Increase Productivity: Best Tips to Get More Done in Less Time!
In this article I’m going to share my best tips for how to increase productivity. Productivity is not just a matter of getting stuff done, but it is also getting the most important stuff done, given our unique circumstances, with the limited time that we have.
Ever since I was in high school and started taking concurrent enrollment college classes and got a part-time job, I have worked to be productive and spend time wisely. In fact, when I was probably 12, my cousin (and one of my best friends) and I created a daily schedule for ourselves where we designated our time down to the quarter hour. What teenager does that? My mom even teased us that we hadn’t scheduled time to use the bathroom; that’s how detailed our daily schedules were. 🙂
I’m definitely not quite that detailed anymore, but for most of my life I have worked hard to be as productive as possible simply to get by. In high school I had college concurrent enrollment classes and extracurricular activities and was seeking academic scholarships for college, so I definitely had to manage my time well there.
Then at the university, I was doing the honors program and working part-time, and I needed to maintain those scholarships, as well as maintain some small semblance of a social life.
After graduation, things slowed down a little (yay!), but there was still work and freelance projects and spending time with my husband.
And now, as a mom of three young kiddos, full-time editor (at my regular job) where there are definitely times when there is more to do than time to do it in, full-time blogger, and youth leader in my church, there is plenty to keep me hopping. 🙂 It’s definitely of my own choosing—so I have no one to blame but myself!—but I’m even busier now than I have ever been before.
So these are the top tips to increase productivity that have helped to keep my head above water (most of the time) and keep me sane (or somewhat sane).
Tip: Pin the image above so that you can easily refer to this article on my best tips for how to increase productivity later!
Increase Productivity: 13 Best Tips to Help You Get More Done Each Day
Below I am going to share my very best tips for how to increase productivity in order to get more (of the most important) things done each day. Stop spinning your wheels and start managing your time like you want (and need!) to!
1. Get up earlier.
How many times have you wished that you had an extra hour or two in your day? Well, by waking up earlier, you will!
If you feel like you do not have enough time in the day or you just want or need to get more done, then make a commitment to yourself to get up earlier every. single. day (except Sundays, if you want; I don’t work on Sundays and instead dedicate that time to church and family and taking the day off from the pressing demands of the rest of the week, and I recommend that you do, too :)).
I know it can be hard to get up earlier. I know it means you may feel tired in the morning after you get up. But one of the best ways to increase productivity really is to have the self-discipline to get up earlier. If you normally get up at 6 or 7, get up at 3 or 4.
Believe me, I know that that might sound kind of crazy! Before I started blogging, I definitely thought that getting up at 5 was plenty early enough! And I rarely got up that early. Once I ditched my hour and a half long commute each way (oh, happy, happy day!), I generally got up between 6 and 7 (and 6 only during the summer months, when I would get up earlier to go running outside).
But once I got really serious about blogging and learned the early morning—or sometimes late night, or both (that’s now me!)—habits of many pro bloggers, I gave up my blissful sleep to have a few extra hours in the morning to myself, where the house is quiet and there are no distractions.
And if you really want to get more done, then getting up a couple of hours earlier each day is one of the very best ways that you can do it.
Getting up earlier is an excellent way to have time available to spend on an awesome side hustle (learn about 19 here!) to make more money! I have been doing freelance writing and editing since before I graduated from college, and doing a side hustle it is a great way to increase your income. You can also learn the simple steps to start a side hustle here.
2. Get some exercise to increase productivity.
One wonderful way to have more energy is to get regular exercise. I know it probably feels hard to make the time to do it, but you will feel better once you have exercised, and you will have the energy to get more done in your day!
Want an awesome time-saving and productivity hack? Do this simple trick to exercise while you work and burn 800+ calories per hour!
3. Know what your major goals are to increase your productivity.
To be your most productive, you have to know what it is you really want to accomplish. Like the Cheshire cat says in Alice in Wonderland, if you don’t know where you want to go, it doesn’t really matter which direction you head in.
Similarly, if you don’t know what you want to do in your life, then it doesn’t really matter that much what you spend your time doing, in the grand scheme of things.
4. Do the most important things first to hugely increase your productivity.
There will likely be many days at work where you simply cannot get done all that you need to or would like to. So you have to not only prioritze your time, but you have to be OK with not getting everything done on your to-do list.
Each day, create a prioritized to-do list, with the tasks listed from most important to less important. And then start your day by tackling the most important thing. Then move on to the next, and then the next.
Check out these related articles:
3 Best Practices of Health and 3 Best Practices of Wealth to Lose Weight and Save More Money!
9 Best Tips to Reach Large Financial Goals
Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting
Must-Know Tips to Rock Your First Budget
13 Top Tips to Help You Stick to Your Budget
5. Get rid of distractions to increase productivity.
While you are working to get things done, silence your smartphone (and turn it over or move it away from you if you need to), ignore your email (as much as you can; see the tip just below), block out your calendar (especially at work, so that you can have time uninterrupted by meetings), if you are doing the task at home maybe even ask your spouse or parents or in-laws to take the kids to the park or elsewhere if needed, and give yourself blocks of time where you can simply work on getting the thing or things done that you most need to.
And while you are at it, work on overcoming your own mental distractions, as well. (I have to regularly work on this one, myself!) When you are doing something important, don’t let yourself get sidetracked into doing something else! Those constant little interruptions can add up to be big time sucks, and they keep you from being as productive at the main tasks as you would otherwise be.
For example, if you are working on reviewing your daily invoices at the office, don’t get sidetracked into checking your personal email or your Instagram or buying that thing on Amazon that you need or renewing your library books or texting your spouse to ask what plans are for dinner. (That last one should already be decided and recorded on your meal plan. :))
6. Get similar and related tasks done at one time and multitask low-brain-function activities.
If you have similar or related tasks that you know you need to take care of, do them together. For example, read and respond to emails a few times a day, rather than constantly throughout the day. Same with responding to vooicemail messages. When you can, set a time to do those specific tasks, and take care of them all together at one time.
Another example is for when you are at home after work: if you know you need to check your personal email and buy a birthday present on Amazon and check your bank balance, do those three activities together while you are online. Similarly, if you know you need to go to a few different stores or businesses during the week to run errands and get shopping done, try to plan well enough and coordinate things so that you can make all of those stops together in one trip.
When it comes to multitasking, realize that you can multitask activities that do not take a lot of concentration. True, you do not want to try to multitask figuring out a complex problem at work with giving an important presentation to your biggest client.
But you probably can multitask talking to Grandma while folding your laundry or doing the dishes. You can clean or commute while listening to business audio books or your favorite podcast. You can check and take care of personal email while waiting in line at the grocery story. So multitask where it makes sense to!
7. Stop wasting so much time.
I don’t mean to be harsh at all, but if the average person really does spend more than 5 hours a day watching TV and more than 2 hours a day on social media, as I have read that they do, then that is almost a full workday that you could be spending on other things. If you wonder why you never have enough time to get done all that you want to, do an honest evaluation of your screen time.
I admit that I have not watched TV in years (though I do watch the occasional movie), and honestly, if I spent 7 hours a day, or even two hours a day, on screen time, I really don’t know how I would get everything done that I need to (or that I should). Actually, I still don’t get everything done that I need to or should, but that is a conscious choice on how I prioritize my time with working full-time, being a mom of young ones, and blogging.
Pro tip: Giving up discretionary screen time is another excellent way to have time available to spend on an awesome side hustle (learn about 19 here!) to make more money! Use that time to work toward increasing your income. And learn the simple steps to start a side hustle here.
8. Automate and streamline processes where you can.
Do you have things that you regularly spend time on that could be automated? One simple example of this, that I hope you are already using, is to set up auto bill pay with your credit union or bank. There is no reason to spend time each month writing checks and sending them in the mail when your bank will do this for free.
Another process you can streamline is your meal planning and preparation. If you are spending hours each week planning and preparing your meals, know that you don’t have to (though I get if you are a foodie and this is where you find a lot of your joy, then you may want to :)). But if meal prep and planning is just another thing to check off your must-do list and you are spending a lot of time with it, then simplify!
Instead of finding new recipes all the time, pick the 10 you like the most that you can prepare pretty quickly, and keep those as your main dinner meals on weekdays for a two-week period. Then save the weekends for trying new recipes (or pick your favorite 14 recipes, if you do not want to have to come up with new recipes for the weekends).
Then simply repeat that two-week meal plan for the second half of the month. Then just repeat those meals from your meal plan in the two-week rotation moving forward, and change them out only if you get tired of them or find another recipe that you love that you want to replace one of the meals with.
And are there things that you could learn to do more quickly? I have a coworker who regularly times how fast he does things to see if he can do them more quickly (even making chocolate chip cookies!). If there are regular tasks that you have to perform, work on doing them more efficiently. Over the course of a year, those saved minutes here and there really add up!
Pro tip: You can find an inexpensive two-week meal plan here. This is how we feed our family of 5 for an average of $300 per month.
Want to make things even easier on yourself? Then check out an awesome service like $5 Meal Plans.
Meal Planning Made Even Easier: Consider Using an Inexpensive Meal Planning Service Like $5 Meal Plans
If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to create a meal plan and add one more thing to your to-do list, then an inexpensive solution is a service like $5 Meal Plans could be a great option for you. $5 Meal Plans costs just $5 per month, and they do all of the planning for you!
They plan the meals you will eat and include the ingredients you will need to buy and the recipes you will need to follow to prepare them. Pretty cool! With $5 Meal Plans, the dinners themselves also cost less than $5 per meal to make! And the service comes with a 14-day free trial, so you have nothing to lose! If this sounds like a good option for your family, you can check out $5 Meal Plans here.
If you’re regularly spending several hundred dollars on groceries or hundreds of dollars eating out per month, one of these services could really help you get on the right track and save your food budget.
9. Ask for help or delegate some tasks to increase productivity.
Realize that you do not have to do everything yourself. Let me repeat that: you do not have to do everything yourself.
If you are in a situation because of health or other considerations where you are overwhelmed, let go of your pride, and ask for help. If you are in a situation at work or at home where you could (or even should) be sharing responsibilities with someone, then share them! Yes, the task might not be done as well as if you had done it yourself, but it will be good enough. And the only way for the other person or people to get better is by experience, so the sooner you let go of doing everything and let others help, the sooner they will get better at it and be good enough to meet your expectations. 🙂
Similarly, if you are in a leadership position and you are taking it upon yourself to do everything, get help from the other leaders of your group or organization. Don’t be a martyr or a one-person band when you don’t have to be.
If you are a perfectionist and a control freak, try to ease up a little. Start with simple, small things you can let go of doing yourself, and, in a work setting for example, ask others to do them for you.
10. Look at what commitments or tasks you can simply eliminate.
If you haven’t already, sit down and make a list of all of the things that you do in a given week. Are there things you are doing simply because you have always done them? Do they really need to be done? If they do not bring you joy or fulfillment or a benefit equivalent to the time you spend on them, can you simply stop doing them?
Are there tasks you perform for your job or your business that simply don’t have a good return on (time or money) investment? Are there tasks or activities you do at home or with your family that don’t actually need to be done?
Similarly, are there things that you could do less often than you do, to free up some time? Are there tasks at work you could do less often, and still get the results you seek? Are there chores you could do less often around the house, and still keep things fairly orderly?
11. Say no sometimes.
Of course you need to keep your commitments and fulfill your obligations (as long as they are reasonable; if not, follow the advice in number 9 above). But there is a lot that we say yes to that we don’t need to.
You do not have to accept the invitation to serve on every committee or participate in every fundraiser. Your child does not have to play every sport or participate in every extracurricular activity (and you and they will both be more sane if they don’t). You don’t have to accept every invitation to serve at your church, if you just have too much already on your plate.
You do not have to go every time your friends invite you out. You don’t even have to accept every assignment at work. Guard your time as a precious, irreplaceable resource, because it is.
12. Write down or record digitally your reminders and appointments.
Free up some of your mental energy by freeing your mind from some of its unneeded clutter: digitize or write down (or both!) upcoming to-do items and appointments.
For tasks that are imminent but not immediate (especially for things that you remember you have to do at home that you remember while you are at work and vice versa), create a reminder in your phone. You can do this with apps like Outlook, Google Keep, or your reminders in Google Assistant.
And for calendar items, you can likewise use Outlook or Google Calendar or a similar app.
Or, if you prefer a paper and pen planner, as many people still do, then this is also a great way to go (as long as you remember to actually use it and refer to it as often as you need to; too bad paper planners don’t come with audio reminders!).
Not only will writing down or record digitally your reminders and appointments make it so that you do not have to remember everything you have going on, it will make it so you won’t forget to do or miss out on important tasks and events.
13. Plan and prepare for your next day.
Each day, take just a few minutes to plan and prepare for the next day. This is potentially one of the most powerful items on this list.
Before you leave from work in the afternoon or evening, take just a few minutes to make a list of the most important things that you need to get done the next day. This will ensure that you can hit the ground running tomorrow morning right when you get to work, and you will not have to exert the mental effort to try and remember what you were doing the day before.
Similarly, in the late evening when your energy and perhaps your brainpower are perhaps at their lowest and you don’t want to do tasks that tax your brain too much, you can still do simple things to prepare for the next day. Accomplishing simple but important to-dos the night before can really help set you up for a productive and successful start to your next day, such as choosing your work outfit (and also preparing your workout clothes, if you are wanting to exercise before you go to work) and preparing your lunch for work.
Pro tip: Learn how taking a few minutes each day and preparing an inexpensive lunch to take to work can turn you into a millionaire. Really!
There are so many things you can do to increase your productivity; I have really probably just scratched the surface here. But these 15 productivity tips really can help you to have a more successful (and therefore enjoyable and less stressful) day.
As with so many things in life, the key to being productive is to have a solid plan. And with that plan, you really can (and will!) accomplish amazing things every day. And over the years, you will be astounded at what you have been able to achieve.
What are your best tips for how to increase productivity? Are there any of these items that you have already been doing for years? If so, what have been the results? What have you been able to achieve? I would love to hear about your successes (or your challenges)! Leave a comment below and let me know!
Invitation to Share
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