5 ways to be more productive

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if you were to ask me in a job interview, or were to talk to my friends friends about what my talents are, i would tell you that my only real talent is being productive.. for real 🙈 it’s something that comes second nature to me and i genuinely enjoy getting into a groove and finishing everything on my to-do list (gross, right?). but like any talent, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t fine-tune it and hone it into a workable skill.

i’ve been practicing these tips since freshman year of high school (almost 10 years ago?!), and i’ve helped friends to incorporate them with great results. so i definitely stand by these and consider them to be my tried and true. i hope you find these helpful!

  1. touch it once.

this is best applied to smaller, more mundane tasks that become overwhelming when you let them pile up - sorting mail, paying bills, shoes in the hallway, makeup on the counter, etc. basically, if it’s a simple task that will take less than 15 minutes, i will do it right then and there. there’s always so much going on that i’ve found it’s best to auto-pilot as much as i possibly can, without sacrificing quality. if i’m opening my mail and i receive a bill, i pay it right then and there. taking your shoes off after you get home? put them away completely. eliminate the middle step of having to revisit the problem and get it all done at once.. and then you never have to go back to it.

2. identify your top 3 priorities.

when you have a big to do list, figure out your top 3 priorities and place them at the top of your list. this is a great way to distinguish what actually has to get done from all of the little tasks that can sometimes steer you off-course or down a rabbit hole. i tell myself that no matter what i do, those 3 things MUST be done, and it gives a clear focus for the day. on that note..

3. follow the 3-2-1 method.

without sounding like too much of a nerd, this is my favorite way to start the day, and it’s definitely my secret weapon. i start with 3 easy tasks i can quickly cross off my to do list, followed by making 2 calls or sending 2 emails that need to be sent (or just 20 minutes of a task i am chipping away at), then i’ll do one big task that requires a lot of time - usually one of my top 3 priorities for the day. i get a burst of energy seeing a few things crossed off my to do list, and that momentum helps with getting the bigger tasks done. it’s been said that you should finish your more involved tasks earlier in the day when you’re more focused, but sometimes i need a little kick-start of feeling accomplished before i can dive deep into something that requires a lot of focus or attention to detail.

4. just give it 15 minutes.

this is directed more towards bigger tasks, like de-cluttering, and the things we tend to consistently put off, like workouts. with these sorts of tasks, i commit myself to 15 minutes of work no matter what. if i am still not feeling it after those 15 minutes are up, i’ll stop and save it for another day. 15 minutes is really not a lot of time, so it’s easy to agree to. the worst case scenario is that you stop right at the 15 minute mark, but at least you are that much closer to accomplishing the goal the next time you start up again. but the best case? you hit your groove and complete the task, working longer than the initial 15 minutes. win win.

5. know yourself (don’t kid yourself).

i wish i could have put this on a billboard at school. i had SO many friends who would say, “no i can’t, i have a paper to write,” when i’d ask them to hang out.. and then they’d sit and stare at the computer alllllll day, accomplishing next-to-nothing, and they would still end up rushing at the last minute like a madman. here’s the thing: if you do your best work under pressure, give yourself a timed hour to complete it, rather than blocking off a big chunk of time when you know you aren’t going to actively work through the block. let’s be honest: you are just wasting your time. it’s not reckless procrastination if that’s your style of work, and you consistently pull it off. go enjoy a few hours at the beach and then get your paper done. don’t force yourself to clean your closet when you first wake up if you are a night owl who really gets that second wind. you have work with yourself, not against what comes natural to you, even if that seems a little odd to somebody else.

what are your best tips for staying productive?