Tips to Increase Productivity
By Rachel Wells
We all have 24 hours in a day, so how is it that some people seem to get so much done, while others struggle to finish their daily to-do list? If you have found yourself struggling to balance it all, or feel like you are always busy, but not getting anything done, there are some simple tricks that can help you increase your productivity and find balance. Watching the clock and following a schedule, limiting distractions, and prioritizing tasks, can all make a big impact on getting things done without becoming overwhelmed. Remember as you read and implement these ideas to be kind to yourself. You can’t expect a drastic change in productivity overnight, but rest assured that small adjustments can lead to lasting changes.
Create a schedule
I spent a long time feeling like I was always busy, but I wasn’t actually getting everything done. It wasn’t until I created a block schedule for myself that I felt organized, and like I had time to complete everything I needed to do. Without a schedule, a to-do list can seem overwhelming, and you may not know where to even begin. Block scheduling forces you to assign a set amount of time to each task that you need to complete, and helps you to stick to that set amount of time before moving on. Prioritize what is most important, and make sure to add those tasks to your schedule first. Other responsibilities can then be added around the most important tasks. To help you focus your mind and attention, try assigning specific types of tasks to specific days, similar to this:
Monday: Plan out the following week’s activities in your activity planner.
Tuesday: Prepare materials for the following week’s activities.
Wednesday: Work on newsletter.
Thursday: Work on any professional development tasks.
Friday: Take inventory of your classroom, and keep a running list of items that you will need to purchase on upcoming supply and snack orders.
Looking at your to-do list in a more blocked out way is less overwhelming, and will help you feel like you aren’t just busy, but accomplishing everything you need to get done.
When you sit down to work, tuck your phone away in a drawer, or put it in airplane mode. It has become too easy to check ‘one’ thing, only to realize you just wasted 30 minutes. Remember that you have scheduled a set amount of time for a specific task, and that is the only thing that you should be doing during that time. You will have more free time if you stick to your allotted time blocks.
It is also important to find a quiet workplace free of distractions so you can devote your time to the task at hand. If you need to head to a library or coffee shop – do it. If you need to close the door and hang up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign – do it. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much we are subconsciously thinking about while we are working. Working in a new environment can help increase focus and productivity, and help you turn off thoughts of chores you need to do, phone calls you need to make, or emails you need to respond to.
Complete your least desirable task first. When you put off undesirable tasks for the end, they will continue to be on your mind, and drag down your productivity. If you start with the task you are least looking forward to, all of the following tasks will feel easier and more manageable. Along with having your tasks prioritized, quit trying to multitask. Studies have shown that doing too many tasks at once can lead to lost time and productivity. Switching between tasks takes up brain energy and makes us tired. Focus on one thing at a time to ensure it is done well and in a timely manner.
Simple changes really can make all the difference in increasing productivity and lowering stress. Remember to start small, and know that it is okay to make mistakes and try again. The goal is to make lasting changes so that you can feel accomplished and increase productivity in the long term.