Accomplish more in less time! Tips to increase your productivity.

I love productivity. It leaves me feeling accomplished and rids me of those pesky tasks hanging over my head, those subconscious stressors. Yes, it's harder to get things done since I had my daughter. But, it's still very possible to be highly productive. Read on for twelve of my tips to increase productivity and accomplish more in less time!

I am a highly productive and efficient person who enjoys things running smoothly. My sanity is dependent on the space around me being clean and clutter free! My husband often tells a story from when we were newly married when I was doing yoga in the living room. I spotted some dust on a table and quit the yoga pose to go wipe it down, then resumed my exercise. Oh, hi, OCD! However, I know many, many people who are intimidated when faced with even a small cleaning, organizing, or planning task. Even though these skills come easily to me, I understand that's not the case for everyone. I also know that with this new normal, living under quarantine has been an extremely tough adjustment for many.

Though this post is geared more toward household productivity, some of the productivity tips can also apply to job efficiency, particularly when working from home. As someone who has spent a good deal of my career working from home, there are twelve rules I live by for everything from making deadlines, hosting houseguests, hosting holiday dinners, to knocking out my daily to dos. When I am organized and focused, I can get a shocking amount done in a day.

Check out my Holiday Printable Kit for more ideas and checklists specifically geared toward entertaining. Here are my top twelve tips to increase productivity:

Recommended: How to START Organizing

1. Try to find the fun!

Tips to increase productivity - social media kills productivity

I know this sounds ridiculous, and it's hard to find the silver lining of some tasks (I'm looking at you, dirty toilet!). But, especially with the mundane, mindless tasks, I try to have fun doing them. Crank up the music, listen to a podcast, call a friend! If you can't enjoy the actual task itself, try to do something that is audibly distracting, BUT NOT VISUALLY (like a movie, email, etc). The time passes more quickly when you're distracted and before you know it, you're on to your next task!

2. Eliminate distractions

Yeah, yeah, I know I JUST said YAY, DISTRACTIONS. But, firstly, I think the productivity killers are things like email and social media (also children and partners). Secondly, tolerance for distractions depends on the kinds of tasks you need to accomplish. Audible distractions are very helpful with mindless tasks. However, for things that require any concentration, SHUT. IT. DOWN. This also means take care of pets, children, and spouses before embarking on your whirlwind productivity plan. Don't schedule a FaceTime call or anything else that requires your full attention or anything that ties you to a computer or phone (aka less mobile).

3. Do the hardest things first

Get the stuff you least want to do out of the way first. That way, after you've been at it for hours and you're pooped, you'll be less likely to quit when confronted with that miserable organizing task, rather than if you just have a few more simple things to do.

4. Make a list. Nay, make several!

Tips to increase productivity - make lists

LISTS! Yay! Scribble them on some scratch paper, keep digital lists, download my helpful (and attractive) printables... Whatever your preference, just write it down. It's easier to remember what you want to accomplish, harder to ignore, and super satisfying to check things off!

5. Pick / highlight two main tasks

When scheduling your day, project, task, whatever, try to highlight two big things to accomplish THAT DAY. They are the priorities. Then flesh the list out around that.

6. Dive in - Don't wait

Tell the procrastination voices in your head to shut it! Starting a new task overwhelms a lot of people. But, I'm telling you, if you just dive in and start, you'll find it wasn't so bad after all. Also, see the next tip!

7. Micro-goals - Break up a project into stages

Tips to increase productivity - make piles

I'm a runner who often hates running and I employ this strategy on particularly hard runs when ALL I want to do is stop. When I'm in the middle of a ten mile beastly run, I set small goals for myself, which break up the run and makes it seem more manageable. I usually set up one a mile goal or sometimes even five minute goals in my head. I can always run another five minutes. Then what's a mere five minutes after that? Then after that? Before you know it, you're done. Anyway, same goes for organizing projects.

Piles really help with organizing. Make lots of piles and then tackle them one at a time. I often use the "keep" pile, the "maybe" pile, the "trash" pile, and the "donate" pile. It makes the monster pile look much more bite sized. And, even if you only partially finish the task, you can see by the diminishing piles that you are, in fact, accomplishing something. Also, pro tip: label your piles if you have more than a couple, so you can come back to it later and easily remember what's what.

  8. Momentum - Don't sit down / don't stop!

This is my single biggest secret to productivity! No matter how rested (or not) I am, the second I stop what I'm doing, my productivity inertia is gone. Have you ever been on a roll, then you sit down for one second to check your phone? Then you realize it's an hour later and you somehow got sucked into a meme vortex and now there ain't no way you're going to continue organizing that attic today.

Now, I know sometimes you need a break for water, food, bathroom, or other things that you just cannot ignore. I'm just saying, keep it as quick as possible and try your best not to sit on the couch. It's just too easy not to get back up.

9. Fully focus on ONE thing at a time

I do not multi-task well. I can admit it. This is problematic for me at times. However, it serves me very well when cleaning, planning, and organizing. Chatting with a couple friends one time, they laughed when I referred to my time on the internet planning an upcoming vacation as "research time." They said, "we just call that wasting time on online."

Tips to increase productivity - schedule your organizing time

I see so many people who when they are working, studying, planning, etc, spend five minutes on task and then suddenly find themselves in the Facebook / Instagram / meme / email / news article vortex, never again to return. Or there are the flip-floppers. They spend five minutes on task, twenty minutes in the vortex. Another five minutes on task, fifteen minutes on the vortex, and, so on. This is an absolute productivity killer. When you have a mission, cruise the Internet with purpose, focusing on ONE task and only one task. Opening social media is not an option until said task is completed.

When planning a vacation, for example, start with a "to do outline," such as: research locations, research accommodations, research transportation, research food, etc. Maybe even make an chart in Excel. Then fire up Google and knock out those items one at a time. Make notes, compare prices, make pros and cons, and save links along the way. Make a plan A and plan B. Try to get absorbed in the fun of the logistics and future travel and block out any temptations to click on anything unrelated to the planning.

Side note: I also am one of those horrid people who schedule a vacation by the hour. However, in my defense, when we are actually there we usually use the schedule as a mere guideline! I just like to have everything planned in advance so as not to waste any valuable vacation time wandering around with no plans. Unless, of course, we feel like wandering around without a plan in the moment! I digress...

10. Timing - Set yourself up for success

Make sure you don't attempt your big organizational overhaul on a busy day or twenty minutes before your kid's nap is over. Make a list of what you want to accomplish, then pick a time to start when you can realistically get a chunk done. My favorite times are super early morning and nap time. I get burned out by the evening, but I know lots of people who kill it in the evenings. So, you do you!

11. Clean as you go!

This might actually be tied in importance with my not-sitting-down rule. As you go about your day, don't leave messes behind. Make it a habit to look behind you as you leave any room. Are the cabinets / drawers closed, lights off, socks in the hamper, papers tidied, kids toys picked up, pillows straightened, the dish you just used in the dishwasher, etc. It only takes a few seconds to straighten a room when you leave. If you take something out, clean it and put it back right away. This is very important for several reasons. It means that your house never gets really messy. EVER. And, at the end of the day when you are tired and winding down, you are not faced with a dumpster fire situation. One that probably gets pushed to the next day, and so on.

12. Pacing - Don't get sentimental

Especially when cleaning out old belongings, closets, storage, and whatnot, don't get bogged down with each photo or old note. Focus on the task and don't take a trip down memory lane with every item you encounter. You will not get anything done. Make a sentimental trash pile and then when you're done, reminisce away. In your free time.

Bonus tip!

This isn't so much a productivity rule. In fact, it's basically an anti-productivity rule, most of the time. But, I feel it pays off in the long run. I always try to involve my two year old in my household tasks. This was hard for me, because I like moving quickly and getting things done. But, she enjoys helping so much and I know it's setting the foundation for future chores and also helping her understand how to manage a home when she's on her own. No matter what the task is, Lily is helping me. At two years old, she can do the laundry, unload the dishwasher, clean up spills, vacuum, help with dinner and baking, set the table, make her bed, put away her books and toys, and more. Obviously this is all with close monitoring, but the fact is she tries and gets so much pride from helping and accomplishing something. I like giving her that understanding of the satisfaction that comes from getting things done.

I hope my top twelve tips to increase productivity help you be efficient with your use of time. You'll be surprised at how much more you can accomplish in a day!

How do you best increase your productivity?

As always, I'd love to hear any comments or questions you have about productivity! Please share your progress with me, in the comments below, or on Instagram, with the hashtag #midniteoilmedia.

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