We all get the same amount of hours in our days, so why does it seem like some people can get so much more accomplished and we’re left staring at our computer screens or feeling uninspired and unaccomplished at the end of the day? The truth is, there are certain things you can do to get more done in less time, and we’re here to fill you in. Try these 7 tips to feel like a productivity powerhouse and get more accomplished than you thought possible.
1. Work Your Day Backwards
Approach your day with the end in mind. How would you deem your day successful at the end of it? What needs to happen for you to have a sense of accomplishment and feel great when the day concludes? As self-help author and motivator Danielle LaPorte says, “how do you want to feel?” It may sound too abstract when you have a lot of things you need to accomplish, but actually, identifying how you want to feel at the end of the day can serve as a great source of motivation to keep going and accomplish what matters to you. Identify these activities or projects at the start of your day so you have a game plan for a successful day.
2. Know The Difference Between Being Productive And Active
We often fool ourselves when we think being busy means we are being productive. Sure, maybe we are constantly in motion or thinking of five hundred things at once, but we aren’t getting our most important things accomplished. It’s a form of procrastination to busy yourself with little things while you knowingly don’t make progress on the most important things. Make sure you are making progress on your most important priorities.
3. Schedule Exercise Like An Appointment
Let’s face it, if you aren’t exercising, you aren’t feeling good. You feel sluggish and low energy, and may find yourself lagging through the rest of your activities. In order to make exercise work with a crazy schedule, you have to schedule it like it’s an appointment you can’t miss. (That’s why I love group fitness—it’s my appointment!) You can’t wait for the day when you will suddenly have more time, because often that day never comes. I like to remind people to think of passion as energy. Do you have passion for feeling good? If exercising and keeping your body healthy is truly important to you, prioritize exercise and schedule other parts of your day around it. Don’t forget that keeping yourself healthy goes a long way to keeping the rest of your family healthy and happy.
4. Set Aside A “Planning” Day
I think Sunday is a great day to plan for the week. I go to the grocery store on Sunday and stock up for the week so I won’t have to make multiple trips throughout the week. I also use Sunday to prepare food. I boil up some eggs, grill up some chicken breast, wash and cut up fruit and put it inside Tupperware containers to get food ready for the week. When my kids were all living at home, every Sunday, I would fill out the Family White Board: a white board with seven columns (one for each day of the week) and we each write our schedules on it in different dry erase colors so we can see who is doing what, when and where. It helps for planning and respecting each others appointments. If you need ideas for meal plans, check out my cookbook, Choose This!
Related: How To Stop Wasting Time
5. Track Your To-Dos
Don’t try and keep everything you have to do in your head. Develop a method for listing all of your to dos so you can get them out of your head and into an effective system. Some people love keeping track of big priorities and daily To Dos with their iPhone and others like a Daily Planner or a notebook. Find a method you like, and once something you have to do pops into your head, document it. You will alleviate stress and you will be motivated to cross those items off your list!
6. Check Your Email Less
Yep, it may sound counterintuitive, but if you want to be more productive, stop checking your email constantly! Checking your email throughout the day—or obsessively as soon as a new email pops up in your inbox—eats up tons of time. Try checking your email at certain times during the day instead and turn off your automatic notice that a new email has come in. Constantly switching between what you are doing to a new email eats your time. Bundle other activities together to get more accomplished, too. For example, if you have errands to do, try to line up several errands to do at one time.
7. Batch Everything You Can Do In Less Than 15 Minutes Together
Rather than scatter quick errands or tasks throughout the day, group them together. Make a list of tasks you can finish in under 15 minutes and do them all at once. You won’t lose time switching between small tasks or scattering them throughout the day. When you tackle them all at once, your mind will be clear to focus on bigger priorities.
As Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”