By Elizabeth (Izzy) Reel, ’21
It’s 5 p.m., you just clocked out. It felt like such a long day and you had a lot on your plate, but when you look at your accomplishments for the week, you barely got done what you wanted to do. We’ve all been there, BUT trust me when I say that it is never too late to make some changes! Perhaps you are taking summer classes and can’t seem to stop procrastinating, or maybe you’re working from home and find it difficult to stay motivated. Whatever your situation may be, there are always ways around the feeling of being stuck. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference in our daily routine, so check out the tips below on ways you can be productive!
1. Rise n’ shine (before the alarm goes off)
You might be thinking, Izzy, why would I want to start my day earlier than I have to? Trust me, I’m not a morning person either, but there is nothing like watching the sunrise in the mornings.
You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish before you have to officially start your day at the office or even if you have children at home. Doing something small like folding clothes or doing the dishes will be a good start to your productive day.
2. Prioritize and make goals
It’s often said that setting goals help with motivation. I enjoy making lists of my daily goals I want to achieve. There’s an oddly satisfying feeling when you can check off a goal.
Prioritizing also helps with stress levels, which helps you put forth your best effort to present your best work.
3. Derail the distractions
I know it sounds very broad, but that’s the interesting part about it. A big distraction for several people is social media. Don’t think you spend much time on social media throughout the day? Screen monitor apps will track how much screen time you have on social media – you might be surprised.
Another common distraction is the temperature of the room you’re in. If it’s warm and cozy, a nap might be calling your name. If it’s cold, you might just physically not be able to focus (be sure to bring a sweater to the office if you’re always cold).
4. Track your time
You may think the time clock is all you need, but it’s important for you to track your hours throughout the day too. Your time is valuable, so use it well. Spending too much time on one project can take both a lot of energy and productivity out of your day. Sometimes switching to focus on another project will help the productivity of the project you stepped away from. The tactic that usually works for me is setting a specific amount of time to work on one project and then stepping away from it for 30 minutes if I get stuck or if I get to a good stopping point.
5. Not comfortable? Change it up!
One thing I’ve learned (the hard way) is that if you don’t enjoy the environment that you’re working in, you will have less productive work time. Love your files being separated? A file organizer could be your best friend. Is family important to you? Pictures are always a great addition to your workspace. Enjoy the presence of plants? There’s a wide variety of small plants that can fit on your desk. Whether you need to have your sticky notes organized or have your favorite pens on display, it’s important to make the space you work in your own.
6. It’s OK to take a break
It’s inevitable to become frustrated with a project or task you’re doing. When times like this happen, remember that it’s OK to walk away for a few minutes. Take a three minute walk outside, go get some coffee from the break room. Even just getting up from your desk and taking a few deep breaths can help ease your mind.
7. Know your maximum load
It can be hard to say no, but it’s necessary sometimes. If someone asks you to take on another task, but you have several assignments or projects, it is OK to say you can’t. This comes with understanding how heavy a load you can take on. The last thing you want to do stress yourself out beyond the maximum level you can take.
8. Turn the negatives into positives
There’s always the opportunity to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Granted, some tunnels are more difficult to get through than others, but there’s always a bright side to look at. Take this for instance – how many of us wake up daily and think, “Ugh, I have to go to work (or class)…” rather than having the mindset of, “I get to go to work today…” There’s always the opportunity to look at the positive side of every situation.
9. If you’re not sure, ask for help
You learn something new every day. Even as you get older, you still come across things you don’t know the answer to. In that scenario, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many people have a fear of asking for help because it hurts their confidence, but having a willingness to learn is more important than avoiding help.
10. Quality over quantity
It’s 9 a.m. and you have five projects to complete this week. The number seems small, but the projects are very time-consuming. You want to get them all done as fast as you can so you can be done and impress the boss – WRONG. I will be the first to admit that big tasks that have multiple parts can be a pain, but hurrying to get them done is not the way to go. When it comes down to it, you want to put your best work forth, even if that means spending an extra hour or two on it. Hurrying to get it done and out of the way will only hurt you. It’s OK if you only get one or two big tasks done for a day.
11. Multitasking? Stop.
Constantly going back and forth between tasks and projects may sound more productive, but it can hurt you in the end. It’s OK to switch from one project to another here and there when needed, but prioritizing is very important. Multitasking can also confuse your brain.
12. Remember your why
The first time I was asked what my Why was, I had a blank look on my face. My why? What is why? Why is your why important? Your why is your purpose. What do you stand for? What keeps you going? Many say it’s their family, others will say it’s the want to be successful. To some, it might be helping others. Maybe you’re still figuring out your why, and if so, that is OK. When you figure it out though, always remember it.
In today’s world, it can be difficult to stay motivated and accomplish your goals. You can be consumed with the happenings of the outside world, but don’t overwhelm yourself too much. In this time, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Surround yourself with positivity and you are sure to be productive.