Whether we’re overwhelmed by that never-ending to-do list or simply distracted (thanks, Facebook), sometimes we don’t get enough out of the day. And, while 30-hour days don’t exist, there are some tips for getting more done in the 24 we have.
Make a habit of, well, sticking to habits. Choose actions like writing emails at a certain time or hitting the gym after work, and try to do them daily. Soon that routine will happen on autopilot.
Get enough sleep
Whoever coined the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” didn’t have all the facts straight. Not getting enough zzz's could hinder productivity at work, so try to get those recommended seven to nine hours of snooze time!
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Wake up earlier
If still able to squeeze in enough sleep, try extending the day by getting up an hour earlier — when it’s still quiet and there are fewer distractions.
Step away from the inbox
Incoming emails can be a nuisance. Make a habit to only check the inbox at certain times of the day to avoid getting sidetracked with requests and responses.
Make a daily to-do list
Stay away from huge to-do lists. Instead, create a daily list of realistic jobs to tackle, like folding laundry, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or paying the cable bill. Break up big goals into micro-tasks, like going to a yoga class over getting six-pack abs, or writing a page over completing a thesis. Soon, the small things will add up to big accomplishments.
Make a to-don’t list
Bad habits are just as significant as good ones. Make a list of things not to do because they make you unproductive. (We’re staring at you, Netflix.)
Our brains aren’t wired to juggle too much at once, and we can work nearly twice as fast if we do one thing at a time. (And nope, we’re not talking LOST time-travel.) So, remember those childhood manners and finish tasks one at a time.
Silence the phone
When it comes to getting stuff done, sometimes silence is key. Turn off the cell phone ringer — that’s what voicemail is for!
Take a midday workout break
Can’t fathom cleaning the bathroom? Or having writers’ block? Working out during the day could actually boost productivity, so the time spent exercising could actually help us get more done later.
Just, you know, don’t get sick. (It may be easier said than done.) But, health and productivity go hand in hand, so be sure to maintain good health habits, like washing up after hitting the gym!
Do those MITs
Nope, this isn’t college talk. MIT stands for most important tasks, and it’s a way to highlight the items that matter most on that to-do list. At the start of each day, write down a few things that must get done.
Hit inbox zero
Sort every email once that inbox is open. Respond, file, draft, or delete. Keeping the inbox clean is key to staying organized and on point.
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Take some time to sit and get those creative juices flowing. Without distractions, brainstorming may be the way to come up with killer ideas in record time.
Make like Richard Branson and carry something to catch any useful thought that may come to mind. Get really creative and go DIY style.
Shut off social media
Sayonara, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Social media can be a huge time-suck. Studies have found that it can take up a significant chunk of time at the office, and may even predict lower grades in school. Let’s unpin that.
“Eat the frogs”
We swear it’s a real term. Do the task you’re least looking forward to first to get it out of the way. (No guarantees Prince Charming will emerge.)
Read. This. Slowly. Getting stuff done isn’t always a matter of making it to the finish line first. Take time to reflect, brainstorm, and recharge.
Take a day to record how much time is spent writing emails, reading blogs, texting, etc. We may be surprised at how much time certain activities take up every day.
Don’t bounce around
Box off a specific amount of time for every task. Assign a chunk of the day for one project, and once that time is up, move on to the next mission.
Schedule some time every week to see what was accomplished and if that schedule needs tweaking for the following week.
Those headphones will help tune out any distractions. Plus, others may be less likely to interrupt if they see we’re plugged in.
Leave reminders around to help remember what needs to get done. Place bills that need to be paid or books to be read out in the open. Stick reminders on the fridge!
What we scarf down for lunch may do more than satisfy hunger. Certain foods, like salmon, almonds, and carrots, can give us a much-needed boost of energy. So, forgo the take-out and be picky at the cafeteria!
Get rid of anything in the way that may cause distractions. Put away the dishes, fold clothes, and get rid of excess papers on the desk.
Don’t stretch yourself too thin — learning to say no keeps us focused and may even ward off sickness.
Take a break
Carve out some quality "you" time to keep a balance between the busy world and the rest of the day.
Still need to get sh*t done? Luckily, there’s an app for that.
Full disclosure: Sometimes, we're lazy. So, whether it's seven ways to simplify our morning routine or how to make our time at the gym actually enjoyable, we're into it. And, to keep us on track, we've turned to Greatist, because they've got us excited about being healthy — and just trying to get a good night's sleep.