Humans love to-do lists. Checking things off makes us feel good and our desire to always get results grows. As a result, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be productive. But when we fall behind, anxiety, burnout, and stress can set in.
Productivity isn’t just about finishing a to-do list. It’s a state of mind – the more mentally prepared we are for productivity, the more successful we are and the less stressed we feel. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of eight tips that will help you transform your mindset and increase your productivity at work and in life.
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Use these tips to increase your productivity
Many believe that psychology is only used to treatquestions, but it also has a lot to say about how we deal with the small details of our daily lives. Here are eight you can use to change your point of view and do more.
1. Start by organizing your thoughts
Where there is an unorganized mind, there is usually an unorganized environment…and vice versa. Often we feel overwhelmed and unproductive simply because all we can see is the pile of unfinished tasks in front of us.
If this is where you start, then take a deep breath. Just going through the tasks probably won’t help, and it can make things worse. It is better to start by clearing your head and organizing your thoughts.
Research from the National Council on Aging has shown that mental disorganization tends to create more stress and impulsive behavior, which doesn’t help you be productive. So before you tackle your to-do list, why not take a moment to reflect, journal, pray, or meditate so you can organize your thoughts? If you start organizing your tasks with a sense of clarity and purpose, you’ll be much more effective at coming up with a plan.
2. Plan your day (or week)
You probably know the feeling. You work and work, but you never seem to do anything important. It’s because you gave in to the tyranny of urgency.
Here’s the truth: you’ll never finish anything you could do. There’s always something else to sort out or someone else to tell you what to do. Instead of playing the mole every day, you need a plan that will help you accomplish what’s most important.
Planning your day or your week is an exercise in mental discipline. It forces you to consider what’s most important to you, whether in your work or in your personal life, and plan tasks that reflect those priorities. Think of it as a chance to check in with yourself and make sure you’re spending your time well.
3. Start with something easy
If you’re wondering how to be more productive, it’s usually not a good idea to postpone the more important and difficult tasks in favor of the easier ones. In fact, Emory University research shows that people who typically tackle big tasks first are more productive overall.
That said, when you’re initially trying to get the productivity wheels turning, it can help to start with one or two easy tasks. Quickly ticking a few items off your list can give you a sense of accomplishment and build just enough momentum to get you started.
Once you hit that rush of accomplishment, don’t get stuck on the easy tasks. Take that energy and use it to do something great.
4. Divide big tasks into smaller ones
When you turn to more complex work, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the effort required. When the finish line seems far away, you might be tempted to give up or just start ticking off small tasks again.
The trick here, according to Emory’s research, is to turn those big tasks into small ones. Take the end goal of your project and break it down into small, manageable steps that you can accomplish one by one.
For example, suppose you want to plan a big road trip for your family. You can’t define all the details at once, so try to break them down. Perhaps your first goal would be to research your itinerary and places to stay so you can budget for travel expenses. Start there, then move on to the next important task.
Breaking up big tasks into smaller, manageable ones will help you stay motivated to keep going because it gives you those little moments of accomplishment. And motivation is a key psychological factor in staying productive.
5. Create boundaries for yourself and others
In today’s work environments, we are constantly distracted. Open workplace designs and digital communication tools make us feel like we need to be constantly available to our colleagues. But this constant availability can come at a cost to productivity.
Research from the University of California at Irvine demonstrates how costly even simple distractions can be. The results showed that it takes the average worker over 23 minutes to regain focus after being distracted.
What can we learn from this? If you want to be productive, it’s important to minimize distractions to maximize your focus. And that forces you to set boundaries. Turn off notifications, disconnect from social media, and notify co-workers when you’re unavailable. Try it for a week and see how much more you can do. You may find that you are less stressed when you take a moment to relax with a colleague.
6. Ask for help when you need it
Just because you’ve become a productivity master doesn’t mean you won’t need help from time to time. Whether you have too much to do or need to outsource certain tasks that don’t match your expertise, involving others can help you stay productive now and in the future.
For example, let’s say you’re stuck creating spreadsheets that you need for an important project. Your expertise lies not in spreadsheets, but in designing presentations. If you pass the spreadsheets to a colleague who is an Excel guru, they will do that part of the job better and allow you to focus on creating a great presentation.
Ultimately, delegation can reduce stress and free up mental space so you can focus on the tasks that matter most to you.
7. Praise yourself when you accomplish things
The road to becoming more productive is long and it takes a lot of mental toughness to stay the course. Along the way, you will accomplish many things, both small and significant. Take the time to recognize what you have done from time to time.
If you never stop patting yourself on the back, you risk becoming too focused on your productivity. When you’re always looking for the next thing on your list, you can find yourself right back where you started: overwhelmed and exhausted. Celebrate your accomplishments to keep your motivation high.
8. Do things on your own
The best way to avoid getting caught up in the endless hamster wheel of productivity is to make sure you include some things you love in the mix.
It’s not just about blowing, although that’s important. Research shows that workers are more productive when they are happy. Prioritizing some of your hobbies and interests can fill your tank and help you stay motivated and focused so you can do your best when the time comes.
The bottom line
Following these psychological productivity tips will help you focus and get more done. Remember that productivity isn’t everything. Burnout can lead to serious physical and, so it is important to watch for the signs. When you’re obsessing over the daily to-do list, it’s probably a good sign that it’s time to take a break. Ultimately, you’ll be more productive in the long run.
Good mental health is essential for your overall health and well-being. For more information on how to keep your mind in shape, check out theseand .
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.
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