I’m not an expert in the topic of productivity. I’ve never taken any classes on the subject or received any awards for the best tips on how to meaningfully spend your day. But there are certain things I try to keep in mind every day when I’m faced with a long list of tasks and a ticking clock. And I want to share them with you. So, without further ado, here are my Top Three “Time” Tips.
Whatever task you’re trying to accomplish, shoot for 80%. Now, if you’re a perfectionist like me, giving something anything less than 100% is a foreign concept. But you can also admit that sometimes working on something until it’s “perfect” sucks. “Perfection” is a made up construct- it doesn’t exist because it’s subjective and it changes as people change. So it doesn’t even make sense to shoot for 100% if 100% doesn’t exist. You’re going to spend all this extra time and stress worrying about making whatever this thing that you’re creating or completing is be 100%. It’s not worth it.
80% isn’t bad. It’s a good place, well above average. And if you only spend 80% of your time working on this one thing, you’re freeing up more time for yourself to try other things.
Speaking of time, that brings me to the “20” part of this tip. If you spend you’re entire day doing work, you’re going to burn yourself up. You are only one person. You need to make time for yourself to recharge. It’s not weak, it’s intelligent. So spend 20% of your day doing things for you. Watch a YouTube film, make dinner, go for a run- whatever it is that helps you unwind or makes you happy, give 20% of your day to that cause. 80% work, 20% you.
Two: Make Your Bed
I’m a firm believer in starting my day doing something productive. Any time I start my day slow, I spend the rest of the day just kind of going through the motions. I’ve found that I’m not only less productive as a whole, but I also don’t…feel good? I feel I’ve wasted so much time and every moment I spend not doing something for class or organizations that I’m a part of or this blog is a magnified waste. And that just adds more pressure and stress on an already negative Sam. But if I start my day completing a task- no matter how small- I’m already in the mindset to get stuff done.
You may be wondering, how do I know what item on my checklist to complete first? How do I know that whatever assignment I do isn’t going to be so hard that I just want to quit the moment it’s over? Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: do your smallest task first.
I know, I know, that’s completely against the expert philosophy of doing your hard chores first so you get them over with. And I do have to say that priority should be your number one filter when deciding how to divide up the work you need to get accomplished in a day (i.e.: do the assignment that’s due first even if it’s the hardest). But if you have roughly the same timeline for all your work, tackling the easiest one first quickly gives you a sense of accomplishment (you managed to check something off your list within five minutes of sitting down to work on it) and mentally prepares you to do more work.
You’re first task can be something as simple as making your bed in the morning. And even if this doesn’t work and you end up having a miserable day, when you come home at least you know your bed is made.
Three: Be picky
Being the busy bee that I am, my days are often tightly scheduled and I usually have to prioritize what I choose to give my attention to. And even if you aren’t quite at this stage in your life, I still think it’s important for us to decide early on what we want to invest our time in.
In the last year, I’ve kind of refined my set of “requirements” when it comes to choosing the things that I want to focus on in my life. I’ll invest my time in it if it helps me succeed. It it’s something that’ll help me reach my dreams or accomplish my goals, then I’ll make it a priority. This could be taking classes to get a degree or working a couple shifts of overtime to get that promotion. If it help me grow I want to make sure that I’m giving it the chance to make an impact on my life. School might also fall into this category, along with anything else that increases your knowledge. You could also look at this through a spiritual lens. Lastly, it’s worth my time if it helps me find happiness. Life is too short to do things that make you unhappy (even if it doesn’t make you happy in the moment, it should make you happy in the long run). Whether you find happiness in reading magazines or going to the gym, make time for it.
Like I said, I’m by no means an expert and everything I say should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. But hopefully you found something here or there that you might want to implement in your life. Let me know if you do end up trying one of these tips and leave a comment below telling me what your best productivity/motivation-esque tips are!