Three Tips to Be More Productive Today
I am a stay at home dad with an 8-month-old son. I teach in the evening as an adjunct at a local community college. I also am trying to write book reviews and have a few dictionary articles (that the editor wants this month!). In addition to these things, I am trying to prepare myself for future applications to PhD programs; I am studying for the GRE, attempting to learn conversational and theological German, and trying to keep up with my ancient languages. Needless to say, it is easy to get distracted.
(1) Set Reasonable Goals
This is an idea that I struggle with every day. I want to accomplish everything possible, but instead I get overwhelmed and accomplish much less than I should. Instead, if I want to read, instead of deciding on “x” amount of pages (and then getting upset if I get distracted), I will set a timer. I will read for half an hour without interruptions (interruptions that can be helped, anyway – I do have an 8-month-old!). Then I will set another goal, be it doing laundry, cleaning up around the house, mowing the lawn, editing an article, etc.
(2) Limit Distractions
I know it is hard, but if you want to read or edit or write, you don’t need the internet. Don’t be afraid to turn off the wi-fi on your laptop! It won’t kill you to be without Facebook for 30 minutes. To ensure that I avoid distractions like this, I also hook my iPhone into my iHome, turn on a Pandora station, and leave the phone behind (if it rings, it will ring through the iHome and you’ll hear it anywhere in the house, don’t worry).
Some distractions are unavoidable. I will stop and feed my son. I will stop and play with my son. I will let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. Phones will ring. People will come to the door. What is key is that you don’t let these distractions derail your attempts to be productive. If you set a timer for 30 minutes, and you plan on reading for those 30 minutes, and you get an important 5-minute phone call when you have 10 minutes left on the timer, then you still have 5 minutes that you need to read. That is 5-10 pages that you can cover that you wouldn’t cover if you just gave up because you had a distraction.
(3) Make Tomorrow Easier
So often I have used the excuse that most of the day is wasted, I will get back on the horse tomorrow. Why wait? Read, write, or edit for 30 minutes before bed. Do something around the house that needs to be done. 30 minutes now means 30 minutes of extra productivity tomorrow.