Do you feel overwhelmed by your endless to-do list, or lose steam well before the end of your workday? These five simple techniques can give you the boost you need.
Popular with business professionals, students, and busy folks of all types, these five techniques don’t take long to implement—you can get started right away!
The Pomodoro Technique
This popular productivity-boosting technique requires virtually no preparation. All you need is a timer, which you most likely have on your phone.
The basic concept is to break your day into 25-minute blocks, with five-minute breaks between each block. These focused intervals are referred to as “pomodoros.”
Have a timer and some work to do? You have everything you need to try the Pomodoro Technique.
After four or five pomodoro blocks, take a longer, 15- to 20-minute break. On your breaks, stand up, walk around, do a few jumping jacks, have a snack, drink some water—basically, step away from your workstation and “reboot” yourself.
The timer adds a sense of focus, importance, and urgency to your work. You’ll probably be less likely to check Facebook, respond to that texts, or stare blankly out the window if a timer is ticking away.
Also, when you break your day into more manageable chunks, it helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed, even if you have a lot to do. It’s easy to focus on a task for 25 minutes when you know you can take a quick break soon.
If you want to use an official app, you can get Be Focused Pro for iPhone, or ClearFocus for Android.
The Two-Minute Rule
David Allen developed this method and covers it in his book, Getting Things Done. The goal is to accomplish a series of easy, quick tasks first so you can check several items off your to-do list in a short time. You then feel inspired to go on to the more challenging tasks on your list.
If you can do it in two minutes, do it now!
To get started, rewrite your to-do list for the day. Don’t worry about listing things in any particular order—just jot down everything you need to do today.
Circle any tasks you can accomplish in approximately two minutes and tackle those first. You’ll feel quite satisfied after you cross all those things off your to-do list.
Take an Exercise Break
We all know exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain, which increases creativity and productivity. A study of 200 workers found that working out increased productivity by 21 percent. But we often feel too busy or too tired to exercise.
Exercise elevates your mood and gives you an energy boost so you can push through your projects.
If you feel stuck, or like you’re procrastinating the day away, it’s time to pause, step away from your work, and get your heart rate going.
Head to the gym if you can or run around the block. Do a quick power workout on YouTube. Even 10 push-ups or jumping jacks can reset things, and give you the much-needed power boost to carry you through the rest of the day.
Block Digital Distractions
The lure of digital distractions is around us all day, every day. When you hit a wall, it’s easy to pop on Facebook or scroll through Instagram, and claim you’re trying to find inspiration or taking a “break.”
You can’t get stuff done with the constant lure of social media, games, and other distractions around.
When you start to reach for an unproductive distraction, take action! Use tools like the iOS Screen Time function to limit your access to distracting apps, or remove them if the allure is too strong. You can also block sites on your home network if necessary.
If you block out the rest of the world for a while, it can help you focus on what you need to accomplish.
Autofocus is a really useful and, well, focused method invented by Mark Forster, a life coach and productivity specialist.
The first step of this method is to write a quick to-do list of only today’s tasks (keep a separate master list for longer projects). Take a minute to read through all the items, and then pick the one you’re most excited or passionate about. If nothing jumps out at you, choose something you can dive into right away.
Pick tasks that appeal to you to jump-start your work, and keep the momentum going.
The goal is to do something you want to do. Then, as you work on that task, you get into the flow of being focused and productive. This ultimately helps you move on to the next task, which might be more challenging and less fun.
It’s a challenge to remain productive every day. If your mind wanders, your energy drops, or you have to battle procrastination, try these easy productivity-boosting techniques.
See which one works best for you and feel free to combine elements of each—they might help you find your groove!