I’m slightly obsessed with any list that will tell me how to increase my productivity. I don’t think anyone would argue that I’m not a hard worker, but I will also freely admit that I’m a terrible procrastinator. In order for me to get anything done, I need a deadline, and it’s usually better if someone else assigns it and/or is dependent on me to finish the required task, because I never want to let a coworker down.
I’m also not consistent with my productivity. Some days, I just kill it, and there’s very little that doesn’t get crossed off my to-do list. Other days, it’s like pulling teeth to get anything done. I’ve scheduled too many meetings, or I get sucked into doing research, or I’m battling bad writer’s block — and I put off a story by spending the day answering emails.
But every Monday, without fail, I think, This will be the week I am finally totally productive and will burn through my to-do list like a champion. And, inevitably, every Friday, I’m telling my husband how I need to put in a few hours of work over the weekend to catch up.
Needless to say, it was a little daunting compiling a list of productivity hacks, because I am not an expert on this. I am a believer, though, and hopefully that’s enough. There are a few things I know I will never do, no matter how productive they might make me. I will not plan a week’s worth of meals in advance. I will not whittle down my wardrobe to just a few uniform pieces I wear every day. I can’t check my email only once a day, and I think the idea of speed-reading is just silly. And I’m reluctant to tell anyone to "plan for Monday on Sunday night." I’m pretty open about my workaholic tendencies, but there needs to be some time when I’m not focused on my to-do list. For me, that’s Sunday evenings, which are reserved for hanging out with my husband and trying not to obsess about everything that needs to get done come Monday morning.
I think the biggest thing is to pick and choose from this list what works best for you — and then get consistent about sticking to those habits. Everyone’s workplace is different, so what works for me might not work for you. And don’t kill yourself if you have a less-than-productive day. It took me three tries just to get started on this story, and I might not have gotten it done if it weren’t for the looming deadline.
When I did finally sit down to write, I utilized many of these tricks to help me get it done. And, voilà! It wasn’t easy, but it did reaffirm that I can be productive when I set my mind to it. I'm still working on the procrastinator problem, though. Baby steps.