How To Be Productive: A Complete Guide With Steps And Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It is rewarding to lead a productive lifestyle. Cultivating habits and improving your efficiency help you achieve more within a prescribed time. While being productive comes naturally to some people, it is a skill you can develop. In this article, we discuss the definition of productivity, its benefits, how to be productive and tips to help develop this skill.

What is productivity?

Productivity is the rate of consistently completing tasks in a personal or professional setup. It necessitates optimising time to generate a thorough output that requires minimal corrections. Assessing productivity requires understanding the time spent on a task and the results generated. Excellent professional productivity helps businesses thrive and provides better opportunities with increased responsibility. Similarly, personal productivity allows you to focus on hobbies, spend time with friends and family or develop a new skill.

Benefits of being productive

Being productive is a value in your professional and personal life. It allows you to determine your efficiency levels and determine ways to improve them. An efficient professional contributes immensely to their company. Similarly, personal productivity improves the quality of life. There are several other benefits of being productive, such as:

  • An organised lifestyle with reduced stress

  • More time to engage in new activities

  • Enhanced focus

  • Ability to work with minimal or no errors

  • Healthy lifestyle

  • Improved work-life balance

Related: Organisational Skills: Definition and Examples

How to be productive

It is vital to understand that productivity requires a consistent and systematic approach before you learn how to be productive. Engaging in several activities help create your routine and improve your productivity. Here are a few steps you can follow to lead a more productive life:

1. Make a to-do list

Begin your day by drafting a list of tasks you wish to complete. Curate this list based on tasks that require completion within the day or week. It also benefits from identifying the work that requires immediate attention. The to-do list helps you track your progress. Strike out the tasks from your to-do list as and when you finish it, as it helps boost confidence to continue working.

2. Make small goals

Split your project work to create smaller goals. It is easier to complete smaller tasks without feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list. Set a timeline for each small goal so you may complete the final project within time.

For example, if you wish to clean your room, make that your milestone. Set smaller goals such as 'clear the desk,' 'clean the cupboard' and 'arrange the bookshelf.' You may then allocate specific hours or days to complete each task.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

3. Designate a fixed workplace

It is essential to have a fixed workplace, as this helps you create a consistent routine. It could be a desk in your room or even an office space. Creating such a space helps improve your focus on your tasks. Additionally, ensure your workplace is neat. Placing too many items on your desk may become a cause of distraction.

4. Be accountable for your work

Set an accountability relationship with a friend, family member or colleague. You may intimate one another as and when tasks are complete to keep each other motivated and stay focused. It also benefits when you are trying to form a habit, such as achieving a daily goal of walking 10,000 steps or reading a chapter from a book.

5. Group your tasks

Try to complete similar tasks one after the other. It helps the brain stay focused and makes it easier to complete multiple assignments. It also saves time by avoiding the steps you may take for similar tasks. For example, designate set hours to check your email instead of checking it every time you get a notification, or finish all tasks that require you to step out of the house in one go, such as running errands and picking up children from school.

6. Stay focused

Remove all distractions from your desk while you work. Ensure colleagues, friends, and family members do not disturb you during important tasks. You may also choose to switch off the television, music or even your mobile. Limiting distractions is key to ensuring you complete the tasks on your to-do list on time.

Related: How To Stay Focused When You Work From Home

7. Try to minimise multitasking

When possible, focus on one task at a time from start to finish. It allows you to concentrate on all aspects of the project and produces efficient results. When you try to do multiple tasks at once, your brain constantly shifts focus, and it may take longer to complete a task than usual.

8. Identify your productive hours

Track your tasks to identify what helps you stay productive throughout the day. It may be smaller tasks, such as starting your day with a cup of coffee or exercising. Track them for at least a week before determining your productive hours and habits that help you focus. Identifying behavioural patterns helps structure your time efficiently. It also helps determine the hours when your productivity is the highest. You may choose to work on priority tasks in these hours to ensure you can effectively concentrate and complete them.

9. Create a routine

Designing a routine or a system to work can help you increase your productivity. It prepares you, physically and mentally, for the tasks ahead. It also facilitates efficient time management, discipline and improves work efficiency.

10. Delegate tasks

If a particular project permits, delegate the tasks and complete them with a team. Delegating tasks to a colleague or a family member helps you manage work efficiently. It also protects you from the burnout that may occur due to an overload of work.

11. Exercise regularly

Exercising provides the body with time to recharge. It improves blood flow to your brain and heart, which helps improve concentration and reduce anxiousness. Additionally, if your work limits to your desk, exercising can help improve your overall health.

12. Focus on your mental health

You require consistent efforts to improve your productivity. It is essential to focus on your mental health to help you achieve your goals. Avoid overwhelming yourself with tasks that can lead to burnout and stress. Take time out of your schedule to meditate or engage in activities that help you relax.

13. Take breaks

A crucial part of being productive is taking enough breaks for the body and mind to recharge. During the day, you may choose to take some time off to listen to music, dance, draw, sing or do anything that does not involve work. If your job allows it, take vacations when you are able to do so. These activities broaden your perspective and help you cope with stress.

14. Sleep well

Sleeping for at least seven to eight hours a day provides your body and mind with time to recharge. An active mind helps improve productivity and stay consistent with work. Poor sleep cycles can reduce focus, memory and decision-making skills.

Tips for staying productive

It is crucial to understand the difference between being busy and being productive. You may create a to-do list and attend multiple meetings, but still have an overload of work. Being busy is engaging in meaningless activities that take too much time and produce no results. But being productive is a conscious decision that eliminates distractions and motivates you to work and achieve your goal. Here are some additional tips that may help improve productivity:

Use time blocks

Plan your day by the hour. Set realistic expectations for a task and allot set hours for it. Some people may use a notebook, spreadsheet or a dedicated software or mobile application to keep track. It helps plan your entire day with meetings, assignments, breaks and meals. Time blocking helps create a reminder about the tasks you wish to complete within a stipulated time and keeps a check on your progress.

Track your time

Use a diary to note the time spent on a particular task. It helps check how you spent the day and comprehend the time spent on projects and leisure. You understand if you completed an assignment within a time or longer than expected. It helps you plan your day better. Tracking your time helps you stay motivated to improve your productivity and identify distractions.

Relate: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Prioritise your work

You may spend several hours a day attending calls, meetings and emails. But these tasks may not help you complete your job. It is essential to set boundaries, define the days and time with your colleagues for meetings and avoid ad hoc discussions. A planned schedule helps you focus on work and complete it on time.

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