12 Ways To Be More Productive That Actually Work

"I'm busy" is probably the second most popular phrase I hear from pretty much everyone around me. I've learned not to believe every person who tells me that. I am not necessarily calling them liars. It's just that most people seem to be oblivious of the differences between "busy" and "productive". Have you ever heard a productive person complain about being too productive? I know I haven't.

Yes, your day may be busy, if you like to say so. We hear it all the time. Packed with meetings, tasks and deadlines. This can give you the excuse to procrastinate. If the idea of having everything written down or seeing it on your calendar sounds overwhelming, please take a second to realize that you can find ways to breathe through your "busy" days just by learning to be more "productive".

I'm here to tell you that there are ways to fight your "There's not enough time" attitude if you just learn to stop procrastinating and manage your time better.

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"Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before."
-Franz Kafka

  1. Stop waiting for dream-like conditions to launch your project. Act immediately to fuel a positive outcome that builds up excitement.
  2. Start your own routine. I'm not asking you to walk and talk like a robot but do have a schedule. It's no secret that most successful people are following a specific morning routine to prepare for the day.
  3. Use e-mail effectively. Most of us have acquired some bad e-mail habits over the years and mine is that I spend way too much time crafting e-mails, making sure they are nicely aligned and well-worded. You're not going to get nominated for a Pulitzer based on your e-mail writing efforts so just keep them short and to the point.
  4. Write down your goals and put them in full display at a place where you feel productive. Revisit them every day. Kyber is a wonderful app for "To-do lists" but it extends to making communications with others more effective, such as delegation and scheduling.
  5. Stop reading other people's success stories. It's one thing getting inspiration from people "who made it" and another being obsessed with them. Create your own golden story.
  6. Use keyboard shortcuts to their full potential. I'm sure you know your way to Windows keyboard shortcuts by now, but do you know the most efficient way around Photoshop, Outlook and even Netflix (because hey, relaxation is every mastermind's life hack)?
  7. Cut down on your every day meetings. Most of your meetings are a waste of time and there is proof for it. Keep only the essential ones in your task schedule.
  8. Drink more water. I would write this in caps but I'm afraid I'm going to come off as a crazy lady who enjoys internet confrontations. I mean it though. Try upping your water intake for a week or two and you'll notice a difference in your energy levels immediately.
  9. Use the "sets of reps" technique. This is what I like to call it anyway. Work hard for an hour, then take a 10 minute break to take a walk around your office (or home if you work from there) and take a deep breath. Keep this cycle going. You might want to try a different ratio. Research shows that an effective ratio is 90 minutes straight with a 15 minute break. Find your pace and stick with it.
  10. Exploit your commute time. With Americans spending over 100 hours a year commuting to work, there is no doubt there is room for improvement. If you drive to work, you can listen to informational and entertaining podcasts that (surprise!) are useful for you and your work. If you, on the other hand, use public transportation for work, you can catch up on the latest news in your industry through your iPad or you can get lost in a couple of e-books.
  11. Turn off everything. I realize that this can't happen for the entire day since you will probably need to use e-mail or Slack with your colleagues but when you have to deliver something, whether that's a new presentation or a press release, just get lost. Stop checking your Linkedin timeline every 15 minutes. Go to a coffee shop across the street, turn off your phone and work within your deadline. You can expect massive results from that alone.
  12. Sofia Katsali is a Social Media & Online Community Manager, Co-Founder of the non-profit organization Echelon Donates & has a BSc in Computer Science. She has been interviewed by MTV Act for her online work and has a great passion for all things digital, entertainment and design. You can find her in Linkedin and Twitter where she occasionally shares her personal experiences.