One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that the more things we get done, the more productive our day has been. News flash, that’s not completely true! Being productive is not about how much you get done. It’s about how much you are engaged in what you are doing. A true productive day is when you deliver something of great value; quality over quantity. So how productive have your days been?
- Do you keep procrastinating?
- Are there currently too many things on your to-do list?
- Oh and here’s another one… Are you overworking?
If you can answer all the above questions with a ‘yes’ that’s me, it’s probably time to start getting your priorities straight. Having too many things on your to-do list will only cause you feeling stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted – I know you are ‘Superwoman’, however, even Superwoman needs a break sometimes!
So whether you are transitioning from being a graduate to full-time career girl, a freelancer working on a new project or you’re just about to start your own business, here are 4 easy ways that will help you have a more productive day.
Create a realistic to-do list
There are many divided opinions when it comes to the good old to-do list. One scientist argues that a to-do list is one of the secrets to being a more productive individual. And even though that might be true, it all depends on how you organise your list. Having over 10 things to accomplish by the end of the day, might not encourage you to be productive. It will rather make you feel overwhelmed every time you look at your list. However, planning at least 3 – 4 things for the day is definitely more manageable.
In addition to that, placing the ‘not so fun stuff’ at the bottom of your list is not effective either. Who wants to spend time doing the hard stuff, right after all the fun is gone? Basically, you will have nothing to look forward to, by the end of the day. So make sure you always tackle the hardest things or the things you don’t like to do first.
One thing at a time
We live in a fast-paced and busy world where many things are happening all at once. It’s therefore not surprising that in order to keep up with the ‘grind’, you tend to lean towards multitasking. And yes, women are genius when it comes to multitasking, however, increased productivity comes in the form of doing just one thing at a time.
So what does this mean?
This means that you might have to put your phone down more often and stay away from things that can distract you. If possible, try a change of work environment or method that will keep you inspired and your brain more active. For example, working with headphones might help you stay more focused. If you work from home a lot, you might also want to think about switching your work environment from time to time.
It’s okay to say no
Learning to say ‘no’ more often is definitely something we busy career girls need to start doing more. Starting a new career or project is exciting. However, at times, it can become quite overwhelming. Out of excitement, we tend to think we can take on every task. However, you do not need to do every single thing, all at the same time – It’s really okay to say ‘no’.
Give yourself a break
Learning to take frequent short breaks will also help you stay more productive during the day. Using myself as an example, I’m quite a perfectionist. And the danger of being a perfectionist sometimes is that you don’t stop till the work is done… or rather perfect. The common misconception is that the fewer breaks you take, the more things you will get done – uhm, that’s not true. The fewer breaks (or brief interruptions) you take the more ineffective you actually become.
Research shows that our brains are much more active when we daydream and when our minds wander. The finding of this research suggests that “daydreaming is an important cognitive state where we unconsciously turn our attention from immediate tasks to sort important problems in our lives”. So looking back, have you had that moment when you take a break from whatever you’re doing by taking a shower, preparing a meal, or taking a walk. And suddenly the ‘best’ idea ever pops up in your head? – Yep, that’s how taking a break can increase your creativity and boost your productivity.