9 Not-So-Hard Tips For A More Productive 2012

Your plan to get your taxes done early has gone out the window. You consistently feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day, between friends, work, eating and sleeping. And, oh yeah, that knitting project you started in 2008 is never going to get done. That’s because you aren’t living your life as productively as you could be. But that’s okay, because we’re going to help you fix that. Really! First though, put down your iPhone and focus. Eyes up here!

1. Spot the patterns in your day. 
Amelia is really good at tracking her productivity over the day, and adjusting her workflow to adapt to that. As she explains, “I tend to be a more productive writer in the morning and in the late afternoon and evening.” She saves a lot of her multi-tasking and administrative tasks for midday. I find that I’m a better and more cogent writer in the morning, and my brain just sort of gives out by mid-afternoon, and wants to look at pretty pictures so that’s when I make slideshows. Now you know how The Frisky works, guys!

2. Identify your stress points and tackle them first. For some of us, it’s absolutely imperative that we have a clean desk. For others, it’s getting our email inboxes down to zero. If you don’t take the time out to identify and deal with those things that you personally find stressful, you’ll find yourself unable to completely focus on the tasks in front of you. Coming in a half hour early one day and cleaning your work space may save you hours and hours in lost productivity over a month, while  clearing out your inbox may just give you the peace of mind to move forward on a new project without feeling as though there’s unfinished business lingering over you.

3. Determine your ideal working environment. Many of the Frisky-ers — including Amelia and Winona — say they’re most productive when listening to classical music, because they get rather distracted when listening to music with lyrics. I get distracted by noise. Like, any noise. And so I have to listen to music to drown out noise. In fact, I have a mix called “The music I listen to when Ami eats carrots” on Spotify. It’s really good! You should check it out. Anyway! Music, no music, with people or alone — determine what your ideal environment is and make that happen (to the best of your abilities).  

4. Create a Do-Not-Do list. Maybe you have a bunch of timewasting habits that blow your productivity, like, say, browsing your Flickr photos for hours on end, or (raises hand) going on insane cleaning binges when you’re having an especially stressful day. If you’ve got a big project or goal in mind, create a Do-Not-Do List, with your most addictive bad activities in mind. Keeping a visual list of those things that are prone to keeping you off track can be helpful in keeping you on task.

5. Utilize internet browser blocking add-ons. Add-Ons like Blocksite give users the ability to limit their access to certain websites for as long as they want. If you find that checking your email or Facebook is getting in the way of finishing something, you may want to look into putting temporary (or even permanent) blocks on these sites.  

6. Do personal interneting and calling from home. This is one of Jess’s tricks. She does all of her personal emailing on her way to work, so that when she gets into the office, she’s ready to get right down to business, and doesn’t spend the first 10 or 15 minutes catching up on personal biz. Smart!

7. Save unpleasant stuff for when you’re feeling good. If you’re in a bad frame of mind, you’re more likely to find a reason not to buckle down and do your taxes, or pay your bills. So take advantage of a good mood and take care of typically unpleasant tasks. Better yet, the next time you’re in a good mood, take a moment to automate as many of your bills as you can — that way you won’t have to waste precious future good moods on rote administrative tasks.

8. Make to-do lists. Make and keep to your To-Do lists, and fill those lists not just with big whopping tasks, but also small ones. I find that if your to-do list is only filled with things like, “Write Novel” and “Clean Apartment,” you’re less likely to actually tackle anything. But by breaking things down into digestible chunks, you’ll find your to-do list might be longer, but it’ll also be easier to accomplish. And don’t forget to put easy and fun things on that list, too. My lists also involve things like: “Get Manicure” or “Find New Band to Listen To” so that I’ll feel like I accomplished more.

9. Be smarter with your technology. I could spend a zillion hours telling you about all the apps out there designed to make your life easier/better/thinner/more beautiful. Suffice it say, there really is something for everything. But! What’s most important is that you figure out what you need, and don’t clutter up your life and phone and computer with things you don’t. I find that just keeping a list in my phone’s notepad of frequently purchased grocery store items helps remind me of what I need or don’t need to buy at the store. And putting the events I’m going to in my iCal ensures I won’t miss out on something really fun (or a really, super exciting Frisky meeting).

Okay, so those are our nine tips. What do you do to be more productive? Share your tips in the comments!