24 Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity at Work or School
There’s a growing movement of “supercharge your productivity” experts out here on the Internet today. And you can learn something valuable from all of them. But before you do, it’s worth asking: why do we need to be more productive? And what does increasing productivity really mean?
Why Does It Matter?
Productivity-boosting matters because it allows us to make more money, advance in our education, and contribute to society in greater amounts, thus creating a cycle of success. But how do you determine what productivity is?
After all, increasing your productivity meant one thing in the days before the smartphone. Now, thanks to it and other advancements in technology, you can accomplish in a few moments what once took all day. So to determine whether you’re still being productive, you need to look at the resources available to you.
Poor access to resources will never allow you to reach your full potential. An unwillingness to learn new technologies and techniques can also hamper you. These things, when ignored, can make you feel productive when you’re really just busy.
So stay productive! The ways you can do so are many. Let’s explore.
1. Leave Personal Problems at the Door
The mental and emotional baggage that you take into school or work can prevent you from getting anything done that you need to be doing. It can be tough letting all of that go, but by throwing yourself into your to-do list, it can take your mind off the baggage and feed your productive spirit. Start by accomplishing just one thing, no matter how small, and you’ll feel the momentum building.
2. Make Your Workspace Home
Clean up your stuff. Put things where you want them to go. Do it before you accomplish any of your “prime” tasks for the day or week. This is vital because it takes a mind that isn’t in the mood to work and oils the proverbial wheels.
It’s always best to bring a little personality — maybe a coffee mug or some other trinket — that allows you the gift of customization. Self-expression, if you prefer. But try to keep everything clean and organized as well, otherwise you’ll get bogged down in the clutter.
3. Find Your Support Unit
It’s always easier to supercharge your productivity when you don’t hang out with the energy vampires in your classroom or office. These are the people who always complain or always want to do anything but what they’re supposed to be doing, and they assign the worth of your friendship to whether you’re willing to follow them on a foolish endeavor.
For a support unit that’s worth a darn, look for people who are self-motivated. Individuals who see the big picture beyond grades or passing the current semester. These are the individuals that will help you stay on the right path.
4. Eat Well
Garbage in, garbage out. If the foods you’re putting into your body are causing you to crash or become lethargic or put on weight, then they’re not doing your body or mind any good. The two really do take cues from one another, and if one is amiss, the other will be soon-to-follow.
5. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is important because it helps the brain energize. It also keeps the body regular so it can adequately cleanse itself from one meal to the next. Without hydration, your body can dehydrate, making it harder to keep your focus from one minute to the next.
6. Get Organized
Organization helps you put together strategy. Strategy leads to action. And when you’re acting, you get things done. There are several different ways you can be organized. Some people need a very orderly system, while others seem to work better in what’s commonly referred to as “organized chaos.” Figure out the way you work best and embrace it.
It’s too easy to get stagnant and start daydreaming throughout the day, especially when you spend a lot of time looking at a screen or sitting at a computer. Don’t let “the lazies” start to affect you.
The first time your body warns you that it needs a good stretch, go one step further. Stand up, stretch out, and take a walk. Find a nice established pathway and do a lap or two before returning to your chair. Try to do this every 60-90 minutes, and you’ll be amazed at how much more you’re able to accomplish.
8. Accept Your Colleagues for Who They Are
Try not to get wrapped up in the negatives. And if you need an extra dose of positivity, find the ones in your office who have that attitude and start hanging out with them. The important thing is that you know what each person in your office is capable of, for better and worse.
For instance, say you really like a classmate or co-worker, but they don’t know how to end a conversation. Accept that’s who they are, but try to avoid getting into those talks during the particularly stressful times of your day. Learn what makes each person tick, and play it to your advantage.
9. Practice the Art of Self-Rewards
Self-rewards do not have to be expensive. In fact, they absolutely shouldn’t be because you’re going to need a lot of them to supercharge your productivity. So what should they look like?
- A trip to the water cooler or fountain
- A cup of coffee at the end of a long work stretch
- A walk around your building
- Bathroom breaks
- Taking lunch early (or late, whichever your body prefers)
- Going out for lunch one day per week (or however much you can afford it)
See, it’s not like we’re telling you to go buy yourself a Porsche for getting a 30 on the ACT. Make the reward parallel the task.
10. Be Positive
Positivity will keep you going when the going gets tough. That’s because you have to look for it, and that forward-motion will cause you not to think about the small defeats you may experience along the way.
With negativity, you never have to look for it. It finds you, and it doesn’t go away until you decide to make it go away. Unfortunately, it can do a lot of damage along the way through the sheer feat of causing you to doubt your abilities.
11. Mind Your Breathing
Ever notice how breathing gets short and labored in stressful situations? That happens when you aren’t mindful of each breath. Runners who get overwhelmed by the distance they have to run will inadvertently start swallowing huge gulps of air, thinking that if they don’t get a deep breath in now, they may never.
Great runners, however, understand that the breathing shouldn’t control you. It should be the other way around. You don’t take in any more air than your body needs for sustenance. You don’t force deep breaths. You control the full flow of air.
To achieve this, start by counting each breath in your head the next time you’re doing something laborious. Short ones, long ones, all of them. By keeping a running counter, you’ll start to look at each breath as an individual and evaluate whether it’s truly necessary at that moment. This activity gives you mastery over your breathing, and it can help you come back to a neutral state when ultra-stressed.
12. Set Realistic Daily Work Goals
Each work or school day only has so many hours of “work time” in it. You can’t get everything done in that period, so you’ve got to prioritize. Evaluate each task ahead of time and calculate the length of time you believe it will take to complete. Repeat until you’ve got a good sense of what you need to accomplish versus what you can accomplish in the time available.
13. Accomplish the Big Stuff First
“The Big Stuff” can mean a lot of different things. It hinges on the action items and goals that challenge you the most. What are they? What are the best ways of handling them?
Once you’ve identified the answers to these questions, it’s time to move them up your priorities list. Getting these items accomplished first will give you a tremendous amount of confidence and satisfaction. It’ll also help you tackle the low- to mid-level action items before you check out for the day.
14. Batch It!
Batch-tasking works because it allows you to work longer in the flow-state. The flow-state is that state in which you’re at the highest level of productivity. It’s achieved by deep focus, steady progress, and elimination of distractions.
Batch-tasking lends itself to all of these areas because you’re focusing on the same repetitive motions until a grouping of responsibilities are complete. You don’t have to constantly switch gears from one type of work to the next.
15. Listen to Your Gut
People always tell you to listen to your gut when they mean trust your instincts. Who knows if that’s the real place your instincts come from. Regardless, it’s good advice. When you act on instinct, you can greatly increase the amount of work you get done.
Instincts are so powerful that they’re worth altering your plans for. If you come into school or work with the intent of working on one thing but you’re not really feeling it and would instead like to work on something else, follow that instinct and see how many things you can cross off your to-do list while you’re feeling inspired.
16. Give In to Your Uselessness (Within Reason)
Sometimes you just don’t feel like working. Even during the times when you have to work. You could stay, force it, and end up doing something important horribly, or you could give yourself permission to step away and do something to recharge.
Which do you think will go over well with your teachers or bosses in the end? In all likelihood, it’s the latter. And a little secret about this one: they’re human, too. They reach points where they’ve got to step away from things and have a little break.
In other words, they understand having been there before. Make no apologies. Do what you have to do. Just make sure that you’re not abusing it.
17. Create Templates
Much of our work and study activities are rote, repetitious exercises designed to get us to a point where the tasks at hand are second-nature to us. The more of this you can accomplish, the more advanced your abilities will be.
Templates help with this by giving you a framework for how to approach each familiar task. When variation is necessary, the template helps you focus your efforts on bringing originality to the table all within a well-established framework.
18. Use Dictation
Typing or writing fast is great, but no one can type or write as fast as they can speak. With devices and computer programs getting better at dictation all the time, take advantage of the technological leap and hit the microphone on whatever form of tech you’re using. Every word may not be perfect, but it’s a lot faster and easier to go back and correct the squiggles than it is to type something out from scratch.
19. Cut Your Emails Short
Emails are not meant to convey personality or move relationships forward. They’re meant to share necessary information. At least that’s how it works on the job or with anything school-related.
Interjecting too much personality into a work-oriented email makes it unnecessarily longer. It cuts into your time spent doing more productive things. And it runs the risk of getting some vital piece of information lost in translation.
20. Face-to-Face Conversations
Having a face-to-face conversation with a co-worker, colleague, or fellow classmate can help clarify certain pieces of information in a way that emails and text messages can’t. Sometimes a single glance can convey reams of information, so having each other’s attention is vital.
Try to keep a running list of action items you need to discuss with others in order to complete. That way, you can make the most of unexpectedly running into one another throughout the day. The more of these interactions you have, the more things you can check off the list (and the more quickly you can do so).
21. Phase Out the Decision-Making Process
Fewer decisions made means more time for the ones that really need your time and attention. That’s why many people will wear the same outfits or types of outfits each day or eat the same thing for lunch. They don’t want to overthink decisions of little consequence, opting instead on the important matters.
22. Leave It Hanging!
Leaving your workday with more left to accomplish will enable you to pick back up the next day in the same productive state you were in mid-task. That helps you waste much less time getting started.
23. Learn the Power of No
You don’t have to do everything with which you’re presented. Learn to turn people down for social engagements or gatherings that might interfere with your productivity time. By saying “No” more often, you can get more accomplished. This will give you more time to engage in fun time on your time.
24. Trade Tasks
Sometimes you’ll need to get something done you’re not particularly good at doing. In these instances, why not go to someone who is good at those sorts of things and offer to take some of their things you’re good at off their plate in exchange for them handling your weak spots? It’s called trading tasks, and it operates under the reality that two heads are always better than one.
These Tips Will Definitely Supercharge Your Productivity
If you’re ready to supercharge your productivity and haven’t tried all the tips above, then you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. Let us know about your experiences doing them in the comments section below. And while you’re at it, share some of your favorites that we may not have mentioned!
[Featured Image by The Blue Diamond Gallery]