The past 24 hours have been rather normal for me: Last night I went to bed with that sinking feeling that today would be terrible. I awoke and, much to my dismay, that feeling was still there. I couldn’t stop thinking that if I had only done “this” or “that” instead of what I had actually done, then I wouldn’t have felt so stressed when I got up. It’s the same old issue that seems to amplify as we get older and older … there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Being productive is obviously a necessary part of life. Without it, we’d probably never work, exercise, or do things and we’d probably never move out of our parents’ house. (Although, if we didn’t have to be productive, then wouldn’t our parents never have to be productive either? and if that’s the case … wouldn’t we be living with our grandparents?) UGH, I’m getting off track.
Ever since I can remember, my father always had the same advice for me and as simple as it is, it has stuck with me. Whether I needed to ace a spelling quiz, study for my SATs or prepare for a job interview, he always told me to make a great day. He said that simply switching “have” to “make” gives a different connotation of the saying. Instead of passively going through my day, I should take control of it by a) telling myself to have a positive attitude b) accomplishing what I need to do that day. When I was seven, that meant studying for a multiplication quiz, trying not to get yelled at by my teachers and not giving my mother too much attitude (my life’s predicament as a child was that I was 7 going on 25).
The standard for productivity does not have to be set super high. Sometimes, accomplishing just a few things on your to-do list or getting one major project done at work/school can be productive. When I’m feeling like I didn’t get enough done, I try to reflect on what I did do and how much effort I put into that project. This often perks me up. Sometimes, just doing one thing really really well is cause for a little dance party.
But we all have those days.
Well, for me, I have those days everyday so it’s more like “I have those moments.” Moments where all I think about is my BED or how great my sleep was the night before, or how excited I am about an upcoming event. Obviously, this makes it a little difficult to be productive. It’s times like these when we need to regroup in order to make sure that we make great days for ourselves. So, I thought I’d compile a list of advice from around the web (and from my cute, little smart brain) that will help us be more productive during the day.
Productivity – making a great day is the way to happiness
- Don’t pile on a bunch of tasks for yourself. Forbes touched upon this in an article from April. (If I came up with the same recommendation as someone form Forbes then I must be a genius …)
- Stay off the grid. The same Forbes article mentioned that when we check our phone/calendar/email, we run the risk of letting others dictate our life. It’s important to take time out of our mornings to do things for ourselves, whether that be meditating or making a yummy breakfast. Now, if you’re me, you wake up as late as you possibly can before you have to get ready and leave your house. Since I don’t have time to be a yoga goddess in the morning, I do what many college kids do and nap as soon as my classes are done.
- Multitasking is productivity’s buzzkill. Even though we’d like to believe that multitasking allows us to be more productive, the reality is is that it doesn’t. Instead of getting a few things done well, we actually get a lot of things done poorly. Our brains just can’t compute it all. I researched a bunch of multitasking articles and wrote a paper on this in the beginning of my semester so trust me … I’m an expert.
- Take a break. I remember my high school college counselor told me at my orientation that the key to success is knowing when to work and knowing when to play. It’s true. Both should get 100% of our attention because both are incredibly important in making us balanced individuals. If we sway too much in one direction, we’ll be sacrificing an important aspect of our lives. This definitely has the potential to make us (or me at least) less happy. When we’re less happy, we eventually become unhappy … and nobody wants to be friends with miserable people. So basically if you want to have friends don’t consume yourself with work or play.
- Do things you love. What should you do when you’re not checking things off of your to-do list? DO THE THINGS YOU LOVE. Read a book, go hiking, paint, draw, listen to music, go see shows. Whatever it is, just make it happen.
- Do nothing. Sleep late sometimes. Watch movies when you can. Just relax. The only way we can be efficient when we need to be is if we take time to do nothing every now and then.
So, I’m no life guru, but I do have a life and I try to live it efficiently (and I certainly fail at it sometimes). But I find that when I incorporate the above into my week I get more things done. Normally, the more productive we are, the better our attitudes are. If we’re happy, I think we’ll be able to convince ourselves to make a great day.
happiness > productivity > success
- Why Multitasking is Bad for You (lifehack.org)
- Women Are Better Multitaskers Than Men, Study Finds (huffingtonpost.com)