1. Schedule things.
If you want to do something, you need to set aside time to actually do it. Start by blocking out the times in your day when you’re not available (e.g., the times you’re at work, looking after kids, cooking/eating meals, sleeping, etc.) then you can see how much time you have for other things (and where it is). By then getting tasks scheduled into those free spaces in your day, you not only ensure you have a definite time when you’re going to get tasks done, it also stops you from taking on more than you physically have time for (which will make you feel less productive in the long run).
2. Have routines.
Decisions kill productivity; the fewer decisions you have to make in a day, the more productive you’ll be. By having routines, it not only removes a lot of decision making from your brain, it also makes a lot of your actions a habit (which has the added bonus of making you complete them faster and easier). Write out the steps of things you do, or have to do, most days – for example, a morning and evening routine, an after-work or school routine, a cleaning routine, etc. Taking the thinking out of these processes makes your life run more efficiently, and helps you build in useful habits (e.g., you could add ten minutes of language learning – which you might otherwise forget about – into your morning routine).
3. Make lists.
The brain is not a great place to store important information. Not only that, trying to remember everything stresses you out and distracts you from doing your best (and most efficient) work. Write everything down, either physically or electronically. Just get it out of your head. Then rank the items in your lists based on priority (so the order you’ll do them in), as well as other useful metrics, like how long you expect something to take or how big an impact it will have on your day or goals.
4. Batch what you can.
Batching similar tasks or activities saves so much time (and therefore helps you to be more productive). And having dedicated times for certain things stops you from being distracted by them when you’re meant to be doing something else. You can batch things like when you check or send emails, when you look at social media and answer messages, when you write or create similar things (like blog posts), when you’re cooking dinner (make enough for several meals). Put similar tasks together and have dedicated times for when you do those things – and leave them alone outside of those defined times.
5. Take breaks.
Productive does not mean working 24/7. The brain and body need time to rest and recharge if you’re going to perform optimally – otherwise you’ll reach burnout and then you won’t get anything done (definitely not productive)! Make sure your schedule isn’t back-to-back with tasks – even schedule dedicated breaks in if you need to. Take time to do things you enjoy and relax you, so when it is time to work, you’re focused and enthused to go.