As someone who has always needed to achieve as much as possible in aaall the different areas of my life, being productive has always been really important to me. Particularly now, when I’m trying to do work on my PhD / max out my social life / train for various running events / learn French / write a blog / read more / generally be a better person, being able to stay as productive as possible is not only helpful, it’s completely crucial.
So, here are the top ten steps I take to keep myself working (and playing) super hard;
- To-Do Lists. Lists are my favourite thing. I have daily, weekly, and yearly lists of things I want and need to do. The feeling of ticking everything off is just the most satisfying feeling ever.
- Start early. Although I am actually someone who is able to be pretty productive quite late into the evening, I always feel much more motivated, and just happier in general if I’ve managed to get a few things ticked off my list by lunch time.
- Just do it. As I’m sure many people do, I sometimes find it really difficult to get started on a particular task when it’s not super urgent. Just the thought of a time-consuming, not particularly interesting chore that I could (but really shouldn’t) put off is enough to make me procrastinate into old age. However, I often find that once I start whatever the task was, it is really not as bad as I’d anticipated.
- Break it down. If you have something huuuge to do (like writing a literature review), break the task down into smaller pieces (e.g. draft the introduction, write the measures section, format the references), and tick each part off as you do it. Not only is it more motivational, but it also lets you keep track of how much of the overall task you’ve actually done.
- Mix it up. As I mentioned above, I have a whole bunch of different areas in my life that I’m trying to work on. Although some people don’t advise trying to have multiple different things to focus on at one time, I find it works for me as it stops me getting bored. If, every day, I can learn some French, go for a run, work on my PhD, and spend the evening either with friends or reading, I will be a v. happy girl.
- Hold yourself accountable. I am such a people-pleaser. If someone I have respect for (e.g. my supervisor, my best friends) is expecting me to hand in some work, or turn up to workout together, I can’t not do it. So, I set a realistic goal, and then tell people I care about that I am going to meet it.
- Find your squad. I think it’s super important to live your life surrounded by people who also want to be at the top of their game in everything they do. My friends inspire me, and make me want to be the best person I can be. Don’t let your squad down.
- Remind yourself why. Everyone has days when they really just don’t want to get up and deal with their responsibilities. It sometimes helps me to think back to how amazing I felt when I found out I got offered my PhD, or won a race, and channel that happy-energy into keeping going down the path I’m on (even on my worst days, deep down, I really do love what I do).
- Look the part. I’m not sure if this is just me, but I’m much more likely to work harder if I match the image in my head of what a ‘successful’ person should look like. Even if I’m working from home, and could easily stay in my PJs all day, I feel much better about myself (and am therefore more faaar more likely to be productive) if I get dressed and feel good about myself.
- Treat yo’self. Although, yes, I am really pretty broke, I still find that rewarding myself once I manage to complete a particularly onerous set of tasks really does help to motivate me. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive – I actually have a ‘wish list’ of objects / experiences I really want ranging from the super-cheap to the completely ridiculous, so I can pick a reward for myself depending on how skint I am at any given time.
Hard as it is sometimes, I try and use all of these techniques to help stay focussed and productive across all the important areas of my life (especially my PhD). If anyone has any other tips, I would totally love to hear them.
Hope everyone has a productive week!