Faster, better, more accurate – today’s world asks a lot of us. Check out our Stress-Free Tips to be More Productive..

We’re constantly multitasking and being pulled in several directions at once, but it’s never enough. Unfortunately, most methods out there that try to teach you ways to improve your productivity don’t really say much about the extra stress this is likely to cause you.

Luckily, simply finding ways to do more, more, more isn’t the only solution. The idea is to work smarter, not harder, which is why we wanted to share some ways to help you increase your productivity without also increasing your stress levels.

Start with a daily plan

It may sound counterintuitive to give yourself more to do (creating a plan!) in order to make yourself more productive and ease stress, but this is one that really works. Why?

When we have a lot to do and it isn’t organized in front of us, it tends to blow up to ridiculous proportions in our minds so that we lose focus and get overwhelmed, leading to less getting done. Creating a daily plan lets you clearly see what you need to do, prioritize, and – perhaps most importantly – check things off as you finish them. This will let you watch your own progression and invigorate you as the list shrinks.

Take breaks

That sounds pretty stress-free, right? Except for the fact breaks take away from valuable work time! How in the heck are you ever going to be able to finish if you’re breaking all the time?

And that right there is why breaks are important. When work gets too heavy, we stress out and our minds can’t handle it – this is also true after working for a certain period of time without a pause. Breaking gives our minds time to recharge and think of creative solutions to problems so that, when we come back to the work, we’re raring to go.

Focus on one thing at a time

Again, we come back to that idea of getting overwhelmed, but it’s important to think about ways to deal with it, because it’s one of the biggest reasons why productivity isn’t higher. No matter how long your to-do list is, the most efficient way to complete it is to go through it one thing at a time.

The only exception is if your brain just can’t seem to wrap itself around a particular task. If that’s the case with you on a particular day, skip that task and move on to something else that doesn’t seem as intimidating. You’ll be so relieved that you might find yourself surprised at how easy that task is, and that confidence will transfer over when you go back to the tougher job.

Group similar tasks together

Generally speaking, you probably don’t just read and answer one email before moving on to a different task, right? Of course not. You check your inbox for what’s new and needs to be addressed and take care of each one, probably getting faster as you go along and your brain gets used to the rhythm of writing emails.

Well, the same thing is true of just about any task. If you’ve got reports to write or files to QC or data to manage, those things focus your brain in a certain way, so doing similar work together should make it go faster and seem easier.

Find something you love

Ideally, this means a job or a career that you truly enjoy, but we know that is a lot easier said than done. But even if you can’t find work that makes you eager to get up and go every morning, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find something you like about it. Figure out what that is about your job and keep it in mind, because research shows that people are both happier and more productive when they can actually engage in their work and get excited about it.

Related:

Maybe Time Management Isn’t So Great After All

Ferina Santos

Ferina Santos is part of the team behind Open Colleges, Australia's provider of graphic design courses. A feisty nerd at heart with an obsession for vanity, she captures all her random musings with daily photographs in her blog, A Pink Banana.

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