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Tips for Boosting Productivity: Part 1

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Tips for Productivity

I love being productive and getting things done, whether at home or for work. I thrive on being efficient and staying on top of things before they get out of control. However, as much as I naturally love efficiency and productivity, I still have those days {or weeks} in which I just can't find my groove...or stay in it longer than half an hour. I felt this way as a teacher and I feel it now as a stay-at-home, work-from-home mom of three. I am often conflicted with how to divide my time between work and parenting, which is why being as efficient as possible is crucial for staying sane and keeping all the balls in the air.

Thus, I have come up with 3 steps for boosting productivity that I think are somewhat obvious, but still quite helpful.

Step 1: Getting rid of distractions

Distractions are a real time suck, as their name implies. Whether it's noisy co-workers, neighbors, or even your own children {like my daughter asking me right now if I'm choosing to ignore her?}, these distractions interrupt our train of thought and therefore stifle creative thought as we struggle to wrangle our minds back into gear.

So, for those of you who work from home, I can’t emphasize how important it is to set up good boundaries for actually getting work done at home so you still have a place to work and place to relax at home. For work, it's important to have a good home office, white noise, and general organization.

Once you've protected yourself as much as possible from distraction, you have to discipline yourself to use your time well. What do you do if you are fresh out of ideas? Or if you have a great one but can't develop it due to other commitments? This is where step 2 comes in to play.

Step 2: Getting rid of writer’s (worker’s) block

So, here are few tips for breaking the barrier when you’re staring at a blank screen:

  • Sit and think for 10 minutes. Seriously, before you give yourself (another) break, try to come up with a starting point. It’s not that I don’t value breaks- in fact I have a lot due to the nature of my work day and kids. However, I think it’s easy to procrastinate by allowing yourself too many.
  • Make a list of things that need to get done and start doing them- it may be that you have a break-through as you make the list or start checking things off. Sometimes, the feeling of accomplishment is enough to get your mind going.
  • If you’re writing, do a google search and see what others have written. Sometimes this is good fodder for a new idea or a response to someone else’s. I find that I write best {i.e. not plagiarize} if I read an article and then close it, whether I agree with it or not.
  • Since I do work from home and also have small children still at home, I don’t work 9-5. So, I have a couple hours a couple times a day. I push it hard while I have the peace and quiet to do it, then when I’m on with the kids, I keep a pad and paper by me so I can jot down any ideas that come to mind. That way, I’m not working while the kids are around and I also don’t lose an idea.
  • Take breaks. See, I do value breaks. I just think they need to be earned.
  • Frequently, I work on an idea in the back of my head…maybe it’s a real life experience, maybe it’s not, but either way, I find that my best ideas come when I am not technically working. I usually mull them over in the back of my mind as I wash dishes {we live in the UK- no dishwasher, so there’s lots of that} or pick up toys or even play with the kids. Then, I either work on it the next chance I get, or I at least write it down so I don’t forget.

If you're struggling to be productive, rework your work space for minimal distractions, then discipline yourself to actually work. Be sure to check back next time for Part 2!