When it comes to being productive, most of us probably wish we could step it up a notch or two. But those who successfully accomplish a variety of tasks in their everyday lives may not have always been that way — which means it’s not too late to check more to-do’s off your daily list. Here are nine habits to consider adopting that can help you be more productive.
Pursuing Personal Development
No matter how productive a person might seem to observers, they are likely willing to push themselves to improve further. Personal development is an important skill in general, but it makes particular sense in the context of productivity. Self-motivation might mean taking educational courses to improve one’s career, signing up for extracurricular activities to improve a skill, self-learning for personal or professional interests, seeking out a life coach, and so forth. As Oprah Winfrey has grown exponentially successful — and productive — in her field, she has always been candid about investing in her own personal growth.
Setting Realistic Goals
There’s nothing like setting yourself up for failure by attempting to achieve too much, too quickly. Studies have shown that focusing only on a few tasks at once can help complete them more efficiently. Starting with easier ones that take less time also provides a confidence booster that further motivates productivity. The expression “time is money” is notorious for a reason — why put off today what you can quickly check off your list and move on to the next thing?
Moving your body, keeping yourself fit, getting outside for physical activity — these types of exercises are all necessary for productivity. The mental health benefits — and from a physiological lens — are the endorphins this produces. This can amp up your drive to accomplish other important tasks in your day-to-day life. Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, has said, “I try to exercise every day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. I also do yoga, and I love taking hikes and riding my stationary bike.”
Getting Enough Sleep
While some people can survive — and thrive — off limited sleep, most of us need that solid eight hours to truly feel rested and ready to take on the day. It makes sense: while awake, your entire body (from muscles to joints to hormones) is working hard to keep you going. By the end of the day, it needs enough rest to recharge and reboot. That also means quality sleep — i.e., no screens or snacking the last hour before you head to bed. Bill Gates has been quoted saying, “I like to get seven hours of sleep a night because that’s what I need to stay sharp and creative and upbeat.”
Motivating Yourself and Staying Focused
If at first you don’t succeed — and many people won’t — try and try again. Productive people know you simply have to get right back up again when you’re knocked down. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company but was determined and self-motivated to keep going. Between maintaining relationships, the inescapable rising costs of living, and carving out time to unwind, it’s no wonder many of us feel anxious and overwhelmed. Productivity requires balance — which may mean logging off social media sometimes.
Achieving Work–Life Balance
Sure, focusing on work is an important part of completing it, but taking breaks to enjoy yourself — mentally, physically, and emotionally — with other people can be highly underestimated. Having a good work–life balance is another productivity booster. Spending quality time with family and friends typically helps rejuvenate your spirit, so you can start back up again. It also helps keep your priorities in check. Mark Weinberger, the CEO of Ernst & Young, has become somewhat notorious for balancing his time between clients and colleagues with significant milestones with his daughter.
Let’s face it: we are what we eat. So, if you have greasy fast food for lunch, you will probably notice yourself lagging throughout the rest of the day. On the other hand, a hearty, balanced sandwich or salad might give you an important boost to keep going. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts as on-the-go snacks? Even better! John Mackey, the CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods, actually practices what he preaches. The innovator was driven by the idea of helping people eat better and live longer.
You might encounter naysayers who are simply envious of your productivity, which is why it’s even more crucial to hold your ground and continue to forge ahead to reach the goals you set out for yourself. Just as it would be difficult to meet a successful person who lacks confidence, so too would it be difficult to meet a productive one who is deterred by doubt. Arguably, all business leaders exude confidence. If they hadn’t, they would be neither productive nor successful in their fields.
Developing Productive Habits
Although productivity can be difficult to establish, it requires a simple step — starting. Good habits have various benefits, and moving through your day with efficiency might continually motivate you to keep going. There’s something addictive about establishing goals, completing them one by one, and moving on to another task. As most business leaders have already learned, this is an important step towards achieving success — both personally and professionally.
Robyn Karmazyn | Contributing Writer