There’s a popular productivity quote that’s been making the Internet rounds for years now: “You have the same number of hours in a day as Beyoncé.” It’s the idea that one of the most successful women in the world is restricted by the same laws of time and nature that all of us are. Do you consider this idea to be motivating or ridiculous? Are you one of the people saying, “Well sure, but if I had millions of dollars like her I could hire a personal trainer or have a staff to help me with everything,” or feeling downright angry about it?
Consider this: everyone gets the same 1,440 minutes every single workday. The circumstances and level of assistance can change from person to person but we all start with the same amount of time. The difference between people who are successful in achieving their goals vs. those who are not, is how you spend those 1,440 minutes.
In a nutshell, that’s the basic definition of productivity. There are several productivity tips that can help you with time management and getting things done. Here’s one of the most effective tips for productivity, why it works and how to avoid procrastination and get things accomplished.
The Only Productivity Tip You’ll Ever Need
Ernest Hemingway famously said that when he woke up each morning, he began writing immediately. He described the daily routine by saying, “When I am working on a book or a story, I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.” Hemingway’s routine is similar to hundreds of other prolific authors, artists, scientists, etc. who worked on big projects and goals. So, what is it about this routine that is effective?
Do the important tasks first each day.
It seems simple but only the most productive people really focus on this as a way to boost productivity. Hemingway produced a remarkable volume of incredible and inspiring work during his career because he ignored the to-do list and didn’t have things to distract him like phone calls or social media. If you can wake up and do the most important thing first each day, you’ll make consistent (and surprising!) progress.
Why This Productivity Tip Actually Works
People mistakenly assume that in order to be productive you just need to get more things done. But it’s about getting important things done consistently. Think: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you focus on maintaining a steady, average speed on a few things you’ll have sustained energy levels to get more done than if you went full speed ahead on everything. The reason this strategy is one of the best productivity tips is because you’ll always get something important done each day.
Here’s why it works best to do this at the beginning of your day right after you’ve had your first cup of coffee. First, willpower tends to be higher earlier in the day. That means your hard work and effort goes into completing your most important task.
Second, as you get into the rest of your day, it’s likely you’ll have unexpected small tasks that creep into your schedule and throw off how you had planned to spend your day. By the end of the day you could reflect back on how you spent your time and realize the most important things didn’t get done.
And third, unfinished projects can create unresolved tension and stress. When you start a project, your mind wants to finish it because there’s a boost of energy levels when you complete a task. You’re also more likely to finish a task after starting it, and spend less time overall, which is why you should focus on the important tasks first. People think that multitasking is being productive, but studies show you’re actually less productive than if you were to focus on one thing at a time.
The reason people don’t focus on this productivity tool is because they spend so much time responding to someone else’s agenda. In school, we complete assignments and tests. At work, we open our email inbox and abide by due dates for projects. And at home, we complete chores and tasks that our partners or kids ask us to do. This creates a scenario where we learn to take action as a reaction of someone else’s expectations. The important tasks in our lives, that truly require our attention above all others, are the ones that move our hopes, dreams, goals, ideas and businesses forward. All other tasks may seem “urgent” but are rarely that “important.”
6 Additional Productivity Tips to Help You Crush Your Goals
Let’s assume that you’re already focused on accomplishing the most important tasks first thing. How else can you make sure that you’re working smarter and not harder? These 6 additional productivity tips should help.
1. Plan your day around when you’re most productive
You can either plan according to your schedule or your schedule will plan things for you. Plan your day to accommodate your energy levels. If there’s a specific time when you have more brain power, that’s when you should accomplish the most taxing tasks. Need some simple ways to stay on task? Consider a monthly subscription to Muse-Illuminate, a subscription box that helps people stay focused and more productive. Each month’s box sends one motivational New York Times bestseller, exclusive workbooks and goal-oriented activities, all designed to keep you continuously moving toward your goals.
2. Have the tools you need for success
Do you have everything you need to be successful? If you can’t see how to succeed, it’s likely your productivity will suffer. Consider a monthly subscription to CoachCrate, which delivers a couple of hours of personal growth exercises each month. From insightful readings to online coaching sessions and 3-6 items that focus on productivity, relaxation and personal change, each month’s curated box highlights a specific theme intended to help everyone grow and learn their own personal strengths.
3. Put it on your calendar
If you don’t schedule whatever it is that needs done, chances are it won’t get done. It will constantly get pushed to the “next day” pile. Your calendar should be the guiding force in your work and overall project management. If you have everything scheduled at a specific time and a high-level view of what you should be doing and when, stress gets minimized. And things get done. If you don’t already have a planner to help with scheduling, consider the Fabulous Planner, a monthly subscription that sends stylish and functional items to make planning time creative and practical.
4. Spent time on activities that align with your values
Do the things you spend time on align with your top five values or priorities? If not, why are you doing them? When your activities are aligned with your values, you’ll achieve your most important goals and desires. One way to ensure you’re spending time on the things that matter is by subscribing to Sparkle Hustle Grow, a subscription that sends monthly encouragement to give you a little extra get-up-and-go. Specially curated books, training tools, tech gadgets, office supplies and connection to a like-minded community deliver an extra incentive to focus on personal growth and productivity.
5. Make a list of things that need completed
A great way to stay productive and alleviate stress is to make a list of the things that need to be completed each day. If the project is a large one, break down the deliverables into manageable tasks. Need help with the organization? The CLOTH & PAPER box can help. Featuring 4-7 useful items like paper, note cards, planners, pens and more, the thoughtfully curated supplies bring much-needed organization to the daily grind and are perfect for those who are always planning the next big thing.
6. Set aside concrete timeframes for each project
While your mind does want to finish a task once you start one, sometimes a bigger project may require breaking it down into smaller steps. Using the Pomodoro technique can help big time. Turn off all distractions. Set a timer and work on a project for an hour. Take a one-minute break. If you complete that task, take the next two minutes to transition to the next step. Set the timer again for 60 minutes (or whatever time frame feels appropriate) and do similar tasks. You’ll make progress on every project by using this technique.
One of the best boxes for goal-setting, the Everyday Manifest delivers a 30-day monthly challenge. Designed to help you kickstart your ideas from vision board to action, each day is structured to help you dream big and set goals you can commit to. You’ll get a 30-day journal, habit trackers, writing prompts and a healthy dose of motivation every month.