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5 Ways to Become More Productive

Have you ever heard somebody complain that there’s ‘not enough hours in the day’ to get everything done they want to? Well, I can definitely relate. For a long time, it felt like there was always a huge list of things to accomplish and not enough time to get it all done. However, once you realize that it’s your mindset that’s actually holding you back you can begin to work on changing it and becoming more productive each day. Of course, if you tell yourself you don’t have enough time then you won’t. We each get the same amount of hours in the day, so if you truly believe there’s not enough time, then it means you might need to adjust how you approach your schedule and daily to-do-list. Today we will look at five ways to become more productive so that you may fire your old self to make way for your new self and ultimately live your best life

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1. Wake Up Earlier 

Waking up earlier is an obvious way to have more time in the day to get things done. Although it can be challenging at first to wake up earlier than your normal schedule, your body will become used to it relatively quickly, meaning you can establish a routine quite easily. Furthermore, by waking up earlier and filling your day with productive tasks, you will be more likely to head to bed at an earlier time and get a more restful sleep. For example, on the days I wake up, work, walk my dogs, work out, cook, clean, and get all my other errands completed, I always feel more productive and ready for bed by the end of the day. I also struggle with falling asleep sometimes, but not if I have a busy day; if I was hustling all day, it becomes much easier for me to fall asleep and enjoy the rest I get. Another thing to consider is that if your schedule changes day-to-day (for example, one day you have a morning shift and the next the late shift), consider trying to stick to the same morning routine and wake-up at the same time regardless of what your day holds. Our bodies love to anticipate what we are going to do, so by sticking to a specific wake-up time, you can begin to set a routine and become more productive so that you can mold yourself into your best version over time.

2. Eliminate Multitasking 

Even though we like to think that multitasking can help us get multiple things done at once, unfortunately, there is no such thing as multitasking. Don’t believe me? Well, science proves that our brains can truly only focus on one thing at a time. So when we are ‘multitasking,’ we are actually forcing our brains to focus on one thing and then switch to another, and another, and so on. So this is why when you’re trying to make breakfast for your kids and get them ready for school at the same time, usually either the toast gets burnt, or a kid ends up going to school with only one sock. Or, if you’re a person who can get easily overwhelmed (like me), sometimes I look at all the things I have to do and feel so overloaded I don’t even know where to begin. This is why I rely so heavily on lists – they’re my favorite organizing tool to stay productive by far! Putting everything that you have to accomplish in a day in one place makes it significantly easier to not only see what you have to do but plan your day out accordingly. Furthermore, crossing things off your list as you complete them can help you feel super productive and motivated to continue your list, which in turn helps you become your best self

3. Prioritize With the 20-Minute Rule 

Once you have your list for the day, you can prioritize it using the 20-minute rule. Basically, the 20-minute rule is setting a timer for – you guessed it! – 20 minutes, working on something on your list in that time, then when the timer goes off, you take a break and switch tasks. Here, it becomes essential for you to delineate what needs to happen right away and what can wait. For example, if one of your tasks is to put dinner in the crockpot so it can cook for 8 hours throughout the day, you will need to prioritize that so it happens on time. Whereas, something like calling your insurance to inquire about your policy can happen any time you have a free moment in your day. In my case, I utilize more of a 45-minute rule, where I will work for 45 minutes, take a break, and then move on to the next thing on my list. I do this because I find that 20 minutes flies by way too fast, and I need more time to hone in on whatever project I’m doing and give it my entire focus. Keep in mind; tips for becoming more productive are only that – tips. It’s important that you can adapt and adjust to what works for you to increase your productivity over time as you begin to mold yourself into your new self

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4. Cut Out Distractions 

Nowadays, our phones are basically glued to our hands, it seems. I, like many others, are the culprit of always having our phones on us and mindlessly scrolling for hours a day. Although it can be challenging (being more productive and growing as a person isn’t easy!), we need to start putting our phones away and cutting out the distractions to be more productive. For example, I like to write my to-do list on paper so that I can not only cross things off physically when they are completed, but I also don’t have to pick up my phone to check my list, which could lead to scrolling or texting. Furthermore, our phones aren’t the only distractions that we can encounter throughout our day. For someone with kids, the best option might be to work when the kids are at school or daycare or wait until their partner comes home, and then they head to a coffee shop to get some work done. It’s not that they are BAD for distracting us, I would never say that about kids, dogs, or even phones, but they are distractions nonetheless pulling us away from optimizing our productivity. By identifying and cutting out distractions, we become one step closer to being more productive and starting to live our best lives. 

5. Know When You Need a Break 

Optimizing your productivity and getting absolutely everything done on your list is great. However, knowing when you need to take a break (and taking it!) can be yet another challenge that we must face. But taking some downtime is crucial if we are to become the best versions of ourselves and ultimately increase our productivity. For example, if you are run-down or burnt out, it becomes so much harder to efficiently and accurately get your work done. Although it feels like we shouldn’t stop, slowing down and taking a moment can actually re-align ourselves with our goals and help us get to where we want to be more easily. You can basically think of your body as a machine. If you are not properly taking care of it – changing the oil, filling it up with gas, giving it a car wash, attending to any mechanical problems – eventually it’s going to fall apart. Not only fall apart, but it could literally explode in your face, which can similarly happen if we don’t take some downtime for ourselves. So, even though we have been trained to feel like there are ‘no breaks,’ we must recognize when we need rest and take it if we are to begin molding ourselves into our best versions

Final Thoughts 

Working on optimizing our productivity is an ongoing commitment that won’t come to fruition overnight. It takes dedication and building up positive habits like the ones we have discussed here in order to really shed your old skin and become your new best self. Thinking it will happen overnight would be like thinking you could run a marathon without properly training beforehand. Let’s be honest; we are all going to sleep in, multitask when we shouldn’t, get our priorities mixed up, give in to distractions, or push ourselves too hard sometimes. But if, for the most part, you approach your day motivated, determined, and with a positive, ‘you will do great things’ attitude, everything else will fall into place. Ultimately, changing our mindset and integrating strategies to become more productive is crucial so that we may “Fire” our “Old Self” to create “Our NEW SELF” while remembering Life’s Short, Love the Life You Live! 

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Dani VanDusen

Dani VanDusen is a freelance writer and editor located in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. She holds a BA in English from the University of Alberta where she graduated with distinction, and has been freelancing since the middle of the pandemic. An avid mental health enthusiast, rollerblade extraordinaire, dog mama, and pizza lover, she is a self-proclaimed ‘weirdo’ and says that this helps her be relatable and open in her writing. Dani has been a writer for the Fire Yourself movement since August 2021 and is an integral part of our content team.
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