Many of us have great intentions on knocking out the lengthy to-do lists we create, but rarely set aside the time to pinpoint the priority items that require our attention. In a world that is constantly changing, our thoughts are pulled in various directions – causing feelings of overwhelm, burnout and downright exhaustion when it’s time to get things done. Take a look at these helpful tips to remain productive and leave your distractions in the dust.
Narrow your focus
Contrary to popular belief, our brains are not computers. We aren’t able to constantly produce and produce without there being some sort of consequence to our mind, body or both. The notion of ‘there’s always something to do’ will cause you to feel like no matter what you’ve done, it’s not enough. Before going off on the deep end, narrow your focus. What are things you must get done today? This week? This month? Using this approach should help identify what’s an immediate to-do versus something that you may have more time on, or something that isn’t significant to complete at all.
Put the phone down
As people always on the go, our phones have become our lifelines that hold just as much (if not more) than our computers. Phone calls, emails, text messages and social media have a way of slowly entering our lives but causing a lot of wasted time. Ever been on social media and all of a sudden an hour goes by? Without discipline and mindfulness, this distraction can derail your entire day. Most smartphones today offer a do not disturb feature, which silences notifications during a specified time period. You can also set a time limit for apps that may cause you to get distracted, such as social media. Once the time limit has been reached, it disables your access. Using these features combined with some discipline will guarantee you have more time in your day to complete tasks while remaining focused.
Clean up your space
Take a moment and evaluate your working space. Whether that’s in the office, at home or a combination of the two – it’s important to see if this space is actually designed for work to be completed. Cluttered workspaces make it difficult to get work done, so try your best to routinely get rid of anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or unproductive. Does the space make you feel relaxed and energized? Incorporate your favorite candle, décor or small reminders to serve as motivation throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to rearrange your setup to create a new ambiance. If possible, make sure you’re able to get some natural sunlight in to further boost your efficiency.
Complete a brain dump
Our brains are full of thoughts, many of them we don’t even realize we actually have. On average, we have approximately 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts per day. Because of this, it’s so important to get whatever comes to mind typed or written out on paper. This can be done at any point in the day, but make sure you have a decent amount of time set aside to reap the full benefits of the exercise. Whatever (and I mean whatever) is in your head, write it all down. Don’t categorize anything or limit yourself. Once that’s been completed take a stab at circling what is a must-do for that particular day. You’ll often find your thoughts are full of worries, random things or items that you can complete at a later time. This can help narrow your focus, which in turn sets you up for a more productive day.
Set reasonable deadlines
A lot of times we’re under the impression that we can knock out absolutely everything in an unreasonable amount of time. While we love to think so highly of ourselves, we create an internal pressure to get things done which can lead to the output not being as efficient. Giving yourself reasonable deadlines can ease the anxiety we feel when attempting to add way too much on our plates.