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The 10 best productivity tips for living a more efficient life

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7 mins

Being productive at home and at work is essential to living your life in an efficient manner. But it doesn't always come naturally.

It's easy to blur the line separating your personal and professional lives. Maintaining a high-functioning work-life balance can be challenging, especially if you have no choice but to work from home given the current situation.

Let’s take a look at the ten best productivity tips for living a more efficient life. To help you operate at maximum efficiency, we've separated them into the five best personal productivity tips and the five best work productivity tips for productivity at work.

How to be more productive at home

First, let's discuss how to be more productive in your personal life. Here are five of the best personal productivity tips.

1. Unplug

Enjoy technology, but don’t let it dominate your life. Too many people have their personal devices tethered to their hip, even when they’re moving from room to room when they’re at home. Try leaving your phone in another room for the evening if you’re not going to be making any personal calls.

Instead of checking social media repeatedly, enjoy a good book or a board game with a family member. There are many fun things you can do at home without staring at a screen.

2. Be present

It can be very challenging to turn your mind off when you’ve had a particularly grueling day, or week, at work. When the evening whistle blows it isn’t always easy to hit the switch and stop thinking about the myriad of things you did at work during the day.

But you do need to be able to partition your work and home lives for the sake of your mental and physical well-being. Your family and friends can tell when you’re distracted or tense over the day’s events. Enjoy time away from work and be present with the people you’re with. Wherever you are, be there.

3. Time to unwind

Take a deep breath. Or take a walk. Or take a bubble bath. The point is that you should take some time to do something that helps you to relax. Whatever that may be.

You may want to have someone tag along with you, or you may like to fly solo as you take some time for yourself and reduce the tension you’re carrying. It’s a matter of personal preference, but whatever you prefer, be sure to partake in an activity each day that relaxes you and that you look forward to.

4. Learn when to say "no"

Sometimes the pressure can build and you just don’t have the bandwidth for one more commitment, or even for one more conversation. That’s okay. But you need to be able to say “no” to yourself and others. No, you’re not going to join one more committee. No, you’re not going to answer that call or that e-mail or respond to that text.

Saying “no” can keep the lid from blowing off of the pressure cooker when you feel that the walls are closing in around you. And “No” doesn’t have to mean no forever, it can also mean “later.” You don’t have to say it harshly, but sometimes you need to say it.

5. Rise and shine early

Even on the weekend. By starting your day early, you are able to have a productive beginning to what is most likely going to be a day which requires you to be at your best, physically and mentally. Being sluggish because you slept until eleven will be a feeling you’ll carry throughout the day.

Not a morning person, you say? Well, you can change that. Once your body’s circadian rhythm gets synced, you’ll find it easy to follow “early to bed, early to rise” as one of your creeds. It’s very gratifying to sit back at the end of the day and look at all you accomplished, and how it began before the sun came up.

How to be more productive at work

When you think about productivity at work, your mind may immediately jump to the stack of project management tools that you use — and the countless others you have to choose from. But just as important are the underlying habits you build.

With that in mind, here are five of the best work productivity tips to consider.

6. Only check email periodically

It is near impossible for anyone to not read email when the popup appears, indicating that you have mail. You then stop doing what you’re doing and turn your attention 100% elsewhere. This is a sure-fire way to slow down your progress on the task at hand and kill the momentum you had established.

If something is that urgent, they’ll probably call you instead of emailing you. Don’t let email hold you hostage. Turn off your notifications and check your email first thing in the morning, at noon-time, and at the end of the day. You’ll find that you are able to not only communicate with everyone that needs you but that nothing you touched was an emergency that couldn’t wait.

7. Find an accountability partner

Let them know what you want to accomplish each week/month/year and talk weekly about the progress you made or didn’t make on your goals. What worked well for you this week in moving the ball forward? What didn’t? What obstacles did you run into and how did you deal with them?

Talking with someone about your progress can help you to take the “thirty-thousand-foot view” and see more clearly where you’re at on your success continuum. Let them ask you the hard questions and challenge you.

8. Reduce clutter

Clutter distracts. Einstein may have disagreed, but then again, he was Einstein. Most of us find that it is very distracting to have piles of papers or files surrounding you as you unpack your laptop for the day. Whatever is sitting on the top of the pile seems to be clamoring for your attention. This doesn’t help your focus, and it distracts you from the task at hand.

9. Avoid multi-tasking

It’s very tempting to check your email when you’re on a call with someone. But does it dilute your effectiveness with either or both?

Many people espouse the benefits of doing multiple things at once. But have you ever been on the receiving end of a conversation where you heard the clacking of a keyboard in the background, and you could tell the person you were speaking with wasn’t engaged in the conversation?

The same thing happens when you multi-task. You not only de-rail and dilute your own efforts, but you run the risk of offending someone else by not giving them your full attention. Doing one thing at a time not only enhances your personal productivity, but it’s also good manners.

10. Enter Do-Not-Disturb mode

Sometimes you have a deadline looming and you have to put your head down and focus, focus, focus. And it always seems that when you’re in that mode someone ends up standing behind you or your phone starts ringing.

The best way to avoid this is by either putting your desk phone on Do-Not-Disturb or by turning off the ringer and vibrate mode on your smartphone. You can then give whatever you’re doing your undivided attention, and visitors and callers can leave you a message. It’s only for a short while.

Bottom line

These are some personal and work productivity tips that can help you enjoy life more and stress less. Hopefully, you can put one or more into practice and it will lead to a more enjoyable, productive, and relaxed life for you.

Jack Wolstenholm is the head of content at Breeze.

The information and content provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement. Breeze does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, reliability or usefulness of any testimonials, opinions, advice, product or service offers, or other information provided here by third parties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

— Published April 20, 2020
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