There’s always room for improvement when it comes to productivity. Here are numerous habits and things to do that can help you be more productive in your everyday life.
Find the Planner for you
Finding the right planner is a process, and if you haven’t found the one yet, much like dating, it’s easy to believe that maybe that planner just isn’t out there for you. That you are inherently doomed when it comes to staying organized and you’ll never have a planner that you will actually stick to. But that’s just not true. Everyone needs a planner, even if that planner consists of a bunch of sticky note reminders on your nightstand or digital iterations of that on your phone’s notes app. The point is, find out what works for you and what helps you stay organized. There are bullet journals, there’s Google calendar, apps like Wunderlist, there’s monthly planners, weekly planners and even daily ones, make it a point to find out what works best for you, because finding the right planner is extremely rewarding, I promise.
Speaking of that dream planner that you devoted time and money and went through countless other planners to finally get to, yeah, don’t overuse it. Understand that your time is limited, and that it can’t be stretched too thin. Limit the amount of to-dos you give yourself on a daily basis, and be realistic about how much is too much. And most importantly of all, do not be afraid to say no. Set boundaries for yourself!
Morning routines, night routines and the ilk are not just reserved for grade school children and lifestyle influencers. Making a routine is very important if you want to feel a sense of inner calm when you begin and end your day and not be scrambling all over the place. Try to wake up and go to sleep at around the same time each day and know exactly what needs to be done before/after then and get to it. Create a groundwork for how your day should go as much as you can.
Embrace the Spreadsheet
I know, Excel is intimidating. But trust me, spreadsheets are game changers. I’m not telling you to go completely Type A and compartmentalize every little aspect of your life, that’s counterproductive. But if you are making a budget or trying to stay organized while looking for a job or an internship, do yourself a favor and start spreadsheet making. And for those of you who want a more user-friendly interface than Excel, there’s always Google sheets, which are great for when you want to access your spreadsheets on multiple devices.
Open that App Store
A smartphone is a double-edged sword when it comes to productivity. While you can easily waste countless hours scrolling through your Twitter timeline or watching all your friend’s instagram stories, you can also use it to learn a new language, track your finances and organize your life. An app that I’d recommend to any smartphone user trying to get more productive is Forest. It’s a self-timer app, but unlike the self-timer built into your phone, this app is designed to keep you off your phone while the timer is on. This is great for when you’re studying or doing anything else that requires your full attention when it’s easy to be tempted by your phone.
Multitask on the Commute
UH is a commuter school, and whether that commute takes you an hour or 12 minutes, don’t let this time go to waste! Even if your commute consists of getting out of your bed and walking straight to class, instead of listening to music, try to mix things up every now and then with a podcast or an audiobook. Podcasts are a great way to stay updated on the news, get your much needed daily dose of inspiration or even learn more about a really niche topic that interests you. With audiobooks, you can get to enjoy all the books that you’ve wanted to read, but don’t have the time to get to.
Whether that’s jamming out to “lofi hip hop radio – beats to study/relax to” or the ambient sounds of a burning fire or pouring rain. If you need silence to get work done, that’s fine too. But if you find yourself squirming in it, try to find out what alternatives work best for you.
Listen to your body
You know when you’re the most productive, so make that time your sacred time. Whether that time is 6 a.m. or 3 a.m., use it wisely.
Journal it out/meditate
Emotional wellness is an important part of being productive too. If you’ve got a lot of things weighing in on your mind, bust open your phone or a notebook and just write it out. Write about exactly how you feel, and once you have it out of your system, you’ll be able to focus a lot better on the other tasks you have at hand. If writing isn’t your thing, try meditating as a way to release all your stress and free yourself from the burden of your mind. Try guided meditations on apps or on YouTube if you find that it’s difficult to get to that place on your own, and incorporate this whenever you find yourself feeling overwhelmed.
I mentioned podcasts earlier, and when you’re in a productivity rut, they’re a great starting point to get you out of it. But go beyond that 30-minute podcast you listen to while you’re on your way to school or work. Create a vision board, and look at it when you need to remind yourself what you’re being productive for, and the life that you are slowly creating for yourself, one day at a time. These can be physical vision boards, or even digital ones you make on Pinterest. Fill your life with things that inspire you, and you will actually want to be productive.
Plan your time off
If you’re constantly busy and staying productive, that’s great! But at a certain point, it can be easy to forget to give yourself the time you need to shut off, and if you want to avoid burnout, this is vital. This extends to planning bigger breaks, but even setting daily boundaries. Know when to shut off, and don’t think that you constantly need to be on. Don’t respond to emails past a certain time, and don’t be afraid to put little things you want to do in your planner and set time aside for them, like catching up on a show, going on a weekend getaway or applying that face mask that’s been sitting in your medicine cabinet for two months now, carve that time out for you.