8 painless steps to increase your productivity and achieve more this year

"You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé." 

It’s the Pinterest quote that has taunted many an overachieving, overworked person since the day someone posted it. 

The thing is, comparing yourself to Queen Bey is most likely not motivating you to achieve your hopes and dreams, is it? (Nah. Didn’t think so.)

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get there! In fact, with just a few tiny tweaks to your routine, this may shape up to be your best, most productive year yet. 

How? Try this.

Get up earlier

Woman sitting on a bench at sunrise

For night owls who don’t care about catching that early worm, this suggestion may be a bit of a yawn. (Let’s face it. Not everyone is a morning person.)

But most people would agree that there’s a certain advantage that comes with getting up while the world is still quiet. 

It’s easier to focus, there are much fewer distractions (provided you pocket that smartphone for a minute), and you get to decide what to do with that “extra” time. 

That’s right — you are in charge. Not your boss. Not your kids. You. That’s an empowering way to start the day.

However, this suggestion may backfire if you don’t compensate by going to bed earlier the night before. You’ll zero out that productivity if you end up crashing around 2 p.m. out of sheer exhaustion every day!

Set bite-size goals 

Pink, blue and chocolate donuts with one bite taken out

On January 1st, you, like so many others, are full to the brim with ambition for the new year. You’re going to get in shape, learn to play piano, cook gourmet meals every night, keep that house spotlessly clean, and solve world hunger while you’re at it!

Yeah . . . You probably already know that’s not exactly how things work. And it’s why so many New Year’s resolutions don’t live to see February. 

If you want to set goals the right way, you’ve got to be consistent — and they’ve got to be doable. 

Instead of making an entire meal out of a project, think of it as an appetizer. Just take little bites out of it here and there. 

Even if you set aside just five minutes for exercise, studying, planning, reading, or whatever else you want to accomplish, you’ll have made a lot of progress by the end of the week.

Move your body

Shot of person's feet with sneakers on pavement

Stuck in a rut in the middle of your workday? Writer’s block cramping your style? Can’t find the motivation to finish that sewing project?

Get up and do a few jumping jacks. Run around the block. Blast your favorite tunes and have a spontaneous dance party.

Research shows that moving your body (let’s not even call it the “e” word, for fear of scaring some of you off) has massive benefits when it comes to productivity levels.

In one study, employees who went to a gym in the middle of their workday managed their time better and had more pleasant interactions with their coworkers. (Remember: endorphins make you happy.)

So, if you want to jumpstart your brain and kick your creativity into high gear, don’t just sit there — get moving!

Learn to delegate 

Lightbulb on a blackboard

You may fancy yourself Wonder Woman, but even she had friends who helped out here and there. 

Sometimes the key to productivity is actually doing less. (Just let that counterintuitive thought marinate in your brain for a minute.)

There may be tasks you’re taking on that could be easily passed on to someone else. 

Got kids? Teach ‘em to load the dishwasher.

Tired of tidying up your home every week? Hire a cleaning person to tackle all those nooks and crannies you never seem to have time to reach. You might balk at the idea at first (I’ll dust my own bookshelf, thank you!) but just ask yourself this: What is your time worth? If you make $60/hour working from home and a cleaning service charges $40/hour, you’re paying yourself $20 to have someone else do the “dirty” work. Something to think about!

Minimize decision fatigue

Colored shirts hanging up

Decisions, decisions, decisions. They’re like little red stop lights in your day, halting your progress and they can wear your poor brain out. 

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to reduce this decision fatigue by cutting down or simplifying the choices you have to make each day.

For example, you might:

  • Pick out your clothes the night before. (A closet full of items you can easily mix and match makes this super duper easy and will likely add years to your life.)
  • Plan out meals a week in advance. Some people even have quarterly meal plans that change with the seasons. 
  • Plug in addresses into your phone or GPS so you don’t have to mentally figure out how to get somewhere.
  • Limit your options. How many shades of lipstick does a girl really need? Instead of 20 tubes, maybe cut that down to 5. One of them will work with your outfit. Don’t worry.
  • Set a deadline. Whether you circle a date on a calendar or set an alarm on your phone, commit to making a decision (big or small) by a certain time. 
  • Stop overthinking it. Odds are, the cardigan you wear at your job interview isn’t going to be the deciding factor on whether or not you get the position. (Unless it’s this cardigan, which is a surefire winner.)

Listen to music — or don’t

Headphones

This may seem like a terribly confusing suggestion. Which is it? Music: yea or nay? Well, it depends on the situation. 

There are some studies that found music’s mood-enhancing capabilities help people be more productive for certain mundane, repetitive tasks. (Hello, washing dishes and folding laundry. Lookin’ at you.) 

On the other hand, if you’re trying to, oh, pen the next great American novel or file that urgent report, complete silence will help your brain stay on task instead of rapidly flipping between two different attention-getters. 

(Although there are some pretty soothing playlists on YouTube designed to help you study and concentrate better.)

Take regular breaks

Two girls sitting on a hammock

You can’t chop much wood with a dull axe, friend. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with your to-do list, it’s time to do the same thing you do when the computer freezes: hit that reset button.

Take a breather. 

Try a 10-minute power nap.

Grab your favorite snack and people watch on a park bench for a few minutes. 

Play Candyland with your toddler. (They only have a 5-minute attention span anyway, so it won’t last long.)

Whatever helps you de-stress instead of distress, just do it. You’ll find it’s easier to get things done afterward.

Download this free productivity page to get started

Brigitte's Daily Productivity Page

Finally, one of the very best ways to accomplish your daily/weekly/monthly goals and to-dos is to write them down on paper because it gets your brain firing and boosts that otherwise foggy memory. 

See, no one — not even Beyoncé — can do everything in a single day. But you can make time for the most important things! 

This free productivity page will help you easily keep track of your daily tasks so that you can prioritize the things that matter most. Give it a try and see how much more you can accomplish when you account for all those precious waking hours! (Just remember to schedule those breaks, too.)

So . . . What will you achieve this year? Put these productivity tools into practice and prepare to be amazed. Get started today!

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