These days, there’s so much focus on staying productive that it often comes at the cost of actually getting things done. The pressure to be productive has probably been especially felt during the pandemic. At a time when many of us are working from home, some for the first (or third) time, productivity is hard. Today I’m going to be sharing some micro-habits to boost productivity. These should come in particularly useful if you are now home-based for the foreseeable future.
If you’ve got any suggestions for additional micro-habits that can help you be productive, feel free to add them in the comments. It’s important to keep these realistic and achievable. Otherwise, it’s just another list of things to do.
For me, productivity needs to foster a sense of accomplishment, otherwise, you might as well just call it ‘stress’. Being productive is not necessarily about ticking things off your ‘to-do’ list. It’s ensuring that each day, you’re finishing whatever working time you’ve given yourself with a sense of achievement. Small wins are still wins.
Why micro-habits though? Let’s look at this concept in a little more detail.
Micro-habits to boost productivity
I like the term ‘micro-habits’ because for me, the smaller the task, the more achievable it is. Often I’ll make a list of jobs that need doing and find myself so overwhelmed I get nowhere. Micro-habits are just that; small daily habits that get your brain into work mode. You don’t have to put as much effort into achieving something small and simple.
By breaking your daily tasks down and implementing some of these micro-habits, you may see a real increase in your productivity. Keeping them realistic is key. There’s no point in introducing a new habit that you won’t be able to consistently stick to. Adapt some of the suggestions here to suit your lifestyle and your working goals. That way, you’ll be more likely to actually see results.
Small steps soon add up and while some of these ideas might not seem that new or inventive, they’ll become part of your daily ritual to help you become more productive overall.
Every morning, take a few minutes to physically stretch your body from top to toe. This is especially important if you’re based behind a desk for most of your day. Our sedentary lifestyles can take a real toll on our bodies. A simple top-to-toe stretch a couple of times a day seems like something you’d do without thinking. However, it probably isn’t.
If you’re working from home and you’re primarily at your computer all day then this is really important. One five-minute full physical stretch a day is so much better than nothing at all!
I try and do this first thing in the morning and again before bed. Usually, I’ve spent a good chunk of time sitting and the computer, and then another sitting on the couch gaming or watching TV. Stretching helps to keep my muscles from stiffening up completely after all that sedentary time.
Practice balancing while the kettle boils
So you’re making your morning cup of tea or coffee. Great! Now, while the kettle boils, practice balancing on one leg. You could do it as a yoga-based tree pose, or just by holding one foot off the ground.
Either way, balance is a really important physical skill and makes a huge difference in connecting your brain to your body. It’ll take a few minutes but it’ll wake your body up and help you switch your concentration on for the rest of the day.
It’s incredible how quickly we can lose our sense of balance if we don’t practice or use it. Taking a short time each day to remind your body how capable it is can make a huge difference to your overall health and well-being.
Work in 20-minute blocks
Speaking of concentration spans, try your best to work in 20-minute blocks. Get up and have a wander around the room, look out of the window, and talk to your cat for a bit. Whatever helps you to break up the monotony of staring at a computer screen all day!
It’s helpful for your brain and eyes to take short breaks from your work. Not to mention the physical benefits of keeping movement as a feature of your daily existence.
Mute, block and unfollow
That’s to say any accounts that cause you stress or annoyance. Disengage with problematic accounts on social media altogether. You’ll feel much better for it and you won’t waste your energy on them either.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to always be available. The thing is though, you really don’t. Just remove yourself from anything or anyone that’s giving your bad vibes online. You’ll feel the benefits almost immediately.
If social media causes you any stress at all, mute, block and unfollow the sources of that stress. You don’t owe social media your entire attention anyway.
Drink water regularly
This one seems obvious but I’m really bad at dehydrating myself by accident. Make sure you have a regular supply of water and drink regularly. That said, I often confuse thirst with hunger and my creativity really suffers when I’m dehydrated.
Keeping on top of your water intake is a key way to boost your productivity. Those motivational water bottles can be quite useful, but I’d make a point of using a cup. That way, I have a genuine reason to get up from my desk and physically move myself to go and get some water.
Don’t eat at your desk
Go downstairs and find another table to sit at. Honestly, this makes such a difference to my daily routine, especially as someone who works from home. Lunching at your desk might give you a sense of productivity. However, you’re really just prolonging how long you can maintain concentration at the screen.
Also, it’s easy to become distracted if you’re eating whilst in front of your computer. If you’re not careful, you can easily neglect your appetite for the sake of getting things done. Try and make a habit of getting up and going somewhere else to eat, even if only for a short while. You’ll feel more refreshed on your return, too.
Just do one thing
If you’re finding yourself in a productivity rut or are struggling to get started, then just do one thing. Then, get up for a walk around, make a drink and come back. Then do one more thing. Even if you work in short bursts like this for a whole day, you’ll find that your productivity is actually improving!
Don’t be too hard on yourself about this. Everyone struggles with workload, creative block, and just general burnout at times. Whatever you’re struggling with, remember that one thing is better than nothing at all.
Help someone else
Sometimes we get so involved in our own workload that we forget how we can be most productive helping others. Offer to proofread something, support someone with a project, or offer fifteen minutes of your time to help someone solve a problem. At times, it can really help us to refocus on our own work when we can have a positive impact on someone else.
Tune out the noise
Try working in silence for 20 minutes or so. It can take some getting used to but for me, I’m most productive when there are no audible distractions in or around me. I’ve tried working with background noise and I honestly can’t deal with it, but of course, it’s all down to personal preference!
Tuning out the noise isn’t always possible, depending on your shared work/living space, but if you can then try it. You might be surprised at how much more you get done when you have the power of silence to help you.
What are your micro-habits to boost productivity?
If you’ve got any helpful suggestions to add to the list then please let me know in the comments. Maybe you swear by a cup of green tea each morning. Perhaps you’ve got a phone hack that allows you to blank out unwanted distractions. Whatever it is, feel free to share in the comments below and let me know how you stay on top of things.
If you’ve found this post helpful then please do give it a share, and you can also check out some of my pins on my Motivational Tips board on Pinterest for more ideas like these.