June 17, 2016

Top 5 Tips To Be More Productive (that have worked for me).

You guys know that being productive is my constant struggle. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I woke up super pumped, write down my to do list and cross off all of my tasks. But more often then not, I write my to do list and just mope around feeling tired and not very motivated. I’m not gonna talk about motivation today (‘cause if I did this post would turn into a book) but I do feel like productivity and motivation go hand in hand.

To find a solution for this struggle of mine I’ve tried my go-to approach: throw everything at the problem. I feel like when you don’t know what to do you should just try everything. So I read books, watched videos and read an infinite amount of articles – I know this sounds like a lot but I really did all of that.

And although I got a lot of great tips, I found a lot of them to be either very, extremely simple (stuff everybody already does) or quite elaborated, like creating a filling color coordinated system for your documents. I mean, I would love to have one of those but I don’t have time or energy to do something like that – not when I already have a million other things to do in my day. 

So for today’s post I decided to put together the top five tips that have worked for me. I would like to stress the fact that the only criteria here is this: they have worked for me and my lifestyle. My focus right now is studying but I do feel like these tips can help you in other aspects of your life. What I’m saying is “eat the fish, spit out the bones” – take only what you need from it. 

Mindset: Just like everything in life, being productive is all about your mindset. If you wake up and choose to focus only on how tired you are and how you’d rather go back to bed you’re going to spend the entire day feeling like this. Even if you don't believe in it, I don't think you should underestimate the power of positive thinking. I'm not saying you need to go full on The Secret mindset, but just focus on what you want from the day. Say you need to get some work done in the morning and then after you feel like working out would be good for you, so just focus on that as soon as you wake up. I know it's hard, specially if you need to wake up early everyday (like me) but just try it. 

To Do List: I know this may sound very simple (and it is) but it’s the only thing that has worked for me. I tried calendars, two different types of planners and some apps. Writing my "to do" list every morning in a piece of paper is the only thing that works. Usually I get a regular sheet of paper and divide it according to the days of the week and then on the bottom of each day I write down what I have to do that day (leaving some space to add things up). I know you could do that with a regular planner as well but carrying around just one piece of paper is more practical for me.

Ambient Music: Especially when you’re studying or working, ambient music is best way to stay concentrated on a task. Even if you live by yourself or you’re in a library, we live in a big world with a lot of humans that make a lot of noise. I know that when I’m studying even someone coughing can throw me off so I prefer listening to some ambient music. Like elevator music, you know? No lyrics, just a pleasant melody that acts like white noise to drown out the environment.  

Short Breaks: This is the one I struggle with the most. I don’t know about you but after reading about International Politics for 45 min I feel like I deserve 45 minutes of Netflix, am I right? No. Not if I want to study more than those 45 min in the day. From personal experience, I've learned that taking long breaks (long enough to watch an entire episode of Desperate Housewives) completely ruins your productive mode. Having said that, I do believe taking breaks is important. Just make sure they'e not 45 minutes long. 

Write Down Distractions: Whenever you feel the urge to do something else, write it down and save it for later. For example, checking your phone, watching Netflix, reading a book are all things we shouldn’t be doing but that cross our minds when we’re studying or working. And then, after you’re done doing whatever it is you have to do, you get your little list and go to town.

Those are my tips, guys! Let me know what you think about them on the comments. And also, if you have anything more to add please let me know as well. I feel like we need all the help that we can get on this matter. Another thing I wanted to say is to not burn yourself out on whatever it is that you do. Sometimes we’re already doing the best that we can, even if we don’t feel like it. 

I feel like when it comes to being productive and doing things, the only thing we need to focus on is being better than we were yesterday. Comparing yourself to others is never a good thing. We all have our limits and if you honestly think that you’re doing the best you can, that’s all that matters.

Do you have any tips to share?

Thanks so much for reading and I’ll talk to you soon!

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