After an incredibly busy week, both at work as well as with regards to my personal projects, I decided it was time to share some of my productivity tips. At work I rocked three projects this week, all with a lot of features and tight deadlines. And after hours I’ve been blogging, promoting my blog, finding guest bloggers, coding my second app and following several e-courses. This is how I managed to complete all my todo’s and stay productive, even on days where I felt tired and just wanted to give up!
#1 Work in blocks
For most of us, it’s very hard to focus on a task for hours at a time, and we often get distracted by emails, social media and random things on the internet. The best way to counter that is to work in small blocks. I work for 20-30 minutes, then a five-minute break. Although, when I’m very focused I often go for 60-minute blocks of work, with a 10-minute break in between.
#2 Use noise canceling headphones
Last year I bought noise canceling headphones from Bose, and they’ve been absolute lifesavers. I can’t hear the ventilation, street noise or my coworkers. Working in an open office space, they’re really needed to eliminate all distractions. And fewer distractions equals higher productivity.
The battery life is pretty good as well, they last me around 2-3 weeks, depending on how frequently I use them. There’s a green light when the noise canceling is turned on. And when the battery is low, that light will start blinking. After that, I usually can survive another few days until the battery runs out completely.
The ones I’m using are an older version. Bose recently released a series of wireless noise canceling headphones. If you have an iPhone 7, or are planning to buy one, getting wireless headphones is probably a smarter option.
#3 Make a planning
Planning is the most important thing when it comes to getting work done. Before I start working on a project, I make a to-do list with different colored post-its. I use a red color for tasks with a high priority, and a softer color for other tasks.
I group them in three categories: To-do, in progress and done. It gives me a quick and easy overview over how much work I have left to do, and how important each item on the to-do list is. If I ever low short on time, I know which tasks I can postpone or scrap.
To plan out my blog and other personal projects in advance, I use Asana. This is an online tool that makes scheduling tasks very easy. I don’t plan my blog or apps in detail because I work on them in my free time, so there’s always a chance something else will pop-up last minute. But I do mark the days where I want to publish posts (every Wednesday and Saturday) and days where I want to work on my apps (Sunday and Thursday).
#4 Remove distractions
At work, I turn off the sound of my phone (and often leave it in my purse instead of on my desk) and I also turn off Slack, the chat app we use at our office. Once an hour, during my break, I check my mails, chat messages, and other notifications. I also have a smart watch, so if someone calls me my watch starts buzzing. If it’s not important, I can reject the call without having to check my phone and get distracted by other apps.
There are also lots of apps out there that can restrict your computer’s access to specific websites or apps, or prevent you from going online altogether. I personally rarely use them, but if you’re often on Facebook instead of studying you might want to give them a try.
#5 Drink water
I already wrote about this in my post with tips to stay energized, but I guess the best energy boosts from cold air and cold water. Coffee prevents me from sleeping, but it doesn’t make me feel awake, so I absolutely avoid that at work. Instead, I try to drink 2 liters of cold water each day. I also love cold homemade teas. My favorite these days is rooibos-cinnamon tea from Kusmi, mixed with a few droplets of Gotu Kola extract.
#6 Clean your desk
A cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. The less there is on my desk, the less I can get distracted by. The only things you’ll find at my desk while working are my computer, a glass/bottle of water and my todo list. Since I organise my todo’s with sticky notes, I don’t need a pen to check off todos, which means there’s no possibility to start doodling instead of working.
#7 Take breaks
Less is more. And the same actually goes when it comes to working. You won’t be very productive when you’re tired, overworked and stressed.
It’s a mistake I made when I just started working. I spent most of my evenings and weekends at work, and it really killed my productivity and the quality of my work. I was tired because I worked instead of sleeping, which lead to making mistakes, which led to working more nights, which again made me tired.
For my current company, I don’t work more than 40 hours per week. If I go over that, I can take off those hours on another day. I’m less tired, less stressed and more productive. Big win!
#8 Work while feeling productive
I have the most energy the first four hours of the day and feel most creative the last two or three hours before going to bed. I plan my days around these time, which helps me a lot to get work done faster and better.
At work, I’ll tackle the most important and hardest tasks first thing when I arrive, when I still feel energized and focused. In the evening at home, I first relax a bit, and then make art or write for my blog closer to bedtime. During the weekends I work in the mornings, relax in the afternoon, and clean the apartment or do laundry in the evening. That way I can be productive and get a lot of work done, while still relaxing enough to be fresh on Monday.
This post contains affiliate links, but everything I wrote in this post is my own and honest opinion.