One of the worst feelings is when you have a lot on your to-do list but can’t seem to ever get to the bottom. Some days, it feels like you didn’t accomplish anything, and you wake up with a longer to-do list because of all the things you didn’t accomplish the day before.
On those days, you’ll inevitably see someone who seems to be productive and get more done, and you think to yourself, “How can I be productive and get more done?”
There’s no secret formula, but there are some tips on being productive and getting more done each day. If productivity is a goal for you, it’s important that you understand what’s stopping you from attaining your goal because you are most certainly trying. You may not even realize the things in your life that are blocking you from being your productive self.
Once you identify what’s stopping you, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of success at having a productive day and accomplishing more.
If you’ve ever set out to be productive for the day only to look up from your phone and realize that hours have passed without doing anything meaningful, you know that even small distractions can disrupt productivity. Here are some common causes for distraction that you may encounter:
- Social media
- Other people (kids, coworkers, friends)
- Phone calls
- Push notifications
- Distracting thoughts (to-do lists, daydreaming, upcoming appointments)
- The internet
The truth is distractions are everywhere, and if your heart is set on procrastination, it can always find a way to entertain your brain and get you off of your to-do list and back into the for-fun activities.
If you’re tired of unproductive days, there are strategies you can implement in your life every day that will help you get more done so you can fall asleep at night, feeling good about the day you had, and wake up with less to do in the morning. None of them require swearing off social media or socializing with other people.
Let’s be honest. You can do things all day long and not feel productive, but you can also do just a few things and feel really productive. So, what gives?
You might be surprised to learn that many things you can do to be more productive have nothing to do with pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion, and getting more done in your day actually has a lot more to do with taking care of yourself.
1. Assess Your Situation
In order to make achievable goals, you need to be honest about where you are in life right now and start from there.
Every day, you need a good idea of what you want to accomplish for the day, and knowing where you’re starting can help you visualize what should happen to get you from Point A (where you are now) to Point B (where you want to be).
2. Prioritize Sleep
When you have a lot to do, it may seem counterintuitive to ensure you’re getting enough sleep, but turning off your brain and getting some shuteye is essential to being more productive.
Sleep helps our bodies recover. If you are exhausted from a lack of sleep, your body hasn’t been recovering as it should, and it makes you less efficient at being productive.
3. Prioritize Exercise
Just like prioritizing sleep, making time for exercise every day may seem counterintuitive to being more productive, but taking the time to get your body moving can actually give you more energy to get more done.
Exercise can help you get a better night’s rest, and it gives your body a natural boost of energy by increasing your hormone outputs.
4. Create Routines
Creating routines for yourself throughout the day can take some thinking out of your day to make you more productive when you need to focus on tasks, deadlines, or work. Routines also free up more time because you don’t have to think about what you should do next.
The best thing about routines is that you can start small, and if you take it bit by bit, you can create huge changes in your life by establishing routines. You can have a morning routine, a routine for the first 15 minutes of your day, an evening routine, and a bedtime routine.
Just like exercise routines help you move through a workout with a plan to make the workout more effective, daily routines for the various parts of your day can help you move through your day and the tasks at hand more effectively.
5. Implement Time Blocks
Time blocks, also known as pomodoros from a time management technique known as the Pomodoro technique, allow you to devote a portion of your day to each important task.
These periods are for focusing on the task at hand, so you’ll want to avoid distractions. This is not the time for talking or checking your phone, so you may want to turn your devices on silent and put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
You can set a timer for yourself, and until the timer goes off, work on what this block of time has been designated for. Doing this regularly will keep tasks from piling up, and you’ll know that you devoted some time to chip away at larger projects each day. Just remember to take 15 to 20-minute breaks to give yourself a rest between time blocks.
6. Take A Daily Supplement
Productivity suffers when we have anxious feelings. We spend so much time worrying about all that we need to get done that we might not realize just how much time we could have spent actually doing the things on our list.
Deadlines and to-do lists can make it difficult to focus. However, some supplements may help support your well-being and help soothe and calm your mind. Complete Calm De-Stress Gummies can help you feel an almost immediate calming sensation to help you get back to focusing on what you need to do, and it takes less time than a short break.
One of the active ingredients is a Persian Saffron extract that can help naturally support your emotional health, while other active ingredients like Panax ginseng, Lion’s Mane extract, and lemon balm extract all work to help improve your cognitive performance.
7. Let Go of Multitasking
For years, many of us have believed in the myth of multitasking, but it is impossible to give the same amount of attention to multiple tasks simultaneously. Something is always going to suffer. Resist the temptation to try to increase productivity by letting quality slide.
Devoting your attention to one single task at a time will help you focus better and accomplish more. When you’re not trying to respond to emails while you run reports, you can actually block out time to run your reports and then respond to emails or whatever task you need to do, and you’ll get each task done well.
8. Time Yourself
As you work on your projects, estimate how long you anticipate for a task to take. Time yourself as you go. When you complete the task, analyze if the task took you longer than you expected or shorter. This will help you manage your time in the future because you’ll have a more realistic expectation for how long a certain task should take.
You may find certain tasks are easier at a certain time of day or that your alertness waxes and wanes depending on your workplace.
9. Avoid Overcommitment
Saying “no” can be hard, especially when you’ve already said “yes.” However, when you overcommit yourself, you can run the risk of burnout. Burnout can lead to exhaustion and feelings of anxiety, which will most assuredly lead to a loss in productivity. Remember, overcommitment can mean more than just having too many events on your calendar.
If you think you’re already overcommitted, see if there’s a way to delegate some of your responsibilities or try communicating how you feel to others. Most people prefer quality over quantity, so you’d be surprised at how often you may be granted the extra time you need to complete your tasks or meet your deadlines.
Being more productive is a great goal, but don’t confuse productive habits with neglecting yourself. To increase productivity, you have to be a priority on your to-do list as well. Take the time to make a plan, set boundaries, prioritize sleep, chat with friends, exercise regularly, and create routines for yourself that help make getting things done a natural part of every day.
Meet our Experts
This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.
Dr. Jay Cowin, Nutrition Expert
Founder of Functional U, a Nutrition, Performance & Optimal Health practice.
Dominick Gauthier, Performance Expert
Former Olympic Athlete, Founder, B2ten Foundation (coach to multiple Olympic Champions)