How To Be Productive

On a scale from 1 to 10, how productive are you?

You might already be a super-productive person. In that case, you should be teaching me how to be productive, instead of the other way around

If not, then you’re in the right place. I used to suffer from a severe lack of productivity, and it would seem like the hours would just fly by.

I don’t know what will work for you, but I can give you a few things that have worked for me and for others. Ultimately, you need to decide how productive you want to be.

With that being said, let’s dive in.

Focus Only On The Day’s Work

Thomas Carlyle once said, “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” I find that quote very fitting when it comes to being productive.

Part of being productive is realizing that your greatest power lies in the here and now, not far off into the future.

When you wake up in the morning, your only focus should be on what you can do to make today productive. Don’t worry about how productive you’ll be tomorrow or next week.

The more you focus on the things outside of your control, the less empowered you feel. You can exert the most influence on things “clearly at hand”.

If you need help with planning out your day, check out this other article I wrote on how to plan your day.

Don’t Multitask To Be Productive

I don’t care how good you think you are at multitasking, you’re shooting yourself in the foot whenever you try to do 2 (or more) things at once.

To further prove my point, I want you to take out a sheet of paper and a pencil.

Next, fold it in half. On the left half, I want you to alternate between spelling your name and counting. I want you to time how long this takes for you to do this.

For example, my name is Jacob so I would write the number 1, then the letter the J. Then, I would write the number 2 and the letter A. Then the number 3 and the letter C. and so on and so forth until I spell my name.

In the end, it should look like this:


1 2 3 4 5

On the right half of the paper, instead of alternating, you’re going to spell your name out first and then count from 1 up until you reach the last letter of your name.

For me, I would write J-A-C-O-B and then I’d write 1-2-3-4-5 right under it. Time how long it takes for you to do that.

What you should notice is that it takes a lot longer to alternate between spelling your name and counting than it would take to just spell your name and then count from one up until the last letter of your name.

That’s exactly what happens when you multitask. It takes you longer to alternate between 2 things that it would take to finish one task, then the other.

Remove Distractions To Be More Productive

Getting things done is hard enough as it is. Don’t add to the difficulty by making yourself susceptible to distractions.

When it’s time to work, put your phone on silent and avoid any and all social media sites. If you work with other people, let them know that you’re going to be focused for a few hours and not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency.

Tidy up your desk a bit and close any computer programs that aren’t directly related to the work at hand.

Once you’ve eliminated all possible distractions, it’s time to get down to business.

Use A Productivity Tool

how to be productive

Here’s where we bring out the “big guns”. Productivity tools provide a systematized way to plan out your day.

If you’re old-fashioned, then get yourself a day planner that you can write and review on a daily basis.

There’s also a lot of online productivity tools you can try out like AsanaTodoist, or Trello. All of these are great tools and you should check them out to see what works for you.

Personally, I use a tool called Simpleology. I’ve been using it for years and it has been one of the biggest reasons my productivity has shot through the roof. If you like simple, then you’ll LOVE Simpleology.

You might have certain tasks that need to get done on a regular basis. If that’s the case for you, then find a way to automate your workflow.

Automate Repetitive Tasks To Be More Productive

This will help ensure that not only it gets done, but it gets done in the same exact way every time.

If you’re using Simpleology, they have a feature called Systems where you can create an automated set of tasks for things that need to get done on a recurring basis.

For more information on that, check out this Simpleology post on the power of Systems.

Use The 80-20 Rule

how to be productive

The 80-20 Rule, also known as Pareto’s Principle, states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. When you apply this to your productivity, we find that only 20% of the things you do determine 80% of your results.

When you look at all of the things you could get done today, only a handful of those things will actually move the needle for you. Your goal is to focus most of your attention on those things and then attend to everything else.

The last thing you want to do is get caught up spending “major” time on “minor” things.


Being productive is more than just getting things done. There’s no point in working on things you’re not good at or you don’t enjoy doing.

If you can afford to delegate a task to someone else, then by all means, do it. It’ll give you more time to focus on the things you are good at.

To take it a step further, you should make sure that the person you’re delegating the task to can get the job done right. Make sure it plays to their strength.

When everyone is focusing on what they’re good at, your group’s productivity will increase exponentially.

Drink More Water

On the surface, it might seem like hydration has nothing to do with productivity. As a matter of fact, it has everything to do with it.

Studies show that even mild dehydration causes mental fatigue, irritability, as well as notable dips in concentration and short-term memory.

If you thought being dehydrated was no big deal, think again.

As a good rule of thumb, you should drink half of your body weight in ounces every day. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs., then you need to drink 100 ounces of water.

If you want more advice on being productive, then check out this Forbes article on the 9 habits of productive people.

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