7 Unique Ways to Stay Productive ...

With so many distractions around us (I'm looking at you Facebook), it can be hard to stay focused and be productive. Guest contributor Michelle Smith shares her tips on what you can do to stop wasting time and be more productive.

If you’re reading this (which you are), you probably need a little help staying focused. We’re all busy, but with these tips, you’ll be able to cram two days’ worth of tasks in just one day. Or at least they’ll help you save a little time. I’m not going to give you the obvious tips – get rid of Facebook, wake up earlier, cancel unnecessary meetings. Here are seven unexpected ways to be more productive.

1. Add to Your to-do List

Yep, you read that right. ADD a few more tasks to that already long list of yours. I’m sure the major tasks are on your list – but what about the minor ones? Pay your electricity bill. Call your mom. Mail that birthday card. Put those on there too.

Even though the small tasks take just a few minutes, crossing them off feels like a huge accomplishment. That to-do list will then feel much easier to handle and you’ll be more motivated to cross off a few more bullet points.

2. Don’t Multitask

Multitasking is not a gift from the gods above. In fact, if you regularly do it, you’re probably less productive than your «single tasking» friends/coworkers. Plus, when you do two or more tasks at once, you’re more likely to make mistakes.

Instead of spending an hour doing two tasks simultaneously, focus on each one for 30 minutes. Completing each task individually will help you do each one faster, and you won’t have to spend additional time fixing your errors.

3. Take Time to Exercise

Does exercise sometimes feel like 30 minutes lost from your day? It’d be better to spend those precious minutes paying bills or responding to emails, right?

Make time for a quick cardio session and your brain will thank you. A run outside or a workout on the elliptical will increase your ability to problem solve and make decisions and it boosts your memory too. How? Oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the brain when you sweat it out. Oh, and those endorphins will definitely get your energy revved up. So you’ll be feeling better and ready to cross off everything on your to-do list.

4. Get Natural Light

Hate those fluorescent lights at work? You should – they’re killing your productivity. Take a quick break, walk outside and enjoy the natural sunshine. Or light up your cubicle with a light therapy lamp which offers similar benefits.

The more natural light you’re exposed to during the day, the better your sleep. Ultimately, this will help you stay focused and get more done.

5. Play Video Games

If you’re looking for a productive few hours, spend some time racing against Mario or playing the latest Call of Duty. It may seem counterproductive, but a study showed that playing video games can actually enhance your creativity and increase your problem-solving skills.

So pick up one of the must-play video games, plug in your controller and get gaming. My only warning, don’t have too much fun. Set a time limit so that you’ll actually get back to your important tasks.

6. Look at Cute Animals

No, don’t drive to the zoo. Take a few minutes to scroll through images of baby animals on Pinterest or Google Images.This used to be considered procrastinating, but now it’s considered a productive task. A study showed that this will actually improve your concentration – by 44 percent.

7. Give a Compliment and Smile

Tell a coworker he/she did well on that assignment. Smile at that stranger you’re about to awkwardly walk by. When you see someone smile or you smile, both dopamine and endorphins are released from your brain. These chemicals will make you more productive by giving you the focus and energy you need.

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