5 Simple Productivity Tips — and How to Use Them

Pile of cogwheels

It’s one thing to get tips on productivity. It’s another thing entirely to get the how-to that goes along with those tips so you can actually start using them. It’s easy to collect productivity tips like some people collect self-help books and then just put them on the shelf, happy that you picked it up but not taking the time to actually read and apply what’s inside.

Changing habits is hard, but with a little time and practice you can absorb any of the tips below into your daily life. To start with, though, pick the one tip you feel most directly applies to your business life and focus on it. Once you bring that one into your daily life, add a second, and so on.

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1. Get Up Earlier

Downtown city street in early morning

We’re all given the same amount of time in a day, but it’s how we use that time that really matters. While focusing on time management is a great way to get the most out of every day, the easiest method is to get up earlier. There’s no real skill involved in this, and the results of practicing it are totally measurable.

Choose a time you want to start getting up and then work back to it in 10- to 15-minute increments every 1 to 2 days. After a week or so you should be at your desired wake-up time, and you’ll have an extra hour or more in your day.

2. Concentrate on Concentrating

This one sounds kind of funny, but there’s really something pretty simple behind it.

Between Facebook, Twitter, and coworkers constantly talking to you, it’s very easy to get off track and lose concentration. You can overcome this by simply remembering that you need to concentrate on the task at hand and ignore everything else.

By concentrating on concentrating, you make it a point to think about how important it is to focus on what you’re doing. If you can think about social media, what you’re doing for lunch, and what you’re working on at the same time, you can easily focus on just the task at hand and the need to concentrate.

Once you try this, you’ll be surprised at how well it actually works.

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3. Know Your Purpose Before Starting a Task

This might sound crazy, but it’s very common for people to jump into a task before truly knowing what’s going on and what it is that needs to be done. These people think that by diving in and starting to work right away they’ll get things done quickly before the task becomes too large an issue.

While it’s great to be first on the scene working on a task, you need to know the purpose behind your work before you get started.

Before you start your next task or project, take a step back and think for a few minutes about what it really involves and what the result should be. This way you can give your attention to what’s most important and ignore the other parts that could otherwise bog you down.

4. Write Out a To-Do List

Handwritten to-do list in a notebook

This one is in just about every set of productivity tips, and with good reason. While there are great to-do list apps like Remember The Milk, there’s no replacement for writing out a list yourself. The act of writing by hand does something to solidify information in your head and reinforce ideas in a way that typing just can’t.

Start a notebook with just to-do lists in it, making a new one every day. This way you can go back through the pages to find out when you completed something. If anything remains on your list from the previous day, just move it to the top of the list for the next day.

5. Single-Task

Multitasking is not your friend. People were not made to multitask, so when we try to, we get only stress and frustration in return. Event the best multitasker actually only switches between tasks extremely quickly, as the brain can only do one cognitive task at a time. So why not give each of those tasks its own time in the sun?

Cut out everything else, close your email, and mute your phone. Work on that single task until it’s complete or until it’s time to switch to something else. Either way, give each task its due amount of time and ignore the rest until you’re ready for the next task.

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