5 Tips To Keep You Productive

Sometimes I get that feeling that I just can’t keep going on. I lose focus and have a hard time getting anything done unless completely necessary. I’ve found that while there may be different reasons for this, a lot of it comes down to small changes in my own life that took the wind out of my productivity. I’ve also found ways that can fire me right back up and help me either completely get over a slump, or power right through it.

1. Find a rut but keep it shallow

I find that when I get into a routine, I’m able to focus much better. When I have my favorite notepad and favorite pen, at my favorite desk with my favorite soundtrack playing I’m able to buckle down and crank through any task put in front of me. Finding this routine is not always easy, and takes experimentation but when you find it, remember it and stick to it until it stops working…

2. Make a change

When I stay in a routine for too long I start to feel really bored of it and sometimes that boredom and familiarity can even convert to discontent towards that routine. I start to loathe all those things that helped me get through my work in the past and I have to make a change. I’ll change radio stations in Pandora, the type of music I play, the setting, the temperature or even the outfit I like to wear when working. That change usually happens with the seasons. Wearing sweats when Spring is in full swing really makes me hate Winter and I have to change into Spring mode. The biggest changes I typically make when I’m feeling stuck is the setting, working with my laptop instead of at a desk or vise versa, and the time of day that I work. These make a huge difference to my productivity.

3. Get away

Stepping away from my work, for a minute or an hour and doing something else really helps get ideas flowing again. I like to take walks, and showers but always keep my phone on hand so I can record things in Evernote as they come to me. It’s interesting that thinking about something completely different than what I was working on will spark thoughts that help both areas move along.

4. Exercise

Exercise is my biggest tool to being productive. I don’t know if it’s the endorphins or the blood flow to my head, but if I’m ever feeling crappy and unproductive it’s usually because I haven’t worked out in a few days. I’ll even plan my workouts in the time right before I plan to sit down and get things done. There’s nothing like a brisk run or bout of kickboxing to melt away the stress and built up frustration of the rest of your day and let you focus on what you need to get done.

5. Feel the rhythm

Music is really important and studies have shown that having some background music when working increases productivity. I have to agree, but I’ll also say that the type of music has a huge affect on how I feel, think and work. I like to listen to something peaceful when I’m doing work I don’t like because that keeps my heart rate down as I get frustrated. And when I’m working on something I’m excited about, I’ll listen to music that is exciting, fast, loud and fun. Find your rhythm and go with it.

What tips do you have for productivity?

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10 People have left comments on this post

» krantcentsNo Gravatar said: { Apr 22, 2011 - 04:04:54 }

For me, a list works! It feels good to check things off and it keeps me focused on what is important.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

sometimes lists work for me but sometimes they have a halting effect if they are too big and I get paralyzed just thinking about everything I have to do. Keeping a short list of the most important things can help there though.

» SquirrelersNo Gravatar said: { Apr 22, 2011 - 04:04:30 }

These are good tips. I too find excerise to be a good way to get the mind/body able to refocus and be productive.

Another one, that some my scoff at but I stand by it, is sleeping more. Yep, stopping the late nights of work (or laziness, watching tv, etc) and shutting it down for regular sleep. I know that I’m much more productive when rested. It’s almost like the investment of time in sleep pays for itself later.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

SLEEP! Yes I agree. It’s one I should have mentioned but actually got enough of the previous night and didn’t think about. It’s so important to help your whole body be in tune. Speaking of which, I wonder if I can nap on my lunch break…

» UntemplaterNo Gravatar said: { Apr 23, 2011 - 02:04:41 }

I change the music I’m listening to all the time depending on what I’m trying to do. If I’m writing, the music needs to be soft and without lyrics otherwise I end up listening to the words of the songs instead of the words in my head that I need to write. 🙂 If I’m cleaning the house I’ll usually put on fun upbeat songs with lyrics I know by heart so that I can sing along and the chore of cleaning doesn’t feel as boring. I use lists for everything to and try to check it multiple times a day to keep myself moving. -Sydney

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Yep! I do the same thing. The music really does change the way you work and how you mind operates at the time. I play Yanni or instrumental guitar when I’m writing. It helps the ideas flow and is soothing, but not so much I’ll fall asleep. When I work out, I need lyrics I know by heart and can sing loud and clear 🙂

» Timo KianderNo Gravatar said: { Apr 27, 2011 - 12:04:25 }

Great tips!

I find the points 3 and 4 to be very important, because they are definitely helping me to clear my head and at the same time give me new ideas for my next projects. Point 5 is especially helpful, when I want to finish a task, which I find repetitive or boring.

I’m a big fan of working in the morning hours (before hitting the office) with my timer software on. That way I can fully focus to a task at hand.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Yea, I think exercise is probably the most powerful of all the tips. I’m amazed at what a little brisk jog or even slow walk can do for my thoughts. I used to work in the mornings but have since shifted to late nights. I’m all over the place, I’m a morning person AND a night owl 🙂

» 101 CentavosNo Gravatar said: { Jul 5, 2011 - 09:07:02 }

#3 is a good one. When dealing with a large project, taking mini-breaks, getting up and going visiting for a while or walking around the shop clears my mind and gets me set for another session.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

It sure helps to step away doesn’t it!

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