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7 ways to be more productive during even your most unfocused work days

7 ways to be more productive even during your most unfocused work days

We’ve all been there, our to do list is out of control, now to the point where it just feels overwhelming and impossible. So much so, that you can’t even fathom tackling one item on it, so you put it off, and in turn, end up ending the day feeling unproductive and not great.

We know everything is on that to do list for a reason – it needs to get done, right?
Okay, let’s buckle down and get to it. You can do it, I promise.

  1. Priorities. Take a look at each item on your to do list. Obviously some are going to have a higher priority than others, especially ones with deadlines (like RRSP season!). Highlight the ones that have to be done today in pink. Not the ones you “want” to get done, the ones that have to get done.
  2. Eventually. Look at the ones that have been dutifully copied over every week (or day/month, depending on how you organize your to do list), the ones that don’t have a hard deadline, but still need to get done eventually. Put them in their own list, and stop feeling guilty about them. They’re not the priority – they’re not the ones stressing you out right now.
  3. Eat the frog. Let’s go back to the pink/urgent ones. Find the one that will take the least amount of time, suck it up, and do it. Get that first task done. Bonus points if it’s also the most important. (I’ll bet it’s calling to make an appointment for something! It takes less than 5 minutes, and doing it will make you feel so much relief! Do it!)
  4. Mix it up. Congrats, you ate the frog! How’d that feel? Pretty good, right? Maybe not enough to tackle the next most important item on your list, though. Maybe that one will take a bit longer to get done than simply making a phone call, so break it down into 15 minute increments. Do something else for 15 minutes, and then come back and do another 15 minutes. It might seem counterproductive to keep switching things up, but when you’re truly unfocused, and you know there’s no chance you’ll actually be able to sit down and complete the task, there’s no point in wasting time trying. Committing to small chunks at a time is motivating, knowing there’s a set time on a task you’re not digging, and most tasks take less time than you think they will too.
  5. Break it down. Let’s assume you’ve done that first chunk of priority #2, and you need to take your break from it (only 15 minutes!). What else is on your list that you can break down into tasks to complete over the next few time increments or days if it’s less deadline specific? Spend the next 15 minutes organizing your list and making a plan. (Just don’t get caught up in re-organizing the list and never actually completing anything on the list… guilty!) 
  6. Done is better than perfect. Love this quote. Obviously do your best when you can, but don’t let it stop you from completing (or starting!) a task. You can go back and revise whatever it is later if you need to (in most cases), but don’t let “perfect” prevent you from making progress. Get started. Take action.
  7. Suck it up. Yup, no sugar coating it. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it. Being an adult is tough – but there will always be things that need to get done that you don’t want to do. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself to suck it up, get it done, and then eat ice cream for dinner… because there are perks to being an adult too!

I’m as guilty as the next person for procrastination, but these tools have absolutely helped me to get things done that have plagued me for weeks on my to do list.

If you enjoyed these tips, feel free to share them – help some other poor soul that’s procrastinating on social media to get started on their own to do list!