Let’s face it, being productive is hard no matter what you’re doing and what’s going on around you. You could be 50 feet below ground, in a bunker with no windows, noise-canceling headphones on tight … and still waste time googling when you should be taking care of business.
So how do you get out of that rut? Here are some tested methods. Try a few and let us know in the comments how you fared!
1. Use Magic Post-It Notes
Shark Tank regular Kevin O’Leary says that little sticky notes are his secret to getting more done before breakfast than you do all week, and he sets those wheels in motion the night before.
At the end of each day, O’Leary writes down the three most important tasks for the next morning on a “sticky note, you know, just a yellow piece of paper,” says O’Leary in a recent Facebook live. Then, the next day, you complete those three tasks before you do anything else.
“Three really important things. Maybe it’s medical appointment you have to do, obviously, or it’s something at work but it is three things that consume time,” says the investor and entrepreneur.
“And you don’t take any emails, you don’t take any phone calls, you don’t do anything else until you have got the three things done,” says O’Leary.
2. Say No More Often
That’s right. You don’t have to do everything you’re asked to do.
Sometimes the best way to push through to that finish line is to stop carrying everything on your back all the time. This can be the form of either sacrificing fun for the sake of “getting it done,” like opting out of a family movie trip in order to get all your bills paid in one afternoon. Or it can be delegating tasks like who’s cooking dinner on a certain night when you just need to find a few hours to organize your tax receipts for the ever-patient accountant.
The American Psychological Association notes that we’re under so much pressure to join, to do, to say “yes” all the time, we’re often splitting ourselves into an impossible number of directions. Your focus will come if you say “no” more — promise.
3. Work in Sprints
What’s keeping you from getting stuff done? Distractions — your coworkers interrupting you, your email alert grabbing your attention, your social media feeds fueling your FOMO. To be productive, you need to tune all of these out. The best way to do that is to work in sprints.
Start small, with 15-minute blocks of work time, and build your way up to 45 minutes or an hour. During that time, keep your focus on your work and don’t waver.
4. Get Uncomfortable
You know what you do when you get nice and cozy? Sleep. When you’re uncomfortable, you get whatever you have to get done, done and you move on to something better. Try standing up to work at your computer, or sitting on one of those confounding balance balls. Do your task while you’re in an especially cold room, or in the hot sun where you can get whatever it is accomplished, then go jump in a pool as a reward.
5. Sleep, Why Don’t You?
On the other hand, maybe sleep is just what you need.
Entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek knows a thing or two on time management and getting stuff done. In an interview for Entrepreneur magazine, he notes that we all have the same 24 hours in the day. Those who get it done the best aren’t the people who sleep less, but the ones who are better captains of their own clocks.
If you want the rewards, you have to do the time first. Just like the best athletes aren’t necessarily working out more, they’re working out more efficiently, you can also make your work time work harder for you, if you just get rid of the white noise and get down to business.
Tell Us What You Think
What are your best productivity tips? We want to know! Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.