Even when you have a mountain of work or a pages long to-do list, it can be hard to get started. It’s so much easier to procrastinate — even if it destroys your productivity.
But whether you need to remove all distractions, take a walk, or revisit your daily goals, there’s bound to be a productivity hack to help you get motivated.
In honor of National Fight Procrastination Day on September 6, we’ve gone through the BI archives to find the best insights on how to beat procrastination and maximize productivity. Here are our 20 essential tips to getting more done:
Streamline email writing. Instead of taking time to compose long emails, try using quick bullet points. Just make sure you’re getting your point across clearly.
Take a short walk. Spending a few minutes outside will help you return to work more focused. In fact, it could boost your productivity by up to 20%.
Eliminate interruptions. Set aside a few hours each day to work uninterrupted. That means no calls, no emails, and no chatting with coworkers. You’ll get a lot more done once you let yourself become fully invested in a project without splitting your attention elsewhere.
Prioritize one thing each day. Tim Ferriss, author of “The Four-Hour Workweek,” fights procrastination by making clear goals every morning. He suggests writing out the tasks that are causing you the most stress and asking, “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?” to decide what should be your number one priority.
Remove distractions. Clear off your desk and close out Facebook and Twitter before starting your work. Eliminating potential distractions will help you get in the right mindset to concentrate. s grabbing a snack once you’ve finished a project.
Break down large projects. Huge tasks can be overwhelming, causing you to keep putting them off. Instead, try breaking down big projects into smaller bits and tackling one thing at a time.
Find your peak time of day. Figure out which point in the day you’re most productive, and keep it distraction-free. Finding these “productivity pockets” will help you maximize your time.
Use the internet to your advantage. Download an app like Evernote that organizes your notes, or one like Selfcontrol that keeps you from checking social media.
Challenge yourself. If you’re bored, you’ll be less motivated to do your best work. Find ways to push yourself and keep your motivation up.
Start a “done list.” At the end of each day, write down what you’ve accomplished. It will help you realize how efficiently you’re working and where you can improve.
Take short breaks. Try the Pomodoro technique, in which you work for 25 solid minutes followed by a three to five minute break to let your brain relax.
Only check your email once an hour. Instead of jumping on every new email the minute it comes in, give yourself specific times to check your inbox. You’ll be able to concentrate on other projects without interruption every time a new message comes in.
Keep yourself accountable. Setting deadlines for yourself is great, but telling another person will keep you accountable for meeting those deadlines.
Try the “under 1o-minutes rule.” If a task can be completed in 10 minutes or less, take care of it right away and move on. You’ll stop pushing off small tasks.
Draw a Venn diagram. GE CMO Beth Comstock uses Venn diagrams to decide where to get started on big projects. She draws three circles for what she has to do, what she loves to do, and what she hates to do, then begins with the overlap between what she has to get done and what she loves.
Get enough sleep. You’re more likely to give in to distractions and waste valuable time if you’re feeling fatigued. You’ll have much more focus if you’re well-rested.
Stay warm. You’re more likely to be productive in a warm office than a cold one, so don’t hesitate to crank up the heat.
Remind yourself why. If you’re struggling to get started on a project, take a few moments to remind yourself why you want to get a certain task finished. It will help you find motivation to get the ball rolling.
Be nice. If you’re too hard on yourself, you’ll push yourself deeper into procrastination. Stop beating yourself up about putting things off and just start.