Five productivity tools that will triple your output

I’ve always suffered from writer’s block. That’s a big problem for me now because, well, I’m a blogger.

As recently as two months ago, I had to push myself to produce two articles a month. Now, I can easily write one an article a week- two or three if I push myself. And at the same time, I’ve become more diligent about answering emails and better at serving my fitness coaching clients.

Here are the five things tools I’ve used to triple my productivity in one month.

1. A very short to-do list

I got this wrong for a long time. When I first started keeping a to-do list, I loaded it up with way too many items- about 6–10 a day.

A good to-do list should get you to focus on just ONE big task at a time. Ideally one a day, although two a day- one in the morning and one in the afternoon/evening- can be workable.

Break that task down into steps and schedule them for specific times during the day. Focus on one big thing and avoid getting bogged down with all the little to-dos.

2. Self control

No, not the personal quality. I’m talking about an app.

Self Control is an app I use to temporarily block distracting websites like reddit from my laptop so I can focus on work. It’s Mac exclusive- other apps like Cold Turkey, Freedom, or Stay Focusd for Chrome, do the same thing.

I’ll set a timer for however long I want to focus on work- anywhere from half an hour to a whole day- and then get to work, without stopping to browse the internet every five minutes.

3. My energy journal

The energy journal is a tool I created to track my energy level so I could fix my low energy and consequently terrible productivity.

By tracking my energy level hour by hour, throughout the day, I was able to figure out what was causing my chronic fatigue and brain fog. By fixing a few things about my diet and daily routine, I was able to bring my energy level during the workday from an average of 2/5, to an average of 4/5. And once I had more energy, it was easy to get more work done.

Your diet, environment and lifestyle can impact your productivity and energy level in many different ways. The best way to figure this out is

4. Light

One of the things I discovered while using my energy journal was that I get tired in dimly lit environments, and work faster in well-lit environments.

Unfortunately, my office has fogged windows- necessary for privacy, but they keep it dim inside. Once I realized that the low light level was making me tired, I moved an extra lamp into my office to keep it lit up. I also started working outside whenever I had the opportunity.

The human brain uses light as a signal to wake up and get to work- make sure your workspace is as well-lit as possible.

5. A standing desk

This is actually an old habit that I had fallen out of recently. People think and act faster when standing up vs sitting down. Back in my sales days, I would stand up for phone calls and sit down for emails and research. More recently, I don’t really do a lot of phone calls, so I’d stopped using this trick. As it turns out, that was a mistake.

When I tried writing while standing up, my writing speed immediately doubled. Now I write while standing up as much as possible- usually at the kitchen counter.

When you want to work faster or think faster, stand up. When you need to relax, sit down.

Become more productive today

Getting more work done isn’t rocket science. You don’t need a bunch of expensive tools or complicated systems. In fact, the tools listed here are the only ones I use on a regular basis.

It’s mostly a matter of having the right habits. Your habits will determine how well you use your time and energy, and how effective you are at everything you do.

That’s why I created The Habit Change Cheat Sheet. It shows you the five most effective ways to change a habit, as well as how to decide which of the five techniques to use for any given habit. Click here to get The Habit Change Cheat Sheet now.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.