What does a successful week look like to you?
We would be productive, not distracted. We would be focused, not disorganized.
But how do we increase productivity without sacrificing our personal life? How do we stay focused and organized, without succumbing to burnout?
Fortunately, there are proven systems and techniques to help you manage your tasks–without losing your mind. Below, we’ve put together a list of productivity life hacks to help you achieve a successful week. This way, you can spend less time feeling stressed and disorganized, and more time doing what you love.
Put a date on it
It’s so easy to drag our heels on tasks like renewing a driver’s license or filing our taxes or getting an annual physical. If you find yourself pushing it off, commit yourself to the task by putting a date on it.
You can set an internal commitment with yourself by putting something on the calendar. Or create an external commitment by making an appointment with the accountant or the DMV or the doctor’s office.
Now that the date is set you have to follow through.
Create short deadlines for dream goals
Our dream goals are usually self-motivated. Maybe it’s running a marathon or writing a book or traveling the world. But without external deadlines, our goals can fall by the wayside.
The trick is to create short deadlines for these dream goals.
A little pressure can be a good thing. It puts a fire underneath us to get moving. Create external pressure for yourself by setting short deadlines for your big goals. Commit to doing something by the end of each day or week. The idea isn’t to achieve your entire goal in that time frame, but to ensure that you get moving. You might even surprise yourself and accomplish more than you thought you would.
Find a goal-setting buddy
Speaking of external pressure, keep yourself honest with your goals by having a goal setting buddy.
Studies show that we’re more likely to achieve a goal or new habit if we have someone who will hold us accountable.
Finding it hard to buckle down and write that screenplay? Tell a friend that you’ll email them the first five pages by the end of the week.
Looking to maintain your exercise routine? Set a date with a friend for a run in the park.
Want to read more books this year? Share what you’re reading on social media.
The encouragement from others will keep you motivated and on top of your goal.
Do small tasks during long waits
If long waits are your biggest bane, you can utilize this extended time by knocking off small, mundane tasks. Or, use this time to do something that you’ve been meaning to do.
- Stuck in a long line at the pharmacy? Respond to texts or emails.
- Stuck in traffic? Listen to a podcast or an audiobook.
- Long wait at the doctor’s office? Read a book.
Keep a running list
It’s surprising how much time we can waste when we’re trying to relax. Cue: endlessly scrolling through Netflix, trying to find a movie to watch.
Instead of using your precious free time figuring out what to watch, keep a Google doc with a running list of TV shows/movies you’re interested in. The next time you find yourself wondering what to watch, refer to your list.
This list doesn’t solely have to be for TV. You can keep a similar running list for books or recipes or self-care activities. You can even keep a gift list for friends and loved ones. Any time a gift idea pops into your head, write it down. Come holiday season, you won't have to rack your brain for meaningful gifts and will know exactly what to get.
Combine a chore with something fun
It’s easier to get through our to-do list if we combine our chores with something entertaining.
- Clean your house while listening to a podcast.
- Use commercial breaks to do some dishes or clear your coffee table.
- Run errands but take the scenic route. Or stop at a coffee shop along the way and treat yourself to a fancy beverage.
Conduct a weekly planning session
A weekly planning session keeps you apprised of your progress and your pending work.
With your planner, look back on what you accomplished this week. Use this time to celebrate your hard work and reflect on what went well. Did you find that you were more energized in the mornings? Were you able to stay committed to tasks after writing them down? Take note of these successes and try to recreate that winning formula for the upcoming week.
Next, look back on the week and see what work still needs to be done. Put these pending items on your to-do list for the upcoming week.
Give yourself something to look forward to
I am someone who constantly needs small treats to motivate myself. Positive reinforcement is a small but mighty way to jumpstart your work and sustain your progress.
- Need to meet a work deadline? Tell yourself that you’ll be allowed to go on Instagram, after you work for thirty minutes.
- Want to meet a fitness goal? Buy yourself cute new workout clothes if you meet your fitness goals that month.
- Want to clean your house? Light a candle after your hard work and relax in your clean and organized space.
As you can see, the treats don’t have to be anything extravagant. A little treat or pick-me-up can go a long way towards making you feel good about yourself and the work you’ve done. Contrary to popular belief, productivity isn’t just about firing on all cylinders. We need to give ourselves rewards and breaks for all the hard work we’ve put in. Otherwise, the productivity techniques will only lead to stress and burnout.
So remember to give yourself breaks and to treat yourself throughout the day and the week. And if you feel like you weren’t particularly productive on a given day, don’t sweat it. There’s always room for improvement the next day and the next week.
When it comes to having a successful week, there’s always a chance to turn things around and make big gains.