Maximize Your Productivity with These Seven Tips

Rachel Yerks

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Even if one task is the most important item on your to-do list, somehow it ends up being the one thing that doesn’t get done. It happens to all of us.

With these tips, learn how to prioritize what needs to get done, while also making sure the little tasks are completed. Utilize the Pomodoro Technique, create a unique routine for yourself, and plan out your future accomplishments.

1. Pomodoro Technique — Complete the Most Important Task First

Your to-do list doesn’t mean much if all the tasks on it are of different priority levels. The most important task should be the only item on the list. All other tasks are afterthoughts.

This most important task is the task that if you only completed it and nothing else you were planning on doing, you’d feel productive. It’s the one-step ticket to feeling accomplished for the day.

Use the Pomodoro Technique to accomplish your task. The Pomodoro Technique is as follows:

  • Select your most important task.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes and promise to only work on that task, turning off electronics and ridding yourself of distractions.
  • After completing your Pomodoro, take a break and reward yourself.
  • If the task isn’t complete, do more Pomodoros with increasing break periods in-between them until the task is complete.

By focusing and not allowing yourself to do anything else but the important task at hand, it’ll get done far quicker than it would with distractions and procrastination.

It is difficult to start with a 25 minute Pomodoro right off the bat, so start with a fifteen-minute Pomodoro to warm up if needed.

2. Don’t Neglect Small Tasks — They Become Big Tasks Over Time

Ideally, your to-do list only has essential tasks on it. But we all know that’s not how life works. The little things add up to big things if they’re not dealt with.

The easiest little things are the quick ones. If something on the list takes less than five minutes to complete, do it right away.

It might be the pile of dishes you usually walk by in the kitchen — stop and do it, right then and there.

Use little tasks as your break between big tasks Pomodoros if you can manage it. I don’t mean writing for a Pomodoro for 25 minutes and then write for more time as a break.

Look for a small task that’ll break up the monotony. Get up and do a load of laundry in between writing bouts. Take the garbage out. Those types of little tasks. I like to stagger intellectual and physical work so I never have too much of one or the other in a single sitting.

3. Remove Productivity Roadblocks

It’s difficult to wash the dishes when you have the energy if the dirty dishes are scattered in different rooms and need to be collected. That alone might zap your willpower and lead to procrastination.

Take the steps before working to make the work seamless. Make a habit of putting the dishes in the sink after eating, no excuses. When you want to do the dishes, all the dishes are accounted for and ready to be washed.

Put all your dirty clothes directly in the washer so it's ready to be run whenever you have the time.

Make sure your devices are always charged so when the writing bug bites, you have the means to crank out an article or two.

The list goes on. Take away the roadblocks to completing your most efficient work. Be ready now for what happens later. Don’t sabotage your future productivity.

4. Follow Your Customized Productivity Routine

We all read those morning routines of billionaires. It’s almost a shared, self-help addiction nowadays.

Jack Dorsey [Twitter Founder] gets up at 5 AM, meditates, and works out before having his coffee. Oprah gets up at 7 AM to brush her teeth, walk the dogs, and reads while her espresso brews.

I’m a night owl. I don’t advocate for mornings, period. You [probably] should create a morning routine. But we’re talking about productivity routines here.

What makes you feel productive? Sitting at your desk with a nice cup of tea, cell phone turned off, quiet classical music playing in another room? Laying on the couch with headphones?

Whatever floats your boat. Make sure you follow your routine before each productivity period. But don’t listen to the same music for focus as you do to fall asleep. Make your routine unique so it always triggers a reminder to be productive — not sleepy.

5. Get an Accountability “Buddy” — i.e., not your actual buddy

Runners have running buddies so they’ll actually get out of bed at 5 AM and run five miles, instead of going back to sleep. Friends hold you accountable.

I don’t think this works. My friend and I are currently doing an exercise challenge, and we let each other off far too much.

Get someone you know would be disappointed in you if you didn’t complete the task. Someone who isn’t as understanding as your best friend.

If you only want to be accountable to yourself, here’s a more controversial idea. Donate to the political campaign of someone you despise as a consequence of not reaching your goals. In contrast, stop donating to a cause you think is important if you don't reach your goals.

Potential for damage? High. Potential to force you to do the right thing? Also high.

6. Visualize Your Success — Identify the Big Picture

Watching YouTube videos all day may be more enjoyable than writing an article or doing a load of laundry, but what will you appreciate more in the long run?

Are you going to be upset you never finished watching that YouTube video or more upset you never finished writing a novel?

Get ahold of the big picture that is your life. What do you want to accomplish and why? Don’t put off tasks until it’s too late to reap the benefits.

You owe yourself a productive life.

Think about the life you want and go about getting it. Do one productive task a day, and then watch some YouTube if you’re so inclined.

7. Passion Projects are Vital to Productivity

I’ve saved the best for last.

Remind yourself that tasks on your to-do list can be fun. They don’t all have to be about work, earning money, and/or self-sacrifice.

Think about what you want to achieve for yourself and work towards that goal. It’ll be something you’re motivated to do, and it will give you something exciting to check off your to-do list.

By incorporating passion projects into daily life, you’ll be able to move forward in your personal development while also meeting other commitments.

Learning new skills and techniques is fun. Maybe you enjoy painting and make it a weekly goal to try different eras’ painting styles. Or learn French online by practicing fifteen minutes a day.

In a few years, you might even be able to exclude the monotonous, boring tasks from your days altogether and focus on the passion project full time.

You too can lead a productive life by knowing your priorities.

Complete the most important task on your to-do list, every single day. Even if you decided to have a “lazy”, lounge-around day, you’ll have been productive because of that singular accomplishment.

Be accountable to friends, foes, but primarily yourself. Pursue the life you want through manageable goals and utilize a routine to get tasks done as quickly as possible, but don’t forget your passions.

You can be a productive person, but you have to want to be one. Hopefully, this article helped you realize your next step. Good luck.

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Freelance Writer. Avid foodie. Connect with me via the link below.

Owings Mills, MD

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