How to be Productive in 6 Steps

How to be Productive in 6 Steps

By: Clair Lam | Business Student
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Do you feel like you have control over your life? Do you feel empowered as you walk out the door to conquer whatever comes your way? I have a secret to share with you and the good news is that it’s incredibly simple. In this article I share how to be productive, how not to focus on being busy, and why that is important.

When you are productive, you have control of your time and ultimately your life. Think of a time when you felt stressed; did you have a million projects, tasks, or even people that you were responsible for? The fact is that everyone is busy. There are assignments, club activities, and part-time (or even full-time) jobs taking up chunks of your time. Being productive can give you clarity so that you can truly enjoy your time off.  I’m not telling you to forgo the activities you enjoy, but to think about what is truly important to you and your future.  In this article I share six simple steps to achieve productivity.

1) Prioritize:

Look at what is on your to-do list and ask yourself which item is the most important for you to do right now?  A common mistake is when people often get busy doing things that are unimportant. Yes, you spent two hours reorganizing your closet and it looks perfect, but is that truly important when you have an assignment that is due in five hours?

2) Identify your Tasks:

Tasks are items such as buying groceries or paying the bills. They are in general easy to cross of your list. Your optimal strategy is to automate these processes or to group them together and do them at the same time (such as a Sunday) so that you can focus more on high-value activities such as writing a paper.

3) Set a time:

Remember that your time is valuable and you can never get it back. Find out how long it takes for you to complete an activity and set a realistic time schedule for yourself. The most productive people set blocks of time to complete set tasks. If you had to go to soccer practice at 4:30, and you needed one hour to finish your reading, don’t start at 4pm! It is always better to plan ahead so that you are early because the more prepared you are, the less stress you will have.

4) Eliminate Distractions:

Do you have a cat at home that is distracting you? Or maybe you have a browser that automatically turns Facebook or YouTube on. Do not fall into this trap! If you are finding yourself constantly walking to the kitchen for a snack or looking for a distraction, I suggest going to the library, school or a coffee shop to eliminate the urge to do this.

5) Get Organized:

Being organized gives you peace of mind. Simply put, it takes time to find things when you don’t know where they are. Don’t be busy looking for your keys.  Instead, think ahead and designate a home for it. You always go home, and so should your keys.  When there is a space for everything, you will find yourself eliminating simply solved obstacles.

6) Reward yourself and Reflect:

Did you finish your project? Reward yourself with a cookie or a phone-call to your friend!  You did well and you deserve a reward. 

These are very small changes that you can make to increase your productivity.  These changes do not have to be big, but you do have to make it a habit. If you have not read the habit poem, I highly recommend it. You are ultimately defined by everything you do and what you do consistently.  Think about what you have been doing this past week to increase your productivity.  How have you been doing so far?  Give these tips a try, and reflect on your actions and see what works for you and how you can continue to improve. 

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Posted on February 28, 2015