Playful and Productive

I am a busy person with a family and lots of commitments. It is very important that I use my time as wisely as possible to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Today I am going to share my five best tips for increasing your productivity. Share your own in the comments!

1. Consciously select your music or background noise
Okay, this one is pretty much a given on any productivity list you can find out there in google-land, but it is there for a reason. It works. You need to find something that calms you, but doesn’t take up too much brainpower. For me, a television show or movie I know by heart is my first choice, followed by classical music (with harpsichords, if possible).

There are many websites and apps out there that provide the kind of ambient noise you would experience in a coffee house or restaurant. I’ve tried these before and it does seem to work for me as promised. Placebo effect? Maybe. Who cares?

Lifehacker has a great list of the different types of music/sounds that seem to work best. It is a great place to start if you are trying to find what works for you.

2. Find your best time of day
I can get just as much work done in my prime hours after dinner than I can if I sat myself down in front of the computer at 10am and tried to write all day. I just work better in the evening. Why waste all that other time and stress over what I’m not getting done? Don’t try to force yourself into a schedule you think you should be keeping; it isn’t going to help your overall productivity.

Are there days you just don’t get anything done? Friday evenings for me are a total blow-off. I regret it instantly if I ever make the mistake of planning or saving an activity that requires productivity for those evenings. The same goes for Tuesday evening – my daughter has dance class and I go grocery shopping, I prefer the rest of the evening to be unscheduled.

Not sure when you are really at your best? Try energy mapping your day. Finding the patterns in your life will help you determine what hours – or even what days – you will be at your best.

3. Sip on some iced tea (or some other beverage of your choice)
I find that having a drink with me when I am writing or working on a project really increases my productivity. It keeps me alert and satisfied. More importantly, it gives me something to do – something that isn’t the internet or television – when I need to take a very short break or even just a moment to think. Having a drink keeps me on task.

I prefer iced tea. It is cold and tasty without a sugar or caffeine high. Coffee can work, but unless it is takeout I find myself more interesting in enjoying the experience of drinking the coffee more than the work I should be doing. I have a lot of coffee mugs. They are distracting. If I’m at home settled in for the evening, I like a good glass of wine to get the creative juices flowing. Added bonus – if you are a food grazer like me, having a drink nearby will keep you out of the snacks.

4. Learn to say no
This should probably be number one. The best way to remain productive is to avoid taking on too many tasks. I found this quote on Goodreads that kind of sums up this whole point “My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” ― Francine Jay, Miss Minimalist: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify.

Understanding my limits is often a hard thing for me. I’m a busy person with numerous commitments who likes taking on new things and has a hard time saying no. Each of those things could be a massive blow to my productivity if I don’t keep it in check.

And please don’t feel guilty about saying no. According to Fortune, saying no gets you ahead.

5. Make lists
You all know I love my lists. A good to-do list is a must-have in my house. Want to know my secret weapon for making your to-do list effective? Put things on it you have already finished or will be finishing very soon. There is something very satisfying and extremely motivating about seeing things crossed off of your list. Feeling like you have accomplished something already can make it easier to tackle the next thing on the list. I know some people probably disagree with this strategy. They might argue that I’m sacrificing quality for quantity or falsely inflating my accomplishments. Pashaw, I say! Whatever works; you do you!

Bonus #6: Procrastination
::sigh:: I’ll admit it – I work better under the pressure of a deadline, especially if that deadline is creeping ever closer and freaking me out because I’ve waited too long to get started. I wouldn’t suggest this as a productivity strategy though.

This list is inspired by Kabbage a company providing loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs using a seven-minute online application. Check out their site for more information.

*I did not receive compensation from Kabbage for writing this post.

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