- The habits are more important than the tool – Pick something and stick with it. You can always take your habits and apply them to a better tool later.
- Set a timer – Work for a set time 10, 15 or 30 minutes, but no more than 90 minutes at a time without a break.
- Be patient with yourself – You can’t be productive all the time, so be patient with yourself when you have a rough day or need extra breaks.
- Capture everything – Prospective memory, the part of our memory that helps us remember to remember, relies on cues. By capturing everything in one consistent place, like one special notebook, you are providing that cue for yourself and also closing up the “open loop” in your brain.
- Take breaks – Take a 5-10 minute break to stretch, walk around the building or office, then come back to work refreshed.
- Be open to new ideas – If you’re struggling with productivity, not only can new ideas break bad habits, but new ideas can also spur creativity. Try doing certain things at a new time of day or working for shorter amounts of time with multiple breaks.
- Just get started – Shifting from awareness that something needs to be done into action is the hardest part for many people. This is procrastination. Set a timer for 15 minutes and just start without worrying about how far you’ll get. Once you’ve overcome the trouble shifting into action, chances are you’ll be able to keep focus beyond your 15 minute time limit. If not, take a break and come back to the task for another 15 minutes.
Set boundaries with co-workers – Make a sign or put something up that indicates that you are working and not to interrupt at this time.