Feeling productive is one of the most satisfying and rewarding feelings a person can experience. Feeling like you’ve done something valuable with your time, like you’ve achieved something. Like you’ve spent your time wisely.
But that can feeling can be a rare one. It’s one you really have to work for.
And people are not inclined to do hard work when they have the option not. Human beings are an easily distracted species that often can’t drum up the motivation to do anything other than watch gossip shows and idly thumb through Facebook.
We like our down time.
But that can leave us feeling unfulfilled. We end up feeling like we’ve wasted our time doing useless things and that feeling of productivity never really comes.
Sometimes, procrastinating for just five minutes at a time can add up to a wasting more of a day than you really want to, even if you do get some things done. You look back over what you’ve achieved and realise that, actually, you wish you’d put more effort in.
The sad truth is that using your time more effectively isn’t actually all that hard. You just need to get a bit more organise.
DECIDE SPECIFICALLY WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
Write it down, because you probably won’t remember it when it comes down to it. Think realistically about the time frame you have and what you think you are capable of achieving in that time. If you have other things you need to get done, write a separate list for the next time you want to sit down to work. But have a specific list of things you want to get to do this time.
DO ONE THING AT A TIME
In order. Don’t attempt to do everything at once. Don’t try to multitask – it’ll distract you from individual tasks and you’ll end up getting nothing done. Or, at least, far less than you wanted to. Everything will end up half-finished and probably a bit muddled up. Take things one at a time. If you have an idea you can apply to something else, jot it down and come back to it later, when you’re focusing on the things it pertains to.
SET YOURSELF A TIME LIMIT
Decide how long you want it to take you. Think about how much time you have and how much of that time you want to spend working. You don’t need to use up all of your spare time working, but make sure you know just how much of it you want to devote to it.
MAKE TIME FOR SHORT BREAKS
Don’t overwork yourself. Set yourself time to have some breaks. Spend five minutes getting some fresh air or making a cup of tea or having a stretch. Get the blood flowing through you, give your mind a rest. Do something that gives you a little bit of a boost, something that keeps you going as you plough ahead.
DON’T STOP UNTIL YOU’VE FINISHED EVERYTHING
It’s easy to say that you’ll have a slightly longer break than you planned and get back to later. But it’s even easier to get distracted and to end up abandoning whatever you were working on. You don’t mean to, but it does happen. Don’t stop. Break only for as long as you’ve told yourself you will. Keep the targets you’ve set yourself at the forefront of your mind, and eventually it’ll all be finished and you’ll have all the time in the world to relax.
Do something you really enjoy. Indulge that feeling of satisfaction and achievement that you have earned and treat yourself because you deserve it. Go, you! Go get yourself some ice cream.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.