As a writer who has to keep up with tight deadlines day in and day out, different clients, and sudden changes in instructions and content requirements, I know how it’s like to struggle with ups and downs in productivity.

Sometimes everything’s going smoothly, I finish relatively early, complete all tasks scheduled for that day. There also comes the time when it takes forever to complete seemingly easy assignments. An article with the easy subject and a lot of resources takes hours to complete. You probably deal with productivity fluctuations too, we all do.

All of us experience similar struggles because the productivity depends on numerous factors. Lack of sleep, stress, lack of proper organization, and many other factors can hinder your performance and affect confidence, cause even more stress etc.

I’ve tried different things to boost my productivity and throughout this post, I’m going to focus on all tips and tricks that helped me.

  • Get enough sleep

Most of us are sleep deprived even though good night’s rest is necessary for good health, stress management, and energy levels. A study whose findings were published in the journal Sleep discovered that for the average worker sleep deprivation leads to the loss of 11.3 days’ worth of productivity per the calendar year. In other words, you lose about $2,280 due to insufficient performance at work caused by lack of sleep.

I experienced the full impact of sleep deprivation on my productivity. For quite some time, I worked all day and instead of getting much-needed rest later, I continued working at night. Basically, I would get about 3 hours of sleep or maybe not even that. It created some sort of a vicious circle that was so difficult to abandon.

Lack of sleep impaired my focus and concentration, I couldn’t even figure out how to start writing my pending assignments, creating an outline and researching was even more grueling. Eventually, my daily performance decreased noticeably. When I firmly decided to get more sleep, I noticed a significant improvement in my performance.

Therefore, the very first thing I’m going to recommend is to strive and get enough sleep. Every person is different and we need a different amount of good night’s rest. It’s more important to have a sleep schedule: go to bed every night at the same time and strive to wake up every morning at the same time too.

  • Manage stress

Studies show that increased stress decreases productivity while job satisfaction increases your performance at work. The truth is that we can’t avoid stress, although we’d like to have that option. What you can do is to find a way to manage stress and relax.

There’s no some specific rule or things you can do to rest and de-stress. Find something that you find relaxing and use it as a strategy to tackle stressful times. For example, you can read a book, watch TV, exercise, take a shower, meditate, do yoga, options are endless.

  • When does your productivity peak?

I do my best work early in the morning. That’s when I have the most energy and I easily focus on my articles. In order to improve my productivity, I have the habit to wake up early. That way, I immediately start working on my tasks and it becomes easier to complete everything.

Again, individual differences apply, your productivity peak can be at night or in afternoon. The point is to adjust your work projects according to the time of day when you have more energy and concentration to work on them. Of course, this is more suitable for people with flexible jobs e.g. freelancers, give it a try and see how it goes.

  • Drink water

When I don’t drink enough water I feel sleep, unable to focus on my articles, and it takes more time to complete my projects. I always keep a bottle of water next to my laptop and strive to drink regularly. Also, when I feel like I’m getting sleepy or my mind starts to wander, I drink water again or make a nice cup of tea.

Scientists also explain that even a mild dehydration can make you less productive. If you’re looking for an easy way to improve your performance at work, stay hydrated throughout the day.

  • Eye drops

Staring at the screen all day long makes my eyes itchy and vision blurry. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it also affects my productivity and it makes me kind of sleepy. I use eye drops that take care of this problem and get rid of the annoying itchiness, but it also makes me feel more alert.

 

Frequent breaks

Although it may seem counterproductive, taking frequent breaks can be extremely beneficial for your work performance. If you avoid taking breaks, sooner or later you’ll find yourself thinking about something that isn’t even related to the task you’re supposed to perform. Basically, you don’t accomplish much. The frequency and duration of breaks depend on you. For example, you can work for 30 minutes and take a 5-minute break.

  • Organize your work properly

The ability to organize your work can make or break productivity. For instance, a great deal of my work is based on thorough research online. Before I start writing, I arrange my assignments based on deadlines, difficulty, and other factors. Then, I proceed to research part and find reputable sources to back up information used in the text. Keeping things organized makes it easier for me to function. It might take a while to figure out what works for you, but don’t get discouraged. Feel free to experiment and try different ways to organize your work.

  • Eliminate distractions

Social media is the most common distraction today, but it’s not the only one. Some people find clutter and mess distracting, others can’t function in a noisy environment, TV can also be a distraction just like sounds on your phones and computer. Or maybe something else prevents you from focusing on the task at hand and, thereby, affects the productivity level.

Identify your distractions and find a way to eliminate them or limit the exposure to those interruptions. For example, limit social media use and strive not to keep the phone near. That way, you won’t get tempted to use Facebook or other apps. Some people also block them on their laptop.

  • Motivate yourself

Negative thinking is one of the biggest enemies of productivity. For example, you keep thinking it’s impossible to get something done, and it becomes easy to find an excuse not to do it. I would constantly focus on fatigue and exhaustion, and it wasn’t difficult to decide not to complete something or decide to do it tomorrow.

I motivate myself with a saying “When you’re tired learn to rest, not to quit” and repeat it every time I feel I’m too tired to continue working.

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Another motivational phrase I repeat is: “Dreams don’t work unless you do” and I keep it as wallpaper on my laptop.

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You don’t have to use these motivational statements, you can find or create something that will truly make you move. Keep them on your phone, laptop, write them down, the choice is yours. When you start doubting yourself and feel like it’s difficult to complete something, repeat your motivational quote. This will also banish negative thoughts.

  • Don’t multitask

Multitasking has become a symbol of productivity, but the reality is entirely different. In fact, scientists from the Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. Working on several tasks at once was the biggest killer of my productivity. It was incredibly frustrating. On the other hand, focusing on one project at a time was almost like a life-changing experience.

  • Don’t keep too many tabs open

If most of your work is based online, chances are you keep multiple tabs on your browser open. It seems logical, you want everything to be available to you without having to waste time on looking for stuff. I did the same thing.

Since I have to meet a specific word count for every assignment, it felt reasonable to open a lot of tabs and use them one by one.

Wrong!

Too many tabs only made me confused, lost, and I didn’t pay attention. Now, I avoid opening too many tabs and usually focus on three max. When I’m done with content opened in each tab, I close it immediately. Try not to keep too many tabs open and you’ll feel liberated, less confused.

  • Write it down

Honestly, I can’t function without writing stuff down. The first thing I do every morning is to take my planner and write down all tasks I want to complete that day. Also, I write down outlines, notes, and basically everything else.

Yes I know it’s easier to do it on a computer, but the act of writing it in a “classic” manner gives me more confidence and tranquility. Plus, it’s easier for me to find stuff, get reminded of my next steps, add more notes, and keep up with everything. You can use your phone, laptop, download an app, or anything else you’d like to see how writing stuff down will improve your productivity.

  • New day, new goal

We put way too much pressure on ourselves and it can only harm your productivity. Humans aren’t robots and you shouldn’t expect the same level of performance every day. Don’t push yourself to do same things, complete the same amount of work, or perform certain tasks in the same fashion every day.

Instead, every morning (or the night before bedtime) set a new goal for yourself and try to achieve it. Do your best every day and learn how to take your performance to a whole new level. Every obstacle that hinders your productivity today can be a lesson that you’ll use to avoid the same scenario tomorrow.

What’s your go-to tip for productivity boost? Leave your comment below. 

I published this article on my blog a while ago, but it's always useful to learn a few things about improving your productivity. Feel free to share your own experiences in the comment section.

Published by Amra Serdarevic