I’m obsessed with being productive and anything that has to do with productivity. To-do lists, journaling, writing notes, keeping a planner – I love it all. Why?
Ugly Answer: I’m obsessively, compulsively type-A.
Acceptable Answer: It keeps my head on straight and my mind clear.
I have gone through many iterations of productivity from strategically using my planner to plan down to hours and minutes to writing thousands of to-do lists. Below I’ll share some of the things I’ve learned a long the way.
- One task at a time
If you are anything like me, you know that doing one thing at a time can be nearly impossible. I’m a firm believer in multitasking but studies show that it doesn’t actually save you any time. In fact, according to Kendra Cherry at Very Well Mind, multitasking can actually reduce your productivity by up to 40%. So what do you do when you are working on one task and you are thinking about a million other things? Read on for tip #2!
2. Write it down, set it aside
To avoid multi-tasking, write your to-dos/thoughts down and then set them aside. Come back to it later, after you’ve finished your project. Remember, if you’re focusing on one thing at a time, you are more likely to get more done than if you are stopping in the middle of a task to take care of yet another chore.
3. Assign priority
I like to color code my to-do lists, and/or the priorities I write in my planner, in order of importance. You don’t have to color code, though. You can simply write a numbered list – your most important task, maybe one that’s coming up on a deadline, should be number one. Lists are my go-to way to stay organized and remember everything I need to get done.
4. Always carry your work with you
This one isn’t always possible but if you can, make an effort to carry your work with you. I almost always have a notebook on hand for scratching things down, my planner for making note of important events, and while pursuing my MBA I have learned to take my homework everywhere. Last night, for example, I had fifteen minutes to spare before class so I completed an assignment that is due next week. Taking advantage of those moments can make all the difference when you have a busy schedule.
5. Never sacrifice quality
Sometimes, when we are especially busy and just trying to get through our to-do list, we can sacrifice quality in our work, correspondence with colleagues and more. If you do not have time to finish a task appropriately and well – then don’t. Wait until you are able to put out your best work. Your reputation as a professional will be all the better for it and you’ll feel accomplished as well.
How do you stay productive? I’d love to hear what works for you. Let me know in the comments.