"There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. Today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live."- Dalai Lama
Today’s fast-paced, always-on culture and non-stop digital chatter makes it harder than ever to be more productive and juggle work and personal lives. However, there are some things that you can do right now to improve your productivity and enjoy a happier work-life environment.
Here are a 20+ tips (in no particular order) to help increase your productivity, reduce stress levels and maintain a better work-life balance:
Slow down and take a breath. Infact take a few deep breaths throughout your day. Don’t waste precious time thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Give your full attention to whatever it is that you are doing in this moment… focus on the now.
"If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything."- Thich Nhat Hanh
Prioritize your day and accomplish more. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Tackle your most important projects early in the day when you’re more alert and productive. Make a daily to-do list and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Resist the impulse to multi-task. Studies show that while multi-tasking, womens' IQs drop an average of 5 points and mens' drop 15 points. Focus on one thing at a time and boost your productivity.
Don't be afraid to say “No” - you don’t have to do it all. Delegate when you can.
"The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say 'no' to almost everything." - Warren Buffet
Exercise. Feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. Make exercise a habit and do something that you enjoy (walking, biking, jogging, swimming, yoga, pilates, tennis) so you’ll have a better chance of sticking to it. Join a health club or get support and motivation by working out with an exercise buddy.
“Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.”- John Rohn
Get organized and save time. The most precious resource we all have is time. And getting organized is one of the most important things that you can do to save time and improve your productivity. One of our favorite productivity apps is Evernote - we use it every day for all of our note-taking and keeping track of everything at home and at work. There's a free version to get started and it's easy to use. Notes are all in one place and can be synchronized across all devices (laptop, desktop, tablet, smartphone and Apple and Android watches).
"A place for everything, everything in its place." -Benjamin Franklin
Walk every day. Just 30 minutes of walking each day is one of the best forms of exercise and stress-management. Burn more calories, increase your energy and improve your productivity. Walking in the sunshine helps boost Vitamin D levels and your immune system. Encourage walking meetings at work. Walk with a friend or enjoy solo walking meditations.
Get a good night’s sleep. Strive for 7-8 hours a night. Eat at least three hours before you go to bed. Turn off your phone and all your electronic devices 1-2 hours before bedtime to let your mind and body wind down. Nothing beats a good night’s sleep to wake up feeling energized and more productive.
Meditate. Anyone can meditate, anywhere, anytime. Research shows that just 10 minutes of daily meditation can help calm your mind, give you more clarity, reduce stress, boost immunity and help you sleep better. There are many forms of meditation - we prefer Mindfulness Meditation, moment-to-moment awareness, focusing on the breath. Find one that works for you, then commit to meditating daily. A few minutes and often is the key - set aside 5 minutes in the morning and/or another 5 minutes at night. If you can do this for 30 days, it will become a habit and get easier over time.
"If you’re too busy to sit still for 10 minutes, you need to sit still for an hour."- Zen Proverb
Practice stress-reducing techniques. If meditation isn’t for you, try yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, cooking, dancing, hiking, painting, writing, listening to music, nature walks or walking by the water... whatever you're passionate about and makes you feel more relaxed. And if all else fails, there’s always wine!
Make time for play. Life’s too short - everyone needs a little down-time. Do something that you enjoy. Play video games. See a movie. Read a magazine. Spend time with family. Have lunch with friends. Play golf. Read a book. Bake cookies. Binge-watch your favorite TV shows on Netflix… :) Have you seen the latest "House of Cards?"
Love what you do. Enjoy your work and get coaching. You will be more productive and less stressed out if you work at a job that you love and have a boss who motivates you to be the best that you can be. Encourage coaching from your boss to help you increase your productivity, improve your sales performance, communicate more effectively, reduce your stress levels, set goals and develop your career plan. If you're not getting the coaching you need or want, consider hiring a Personal Coach.
"People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing." - Dale Carnegie
Take a 5-minute stretch break every hour or two. If you’re sitting at a desk and working on a computer all day, stand up and stretch. Research shows that sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for our bodies. Try standing while talking on the phone or having coffee. Consider getting a standing desk at home and/or at the office.
Eat healthy. Eating the right foods and a balanced diet will give you more energy and keep you focused and productive. Energy-boosting and super foods include: eggs, nuts, berries, yogurt, salmon, broccoli, pumpkin, spinach, tomatoes, turkey, kiwis, quinoa, avocados, beans, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. Limit fast foods and junk foods. It's OK to splurge once in a while on your favorite foods (ours are hamburgers, pizza and ice-cream). As my mom always says… "everything in moderation."
Decompress on weekends. Research shows that productivity drops off significantly after 55 hours. So there's a good chance that you won't be any more productive or get more done if you're working a 60-70+ hour week - you'll probably just feel more stressed out and exhausted. Weekends are a good time to decompress, relax and bring more balance into your life.
Check your emails at specific times during the day. It can get overwhelming when you have hundreds of emails to deal with every day. Improve your productivity and reduce stress by focusing on your emails at set times - early morning, mid-day and at the end of the day vs constantly interrupting your work day and weekend.
Embrace life’s challenges and enjoy the journey. It’s not about the destination, but what you learn along the way. Life is short. Focus on the good things in your life (even when they're sometimes hard to find).
Recharge your batteries. Take a day trip, getaway weekend or a mini vacation to relax and rejuvenate. Minimize emails and texting. Feel more productive, creative and focused when you return to work. And if possible, try to take a day off work on your birthday.
Think positively. Surround yourself with positive and optimistic people. Negative energy can be draining, unproductive and unhealthy. Choose to focus on positive thoughts and attract positive energy.
"Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. - Zig Ziglar
Practice gratitude. Be thankful for all the blessings in your life.
“He who is contented is rich.”- Lao Tzu
Be happy. Visualize a rainbow in the morning when you wake up. We took the photo of the double rainbow (pictured at top) early one morning from our balcony. It only lasted for a few moments but it was beautiful. Smile and think happy, positive thoughts to set the tone for the rest of your day.
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Mahatma Ghandi
Strive To Be Balanced
We hope you can use a few of these tips to improve your productivity, reduce your stress levels and guide you towards maintaining a better work-life balance. Please pass along any that you find helpful and want to share with others. We'd love to hear some of your thoughts on the subject. What productivity and work-life balance tips work well for you?
We published this article a few years ago and decided to share it again with our readers. The tips seem even more relevant today.
Photo credit: Barry Ross, Ross & Ross International
Blog article: Alana Ross, VP Marketing and Social Media