Four tips for a more productive day

Posted on: October 28th, 2010

I’m often faced with a ‘to do’ list that I’m confident I’m going to achieve by the time 6pm comes around but, then, I discover I’ve only ticked off two items by the end of the day.

Here are four tips to help ensure our days become more productive:

1. Work out HOW you work at your best

I know I work much better if I haven’t been out late the night before. Sounds obvious, but the sheer fact of feeling tired can have a real effect on how effective you are at work.

I also work much better if I’ve been exercising first thing. Because I work from home, I don’t actually have to go out of my flat to start work, but I don’t like to go from bathroom to kitchen to desk without first either going swimming or going to the gym. I no longer have a 50-minute commute, so I spend that time exercising. It really helps get my brain into gear.

For you, it could be ‘when I don’t drink coffee’ or ‘when I take regular small breaks throughout the day’. Whatever it is, make a list of how you work at your best and stick it by your computer as a reminder.

2. Work out WHEN you work at your best

Most if us are either larks or owls. I’m a lark, so working in the evening is not something that’s going to boost my productivity. If you find that you have certain low points during the day when you don’t achieve much, use that time for more mundane tasks that don’t require much brain power. And focus on the important things when you’re at your most alert.

3. Don’t get distracted

The internet – especially emailing and social networking – is a huge distraction that can eat up big chunks of time. So, to increase your productivity, turn off all distractions, including your phone, and focus on the task in hand. I find that working half a day on a Saturday or Sunday, I can achieve almost as much as I can in a whole weekday because no-one’s emailing or phoning me to distract me. I know I can focus¬† 100% on what I’m doing. For example, I’m writing this post on a Sunday.

4. Work out the three most important things you have to complete by the end of the day

Once you’ve worked these out, put them at the top of your ‘to do’ list and prioritise them in order of 1, 2 and 3. Then decide how much time you are going to carve out for each one and work only on these three tasks, starting with the most important one first.

Once you get in the habit of following these four tips, you’ll find yourself enjoying days where you succeed in achieving much more.¬† Here’s to your productivity!

Related posts:

Distractions: eight strategies for avoiding them

Procrastination – the great time stealer

9 Responses to “Four tips for a more productive day”

  1. Douglas Holland
    October 28th, 2010

    If I could wean myself off monitoring: my twitter accounts, emails,the Wildlife passing through the Garden and reading your blog posts, I wouldn’t have any distrations :-)

  2. Jackie Hasney
    October 28th, 2010

    They are 4 great tips, and I’m going to give then all a go……………..tomorrow! Seriously thought, although things like twitter can distract, I find it invaluable too. I work alone from home and the interaction I get on there often keeps me going. Very good point about the exercise, when I was working in an office I always got up and did at least 20 minutes first thing as that gave me energy to face the day.

  3. Freelance FactFile
    October 28th, 2010

    @ Douglas – Having published that post this morning, I have spent the past hour being distracted by our IT guy. He came to fix an issue with my husband’s email and he’s spent the past hour showing me stuff. Time to get back to writing…..

    @ Jackie. Very glad to hear you’re going to give my tips a go. As you can see by my comment to Douglas, not getting distracted is one I need to practise more…. :)

  4. Jackie Hasney
    October 28th, 2010

    It’s a good job it’s tomorrow I’m putting into practice the 4 things! So far this afternoon I found I had to urgently wash the kitchen floor, change my profile picture on twitter and clean the cooker! Surely at some point in an unproductive day I should just give up and start again tomorrow! It’s weird that some days I can get up, make a coffee and get stuck into writing first thing and write all day no problem. Other days however I just can’t sit for more than an hour at a time!

  5. Freelance FactFile
    October 28th, 2010

    Yes, it’s amazing how we freelancers manage to get lots of household chores done….(when we should be at our desks)
    2.5 hours later and the IT guy has just left. Phew.

  6. I get something I call the 2pm Stupids. After about 2pm, you can’t ask me to use more than ten percent of my brain. So, because I know that, I get start working around 6am to maximize all of work time.

  7. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Melissa Breau, P.S. Jones. P.S. Jones said: Four Tips for a More Productive Day (Freelance Fact File) [...]

  8. Ramona
    November 1st, 2010

    Having a new sleep schedule HELPED a lot. I go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 9 in the morning. I am fresh and ready for a new working day. I’ve also starting taking karate lessons 4 evenings in the week and it’s helped a lot with taking my mind off the web for 2-3 hours

  9. [...] 7. Productivity: Four tips for a more productive day [...]

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