Throughout this year, I’ve really learned how to master being productive and making the most out of my days. And, because this is one of my most frequently asked questions online, I wanted to share some tips and tricks on how I maintain my productivity.
*Keep in mind these are things I do to maintain my productivity, but these tips might not match up with your own lifestyle*
Create Daily To-Do Lists
I love to-do lists. I can’t live without them. Every morning I create a to-do list filled with tasks, chores, and assignments I have to complete during that day. And I make sure never to put more than eight tasks on my list each day.
It’s unrealistic to have a to-do list with about 15 tasks because you only have so much time in a day to get everything done, so be realistic and kind to yourself when going through the tasks you hope to complete throughout the day.
Not only do I create daily to-do lists, but I also have weekly to-do lists, as well. On my desk, I have a planner opened at all times to write in tasks or appointments I have throughout the weeks of my life. It’s a great way for me to glance at the things I have planned for the upcoming week, rather than writing it on a calendar. Seeing an entire calendar filled with appointments, schedules, and plans can be intimidating, so just take it one week at a time.
If you are having an off day where getting out of bed feels like a battle (I’ve been there more times than I can count), what I do is create a small to-do list for the following day right before I go to bed. While I might not have completed all the tasks I wanted to do today, I remind myself that tomorrow I can start fresh. Creating a to-do list to prepare for the next day is a small way to motivate myself if I’m ever feeling down.
Set up a Reward System to Split Up Tasks that You have to Complete
An important part of being productive is taking care of yourself as you fly through tasks, assignments, appointments, meetings, etc. I’m big on self-care, and I’ve realized that you’ll feel 10 times better if you set up small reward systems in place to give yourself the boost you need to get tasks done when you’re feeling immensely unmotivated to do so.
Some examples of rewards that I give myself are:
- Getting myself a cup of coffee after doing chores around the house
- Reading two chapters of my current read after writing one page of an essay for class
- Taking a break to check Twitter or Instagram once I read a specific amount of pages from my textbook
- Watching a movie after completing everything on my to-do list
Setting up small rewards to break up the tasks on your to-do list not only gives you a small moment to take a break and do something you genuinely love, but it also gives you something to look forward to when you’re deep in assignments for classes or you’re cleaning your house all day. So, be sure to create your own version of a reward system to make tasks more enjoyable!
If You Know You Have a Busy Day Coming Up, Wake Up Earlier that Morning
Waking up an hour or two earlier, on busy days, can make all the difference. Sometimes having those two extra hours on hand can help you complete more tasks throughout the day rather than staying in bed, asleep or scrolling through your phone.
So, if you know you have a busy day ahead of you, get to bed early the night before and wake up a little earlier than normal to get more things done!
Teach Yourself How to Say “No” to Procrastination
For me, I’m the opposite of a procrastinator. Rather than putting off assignments or tasks till the last minute, the moment I’m told I have something due in a week or a month, I immediately begin working on it. That doesn’t mean I complete it on the first day I’m giving an assignment, but it means I have started working on it.
Training yourself to do small tasks that count towards a bigger project will help you finish it sooner than putting it off until the week before it’s due. Sometimes we put things off because looking at the big picture makes us feel overwhelmed, so breaking down a project into smaller sections can help you feel a weight lift off your shoulders. Slowly but surely you’ll get all of the small tasks done and your project will be completed!
Trust me, a weight will lift off of your shoulders if you finish a project, essay, assignment, etc. days or weeks before it’s due. This will then open up more time for you to do other tasks or to relax and not worry about an assignment.
Getting out of the cycle of procrastination may be difficult and daunting but splitting up tasks into smaller sections that you can work on, day by day, is much better than forgetting about it or putting it off until it’s almost too late.
Find Ways to Make Tasks More Fun and Enjoyable
The best way to get through tasks is by finding ways to make them more enjoyable. Whenever I have to do household chores, like changing my sheets, sweeping the house, unloading the dishwasher, folding clothes, etc. I listen to an audiobook as I do those tasks. That way I’m able to read while also doing menial chores that would normally bore me to tears.
Whether it’s listening to music as you write notes for class, lighting a candle as you read textbooks, or going to a coffee shop to do assignments, finding little ways to enjoy yourself as you work through your to-do list is a must.
Don’t Beat Yourself Down for Having an Off Day
It’s important to remember that we aren’t Productivity Machines and the people you see online who seem like they have it all together and are always getting things done also have off days.
So, rather than beating yourself for having a sluggish day where getting out of bed is a feat in itself, remind yourself that you aren’t supposed to be this Task Completing Marathon Runner every day. You are allowed to have off days, and in fact, I encourage it. We all need days to recharge and rest, and if you are having a day where getting the simplest chores done seems like climbing a mountain, take a step back and remind yourself that you can always try again tomorrow.
Stop Comparing Your Productivity to Others
The best way to get things done is to stop comparing yourself to others and to mind your own business. Rather than looking at other people in your life and thinking, “They are always on top of things. I wish I could be like that,” remember that we all have very different personalities and responsibilities.
Some people are able to get more things done in a day because they might have more free time, or they might have a high-strung personality where they feel compelled to get everything in their daily to-do list done, otherwise, they feel like a failure and are, frankly, too hard on themselves *cough* me.
Someone on my Instagram once asked me how I get so many things done, and I told them:
Content creators look productive because we’re essentially always showing you the final product of a project we’ve worked on (a photo, video, blog post, etc.). So it looks like we’re always busy and being productive, but that’s not necessarily the case.
I’m a lazy person at heart, but I look productive because I show what I’ve created throughout the weeks and months, on social media, every day, to share my completed projects and to hold myself accountable.
It’s good to keep in mind that people you follow online aren’t productive every day or are doing more things than you. We all have very different lifestyles, so what I do during my day is not the same as someone else in university. Productivity is subjective, and it’s best not to compare your work to others because someone will always be doing more than you, and that comparison will ultimately slow you down and isn’t a productive mindset in itself to have.
What keeps me going– besides my high-strung personality– is holding myself accountable, rather than comparing myself to others. One way I do this is by sharing my to-do lists with my friends on Snapchat. At the beginning of the day, we usually send videos of ourselves talking through our to-do list, and throughout the day we send updates to let each other know what we’ve completed or are working on.
Sharing your to-do list with friends sounds weird and boring, but it’s a great way to get motivated because now you not only want to complete your to-do list for your own personal satisfaction, but it’s also fun to be able to tell your friend you’ve done everything you’ve needed to do in a day.
So rather than comparing yourself to someone else, boost your friends’ productivity and share your to-do list with them, if you think this will help you feel more motivated. I love hearing about my friends’ days, even the mundane chores they do, because I love cheering people on, and I love hearing about their days which only motivates me to do more, too!
Do you have any other productivity tips that you’d like to share? What works best for you? I’d love to know!