The Beginners Guide to Increase Your Productivity
With all our busy lifestyles, it can be hard to find time to get stuff done. Even when you’re trying to just get through a work day or remember to do the dishes, getting it all done can feel overwhelming.
This site is all about how to increase your personal productivity, become more efficient, and reach your goals, even if it feels like you don’t have the time to do it.
Back when I worked in an office, I used to struggle with finding personal time to get things done. I worked 60 hour weeks, not counting my commute, and I was exhausted when I got home. I didn’t feel like I had the time to exercise, clean, or be creative, and my emotional and physical health took a hit.
So, I looked forward to freelancing, thinking that would open up more time. Instead, the unpredictable schedule made me feel like I had even less time than before! I always felt like I was a pretty productive person in school, so why was I struggling so much now? I started looking for smart ways to increase my productivity.
A lot of classic, tried and true techniques just didn’t work for me. So, I came up with my own techniques, to keep myself motivated and increase what I could do in a week, giving me enough time for family and personal hobbies.
Within a few months, I was getting my work done, working out more, had a more organized home, and still had time to pursue my passions.
Why “In Brief Writing”? Because that’s what this is all about. Brief, actionable tips that I have used myself to help you shorten your own time spent on unnecessary tasks or busy work, and maximize the time you do have.
How to find shortcuts that don’t reduce the quality of your work. All so you can devote time to what you really love – to me, that’s the most important part of productivity: getting the time to truly be you.
What Is Productivity?
Productivity is all about getting things done, hitting your goals, and achieving your dreams.
A lot of times when we think of productivity, we relate it to work; finishing a big work project or selling a certain number of items. When you think about how to increase your productivity, I want you to think about personal desires, not just professional ones.
- Do you want to be able to run a 10 minute mile?
- Are you trying to learn a difficult language?
- Or do you need to find time do laundry each week?
It doesn’t have to be climbing Mt. Everest to be important.
For me, being productive is just as much about being personally satisfied as it is being professionally satisfied.
I also find ways to maximize my time, which can get lost in busy work and a busy schedule. But being efficient doesn’t have to mean being rushed. I believe in enjoying the journey – but sometimes you have to do some finessing to make the journey enjoyable.
How can I make sure the experiences I have are emotionally productive (increase personal success, happiness, love, family time)?
How can I make sure my job is mentally productive (learning, expanding your abilities, feelings of success)?
For me, all of these things are wrapped up together, and that’s why having quick tricks to increase your productivity is so important. It’s not about being the #1 employee of the week. It’s about being #1 in your life.
How to Get Started with Being More Productive
Increasing your productivity doesn’t have to be hard.
Honestly? You just need yourself – and the desire for change.
What do I mean?
Here’s a story about my own journey.
I always had a pretty high metabolism. I could exercise a couple times a week and not see any negative signs at the doctor. But when I hit my 30s, I wasn’t able to be as active, and I was feeling more lethargic. After a lot of soul-searching, I realized I needed to make a change.
For me, that means adding a daily workout to my schedule. It isn’t the easiest thing to do! Especially when you’re a freelancer without a regular schedule.
But, I make it work, and I learned how to manage my nutrition and health to a much better degree. It took a lot of trial and error, but I had to find how to do it myself.
One major tip that helped my success was this: get a calendar app that works. I was using Google Calendar, and it was ok, but it didn’t have the amount of features I needed.
I wanted numerous reminders and snooze options, more recurrent event options, amount of calendar colors, and other features to help me get needed reminders. I switched to CalenGoo in 2016 (it costs $5.99. I do not get any money if you buy it – I just use it and love it). It changed my life. The features, support, and updates are phenomenal.
For instance, some other Android users have noticed their event reminders disappear from the notification tray after the event time is over in their calendar – CalenGoo keeps the event in my notifications till I dismiss it. Invaluable.
Sometimes, getting motivated means hitting rock bottom, but I hope that’s not the case for you. If it is, that’s ok. Together, we can find ways to increase your efficiency and free you to pursue your dreams.
Tips for Success in Productivity
How can you be more successful, better at time saving, and hit those goals?
- Determination. This is a key element to hone. You might not start out with a lot of it, but when you practice, it will increase. Like working out a muscle, you have the ability to strengthen it.
- Repetition. Habits and repetition lead to mastery. The whole “10,000 hours to master a skill” thing might not be an exact number for all of us, but repeating tasks will increase your stamina and your speed. Repetition leads to reward.
- Creativity. A lot of people think of being bored when they think of productivity. If it’s about team quotas or writing a lot of lengthy, dry, technical essays, I get it.
But think about this. What if you’re someone who goes to the gym every day, and you’re used to your regular equipment, and then your job sends you on a work trip somewhere that you won’t have gym access? What do you do to work out?
You adapt by figuring out how to work out in your hotel room. Or you give yourself a few days off, and get back to work when you return.
But being creative and adaptable to change is a key element to work on, because life is unpredictable, but your goals don’t have to be.
Common Questions/FAQ About Productivity
How Do I Become Faster at My Goals?
At the most basic level, if your goal is running, you need to try to run more. If it’s reading faster, read more. Typing faster, type more. Speed happens through repetition. Sadly, too many people start something and stop when it’s hard.
- When it’s hard, you’re learning. Keep going. Then do it again the next day.
- If you need a break, take a break. People stress themselves to the burnout point by working too much. While repetition is helpful, burning out does no good for anyone. Remember that a 5 minute walk around the neighborhood will increase your focus for the next 1 hour of work. Give yourself that break.
Create steps. If that means making your own deadlines or breaking a big project down into small steps, that will help drive you forward. Guaranteed.
I’ll expand on this in a number of lessons, so stick around for more on how to push through those tough times.
How Do You Make Time in a Busy Lifestyle to Increase Your Productivity?
Not everyone has 30 hours a week of free time to focus on hobbies, goals, or lifestyle changes. Some of us don’t even have 5 hours. If all you have is 10 minutes a week, maximize that 10 minutes.
Make that 10 minutes your own, and work within that time for all you’re worth. 10 minutes a day is 70 minutes a week. That’s over an hour of time to get something done, or relax, or read a great book!
When I lived in New York, most of my free time was spent on the subway, traveling to and from work. That was a great time to read. If you drive to work, an audiobook or language lesson can accompany you on your trip!
How Do I Teach Myself to Stop Procrastinating?
Procrastination can come from a lot of different things. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes it’s stress. Maybe it’s the lack of knowledge – not knowing how something will turn out. Or you just don’t like the task at hand. I’ve been there!
I will provide tips and tricks I’ve used when I’m struggling to start a project. Sometimes it’s using the Pomodoro method. Sometimes it’s going somewhere new – working outside, or at a coffee shop, or on a bus. Or going somewhere quiet (noise cancelling headphones work for me). Or downloading an app like Freedom to stop myself from getting distracted online.
While sometimes procrastination requires more professional help (I am not a licensed therapist or a doctor), I do believe it can be overcome, and sometimes I find that procrastinating one one project can help increase your productivity in another. Either way, procrastination is absolutely a manageable part of the process.
How Do You Make More Time for Family?
I believe that family time and time spent not working is key to a rewarding life, and increases your stamina when you do sit down to work.
Whether your family is a spouse, kids, siblings, or best friends – your family is an important part of who you are. I know we don’t all get enough time with our families (I still don’t!), but I can give you some tips on maximizing the time you do have.
One key tip for me is meals. Find 1 meal a week to spend with family, if you’re not already doing that, without phones or TV. This is key to improving your family time. If you’re in need of help today, start there. If you already do this, either lengthen the meal, change which meal it is, or implement something like the 10 Questions to Ask Your Partner at the Dinner Table. Get to know the people you’re eating with. Strengthen the bond, and you will strengthen your abilities in other areas.
I started implementing changes in how I spent family time, and it helped strengthen my family connections and made my work better. Truly. Happiness in your personal life extends to your professional life. It is possible, and we will find ways to do it together.
How Do I Use Technology to Help Me Save Time, Rather than Letting My Phone Control Me?
This is one of the hardest questions to answer, because so many of us are obsessed with our phones. I look at mine every few minutes, and it’s rare to find me without my phone in a 1 foot radius. Here are some quick tips I use monthly that help me.
- Give yourself a “no more screens” daily cut-off time. Maybe it’s after 10 PM, no screens. Or after 9 PM. Make sure you also give yourself a work email cut-off time. I won’t respond to work emails after 7 PM most days. That helps make sure I don’t get burned out, and my clients know they can expect a response the next day.
- Give yourself 1 day a week without screens. If you have to use your phone or computer for your work, cut out TV or games for that 1 day. Do other things around the house. Get yourself used to hours without screentime. Doing this helped me spend time with other chores (laundry, dishes, etc), that I thought I didn’t have. Turns out, the time was being swallowed by screens.
- Give yourself 1 week a year without your phone. I tell all my clients I will be unavailable for 10 days each year. I take that 10 days and shut down my phone and computer and go away. That helps clear my mind and refresh me for the next few months of working. While I may sometimes use my phone for an alarm, I try to not even use a wake-up alarm during those weeks. If you can do this every 3-4 months, even better. If you can only manage a few days, that’s fine. Do however much you can. It helps you become less dependent on tech when you return, and reduces burnout.
- Make sure you have a good calendar app. I talked about CalenGoo above, but any app that benefits your type of scheduling is useful. I’ll review all the many calendar apps I’ve tried at some point.
- I also have a quick guide to screen protectors for you Samsung users who may be in need.
The Last Thing to Keep in Mind to Increase Your Productivity
With repetition, dedication, and focus, you can achieve your productivity goals. If these things don’t come naturally, don’t worry. Shaming yourself will only hold you back.
Celebrate your rewards, and keep moving forward. At the end of the. day, being productive should be fun and rewarding.
If you liked this post or have questions, feel free to share, and comment below with any of your own tips or questions! What helps you get things done? What tech do you use to speed up your work week?