How to be More Productive: 27 Effective Tips to Learn From

Being productive can be a significant struggle in today’s world where we face numerous distractions. Did you know that you can eliminate unnecessary things from your to-do list to enhance your work-life balance? This article shall discuss how to be more productive to ease your operations and complete essential tasks efficiently. 

1.     Prepare for Your Day in Advance

Take some time in the evening to plan your schedule for the next day. Consider breaking down your work into various groups and define your expectations from each group. Writing down your plans not only boosts your confidence but also gives you a sense of control. Further, it clears your mind to complete the task at hand without getting distracted.

As you prioritize, consider roles that will help you achieve your goals and avoid time-consuming but invaluable activities. The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is ideal for optimal prioritization. 

2.      Focus on Your Most Important Tasks First

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In any to-do list, you will find essential and less critical tasks. Avoid checking off activities from your to-do list randomly lest you end up with a combination of unfinished, more minor, and most important activities.

Checking off activities subjects you to the possibility of procrastination. Consider choosing the most critical tasks that you should complete by the end of the day. The following quote by Laura Earnest best describes why prioritization is a vital productivity factor. She says: 

“Let me say that I distinguish between efficient and effective, but that both are ideal for peak productivity. Efficient is doing things right, and effective is doing the right things. So the most productive people work on the high-value tasks, making sure that how they are doing those tasks is the best way. I also believe that the most productive people can discern the high-value tasks and let the others go or delegate them. It’s not a crazy rush to get everything done because they recognize that they can’t get everything done.”

3.     Avoid Multitasking

Maintaining focus on a typical workday can be difficult, especially during the ongoing global pandemic uncertainties. If you work from a physical office, chances are you have concerns about remaining healthy.

Being productive while working from home can also be a significant challenge, especially if you have young kids. While sometimes you may be tempted to multitask, experts opine that doing so could trigger burnout.

Instead of focusing on multitasking, consider following your to-do list to the letter without procrastinating. For example, choose what is vital between listening to a podcast and typing an email.

Consider muting text or slack notifications to respond to an important email. Executing these tasks at the same time compromises the quality of your work, service delivery, and overall productivity. 

4.     Prepare for Uncertainties

Uncertainties occur to everybody at unexpected times. Sometimes you could be planning for a productive day only to face multiple distractions. Productive people have mastered the planning fallacy (the reality that people often underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete tasks).

According to research, many people forget to consider roles that are yet to appear on their calendars. For example, many of us have scheduled meetings the following week, believing it will be open only to end up busier than the previous one.

Exceptionally productive people understand that the subsequent week seems open because it is yet to be scheduled. Preparing for uncertainties and having emergency plans allows productive people to adapt to changes fast. 

5.     Copy Productivity Tips from Your Mentors

Chasing after other people’s dreams may not be the best idea. However, following someone with whom you share goals can be a great idea. Many successful people in the world today have learned one or two productivity hacks from their mentors. 

6.      Develop Deep Work

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Some activities are complex and require your total mental and physical attention to complete. These tasks are also known as deep work. According to Cal Newport, author of the Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World bestselling book, the intense focus skill is not common. People who master this skill get a competitive advantage. Here are Newport’s recommendations to help you develop deep work. 

  • Incorporate deep work in your schedule at the same time each day. You can schedule it during the morning session. Creating a regular time for your deep work allows you to make it a habit. 
  • Become bored. As much as getting bored is an unreasonable productivity habit, finding comfort in boredom is critical. Remember, deep work is not always fun, and frustrations or boredom triggers you to explore distractions. Instead of using social media to counter boredom, consider finding comfort in doing nothing. 
  • Make it hard for people to reach you. Consider reducing emails and calls by asking your contacts to research for answers before consulting you. 
  • Determine your working habits. Do you function well with regular breaks? Perhaps you perform best in isolation. Are you working under a tight schedule? Instead of overhauling your whole program, consider developing deep work. 

7.      Create a Distraction List to Maintain Focus

In today’s era of social media and emails, getting distracted from being productive is easy. Developing a distraction list is one of the most effective ways of eliminating or reducing distractions.

Whether you list them down on a piece of paper or a Google Document, keep your list close by as you work. Watch out for distractions and add them to your checklist before resuming your work. This approach is one of the robust Pomodoro Technique secrets, based on the fact that often, your distractions need your attention.

For example, you could be working on deep work, and suddenly a bill you should clear or content you should create crosses your mind. Such distractions require your attention but not immediately. You can note them down and attend to them later on. 

8.     Prioritize Your Activities as they Appear

Managing your work volume is more than having a to-do list. An effective strategy of remaining productive is responding to ideas and tasks as they appear and sorting them out immediately. Getting Things Done by David Allen trains you how to handle tasks when they come in as follows. 

  • Document the task
  • Make an informed decision about the task immediately.
  • Remember, it takes not more than two minutes to execute tasks immediately. Completing tasks fast gives you a sense of satisfaction.
  • If doing it then is impossible, decide the best time to do it
  • What if the task is not yours? Consider delegating the task to somebody else
  • If the job is irrelevant, consider dropping it

Review your list of activities to maintain a smooth flow of the process. Ensure your notes are in an easy-to-access location to facilitate reviews. To achieve success with prioritization, you should understand how to use a wide range of productivity tools. 

9.     Automate Tasks

If you encounter repeatable tasks in your schedule, find a way to accelerate their execution and completion. One of the simplest ways of doing so is by learning keyboard shortcuts or automating some parts of your operations. Advanced technology can help you eliminate repetitive tasks from your schedule, saving you energy and time. 

10.     Revamp Your Office

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Research shows that incorporating artistic components in your office, like plants, can help you increase productivity by more than 10%. Revamp your office with flowers, candles, and pictures to give it a new look and make yourself happy.

11.     Save Your Brainpower from Remembering Things

Your brain can only hold a specific amount of information simultaneously. Freeing your mental state from processing irrelevant information is an excellent way of increasing productivity. To maintain organization and execute the right tasks at the appropriate time is to plan your work accordingly. Scheduling eliminates the decision-making process to save you time and energy. 

12.  Preparation is Key

In one of his famous quotes, Abraham Lincoln says: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” For you to be productive, you should be well prepared for the task. A fitting example, in this case, would be Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett, where they associate their success with intense reading. The two spend a lot of time reading, gaining knowledge, and mastering their trade. In the end, they managed to make fast and more informed decisions.

According to Munger: “Neither Warren nor I am smart enough to make the decisions with no time to think. We make actual decisions very rapidly, but that’s because we’ve spent so much time preparing ourselves by quietly sitting and reading and thinking.”

Set some time aside to improve, and you will acquire the right tactics to respond to different situations efficiently. 

13.  Set Forced Deadlines

Many people think stress is a bad thing. However, a manageable amount of self-compelled stress can help you focus and work towards achieving your goals. When it comes to open-ended projects and tasks, consider setting a deadline and adhere to it. You will be surprised to realize how much you can achieve when keeping a tab at the clock. 

14.  Manage both Your Time and Energy

Time management is a critical productivity factor. However, you still need energy management skills in your journey to achieving productivity. Once you are fatigued, you will not use your time productively regardless of the number of remaining hours. Remember, you can do much in less time before you grow weary. Jason Fried, CEO and founder of Basecamp, says:

“While people often say there’s not enough time, remember that you’ll always have less attention than time.”

Highly productive people understand that you need more than time to execute tasks. Manage your time and strive to complete the most challenging tasks when you have the most energy to do them. 

15.  Resist the Urge to Open Emails

Without proper management, emails can limit productivity. Did you know that taking a sneak peek at your inbox can distract you from completing important tasks on time? Schedule short breaks in between your work within which you can check your inbox. You will need lots of self-control to finish what you had planned to achieve the previous evening. 

16.  Reconsider Your Mobile Device Habits 

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Navigating through numerous mobile applications can be a struggle for many people. It begins with checking something you deem necessary, like the weather or current affairs. However, you end up scrolling across your social media pages. Updating yourself with what is happening across the globe is crucial, but you should stick to your goals.

To prevent app overuse, consider adopting an app blocker or some downtime function as an intelligent technical fix. You may want to ask yourself whether you need to determine whether using your device at that time is ideal in the first place. Before picking your mobile gadget, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I need to use the phone right now instead of focusing on completing the task at hand?
  • Do I need assistance
  • What is distracting me?
  • Is the task monotonous?

Sometimes keeping your mobile device away from your workspace can work wonders. While your desk could feel bare, you will reap the benefits of completing your tasks according to your schedule. Sign out of social media accounts after use. Signing back will take some time, giving you sufficient time to figure out whether you need to use the platforms at that time.  

17.  Enhance Your Productivity by Looking After Yourself 

Your body is your productivity tool, and it requires exercise, sleep, and a well-balanced diet. Substituting or disregarding these self-care pillars is impossible. Understand your sleep pattern and determine what makes you comfortable. To rest well, you will need to avoid your phone, coffee, and noisy people.

Some people function well with a six-hour sleep, while others can operate effectively round the clock. Choose what works best for you and stick to it. If your work involves sitting for long hours, you may want to find a workout routine that meets your needs. Apart from eating balanced meals, you want to take time to chew your food correctly. Make gradual changes to the way you eat, exercise, sleep, and your sitting posture, and monitor your productivity changes.  

18.  Take Short Breaks in Between Your Work 

Focusing on your work for a record eight hours is not possible even to the most productive people. Avoiding distractions across the day is unachievable regardless of your efficiency practices, which is why you should take short breaks.

Research suggests that taking regular short intervals enhances your productivity. Did you know that even the most momentary pause can help you rejuvenate and gather new ideas? Ensure your short breaks are structured and intentional.

Adopting the Pomodoro Technique will help you actualize your goals with ease. According to this technique, you should combine 25-minute work blocks with 5-minute breaks. Work passionately for a certain amount of time before taking a shorter non-working break. Incorporating gaps in your schedule can help you stay productive and fresh across the day.  

19.  Pick Lessons from Both Successes and Mistakes

Many highly productive people struggle with working fast without compromising their quality of work. As you work fast, you expose yourself to numerous mistakes. To mitigate that risk, highly productive people learn through their mistakes and improve on the go. With time, producing good quality work becomes easy.

Learning through your mistakes is valuable. When things go wrong, consider assessing the errors and devising strategies to prevent future mistakes is a great learning experience. Learning from successes is equally critical, even though it is not quite ordinary. Why is this so?

Often, when you succeed, you may be tempted to celebrate. While celebrating wins is good, you need to evaluate your successes, as is the case with the mistakes. Highly productive people experience continued success by mastering the art of repeating them. Figure out what you did right, what you gained from the effort, and why.

Determine what you need to collect and repeat from experience. Figure out what you need to eliminate to increase your chances of maintaining success. These considerations will help you move from a single win to numerous bouts of success. You will also understand your success more intuitively, saving you time when you start working on new projects. 

20.  Sometimes procrastination becomes Inevitable

Human beings are not machines, and sometimes you will feel blank, unmotivated, and sluggish. When such happens, it is a signal that your brain and body need a break. Instead of panicking, procrastinate your tasks.

Take a break and seek some motivation. Read your favorite book, watch a movie, or listen to that podcast you have been holding back. Avoid breaking away from the procrastinating feeling because you may end up worsening the situation. Embrace the emptiness with the assurance that it will soon end.  

21.  Leverage the Eisenhower Matrix to Determine Long-Term Priorities


One factor that affects productivity is paying attention to short-term goals. According to Peter Drucker, a management legend, “there is nothing as useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

In the process of learning and mastering productivity habits, you could easily fall into a trap. Being engaged in activities that seem essential then is easy. The Eisenhower Matrix that Dwight Eisenhower used to make decisions during his time as a general was popularized by The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book by Stephen Covey.

The approach allows you to determine what you should focus on and what you should leave behind fast. To build an Eisenhower Matrix, you will need a 2 x 2 square. One section includes important and not essential, and on the other indicates urgent and not urgent.

Planning your to-do list based on the task’s urgency and importance helps you determine time wasters that are not worth your time. If you realize that you have spent a big part of your day on urgent but non-important tasks, consider eliminating, automating, or automating them.

If you spend a lot of time on important but not urgent tasks, consider ignoring them. Many people focus on important but not urgent tasks without realizing it. However, the Eisenhower Matrix allows you to see what is valuable and what is not.  

22.  Identify Ways to Incorporate Fun and Brainstorm Ideas

Play cheerful music while getting things done. According to Grace Marshall, author of the book How to Be Really Productive, “Someone I know thought working with spreadsheets was really boring but needed to use them when writing financial reports for her creative business. She discovered that simply changing the colors on the spreadsheet made it more interesting.” Making minor adjustments can be all you need to find joy when executing tedious tasks. 

23.  Be Accountable to Someone

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Do you work in a team? In this case, being accountable to someone can be an easy task. Adopt automated project management structures to alert you on subsequent tasks. Still, you may need to significantly account for your daily tasks when you attain objectives in your predictive dashboard or spend time setting goals or brainstorming ideas.

Find a trustworthy partner who will support you without punching you for failing. The person you choose should encourage you to become a better person. Such as person could be your supervisor, team leader, or a colleague willing to help you stay on track as you also help them remain on course.  

24.  Say No and Mean it

People will disrupt you across the day in search of your contribution to something. Admitting to everything and adding up tasks to your to-do list is easy but counterproductive. Learn to say no and mean it to protect your time and facilitate the completion of important tasks. Saying no can be easy to pronounce but hard to actualize.

However, there are various strategies you can use to say no while maintaining your intelligence. When a colleague approaches you with an appeal you should say no to, consider asking them for some time to clear your current task first. Once you are done, they will have figured a way to solve their challenges.  

25.  Envision the Following Week in Advance Using the 2-Hour Principle

The author of Train Your Brain, Roger Seip, created the 2-hour Principle. It involves spending two hours every week to prepare for the subsequent week mentally. According to Rogers, following this Principle to the letter can help you follow the right track.

Use this time weekly to evaluate your goals, examine strategies that have been working and those that have failed. Use your feedback to plan your calendar for the next week accordingly. Unlike the case in regular scheduling, this Principle involves the color-coding productivity technique. Often, you will realize that the 2 hours are more than enough for you to be effective. 

26.  Step Out of the Office 

Working remotely can be all you need to do more work in less time and boost your productivity. The office space often features critical resources and promotes collective energy. However, it can inhibit your productivity.

Colleagues often interrupt their peers in the middle of work with purported urgent matters, which in the real sense are not urgent at all. Some studies suggest that remote employees were not only more productive but they were also less likely to pull out of their jobs. 

27.  De-clutter and Maintain Organization Around Your Workplace

A well-organized space and minimal stuff can reduce anxiety and enhance productivity. De-cluttering your space helps you focus on achieving your goals. You do not have to waste a lot of time looking for misplaced items. Throw away old paper and any items you have not used for a long time to reduce unnecessary distractions and boost productivity.

Take Away

  • Even with all these how to be more productive tips, it is worth mentioning that achieving productivity does not occur overnight. However, you can master it with continued practice. 
  • Learn about the best productivity and time management tools that can help you accelerate your goals. 
  • Your happiness is paramount to productivity. Often, your body will suffer burnout, and you will need to take a break. Learn to watch out for the signs.

TickTock Lab is a hub for unique productivity and time management tips. Find more insights from our blog


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