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7 ways to be proactive about your productivity

We often get stuck in a time-management-pickle while in the midst of overwhelming work. Try these tips to better prepare for productivity.

productivity written on wall with man on cellphone.

Look, we all need to be more productive, especially as remote work reigns supreme. No one is going to know if you take an afternoon nap or accidentally binge-watch a new season of your favorite series in the middle of the workday, but your productivity could suffer.

I’ve tried a LOT of productivity tips, and here are some of my favorites. Oh, and don’t worry, none of them involve waking up at 5:30 am (because, seriously, who’s actually doing that?!).

1) Optimize your workspace

Okay, so I’m a bit of a hypocrite on this one. I mean right now I’m writing this while sitting on my couch in my sweatpants, but everyone really is more productive sitting at a proper desk, in a chair, with a clean, uncluttered workspace. So, do as I say, not as I do. But if switching up locations helps break up the monotony and helps you get er’ done, then go for it!

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2) Cut back on meetings

This one is more for all the entrepreneurs/bosses reading this, if you can, cut out meetings or set a hard stop for them. Seriously, all the “this meeting could’ve been an email” memes exist for a reason. So, when in doubt, stick to an email.

3) Reduce distractions

You may not be able to eliminate distractions entirely, especially if you work in an office, or from home with a spouse and kids. Social media, email, television, and news are among the popular sucks. Put your devices on do not disturb or give yourself structured time to do those things as a reward for task completion. Some days, the do not disturb function isn’t enough for me – I either have to hide my phone from myself or put it clear across the room, hoping my laziness and unwillingness to get up will conquer the compulsion to check my phone and scroll every five minutes.

If you’re really, really bad about time-wasting tech, there are loads of apps that will lock you out of all your distraction websites.

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4) Lay out everything you need

I’ll admit, this one sounds weird, but for me, it’s tried and true. If I need to get up to get a glass of water or my laptop charger, you can bet I will wander around for at least half an hour before returning to my workspace. Instead, I lay out everything I may need – everything from a water bottle, to pen and paper, to my calendar, and my device chargers, that way I have absolutely no reason to get up and waste time.

5) Make a list every night

When you have a lot on your plate, things inevitably slip through the cracks. So, every night, make a list of everything that needs to get done the next day. Don’t worry about everything this week, or even this month, just focus on tasks by importance one day at a time.

6) Utilize ambient noise

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Hear me out (pun intended) – occupying one channel of your brain can often make your brain work harder and therefore, help you focus. For me personally, if I listen to songs or television shows, I get too caught up in trying to follow along, but ambient noise? Ambient noise works perfectly.

Coffitivity, a portmanteau of coffee and productivity, utilizes the ambient noises of coffee shops and cafes to create some really great ambient noise. Seriously, I’ve been mooching off their free features since 2014.

7) Have an accountability partner

Having someone to hold you accountable always helps. Unfortunately, when you work remotely, you don’t always have someone around to hold you accountable for your productivity.

Fortunately, there’s Focusmate. Focusmate randomly matches you with a virtual partner, you both set a goal and get to work. Best of all? Focusmate allows for three free sessions per week, or unlimited sessions for just $5 a month.

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Happy working!

Nicole is a recent graduate (okay fine, a recent-ish graduate) of Texas State University-San Marcos where she received a BA in Psychology. When she's not doing freelance writing, she's doing freelance Public Relations. When she's not working, she's hanging out with dogs or her friends - in that order. Nicole watches way too much Netflix and is always quoting The Office. She has an obsession with true crime and sloths.

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