I make gym time the same time every. Single. Day. No matter what.

I go at 5 am when I first wake up. Do I do anything impressive there? No. I walk (a brisk walk to be fair) on the treadmill for about 30 minutes (gotta keep your step count up, bro), and then I go back to my apartment and do some body weight exercises or yoga. When it’s time to work, my brain is engaged, the blood is flowing, and I already feel accomplished – which makes me want to keep going.

Keep Your To-Do list to 7 things

Every type A person out there likes their lists – including me. But my lists were killing me for so long. I’d put so many expectations on myself that my daily to do list was often about 30 items to complete. Highly impractical and highly overwhelming. I’d get maybe 10 things done and then beat myself up for not “doing better”. It was exhausting and definitely not productive. Keeping it at a max of 7 made my expectations more reasonable, helps me feel more accomplished, and prevents a good deal of burnout.

staying productive
Keep Your To-Do List Short + Sweet
Work in 30-minute chunks

You realize that our brains can’t really focus for more than 30-45 minutes at a time? I didn’t. Working in 30-minute chunks though is a life-saver. You work on a project for only 30 minutes, and then take a break for 5.

Have clear intentions for the day/hour to keep overwhelm from creeping in

When I am intentional with my day, things tend to run smoother. If my intention is to enjoy the nice weather, I’m much less likely to feel guilty about not working a full 8 hours on things that are “important”. If I say that ‘I am going to write an article and respond to my emails” I have a clear intention of what I’m going to get done that day. It helps prevent me from wandering aimlessly through my day which prevents a lot of Instagram scrolling, which in turn increases productivity.

Schedule

Lots of people have different systems of productivity. I like scheduling. I like to get one complete task done before starting another one. And I like my routines and I like knowing what’s next. A schedule helps me create a good balance between work and life, responsibilities and spontaneity.

Leave room for enjoyment

Do you want to burn out? If you do, make sure all you do is work. You can’t have fun. All you can do is work, work more and then die working. Your actual productivity with go to shit but hey, at least you’ll be busy.

Life is about balance. And what’s the point of building a life you love if you refuse to make room to actually enjoy it. Without balance, burnout is inevitable. With burnout, comes diminished productivity. Take it from ya girl who’s been there, suffered through that.

Single tasking

Multi-tasking doesn’t work. They’ve proved that time and time again. So why do we keep doing it? Personally, I think it’s because we feel we have to stay busy constantly to be productive. But busy-ness is kind of the opposite of productive.

Meditate daily

If you’re anything like me (or the general population) you’re probably a chronic overthinker. You overthink everything so much that you pretty much drown in overwhelm and can’t figure out which way is the surface. That, my dear friend, is where meditation has saved me. It’s like my own personal floaties that take practice to inflate myself but keep me bobbing along, happy as a clam. Ha! Sorry, there were just so many opportunities for ocean metaphors there, I had to use them.

Anyways, meditation helps keep the overwhelm at bay – okay, okay, I’m really done now. It helps clear my mind, restore some focus, and illuminate my priorities. When your intentions are clear and you’re not mucking through excess thoughts, productivity flows.

Sleep the correct amount

I’d say 8 hours but everyone is different. I personally need 9 to 9 ½. Without it, I’m like a toddler – cranky, whiny, and seemingly always hangry. Also, my focus is that of a toddler too. Meaning it’s non-existent. So, listen to your body, get enough zzz’s and watch your productivity and focus soar. If you need more reasons why you should sleep more click right here and have your mind blown.

Limiting distractions

Distractions are well, distracting. And they are your productive self’s worst enemy. In a perfect world, we could eliminate distractions but the world is definitely not perfect. So let’s limit them instead. Put your phone on silent – or even better put it on do not disturb – have a snack and hydration method (water, tea, coffee, cocoa, whatever) nearby. Make sure your bladder is empty. If your around others, put your headphones in (even if nothing is playing) to give the world the message to LEAVE YOU THE EFF ALONE. Then work without those pesky disruptions to your focus.

Work standing up

This one is maybe a bit unorthodox, but it works well for me. Standing, my posture is better so I get less fatigued. It also allows me to fidget a bit more which also helps me focus. It works for some, maybe not all but I notice a bigger increase in my productivity when I’m standing versus sitting.

Get clear on your goals

If you feel like you’re constantly spinning your wheels and getting nowhere, you probably aren’t very clear on your goals. You are more productive when you have a clear picture of where you are trying to go. Write your goals down and break them into smaller steps.

To get truly clear on said goals, you need to know your “why”. Why do you want this goal? Why is it important to you? Also, why is it worth so much of your time and effort? When you’re clear about what you want and why you want it, the how you get it becomes clearer too. Intentionally finding the path to take is much more productive than wandering aimlessly through indecision and hoping you stumble upon a path you want.

Get the hardest thing done first

The first thing you should do every day is get the hardest task done first. It’s the thing you dread doing and wish you could put off. Don’t. You. Dare. It just becomes harder to do more difficult to do and easier to keep putting off. Do the hardest task first. The hardest things are often some of the more important ones for you to keep growing as a person – so do them. With the mountain of dread out of the way early, you’re set to grow for the rest of the day and having that weight lifted off your shoulders early is a surefire way to keep those productive vibes flowing.

Give yourself a time limit or deadline.

This is my favorite way to beat procrastination. I give myself a set time (usually an hour) to finish a task I don’t want to do.

When you have an hour to complete a task you don’t necessarily want to do, you can’t procrastinate. It is due at the end of that hour. There’s no room for you to question your potential. No room to deny your awesomeness. And definitely no room for excuses. In one hour, it has to be done. This was a life saver in college for me for those essays that seemed to drag on forever. I had an hour to write a rough draft. Was it a good draft, not necessarily, but it was complete and that sometimes is the hardest part.

This works for other areas of your life too. I set a timer when I’m cleaning. I get an hour to clean my apartment but only 10-15 minutes for each room. There’s no lollygagging then or looking over past memorabilia, or getting distracted by Netflix. No. I’m a freaking cleaning machine and my apartment is sparkling after that hour. (tbh it’s only sparkling for like 10 minutes though because I have a zoo).

Get ready for the day asap

I always get dressed + ready for the day right after working out. This is because I work from home, so if I don’t, I find that it’s 2 in the afternoon, I’m still in my pjs and my hair looks like a friendly hamster’s nest. That makes feel two ways. A. not good about myself – unattractive, gross, lazy, and less confident. and B. sad because obviously since I didn’t dress myself today, I’m a complete failure. Both of these feelings aren’t founded in reality but they do heavily affect my productivity. My solution? Get rid of the problem. So, I “get my ass in gear” (a quote I heard from my grandma a lot, and I get dressed straight away.

17 Ways of Staying Productive Recap

Anyone can be productive, yeah even you Becky with the good hair. It requires work but so does everything worthwhile. Most of us fail at being productive because of limiting fears and beliefs that we just “can’t do it” or “we have too much to do”. Small steps in the right direction can create an avalanche of success.

Shockingly, setting yourself up to be successful doesn’t just require you to be productive when you start your projects or goals. There’s a lot of building blocks that go into it that help cut out the “busy” and give you genuine, limitless productivity. 

And of course, like the title of this article states, these are things that I personally do and we all know that personal growth isn’t one size fits all. This merely is here to spark some inspiration or to give some motivation. Also, it’s here so that when I have set backs, I can use myself as a reference for genius.

And like all geniuses I love to hear what works for others, my vault of knowledge loves to keep growing, so please, oh please share the unorthodox, unique, fun, and classic tricks you yourself use to keep your productivity levels up in the comments below.

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