How to Be More Productive: Top Methods, Habits and Tips to Use
Do you feel like the list of things you should tackle gets bigger and bigger day by day while you are, inversely proportional, less and less productive? Or do you ever think to yourself “there must be a formula to being more productive”?
The good news? There is! You can make the time work in your favor, and find the perfect balance between your personal life and your job.
Down below, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of ways to be productive—from the most popular productivity methods, to daily habits of productive people you can quickly develop as well, to tips on how to be more productive at work and at home (even if your kitchen table is your desk).
Oh, and, before we get to the point, remember this: you’ve spent years or even decades cultivating some of your habits. Thus, it might take some time to become a productivity pro. Be kind to yourself and make sure to bookmark this productivity encyclopedia for the next time distractions strike!
5 Most Popular Productivity Methods
A productivity method can provide you with a good framework you need to get your tasks done, the one that can help you stay on track in the long run. However, a method is not a magic trick. It requires action and implementation. So, here is a quick rundown of the most popular, proven productivity methods explained without waste of words (we’re trying to be productive here, right?).
1. GTD (Get Things Done)
Millions of people around the world swear by the GTD method. Why? Because this method could be the key to living a less stressful, more productive life.
If you are spending more time thinking and a lot less time doing things, but still feel overwhelmed, and if you are wearing a lot of hats in your job and life, GTD could be it. GTD can help you prioritize and focus, as well as teach you how to be more productive. Here are its basic principles:
- Capture all thoughts and ideas,
- Clarify how big and small they are, make some of these projects, or keep them as tasks,
- Prioritize and set start and end dates, delegate parts of work (if you are running a business or work as a manager),
- Review progress once a week.
Luckily, you don’t have to figure things out on your own. There are plenty of GTD software and other productivity tools (such as ClickUp, monday.com, Airtable, and Infinity) supporting this methodology that make the implementation of this productivity method a breeze. Here’s how GTD looks like in Infinity.
Infinity translates your chaotic clutter into a well-organized workspace where you can capture ideas and initiatives and turn them actionable. Create a board for each of your projects, them break it down to manageable items, create custom task statuses (to-do, doing, and done typically go hand-in-hand with the GTD method), add start and due dates, set priorities, track progress using progress bars, and assign tasks if you are working with a team.
You can duplicate tasks in a few clicks and make sure those things you have to do from week to week or month to month never fall behind. In a nutshell—this software makes it a walk in the park to process rather than just store information, capture it into an easy-to-use external system, and then organize, prioritize, and tackle tasks like never before (and that’s what we call being productive).
2. Eat the Frog
If you are a procrastinator or the kind of person who multitasks but never makes any serious progress, or you can’t separate the urgent from not-so-urgent tasks, this one’s for you.
Obviously, eating frogs won’t help you with being more productive. A frog is, in fact, a synonym for the hardest task on your plate. Pick that one thing that requires a lot of time and effort and tackle that task the first thing in the morning, then handle all the rest.
Plan your “frog” the day before, but stop there. Don’t get caught in the web of planning the whole week or month ahead. If the frog takes more than 4 hours, break it down into smaller steps.
How does Eat the Frog work in Infinity?
Add new tasks to the board, set custom priority levels (f.e. high, medium low) and color-code them, then group tasks by priority. When a task requires more effort and time, break it down to subtasks using checklists.
3. The Pomodoro Technique
If you speak Italian, then you already know “pomodoro” stands for tomato (or at least now you know). These productivity methods truly have inspiring names, you'll agree.
The Pomodoro Technique is the life-changing time management method for people who find it hard to deal with distractions and achieve focus and juggle multiple tasks at a time.
How to be more productive following the Pomodoro principle? Define the tasks for the day, get started with the first one, then do it for 25 minutes (you can set the timer). No matter whether you’ve completed the task or not, take a 5-minute break. Short breaks promote concentration, prevent mental resistance, and make you more productive. After a set of 4 pomodoro sessions, take a longer, 15-20 minute break.
You can experiment with the length of your pomodoros to find your sweet spot. However, it would be best not to go for shorter than 25 and longer than 50 minutes work sessions and 5 to 15 minutes breaks.
How can you embrace the Pomodoro Technique using Infinity? Well, Infinity integrates with over 3,000 apps via Zapier and—Clockify. Sign up for free, track the time you spent on tasks, and stick to your pomodoros. Here’s how it looks with our tool.
Does the Pomodoro Technique work? In the beginning, you will probably have a hard time completing tasks within a single 25-minute session. However, bit by bit, you’ll probably tick off given tasks even before the timer goes off.
Being so simple, the Pomodoro Technique is a breeze to implement, increases your output, prevents burnouts, helps you with time management, and, of course—with being more productive.
4. Time Blocking
If you are juggling many responsibilities, spending most of your workdays on meetings and responding to emails, and finding it hard to concentrate due to constant interruptions—then this is it for you.
Time blocking is all about dividing your days and tasks into blocks of time. Instead of jumping from one task to another, devote a large chunk of your time to doing tasks from the same group (for instance, administrative tasks, answering emails, creating content for social media, etc.) for a set amount of time (time block).
This way of doing things encourages you to plan and prioritize in advance and stick to the schedule so you are on top of it, not vice versa. Needless to say, you can’t plan every minute ahead but you can make a rough sketch.
Time blocking goes hand-in-hand with day theming, task batching, and time boxing. Task batching is exactly what we mentioned earlier—grouping and scheduling similar tasks. Day theming is dedicating your whole work days to different responsibilities (one day, you are all into marketing, the next day into customer support, and so on).
Time boxing is often mistaken for time blocking. Although they intertwine, there is a major difference between these two concepts.
I will create posts for social media from 9am to 12am.
I will create all social media posts for this week between 9am and 12 am.
When time-boxing, you force yourself to complete the task within the set timeframe. If you like to challenge yourself, this could be the way to being more productive.
And, just in case you don’t tackle all of your tasks in a day or new, more important tasks come along, re-adjust the rest of your week accordingly.
How can you time block in Infinity?
Create a task and give it more depth using attributes. Assign a label to this task and customize it. Repeat for all the weekly/monthly tasks. Then, use Infinity’s group feature to group tasks by type (writing blogs, emails, etc.). Integrate Infinity with Clockify (what we already explained in the previous section) and track the time spent on tasks.
5. The Eisenhower Matrix
Not only was Dwight D. Eisenhower a five-star general and the president of the United States, but he was also a productivity virtuoso. After all, he wouldn’t be able to accomplish so many great things if he didn’t have a couple of tricks upon his sleeve. This guy actually found a way to separate “urgent” from “important”, shut out time-wasters, and made more space for making progress on his goals.
Since we all are fighting our own battles, maybe we should follow the general’s advice. If you are typically working on long-term goals, feeling busy all the time but can’t see the results of your hard work, and the word “no” is non-existent in your vocabulary, maybe you would want to try the Eisenhower Matrix.
This productivity method makes you think about ways of being productive but also effective. It separates tasks by quadrants:
- Both urgent and important tasks,
- Not urgent and not important tasks,
- Urgent and unimportant tasks,
- Not urgent and important tasks.
Urgent tasks require immediate attention and action. They are unavoidable, and not completing them right away can have major consequences on your life/business. On the other hand, important tasks require some thought and planning and contribute to your long-term life/business goals.
Delete the non-urgent and unimportant, delegate urgent and unimportant, schedule important but not urgent, and immediately complete urgent and important tasks. How can you do all this in Infinity?
Again, let’s call our labels for help! Infinity lets you customize task labels so they fit your workflow methods. If you believe the Eisenhower Matrix can help you be productive, then use important, urgent, important and urgent, and uncategorized labels. Here’s an example of how we did it.
Which Productivity Method Is the Best for You?
Take this quick quiz tailored to different goals, strengths, and challenges and get a custom recommendation on which productivity method to use to organize your life.
- What is your primary occupation?
B-Creator (developer, designer, writer)
- How much time do you spend on meetings?
A- More than 4 hours
B-3 to 4 hours
C-1 to 2 hours
D-30 minutes to 1 hour
- Does emailing eat up a lot of your time?
C-Not at all
- What is the most challenging part of your work life?
A- Not knowing to say “no”
B- Not knowing to prioritize
D-Feeling stuck and overwhelmed with tasks
- What’s your work style?
A-Routine and planning are my things
B- I prefer spontaneity
C-A lil bit of everything
- Do you need short or long-term productivity advice?
If you have most answers under A, try time blocking. B-s, go for the Eisenhower Matrix, C-GTD, and if you sort of feel like you are in the middle of everything, the Pomodoro Technique and Eat the Frog could be your best bets (choose the latter if you are a morning person).
8 Bonus Tips on How to Be More Productive at Work
Being more productive doesn’t stop with picking a productivity method and sticking to it. On the other hand, maybe you prefer freestyle productivity more or you want to find shortcuts to being more productive. Either way, there’s a couple of more ways to boost your productivity to maximum.
Let’s go through 8 easy-to-implement tips on how to become more productive at work.
1. Stick With the Two-Minute Rule
Some tasks on your to-do list won’t take more than a minute or two to be done. If you can spot such tasks, complete them right away rather than leaving them for later just because they don’t require much effort. Otherwise, there’s a great chance they’ll turn overdue.
2. Say No to Meetings
Meetings are the worst. You have to take the time to book one, then attend it, review it, and so on. If you are barely finding some time to work on tasks, maybe it would be best not to do meetings or reduce them at least. Instead, do Web-based or phone meetings or simply discuss whatever you need via email.
3. Track Progress
Working on tasks and trying to be productive is ridiculous if you are not evaluating and tracking progress. You know where you are going but everything in-between is just blank?
Set start and due dates, add priorities, custom statuses, use progress bars to stay in control, and divide bigger tasks into task lists so you can easily track their completion.
All this, you can do in Infinity, and even get a different perspective of your tasks by switching between views (Column, Calendar, Gantt, and a couple more).
Gantt charts are the best when it comes to tracking progress. Here’s how you can track tasks, see whether they overlap, how much time do you have left to complete each, and more.
4. Combat Productivity Hijackers
Try to resist the allure of opening text messages while you are in the midst of your work session. Create a veil of mystery, don’t answer right away. Let that someone question what you are up to. Even better, turn off notifications to minimize disruptions and interruptions (f.e. keep your doors closed).
5. Don’t Always Aim for Perfection
If you keep trying to make every task perfect, you will quickly be caught up in the middle and never ever get to be more productive. Tasks will continue piling up and you will, once the deadlines start looming, start running around like a headless chicken. Instead, devote some time to each task, review it once, and move right away onto the next one once completed so you don’t overthink every detail.
6. Delegate Work
Although it is a no-brainer method, most people simply don’t see delegating responsibilities and work as a solid method of being more productive. If you want to do it all by yourself (or think no one is going to do it better than you), there is a chance you will burn out.
Alternatively, you can delegate work and track your fellow co-workers on their way to completion. A reliable team collaboration software like Infinity could be all that you need. Infinity lets you assign work to one or more persons, track their progress, comment under tasks to provide feedback, and gets you updated on the most recent changes while you can also track manually in the Activity Log.
7. Make Repeating Tasks a Routine
No one likes recurring tasks. Having to do the same thing over and over again is quite uninspiring, right? Yet, you still have to complete them, and the best way to do so is to stick to a routine. Set a day and time for tackling recurring tasks and stick to a routine if you want to prevent delays, develop an efficient habit, and become more productive.
8. Follow the 80/20 Principle
Vilfredo Pareto, another productive guy born in the 1800s, discovered the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule. This method is all about identifying 20% of your most important tasks, then finding ways on how to cut down the effort to tackle the other 80% of your work that produces minimal results. In a nutshell—those 20% you handle first will make the most impact, resulting in 80% of your results.
Being More Productive at Home? It’s Doable!
If you are working from home, you can test and try all of the productivity methods and tips we touched upon until now. However, since working from home can get slightly more challenging than working at the office, we have prepared a couple more extras on how to be more productive even when working from your living room or kitchen, just for you.
1. Create a Work-Friendly Environment
First, zone your home. Decide where you want to work and stick to that room/corner.
Clutter on your desk creates clutter in your mind. All those pens and papers, snacks, scrunchies, bills laying around—there’s too much to bear. One of the keys to being more productive at home is to tidy up your work area.
Place only essential items before you, add a pop of color now and there (preferably blue and green), hang an inspiring picture on the wall, and inspire productivity with a few leafy plants.
2. Put That Suit/Dress On
Working from home, you are probably spending most of your days in pajamas. How you dress doesn’t matter because no one is going to see you, right? This is one of the major mistakes remote workers make.
Dressing appropriately for work sparks more mental energy and boosts concentration levels. Only then your brain understands it is the time to get serious. You can wear a suit, pencil skirt, flowy dress, anything except the sweat pants.
3. Take Power Naps
The great thing about working from home is that you can take power naps somewhere around the mid-afternoon. Could you ever guess napping could be one of the best ways to be productive?
Power naps (20-minute sessions) can boost your creativity, cognitive skills, and improve your memory. Once you wake up from a power nap, you will be full of energy, ready to tackle the rest of your daily tasks with ease.
Pro tip: Drink a cup of coffee right before taking a nap. That way, you will wake up even more energized because caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in.
4. Figure Out Your Two Peak Hours
If you don’t want to “eat the frog” first thing in the morning but in the evening, that’s totally fine! The business environment is changing rapidly, making it easy for night owls to work when their natural energy is at its zenith. Maybe your creative energy is at its peak from 4pm to 6pm or 1am (both is fine).
Whenever it be, schedule your most important and/or urgent tasks for that time and handle the shallow, low-effort ones for the rest of your workday. This is what Cal Newport, Georgetown professor, named “deep work”. Just focus on things that require a lot of effort and attention during those peak hours and you will start being more productive in no time.
5. Set a Definite Finishing Time
Working from home can make you feel like you are more in control over your life. Well, that’s not quite true for some people. When going to work, you know when it is the time to leave the office.
And, when working from home at flexible hours, your normal workday may suffer. If you don’t want to lose that work-life balance, pick a time when your workdays are technically over. Setting boundaries will help you prevent your work life from creeping into your private life.
Productivity Habits to Look Up To
Productive people have so many things in common. Take a minute to go through these 5 habits and kick-ass productivity tips some of the popular names of the world’s history applied themselves.
1. Level Up Your Decision-Making Game
We make decisions every day, although we give some decisions more thought than they deserve, which can kill our productivity. Try not to overthink less important decisions. The former US president, Barack Obama, made a great point on this one:
“I’m trying to pare down my decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make”, Obama said in his interview for Fanity Fair.
The point is—don’t waste your energy or time (not even seconds) on the unimportant and you’ll instantly become more productive.
2. Always Have a Back Up Plan
You got up early, all pumped up to make something big today, and then—things went wrong and a myriad of little fires started popping up. How many times has something like this happened to you?
It is so easy to get trapped in the planning fallacy and misestimate your time. Thus, you should also have a plan when things go wrong. Don’t leave less important tasks for the next week just because it seems more open. Duh, it is still unscheduled, that is why it seems open. If you want to be more productive, plan for interruptions and you will handle the unplanned things with ease once problems arise.
3. Work Before You Are Inspired
If you want to know how to be more productive, try working even when you are not inspired or motivated. Eventually, your productivity levels will go up.
Anne Lamott, the author of Bird by Bird, talks about inspiration and creativity in one of her interviews. Trying to handle all your tasks at once can be intimidating. Looking at the big picture and the enormity of tasks on your plate is not going to boost your productivity, but kill it. Anne says you should start with small tasks, and as you go, the motivation will follow.
Stephen King once said “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work”, and we couldn’t agree more.
4. Dedicate Time to Becoming Better
If you want to be productive, you should spend more time becoming knowledgeable. Invest your time into getting better at tasks and you will be able to tackle future tasks in less time.
Sam Hinkie quoted Abraham Lincoln in his resignation letter “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”, and, although Lincoln never said that, Sam made a great point.
Stay sharp, spend time investing in yourself, getting better at what you do, and you will naturally learn how to respond to challenges and become more productive.
5. Recap Daily Activities
Benjamin Franklin and Steve Rotkoff vouched for taking the time to record daily success and frustrations. Answer these questions at the end of your work day or keep a diary to write down the previous day’s events so you can set a clear roadmap and priorities for the next day.
Other Things Productive People Have in Common
1. Following Routines
Productive people don’t mind adhering to schedules. Their regular days don’t differ much and, by following routines, they block distractions from getting in their way.
2. Getting Up Early
Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Dorsey—all successful entrepreneurs get out of bed between 5am to 7am. However, they get up early not to go to work right away but to take a shower, work out or meditate, have breakfast, etc.
Bill Gates reads for at least one hour before bed, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Armstrong as well. Reading at night will reduce your everyday stress levels, keep you informed but also increase your overall creativity and emotional intelligence with time.
10 Productivity Killers to Watch Out For
One of the ways to be more productive is to—eliminate (or at least reduce considerably) things and habits that sap your productivity. We’ve put 10 of them into this snappy list:
- Office chatter,
- Constant exposure to customer complaints and issues,
- Working long hours,
- Using too many tools or using ineffective tools,
- Tracking time manually,
- Bringing work home,
- Skipping vacations,
- Comparing yourself to others,
- Worrying too much about productivity.
We constantly think about how we don’t have enough time in a day, yet we waste it scrolling through social media, looking at other people’s lives. Meanwhile, we have emails to answer, projects to work on, and household chores to tackle. A myriad of distractions pulling us in various directions can easily get you out of your way.
That’s exactly why we created this guide—to help you learn how to be more productive and identify and give the heave-ho to all those factors that kill it. By following at least some of these productivity tips, you will quickly start getting stuff done, maximize your time and accomplish great things you never thought you would.
Want to share your success story about how you became more productive thanks to our productivity hacks? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!