Even when you have some time to spare, it’s easy to get distracted by other things and procrastinate, wasting the time away… and before you know it, you still haven’t completed the task that you were supposed to but you did find some funny cat videos on YouTube. Here are a few methods that you could try to increase your productivity; in terms of writing or really in terms of everyday life:
1. Forming a habit
This is when you do something at a set time everyday, so much so that it becomes part of your routine. By forming such a habit, you’re not depending solely on your motivational state which can be very hit and miss and be influenced by factors such as the weather or whether you’re hungry, or what’s on TV etc.
2. Pomodoro Technique
When completing a task, set a timer for a set amount of time e.g. 25 minutes and completely focus on the task at hand. After the 25 minutes are up, take a short break. Avoid activities in your break that are likely to take more than 15 minutes e.g. watching a 1 hour TV show, as one episode can easily be followed by another…and another… Instead try a burst of ten minute exercise to get the blood circulating and your mind refreshed.
By using a timer, you are turning the experience into a game, making it more likely that you’ll complete the task.
3. Focus on one task at a time
Block out distractions, have your own space to work and then focus completely on the task at hand, rather than multi-task. You’ll complete the task much quicker this way and with better quality.
4. Eat the Frog
Everyday before going to bed, write down what the most necessary task that you must complete tomorrow is. Then in the morning, complete that task – “Eat the Frog” – so that you’ve got it out of the way. It’s always tempting to complete small tasks first, and this is a form of procrastination. You can find that by the end of the day, you still haven’t finished the original task that was supposed to be completed.
5. Be well rested
Your productivity goes down when you’re tired and so make sure you get a good night’s sleep and are well rested. Eat well, and stay well-hydrated as being healthy can help uplift your mood and mind.
6. Plan ahead
Have a to-do list so that you’re not wasting time on wondering what to do next. Write everything down in order to unclutter your mind and to help you keep track of everything. This frees up brain processing power to focus on your task. By planning ahead you’ll be able to anticipate potential problems that could arise in the future and put things in place to avoid them.
7. Set yourself deadlines
Aside from a real deadline, set a deadline for yourself that is earlier than that so that you’ll have time to correct things if anything goes wrong.
Think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Is the method you’re currently using the best method? Are there faster, more efficient ways to complete the task? It is easy enough to mindlessly complete a repetitive action, but think about the end goal. Are you wasting your time, when there’s a better way of doing something?
9. The Nuclear Option
Distractions are obviously distracting, but sometimes there are addictive TV series/books/dramas that have taken over your life. If you need to break this addiction (method only works sometimes and only use if really desperate), you can read the spoilers/recaps of the series so that the novelty and anticipation of the story line is gone. Then you’ll lose the desire to continue watching the series/reading the book. This will only work for older TV series where recaps and spoilers do exist, and it will ruin the experience – so use only as a last resort.
10.The Slightly Less Nuclear Option
While TV shows and books may be a major distraction, we all know the major cause of procrastination is the internet. So how do you save yourself from the call of Netflix and the endless rounds of research and research and research. You can take the simple approach and switch off your internet router or you can download one of many internet blockers (eg. Freedom, Cold Turkey).
All of this is much easier said than done, but hopefully it can help increase your productivity.