7 Strategies to Increase Your Productivity

Firing on all cylinders can quickly lead to burnout if we spend most of our time on tasks that are not important or productive.

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In a world of what seems like never-ending to-do lists, most of us are trying to find ways to do more in less time. As a founder of several ventures, mom, author, coach/consultant and trainer, I am often asked how I do it all. It's not easy to manage many projects while remaining present for my family and friends. Still, some strategies can help increase productivity while you embrace the freedom of self-care, spend time with family and friends and, sometimes, do nothing. However, that freedom doesn't feel free when we return to a list that has grown since we were away. I know what this feels like. But I also know what it feels like to increase my productivity to enjoy my free time. Here are my tips.

1. Keep your house and workspace clean.

Some of us prefer to work in organized chaos, but in my experience, that isn't as helpful as you may have led yourself to believe. Having a clean and decluttered environment allows thoughts to flow more freely. If you don't have time to clean, consider hiring someone to clean for you once a week or twice a month. You may find that the service isn't as expensive as you think, and it's one more thing you can cross off your to-do list while enjoying the luxury of operating in a clean environment.

2. Exercise.

I will not belabor the health benefits of working out, but I will add that working out helps clear your mind and allows new thoughts and ideas to enter. I love taking a 30-minute walk or run in the mornings. The fresh air fills my lungs and allows me time away from answering the phone or checking messages. Some days, I listen to music or a book; other days, I listen to myself. You may prefer a gym, yoga studio or other location. Regardless of where you choose to exercise, give yourself a chance to clear your mind at least three times a week.

3. Journal.

This isn't a sappy, emotional journal (although there is nothing wrong with those) but a space for you to keep all your ideas. I have notebooks all over my house. I have a life goals notebook with my big ideas, a project journal where I map out how to get the idea from thought to reality, a writing prompts journal with all the articles and books I want to write, and a daily/weekly to-do journal to keep my current projects in front of me. You may prefer to keep these lists electronically or, like me, you might prefer pen and paper. The important thing is to get all this information out of your head. Sometimes we find ourselves trying to retain so much information that we don't have room for new information.

4. Invest in your intake.

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it can be challenging to find time to absorb new information. Podcasts and audiobooks are an ideal solution. You can listen during your commute to and from work, during your exercise time, as a wind down at night, or during your lunch break. Be intentional about finding 30 minutes to one hour each day to absorb new information. This will keep fresh ideas flowing into your business, help you stay abreast of what is happening in your industry, or gain valuable insights through biographies and autobiographies.

5. Eat more brain foods.

Let's face it; some foods zap our energy. Avoid those foods when you need to be productive, and create a weekly diet filled with food that helps you function optimally. Be intentional about meal planning for the week by stocking up on healthy foods that you can grab for breakfast if you don't have time to cook, healthy snacks so that chips and cookies don't become your go-to, and lunches that aren't so heavy they put you to sleep in the middle of your day.

6. Schedule downtime.

Of course, you want to schedule your meetings and important events, but don't forget to schedule friend/family time and self-care. If you put it on your calendar, it is a sign that it is important. If you are not using a calendar, that needs to be a top priority. Don't try to keep everything in your head. Put it on paper (or in your electronic calendar) so you can see what your day, week and month ahead look like. If you know you have time planned for fun activities, you'll work harder knowing there is a reward. It also helps family and friends know that as you are working toward your goals, you are also making time for them in your life. Too often, we dedicate time to important work activities and give the rest of our lives whatever is left over. Creating balance is not about splitting time 50/50; it's about ensuring we are making time for what is important to us.

7. Outsource and delegate.

When looking at your to-do list, consider the tasks you can outsource or delegate. Outsourcing involves hiring a professional, while delegating is assigning the task to someone who reports to you. What tasks do you want to do but don't have for? Each week when making your to-do list, be critical and determine what is necessary for you to do and what can be done by someone else, even if they don't do it exactly as you would do it.

Firing on all cylinders can quickly lead to burnout if we spend most of our time on tasks that are not important or productive. As important as the tasks are, it is equally important to create an environment that fosters productivity.

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