If Your Default Answer to ‘How are you?’ is ‘Busy,’ Read This

Margaret —  July 30, 2014 — 12 Comments

Never Enough Time? 5 Ways to Boost Your Productivity Today

Ever have those days where you feel like you can’t get anything done? Where with every tick of the clock, your list continues to g.e.t.l.o.n.g.e.r.?

Here are 5 tips that I’ve been trying to practice in order to boost productivity, bolster creativity, and create more margin:

1. Unitask.

Doing only one thing at a time may seem impossible in our culture. However, when we choose to be present, we will be better stewards of our jobs, families, and friendships.

Try this: Challenge yourself to keep one tab or application open at any one time. When speaking with your spouse, friends, or kids, be intentional to focus on them and not juggle other tasks at the same time.

2. Disable notifications. (Seriously).

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the buzz of my phone or the bing of a new email, I switch gears to respond to the distraction. By the time I’ve travelled the rabbit trail of texting a friend and responding to a handful of emails, my mind has forgotten whatever I was working on.

Try this: Disable notifications on your phone and computer for a set amount of time. We use Google Voice to help set times when a phone will ring through and when it will straight to voicemail. Commit to completing an entire project in that window before turning your devices back on. Sometimes, I need to move my phone into another room from where I’m working to stay on task.

3. Turn off Wi-Fi.

For some whose work revolves around the internet, this may not be an option. But for writers, shutting off Wi-Fi for a few hours can allow for uninhibited creativity. When I sit down to write, I often begin by fact-checking online, which quickly leads to web-surfing, Facebook checking, and email responding.

Try this: Attempt a technology-free evening, disabling Wi-Fi on your computers and cell phones. While working on a task that doesn’t require internet, disable your Wi-Fi and see how much more you accomplish.

4. No Interruptions, please.

Working from home definitely has its benefits—where else is it acceptable to where your PJs to work? However, I can quickly find myself distracted by the phone, doorbell, and letting Hershey out. I’ve found I need to carve time in my schedule to have a no interruption work time.

Try this: Hunker down in a space in your home or office that has a door. Put a note on the door and let your co-workers (or family members) know that you’d like no interruptions until a set time. If you work in a noisy area, download a white noise app on your phone to keep the distractions at a minimum.

5. Take a quick break.

It may seem counterintuitive, but carving a five minute break between projects can help you clear your head, ready to restart. During a busy day, I make an effort to get outside with Hershey for a quick walk to reset before I move on to the next project.

Try this: After you finish a few things on your to-do list, take five minutes out of your current setting before you switch gears on the next project. Take a walk around the block. Jump on a treadmill. Grab a coffee at the shop down the street.

By your boosting your productivity, we can check more off our lists—not to do more or be more. But to create margin in our lives. To allow ourselves to be more fully present. To bolster our creativity. To find more time to be with others.

Never Enough Time? 5 Ways to Boost Your Productivity Today

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What tips, tricks, or methods have you found to boost your productivity so that you can have more margin in your life?


12 responses to If Your Default Answer to ‘How are you?’ is ‘Busy,’ Read This

  1. Great ideas, Margaret! I was a bit skeptical, but I can see how these would keep me more focused on THE task at hand. I shall start with #1, instead of flying all over the house, working on several things, none of which are completed well. Blessings on your day!

  2. Very useful points to be kept to manage our precious time in a meaningful way. Thanks dear Margaret. God bless you.

  3. I find if I do not write things down that I want to accomplish down on a list I am not nearly as productive as my mind jumps around trying to figure out what it might be able to get done and it wastes time trying to figure out what is important. anyway, I just get more clarity of mind when I work from a list and feel accomplished getting to check things off my list! I like to quickly get a lot of easy things done first and with the success of accomplishing a lot of little things I work my confidence up to tackle something that is going to be harder and take longer.

  4. Margaret,

    Agree on all fronts. I can tell you these work! Thanks for the reminders. The hardest adjustment came from turning off notifications and then I went further to email only twice a day. Absolute game changer: 2 weeks of production in one with more margin for family! Appreciate the strategies and being intentional to protect creative time. Blessings, Noah.

  5. Yep, I could apply a few of those tips myself right now, Margaret. I’m far too prone to answer ‘busy’ to that question. thanks for the reminder to edit some things out of life.

  6. I have found if I end my day by writing down 2-3 things that I need to do the next morning it helps me regain my train of thought and get to my “productive place” much more quickly the next day.

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