I don’t want to toot my own horn or anything, but I’m pretty darn good at mastering productivity.
There are a lot of areas of my life where I need to be productive. I’m a grad student while being a self-employed blogger, and that is very hectic in itself. In addition, throw maintaining physical fitness, eating well, and creating some time for my personal well-being all in the mix. My life can be pretty hectic, but I try to do my best to balance it all.
Not to say that I’m perfect in all of these areas, because I’m most definitely not. Productivity is a skill, and it requires patience, practice, and compassion towards oneself.
I’m writing this piece today because I would like to share with you ways that I am able to stay productive even on days where I’m feeling tired, cranky, and not motivated. Sometimes, you just have to buckle down and tell yourself to quit making excuses. There are deadlines to meet and things to accomplish. But believe me- it can be SO hard to train your mind this way when you just aren’t feelin’ it.
I’m compiled a list of 10 of my tricks to help you become an insanely more productive person. Whether you need to be productive for work, school, or just life in general, these tips will help you hold yourself accountable for what you need to accomplish.
1.) Be excited about the final outcome
Productivity is all about self-motivation. What are you looking to achieve? Think about the big picture. Writing that lab report for school will put you one step closer to finishing the semester, which in turn ensures a college degree. Finishing that 3-mile run will count as your third workout this week, which means you’ve hit your goal.
See where I’m coming from? FIND REASONS to get you through this hurdle. Think about the final goal. Envision yourself there, and make it happen. Mind over matter. Positive thinking does wonders.
2.) Get in the zone
What in the heck is going to make you feel motivated? For me, I need to have a clean house. I can’t do a darn thing if I’m in a messy work environment. It also helps if have on soothing music and a candle burning. Whatever puts you in your “happy place,” make it work. Surround yourself in an environment that will ultimately boost your productivity. It’s hard to get things done if you have other distractions getting in your way.
3.) Give yourself timed increments and breaks
If I have an 8-page paper due for my grad program, it can be especially daunting to start the project. What helps me is setting small timed increments. For example: I’m going to sit at my desk at 11am and start writing. At 11:45am, I will stop and take a lunch break. At 12:15, I will resume my paper and work until 1:00 until my next break.
I might sound like a drill sergeant here, but these timed increments with breaks works wonders. You can’t power through and be productive for 4 hours straight without taking a break. I feel like that’s almost physically impossible. Remember- often the hardest part about starting a project is simply STARTING it. And you can DO this.
4.) Caffeine = Life
Maybe I shouldn’t be promoting caffeine because too much of it isn’t a good thing, but I’m not going to lie…. I’m a deadbeat without my coffee. Nothing is going to happen without it! There is just something soothing about sipping on a coffee while working. If you’re not a coffee drinker, try tea. Tea has amazing health benefits, is packed with antioxidants, and will still give you that little buzz that you need.
5.) Workout in the morning
Whenever I work out in the morning, I’m usually insanely productive the rest of the day. Working out totally energizes me. Not to mention the endorphin rush fuels my positive vibes because I feel like I already accomplished a huge thing on my To-do list. Speaking of which…
6.) Make a To-Do List
I’m a huge fan of To-Do lists. However– notice there is a difference here– REALISTIC to-do lists. Because nothing feels worse than when the day is over and you only accomplished half of the things on your list. That’s a GREAT way to cut yourself down. I like to only put things that I KNOW I have time to accomplish on my list. I’ll write down what I’m going to do and in that exact order, so I keep myself accountable.
1.) Respond to emails
2.) Put dinner in the Crock-pot
3.) Run 2 miles
4.) Finish blog post
5.) Run to bank
6.) Fold load of laundry
7.) Complete 2 pages of research paper
This list isn’t super long or overwhelming. I know that I can accomplish everything on this list in one day. And if I DO, I treat myself.
7.) Have a friend hold you accountable
When my physical fitness was slipping, I knew that at that point, I wasn’t strong enough to do this on my own. I reached out and asked for help when I needed it. My best friend from college and I used to keep each other extremely motivated when we were in school. We would work out together, cook dinners together, and share our fitness successes and failures. However, this is the real world, not college. Even though she now lives in Virginia, we still like to text each other throughout the day to hold each other accountable. We both are working to get back on the Healthy Train, so we text each other every morning what we are going to do for a work out today, and even text each other what we eat throughout the day. It’s been extremely effective to have her hold me accountable, and I’ve seen results because of it.
Bottom line: Tell someone your goals. Have someone monitor your progress. MAKE THEM keep you accountable!
8.) Keep a routine
Routines, routines, ROUTINES!!! Routines are everything. Nothing ruins productivity more than a sporadic day without a plan. Make a routine and be consistent with it! Work out at the same time every day. Respond to emails every morning when you wake up. Go for a walk after dinner every night. Routines become habits, and habits become Productivity Juice.
9.) Manage your time well
This can be a tricky one. Managing your time is a skill that requires practice. The key is to chunk up your day and work on things bit by bit so you avoid procrastination. I wrote a whole detailed post on time-management skills here.
10.) Post motivational quotes
This sounds super cheesy, but I’m a lot more motivated when I read motivating literature and quotes. Sometimes all you need is that little boost to lift you up when you’re feeling down.
What are ways that you motivate yourself on days you don’t feel productive? Leave me a comment below.