This post originally appeared on Girlboss.
Here’s just a few simple lifestyle changes that could help you be way more productive tomorrow.
Sustaining productivity can feel like an impossible goal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It isn’t about being the most organised person, or even the most self-disciplined.
In fact, boosting how productive you feel has more to do with small lifestyle changes than anything else. So if you’re looking for ways to stay motivated and get shit done, then read on.
Here are just a few simple ideas you can use to start feeling more productive.
Stick to a “work uniform” instead of picking new outfits every morning
I enjoy fashion as much as the next person, and since personal style is literally an expression of individual liberty, the last thing I want to do is tell other women how to dress. That said, I’ve found that committing to a “work uniform” during the week saves me a tonne of time and undue stress.
I’m not the only professional who relies on this productivity hack, either, so you don’t have to take my word for it. Personally, I like to keep my wardrobe minimalist, comfortable, and casually professional during the workweek — but your “work uniform” can be whatever you want it to be. You’ll save time and energy each morning, with a little pre-planning.
Use a bullet journal instead of a notebook
A bullet journal is essentially just one empty notebook that acts as your calendar, to-do list, sketchbook, diary, and whatever else you need it to be. And unlike day planners and calendar apps, bullet journaling is basically the most forgiving organisational system out there, primarily because there’s really no wrong way to do it.
Of course, it should be said that there isn’t a bullet journal in the world that will magically turn you into the most productive version of yourself. Analog is always less distracting, though.
Plus, jotting down all of your quick notes, tasks, ideas, etc. in the same place will be less time-consuming than messing with a handful of different apps and planners everyday.
Use an old-school alarm clock instead of your phone
As practical as it might seem to use your smartphone as an alarm clock, it isn’t really ideal for your productivity, or stress levels. The fact is, smartphones can mess with sleep, and you need quality rest to be your most organised, happy self.
On top of that, if you’re using your phone as an alarm clock, then you’re way more likely to lay in bed and scroll Instagram, which is just about the least productive way to start your day.
Use site blockers instead of scrolling social media
If you’re disciplined enough that you don’t need any help staying away from time-consuming sites like Facebook and Twitter, then good for you! If, however, you’re like the rest of us, then you might want to consider installing a site-blocker app. WriteRoom is an excellent choice for writers, but there’s several other site-blocking apps to choose from. You can check out a few of them here.
Take several small breaks instead of one big one
It might seem like working for five hours straight is more productive than taking a 10-minute break every hour, but according to science, that’s not the case at all. Studies show that brief diversions may actually improve focus, so if you can manage it, try to take a 10-minute break every hour. Just be sure you take that time to do something restorative (take a walk, eat a snack), rather than filling it with screen time.
Exercise before work instead of afterwards
The health benefits of exercising in the morning are extensive, and it’s been proven that regular exercise can increase memory retention and boost productivity. Plus, if you exercise before work, then that’s one less task floating around in your brain all day while you’re trying to get stuff done.
So whether you choose to hit up a morning dance class, or take your dog for an early morning walk, try to get exercise out of the way first thing every morning. Your body and your brain will thank you.
Designate a few email check-ins each day instead of checking emails sporadically
These days it can feel like we need to be reachable 100 per cent of the time, especially during working hours. But staying plugged-in all the time isn’t only distracting, it’s stressful, and it cuts down on productivity anyway.
If you find yourself checking your inbox every hour, then you probably need to set some limits for yourself. Try designating three email check-ins each day instead of checking in whenever you think about it. And if you’re worried your new email schedule will cause you to miss time-sensitive messages, consider listing your email check-in times in your email signature.
Say “no” sometimes instead of always saying “yes”
OK, so this one’s pretty simple. If you can reasonably and respectfully say “no” to a task, or even delegate it to someone who might be more qualified, then go for it.
We all know saying “no” can be difficult, especially if you want to impress your boss, but taking on even more tasks when you’re already overwhelmed won’t benefit anyone. And it definitely won’t help that productivity.
Do whatever you can get done in two minutes instead of waiting
If you come across any tasks throughout your workday that can be accomplished in two minutes or less — whether it’s answering a low-key email or making a quick phone call — just do it. Because all those little tasks add up, and there’s really no reason to put them off, if you don’t have to.
Chew gum instead of overdoing it on coffee
We love coffee, and some studies purport that coffee can actually make people live longer. But it’s also true that coffee can trigger anxiety, which is the last thing you need if you’re stressing about meeting deadlines or finishing up your work before happy hour.
So the next time you need to focus at work but you don’t want to overdo it on caffeine, trying chewing gum instead. Studies like this one state that chewing gum can help us concentrate and retain information, and personally, I’ve found the stuff so helpful when I’m struggling to focus on an article, that I keep chewing gum in my laptop bag. The more you know!
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