It can be tough to always stay on your game.
Distractions are more prevalent, to-do lists are never-ending, and there never seems to be enough time or resources to do anything, let alone everything.
So for those moments that you're feeling overworked, overstretched, or overwhelmed, sometimes all you need is a little nudge or sensible tip to help you get back on track.
Below are 31 simple but effective productivity tips along with a free checklist to help you regain your focus and get the right things done.
01. Keep track of your activities today and see how long each of them take
This is a good first step in your journey to being more productive. Ask yourself: Which activities are you spending the most time on? Is that amount of time what you were aiming for and essential to reaching your goals? It's time to evaluate.
02. Write down your goals and priorities
There are several benefits of writing anything down but even more powerful advantages when you write down your goals and priorities. Bonus points: keep them visible to remind you what you're working for and moving towards.
03. Drink water as soon as you wake up
Not only will you rehydrate after several hours of sleeping, but you'll be more likely to get up already and not hit the snooze button.
04. Identify your single most important task today and do it
No more going to bed feeling unfulfilled by making sure your top priorities aren't left on the back burner. If you were to complete only one task today, what would it be? What is your single most important task right now that will best move you towards your goals? Got your answer? Good. Now make sure this gets done before any of your other less important tasks.
05. Organize your workspace
Looking for missing items take up so much more time than you expect. Keep everything in order to keep your mind at ease.
06. Set your morning alarm 15 minutes earlier
From eating a healthy breakfast to doing some light exercise, you'll be surprised what you can do with waking up just 15 minutes earlier in the morning. Once you get the hang of it, keep moving your alarm back another 15 minutes as early as your lifestyle allows.
07. Identify the top five tasks last week that produced 80% of your results
This is related to the Pareto principle or 80/20 Rule which states 20% of your effort results in 80% of your outcome. Once you identify which activities move the needle, focus on it.
08. Check your emails only two times today
Email can be such a huge time suck. To avoid being reactive to everyone's "emergencies," schedule checking your inbox only twice today to be proactive instead.
09. Schedule a no-distractions rest period in the middle of the day
Rest is often the most neglected part of one's day but it is the most helpful in preventing burnout. Also with rest, you'll be able to keep performing at your optimum level.
10. Make a productivity playlist
Whether it's classical, rock, hip-hop, or even beach sounds, take note of what kind of music helps you focus or gets you pumped up, then use it.
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11. Talk to someone you look up to and ask them their #1 productivity tip
Who better to learn from than from someone you admire? Ask them their #1 productivity tip, tool, or time-waster.
12. Get an accountability partner or join a support group
You don't have to do everything on your own. Most times, it helps to have someone support and motivate you to keep going.
13. Meditate for 10 minutes
Whether done in the morning, afternoon, or before going to bed, meditation has tremendous benefits when it comes to productivity. There are several forms too, in case you're not sold on the idea just yet.
14. Think of a small win from last week and celebrate it
Small steps are the key to reaching your goals. Acknowledging a small win from last week will help you build momentum and continue being productive on a more regular and consistent basis.
15. Make your bed in the morning
This may be the most underrated productivity tip on this list but imagine it for a second: you get up and make your bed. And just like that, you get that quick win you need to hit the ground running the rest of the day.
16. Browse the internet with only one tab (or phone app) open at once
A typical example of multitasking, switching between tabs and apps is not only a constant time-waster but it also makes you inefficient and it can lower the quality of your work.
17. Choose one task and automate it
If you think really hard, there may be one or two tasks that you can automate. Whether it's posting on social media, paying your bills, or buying groceries, why not set it up once and finally get it off your plate?
18. Choose one task and delegate it
If it can't be automated, can you delegate it instead? Think of a task you're not particularly good at or don't quite like doing. Try hiring a virtual assistant or outsourcing from an online staffing platform.
19. Choose one habit you’d like to develop and commit to doing it
What habit would make the biggest impact on your goals? Is it exercise? Healthy eating? Planning your day? If there ever was a time to commit to developing a good habit, it's now.
20. Choose one habit you’d like to eliminate and commit to changing it
A bad habit of yours may be costing you time, your health, peace of mind, money, your relationships, and even your success. Why keep procrastinating? Commit to reshaping it now and reap the benefits for the long haul.
21. Review the past week and cut down on your biggest time-waster
Remember productivity tip #1? Which activity wasted the most of your time from last week? Come up with a specific strategy to cut that down this week.
22. Make a “stop doing” list
Sometimes being productive isn't about what we do; it can also be about what we don't do. A few examples are: stop saying "yes" to everything and everyone, stop multi-tasking, stop selling yourself short, stop making XYZ as an excuse, etc.
23. Eat the healthiest meal you’ve had in a week
Reaching your optimum energy level will be much easier and faster once you fuel your body with nutritious food and drink. Why not start with one meal today?
24. Plan your day the night before
You only need to try planning your day the night before a few times to realize its benefits. You'll be equipped with a clear game plan which means you get to hit the ground running as soon as you wake up in the morning and get to work.
25. Walk or jog outside for 20 minutes
It's not enough to say "start a good habit." Exercising deserves its own spot in this list to encourage physical activity and become better at energy management.
26. Make a “go over later” list
If some tasks aren't urgent or important, make sure you capture it in paper so it won't bother you while you concentrate on the activities that are currently urgent and important.
27. Sleep eight hours tonight
Enough sleep is required for your optimum well-being and productivity. Not only does it help you recover from your hectic days but it also helps with brain function, keeping your heart healthy, improving your mood, lessening the risk of illnesses, and strengthening your immune system.
28. Change your desktop or phone wallpaper to a motivational quote
Sometimes all it takes is one quote to improve your mood, change your outlook, or boost your motivation. Find one that you resonate with the most and allow it to inspire you.
29. Learn something new via books, podcasts, or TED Talks
When was the last time you learned something new, exciting, or helpful? What if one insight or concept could change your way of thinking forever? What if a book, podcast episode, or TED Talk is all it takes to motivate you to take action and reach new heights? Remember, so many inspiring people, books, and resources are out there so it's never boring if your mind is open.
30. Hug someone who supports you (could be your pet)
There are significant and scientifically-proven benefits of having physical contact especially with someone you have a connection with. And yes, hugging your pet at the end of a very long day counts.
31. Reward yourself for your biggest accomplishment this month
Reflect on the past month and identify what your biggest accomplishment is. Whether it's landing a new client, publishing your first blog post, launching a new product, or something else, it's time to give yourself permission to feel proud of your success and actually reward yourself for it. Treat this reward as an acknowledgement of a job well done and as a reminder to continue being productive well past these 31 days are over.
Remember that productivity tips like the 31 you've read from this article are a dime a dozen. In fact, you'll find hundreds more in other posts from this website. Much like anything you read off the internet, however, it's significantly more important to consider what you actually do with the information. Will you print out the free checklist and never glance at it again? Or will you make sure to implement these tips, turn them into habits, and work on it consistently?