Sometimes needing to do something and wanting to do it are very, very different things. It’s easy to recognize needs. We all know we need to go through the mail or we might miss a bill. We need to pay for electricity or the lights will go out. We need to finish work projects or we won’t have money to pay the electricity bill…etc. Unfortunately, recognizing a need doesn’t always give us the desire to complete the task over doing something more fun. So how do we stay productive when the siren song of Netflix is calling us?
Do the Big Things First
Blogger James Clear calls this “the only productivity tip you’ll ever need.” The idea is this: as soon as you wake up, immediately do the biggest item on your to-do list. Anything else you get done that day will be icing on the cake. This is a sure-fire method of consistently getting important tasks done, even if it’s all you do that day.
I don’t know about anyone else, but this tip goes directly against my instincts. I tend to look at my to-do list for the easy things, because when I complete them, I feel like I’m getting things done. Sometimes, this creates momentum that allows me to continue to the more important tasks…but it’s more often the case that I feel like I’ve done enough for the day and I reschedule the big task for later. Doing the big thing first seems like a tip worth trying, at least for me.
Don’t Get Distracted
The Internet can turn on you so quickly; one minute you’re just hopping online to check your email, and next thing you know you’re reading the Wikipedia page about clown movies and you can’t quite remember how you got there. The Internet can be a great tool when you’re trying to work, but you have to tread cautiously so you don’t get distracted. But don’t worry: there’s an app for that…well, at least six apps. Here is an article from Mashable that describes six different apps you can use to temporarily keep yourself from the distracting side of the Internet.
Just Say No
Sometimes, things just happen and it’s genuinely not our fault when we haven’t gotten anything done. Sometimes there is a technical difficulty, or a family emergency. Sometimes, however, we have simply promised too much of our time to other people. For some people, it is really difficult to say no. Especially if it’s someone you love who is asking, and/or if it’s something you really want to do. There have been many times when I have abandoned important tasks because my friends wanted to go out to dinner or see a movie…and I just couldn’t disappoint them, now, could I?
Not over-scheduling is the most difficult productivity tip for me, but I realize its importance. Part of it is figuring out how much time you really have, and not volunteering for more than you have time to do. Part of it is being more productive when you are working (by completing big tasks first and blocking out distractions, perhaps) so that you can say yes when an opportunity arises. But, unfortunately, part of the solution is simply learning to say “no”. If you’re stumped on how to practice this, About.com has an article about the art of saying no, which you can read here.
Productivity can be a difficult thing to accomplish, even when we know we need to get things done. Hopefully these tips will help with the process of forming good habits. And just think, getting a little more done each day will allow you to watch a little Netflix guilt-free!
Do you have any favorite productivity tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments!