Here are commonsense yet practical tips on how we can maximize productivity in our daily lives. Try out some of these for yourself and discover which ones work best for you.
50 Tips to Maximize Productivity
1. Write a list of the main tasks you want to complete throughout the day.
2. Start with the most important task first, so you can get it out of the way early and while your mind is most fresh.
3. Believe your will-power is in your control, and you can often motivate yourself to do more (see how to maximize your will-power).
4. Bring work to do when you know you will have time to kill (such as on a bus or in a waiting room).
5. Practice mindfulness meditation to increase your focus. (see 100 breaths meditation).
6. Exercise periodically to keep your energy levels high and your mind sharp (see the connection between physical and mental health).
7. Keep yourself productive even while unemployed (see 50 things to do while unemployed).
8. Know when it’s appropriate to set a dealine (see the uses and abuses of setting deadlines).
9. Ask yourself if you’re working hard or just staying busy (see working hard vs. staying busy)?
10. Channel your anxiety into motivation (see the hidden power of anxiety).
11. Use visualization. Imagine yourself actually doing the things you need to do to accomplish your goals, and this can prime your brain to do those activities (see how to change habits with 20 minutes of visualization).
12. Find small ways to relieve stress to help you re-energize yourself throughout the day (see 50 stress relievers that take 5 minutes or less).
13. Collaborate with the strengths of others to help you complete a task.
14. Learn as much about your work as you possibly can (see how to become an expert at anything).
15. Decorate your workplace or change your environment, research shows it improves health and productivity while minimizing stress (see how to create a less stressful work environment).
16. Entice yourself with a reward (although incentives work best for routine tasks, not creative problem-solving: Dan Pink on motivation).
17. Focus on aspects of the activity you enjoy.
18. Be creative with aspects of the activity you don’t yet enjoy.
19. Listen to music, as long as it’s not distracting. For example, research has shown music can make us exercise hard (see how we use music to manage our stress and emotions).
20. Be more mindful of negative self-talk while working (“I don’t want to do this. This is lame. Why is Timmy such an a-hole?”). Replace these with something more inspiring (see quick tips for reframing).
21. Try to make work more fun by turning it into a game or friendly competition (see blur the line between work and play.)
22. The presence of plants can increase attention and productivity (see here).
23. At the end of the day, reflect on your actions and question how you can improve them tomorrow. (see reflection improves learning).
24. Think of your life more like a video game. Stay motivated to get to the “next level” of your life (see treat your life more like a video game).
25. Identify role models to motivate you and inspire you (see make a list of people you admire and why).
26. Keep a personal diary or blog to keep track of your progress (see power of the pen: 5 scientific reasons to write more).
27. Celebrate the small wins to stay motivated (see focus on positive memories, celebrate the small wins, and keep yourself motivated).
28. Take a moment to reflect on your goals, are you working toward them? (see re-visiting your goals and aspirations)
29. Focus your complete attention on one task at a time. Multi-tasking can often be mentally taxing and deplete our cognitive resources quicker.
30. Take a brief pause to re-evaluate what you’re doing in the present moment. Is there something more important you should be doing? (see STOP meditation: daily injections of mindfulness).
31. Pay close attention to the excuses and rationalizations you make on a daily basis (see screw your excuses).
32. Be ready to overcome obstacles and rough patches (see how to overcome awkward phases of self-improvement).
33. Take a break to freshen your mind and begin work again on a new slate (see how taking breaks boosts creativity).
34. Use a calendar (digital or paper) to track important events.
35. Don’t be afraid to let your mind daydream every now and then (see the science of daydreaming: how it benefits creativity and problem-solving).
36. Confirm any appointments you have before going.
37. Get chores done while watching TV or listening to music.
38. Work from home and do meetings online over Skype (for convenience).
39. Be aware of your daily habits and what triggers them (see identify your habit loops).
40. Always have a pen and paper handy to write down things that come to mind (or leave memos on an MP3 recorder/iPhone/etc.)
41. Try your best to write a rough timeline of when you’d want to achieve certain goals (see create a timeline to better envision your goals).
42. See your work in the context of a “bigger picture” and be proud and motivated by it.
43. Remember you only live once so make the most of your time here.
44. Find an encouraging quote to put up on your wall or read as a daily affirmation (see 75 affirmations for self improvement).
45. Try talking to yourself out loud when solving a difficult task. Or explain the problem to someone else. (see the power of asking yourself questions).
46. Ignore the little things that don’t matter, but always seem to wrack up our brains. Don’t waste your attention and energy on things that you can’t change. If it is out of your control, it isn’t worth worrying about.
47. Consider keeping your goals to yourself to avoid a false sense of accomplishment (see keep your goals to yourself).
48. Make sure you’re following your passion, not just what people want you to do (see 8 things society tells you that you need to do (but you really don’t)).
49. Change how your brain reacts to mistakes (see how your brain reacts to mistakes depends on your mindset).
50. Keep your brain fit by doing cognitive exercises (see challenge your brain and other ways to maintain cognitive fitness).
Now stop reading tips on how to maximize productivity and start actually doing things.
Check out The Science of Self Improvement to learn valuable tools and techniques to help improve yourself on a daily basis.