4 Activities that Increase Productivity in 10 Minutes or Less
Staying productive can be a challenge, especially when our attention spans seem to be getting shorter by the day. We may run into the occasional mental roadblock or get so caught up in multiple projects that we actually work against ourselves and become less effective. During these times, the best way to stay productive is to take a step back. Below are a few ways to increase productivity in 10 minutes or less.
1. Prioritize your to-do list.
There are days I walk into the office, look at my to-do list and start three projects at once. Half an hour after doing so, I realize that I’m spending more time clicking through browser tabs to find the right information than actually moving each project forward. I often find that I can alleviate a lot of stress simply by prioritizing which task is truly most important.
Get your priorites straight.
For many of us, the first step to being productive each morning is having a to-do list. The most important part of creating that to-do list is prioritizing your activities. One way of doing this is by picking out your top MITs (Most Important Tasks) and setting recurring appointments for them on your calendar every day or week. Make a commitment to yourself to complete the MITs during the time you’ve set aside to accomplish them and don’t work on other projects during that time.
Sometimes it pays to swallow the frog.
To-do lists are great, but the purpose of creating them is defeated if we take on too much at once or when we choose to work on the easiest task instead of the task that really needs to get done. The most productive people like to “swallow the frog” each day. This means they prioritize the most daunting or difficult task and complete it in the morning. This way they have easier tasks left for the rest of the day. Whether or not you decide to “swallow the frog”, take 5-10 minutes to prioritize your daily tasks and you will find yourself accomplishing more and stressing less.
2. Clean up the (physical and digital) clutter.
When it comes to being a clutter collector, I am guilty as charged. In the morning my desk starts out clean, and by noon I have 14 post-its, 3 pens and a Tupperware container covering my workspace. It’s around that time that I take a 5-minute break to pick up my mess. Cleaning up has been proven to increase productivity because you’ll spend less time looking for lost or scattered items and boost energy. Yes, cleaning actually increases your energy level!
Let's get digital (when decluttering).
Don’t just think about physical space when decluttering; look at digital space as well. Do you have six or more tabs open on your internet browser? (I’m a repeat offender.) Try to keep your tabs to five or less by closing tabs that are not needed for your current project or activity. Is your digital desktop covered in icons? If so, take a few minutes to delete items you no longer need or add them to a folder.
3. Take a mental break.
As humans, we weren’t meant to work straight through the day without breaks. You may think you are accomplishing more by working through lunch or skipping a break, but what you’re really doing is burning yourself out quickly. Keeping your mind fresh is not only important to staying productive, but also crucial to producing quality work.
Have fun with it!
If you are wondering what to do on a mental break, some of my favorite 3-5 minute activities include breathing exercises, doodling and grabbing a snack! There are many ways to take care of yourself during the workday; it doesn’t matter what you do when you take a break, as long as you take the time you need to stay mentally sharp.
4. Get moving.
In the same vein as tip 3, you can increase effectiveness at work and decrease stress by taking an exercise break. This is because exercise not only helps you stay physically fit, but it improves your mental health as well. Take 10 minutes to sharpen your mind and body.
Don't sweat it.
You can, but certainly don’t have to, break a sweat to reap the rewards of an exercise break. Some of my favorite activities that don't require a lot of energy include going for a walk (which is also a great way to get fresh air when it is nice outside), doing lunges or wall sits in my office, or playing ping-pong in our office with one of my co-workers.
If you are unsure of what exercises to do in a non-traditional workout space (like an office), try downloading the 7 minute workout app. The app can give you endless ways to exercise anywhere.
Whether you use the tips above or have other go-to productivity boosters, when you invest a small amount of time into yourself, your productivity will soar.