Even the most productive people have their days or even weeks where their productivity struggles or even declines. We’re human, right? But rather that letting your productivity steadily decline into oblivion - focus on curbing your behavior to get back on task. Whenever I find myself struggling with being productive, I implement these five things.
Find the Quiet
Distractions have a funny way of finding us and worse than that, roping us in. Even if you love what you do (which you absolutely should), you likely have certain tasks about your work that you don’t love. These are the tasks that often make us particularly prone to distraction which snowballs into lost productivity. Instead of relying on willpower, which often wains during certain times of the day, focus on eliminating the distractions by finding a quiet space where you can hammer through your task at hand. Reserve a conference room or even consider working elsewhere to find yourself the solitude needed to regain your focus.
Turn Off Your Phone
I know, the mere suggestion probably gave you goosebumps, but turning off your phone for the sake of productivity can be an extremely powerful practice to regain your productivity. With notifications flying in from every direction, your phone is a constant form of distraction. Just like a quiet space will boost your productivity, so will the solitude of a notification free environment. If the idea of being completely unreachable makes you uncomfortable, that’s okay. You can also utilize the Do Not Disturb feature only allowing calls from certain contacts in the case of emergency (i.e., your child’s school or your spouse). Remember, we aren’t implying that you should go dark for days at a time (although that could be admittedly nice), we’re just suggesting an hour or two at a time.
Organize Your Calendar
I’m a creature of habit, but more than that - I’m a creature of routine and schedule. Why? Because these routines and schedules have helped build positive habits in my life. Put important deadlines on your calendar to remind you to focus on certain tasks at certain times. I strongly suggest using a planner for this, not just your calendar.
Organize Your Space
A messy workspace can be the demise of efficiency and effectiveness. The less time you spend navigating your workspace to find items you need, the more time you can spend on actual productive tasks. I spend time every Friday evening organizing my workspace for the week ahead. It doesn’t take a particularly long time, but the impact it has when I sit down to be productive is exponential.
Build In Brain Breaks
As I said earlier, we’re all human and that means that we all have a limited brain capacity for any task - even our favorite ones. Scheduling through this capacity is a recipe for distraction and disaster. Instead of making large timeblocks, focus on more frequent, shorter time blocks. For example, I have four thirty-minute time blocks for emails each day that allow me to spend two full hours focused on emails but not fall victim to my inbox (the to-do list someone else creates for me) all day long!