Ah, productivity. Just like motivation, it's the thing that always slips away from us and is hard to catch. In fact, they are quite similar, intertwined even. Be it work on personal affairs, we need to stay productive to keep up. Let's go through some tips that will help you to stay on track no matter what.
Yes, we haven't even started talking about work yet, but breaks are even more important than actual work. Why do you ask? You see, our productivity is a very fragile thing. No one can be focused 8 hours straight, and you need to take breaks. What I'm trying to do is work 30 minutes, and getting a 5-minute break. This way, you'll have the chance to relax and recharge a little, and even come up with a few new ideas while you're at it. Many people tend to ignore the importance of breaks, and that's why they suffer in both the short and long term: burnout is very real.
Burnout is something that is very easy to ignore, but insufferably hard to treat. The trick with it is that the longer you ignore it, the more time you'll need to recover. Imagine that you have just started a new job, and you have an energy rating of five. Everything seems fine, you work to your full potential, don't take any breaks whatsoever, and work more than you have to. With every day, your energy will get lower. Yes, you will recharge with sleep a bit, but it won't be enough. Eventually, you will get to zero. That's when it gets very alarming and you NEED to take action. The problem here is ignoring low energy, or even never feeling that it is low. And the last stage of all this is when your energy drops to negative numbers. If you ignored your need to take a longer break, your body and mind will make you do so, and it will be a long one. Anyways. Stop. Take a vacation. Don't chase after big money or positions, just do your job a little over the top, not by a Burj Khalifa over the top, or you'll burn out.
Productive people don't do everything out of the blue and on the spot. Yes, these things are inevitable and will happen, but you can spare yourself from most of the decision-making every day by planning your week ahead. There are countless apps for this like Asana or Trello, just take your pick. Then, pick a day when you'll be able to just sit down with a cup of tea or any other preferred beverage and plan. It would be great if you could do it on a Sunday evening, as it is better to be fully relaxed to do this properly. There is a good reason behind all of this. Like I said before, it will decrease the number of decisions you make every day. Those are the main reason you get tired, so let's cut these out of your system, shall we?
Don't Wait For Motivation
This comes straight from my experience. As a person who deems himself a creative one, I was always stuck in this mindset of "there's no motivation", and it's one of the biggest mistakes that I've made. Let me explain why. Motivation is a very relative thing: some can argue that it doesn't even exist. For me, it's just a set of the right circumstances. We, as human beings, are always influenced by countless factors, starting from getting your Amazon package with goodies on time and finishing with compensation raises or whatever. What you need to do, is start working before you get motivated. Working is the way to get it, and you have to make it a habit. It's a hard thing to do for most people because of the mindset that I've described earlier, but you need to do it. Get up, start doing what you need to do, and all the puzzle pieces will start coming together.
It's hard to do one thing at a time, but more than one is basically impossible. You're not Julius Caesar or something, so don't try doing more than you can handle. Trying to do many things at once is like those places that do pizza, sushi, Chinese, and Mexican all at once. By trying to cater to all the popular foods they fail to do even one of those good. Be fair to yourself and focus on only one task at once, finish it, and get to the other one.
Listen to Yourself
We are all different: different energy levels, schedules, mood fluctuations, and the good stuff. To get better at being productive, you have to listen to your body and mind. If you feel that you are more productive at a certain time, do all the hard tasks then, leaving all the smaller ones for the rest of the day. It's always better to do the hardest things first because you are at your peak energy, so try to do them before all the others. If you are exhausted and can't think clearly, there is only so much you can do. You won't be productive and there's nothing you can do about it today: no coffee or energy drinks will give you enough energy to do your stuff.
Learn to Say 'No'
Opportunities come and go, and when they come, we are all very tempted to say 'yes' right away. I get it, it's only natural to do so. Even if you don't think or don't want to admit it, but we're all very competitive and want to do more to get more from our jobs and our lives. Although these things are quite understandable, let's think clearly and remember all the things that we discussed above. Consider your workload. Won't you get overwhelmed with work if you take this new project? Chances are you will. I believe that everybody has enough tasks as it is, so please, think clearly before accepting anything new. There is nothing bad with saying 'no' sometimes. Yes, it might be quite uncomfortable, but it's in everybody's best interest for you to stay healthy and productive.
A Sprint and a Marathon
There is no one universal advice you can follow to complete every single task with maximum efficiency and productivity. There are many different tasks, and the only one you. More importantly, they all differ in how long it takes to complete them. That's why you'll have to learn how to be a sprinter as well as to be a marathoner. Some things require immediate attention and results, others require dedication and time, remember that. If you have a short task that needs to be done today, make the most of this day and do your best. It's a short distance with very limited time, so don't waste it. If there is a long task ahead of you, pace yourself. Start every day with full energy. You won't even notice days go by, and in a month or so, everything will be done!
Trust Your Team
We all work in teams, so why not use this little fact to get better results? When you feel that there is too much on your plate, ask your colleagues to help out. You have to build trust between you, so you better help them when they ask to, this way there will be a good relationship right from the start. What I want you to remember is that you don't have to do everything alone: most of the work can be done faster with a team effort. Trust those around you, and your job will be a lot easier than ever before.