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With a new year ahead of us comes new goals and a new start. Many people want to increase their productivity but don't know where to start.

With a new year ahead of us comes new goals and a new start.  Many people want to increase their productivity but don’t know where to start.  With social media, we have so many possible distractions, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to name a few.

They say “Time is Money” and boy is it ever so true.  When you think about how each minute can be spent earning you money (or working on your passive income creation), you want to make sure that each hour, each minute, and each second is spent wisely.  Increasing your productivity comes with many benefits, most important of being increased money (your boss notices how hard you work, gives you a raise or you are able to increase the productivity of your freelancing side-gig).  Time management skills are crucial in this regard and although it can be somewhat satisfying (in the short term) to check Facebook for replies or new status updates, in the long term, you’ll end up feeling guilty for procrastinating, which leads to feelings of low self-worth.  This leads to more procrastination and the vicious cycle continues.

Know Yourself

index investing worksThe first part of becoming proficient with time management is learning or knowing what time works best for you.  We’re not all made equal and not all of us can function on 6 hours of sleep.  Not all of us work best in the morning (I for one tend to work better in the evening).  A great article on Lifehack talks about 50 ways to increase your productivity, and knowing what time works best for you throughout the day is definitely one of them.

Don’t be Afraid of Lists (Just Break it Down)

One of my favourite (and tried and true) ways of increasing my productivity is to write it down.  I break down the large task (e.g. study) into little tasks (like read main points in text book, go over class notes, do the practice quiz) so that these small tasks encompass the larger task…and it’s less daunting.

I find that writing it down increases your accountability, acts as a reminder (in case you have a brain like a sieve like me), and also helps you focus on the main tasks at hand.  Of course, it is very very satisfying to cross something off your list.  This is why I still go with paper lists on note pads instead of lists on the computer or the smartphone.

Prioritize your Tasks

Prioritizing your tasks ties into making lists of course, but prioritizing your tasks organizes your “to do” list into categorizing the stuff you need to do in order of importance.  For some this may help, but for others, this may cause increased stress (for example, it’s easy to get the “easy” stuff done but you stall when it comes to the most important task of the list).

US News Money has a great list of apps that help you prioritize your tasks, with WorkFlowy being one of them.  Workflowy is a surprisingly simple app that basically allows you to organize your brain on a blank slate and you can open and close ideas, create lists and to do lists within to do lists.  Of course, you could also check out the other bazillion productivity apps available in the Apple app store.

Just Do It

A Forbes article on increasing productivity talked about Lao Tzu’s famous quote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.  I found this quote to be so true, and as cliche as it may sound, “just do it” is really important.  If you continue to live life with creating excuses for not starting something, feeling guilty for not finishing something, your procrastinating mind will get the best of you.  It’s amazing what the mind can do if we put (or not put) our mind to it.

 Reward Yourself

Finally, it is well known that humans respond well to positive reinforcement.  When I feel especially productive, I reward myself with something small (like a delicious treat) or I reward myself with a 15 to 30 minute run to kick start the endorphins.  Reminding yourself that being productive is an amazing feat amidst Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Reddit will be very helpful to encourage continued behaviour change and increased productivity.

Readers, do you have any tips on maintaining productivity?

Article comments

Dory says:

Each day I have my to-do list and tasks may fall into 4 different categories such as: Important and Urgent, Urgent but not Important, Important but not Urgent, Not Urgent/Not Important. In this manner I would easily know which task to prioritize.

I think the biggest part of productivity is learning to schedule your work load around your most productive times. For example, I’m awful at getting up in the morning. So instead, I make sure to pack my workout gear, my lunch, and lay out my clothes the night before, otherwise I tend to oversleep and not get around to those things in the morning. In the same vein, I’m least productive at work around 3-4 in the afternoon, so I started scheduling my lunch hour during that time, and taking a quick run since I’m not productive then anyway.

Great post!