16 productivity tips that will crush your to-do list and supercharge your life!

16 productivity tips that will crush your to-do list and supercharge your life!

If there’s one thing that all of us on this earth share, it’s the desire to GET STUFF DONE!

We humans are a productive species, and that means that we need to do things in order to feel fulfilled. In fact, a recent study found that the more busy a person is, the happier they are!

So what does this mean for us?

It means that we should think of increasing our productivity as a worthy goal – not only for the sake of ticking things off our to-do list – but also for our happiness in general!

That’s why I’ve decided to round up 16 of my best, most effective productivity tips to share with you. So get those pencils ready, ’cause after you’re done here, you’re going to be ticking a whole lot of stuff off that list of yours!

 

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1. Create a morning routine

We may not all be morning people, but research shows that there’s a direct correlation between how early a person wakes up and how successful they tend be. This is because of a couple reasons:

First of all, the earlier we wake up, the more time we have to spend doing healthy morning habits. These habits will then set the tone for the rest of our day. Some examples include:

  • Writing stream of consciousness
  • Stretching
  • Mindfully drinking our coffee/tea
  • Writing down things we’re grateful for
  • Repeating positive affirmations to ourselves

On top of this, waking up early also means that we’ll have more hours in our day to get things done. Once we finish our healthy morning habits, we can just get straight to work (even before most people have waken up yet!).

2. Group easier tasks together and get them done first 

Here’s a good rule to follow: if it can take you 5-10 minutes to do, just do it (I promise this isn’t a Nike advert!).

Take a couple minutes (in your morning!), to list all the quick and easy tasks you need to get done – whether it’s responding to an email, calling someone back, or even unloading the dishwasher. These are super easy things to do, but if you keep putting them off, they pile up, and that’s when they start to get overwhelming.

Plus, when you do these quick tasks first thing, it’ll get you in the “get stuff done zone”. Once you start doing even the simplest of tasks, you’ll be surprised to see how motivated you are to keep going!

3. Do your most dreaded task right away

We all have that ONE task on our to-do list that we keep putting off because we just don’t wanna do it.

Whether it’s a big time-consuming project or just one little chore that we shiver at the thought of actually doing (returning a phone call that makes you uncomfortable, perhaps?) – you just have to get it done.

The easiest way to do this? Get it done first thing in the – you guessed it – morning! After you’ve done a few of your small tasks, get the cringe-worthy one done and dusted and OUT of your mind (and enjoy how amazing it feels after you do so!).

4. Write everything down on paper

Sunday is great for so many things – movie nights, roast dinners, and planning out your next week!

Spend some time on Sunday evening listing all the things you want to get done in the following week. But here’s the catch – leave your computer and your phone turned off. Instead, write it all down on – GASP – physical paper!

Okay, in all seriousness, writing things down on paper rather than on your electronic devices has SO many benefits (as this article does a great job explaining). For me, the biggest benefit is being able to physically cross everything out when I accomplish it – there’s no better feeling in the world, I swear. 

And lucky for you, my Goal Planner was designed to help you with just this! I created this planner to guide you in getting clear on your goals so that you can break them up into smaller tasks to do throughout your day. It’s a fantastic resource for helping you take charge of your daily habits so that you can manage stress much better!

5. Don’t hesitate

Shout out to all my fellow procrastinators out there! Okay, this is one tip that I struggle following the most, but it’s also one of the most important ones (funny how it always seems to work like that!).

When we look down at our to-do list (handwritten on paper of course!), it can be overwhelming to see everything we have to get done. Often when this happens, we have this funny little habit of doing nothing at all rather that just doing something!

This is called procrastination, but I like to call it inaction. Why? Because it has the solution right there in the word – ACTION!

Honestly, just start doing something. I promise, once you do, you’ll get in the zone.

6. Eat healthy

If you want to be productive, there are 3 key times during the day you’re gonna want to pay special attention to:

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner (okay, let’s be honest – snack time too!).

What you put inside your body is going to make all the difference with how many things you’re able to get done throughout the day. Food is fuel, and your body and mind need fuel to be able to focus hard and work harder (if you want more insider tips and tricks on how to incorporate healthy eating habits into your daily routine, I suggest heading on over to my website and checking out my Design Your Anxiety-Free Life course!).

7. Take breaks

We’re all human, and that means we can’t be operating on superdrive all day long.

No matter how overwhelming your to-do list may seem, you MUST take breaks. Not only will it give your mind and body a much-needed rest, but it will also allow you to be more productive when you start back up again!

Schedule in advance small chunks of time throughout your day that you will dedicate to doing something that isn’t work.

Now, as much as our phones and the TV remote may be tempting, I advise against just flipping on a screen. Instead, the best thing to do on your breaks is something that rests you but also charges you. These things include:

 

  • Reading a book
  • Stretching/working out
  • Spending time in nature
  • Doing something creative
  • Listening to an inspirational podcast
  • Cleaning (yup, I said it! But honestly, you’d be surprised at what epiphanies you can have about your work while washing the dishes!)

8. Get in some exercise

Exercise is like the cousin of eating healthy – and you need the help of both these cousins if you want to get stuff done during the day! 

Working out is such an underrated component when it comes to being productive. I can’t stress this enough – if you want to feel motivated and productive, you need to get moving!

Whether it’s a stroll down your street, a quick yoga session, or even just a 5-minute stretch in your office – any and every form of physical activity is going to be your saving grace during your working day (which my Habit Tracker will help you stay on top of doing!).

9. Group similar tasks together 

This is what many people would call a productivity “hack”. Why? Because it’s a super easy yet not very well-known tip that only THE most successful people do (which will soon be YOU!).

When you’re planning out what you want to get done during your day, try as best you can to schedule similar activities in during the same time frame. For example, let’s say you have a lot of correspondence to do (phone calls, emails, texts) – schedule those in for one time block. If you have a bunch of cleaning that needs to get done, schedule each cleaning task in another block together.

When you do this, you’re allowing your brain to stay in similar “zones” as it does similar tasks. This means that you’ll spend less mental energy “switching” from one task to another completely unrelated task.

10. Break up bigger, daunting tasks into smaller chunks

This one is for that MONSTER on your to-do list (you know that one I’m talking about!). In order to defeat the beast, you gotta take it in chunks.

Instead of focusing on the WHOLE task, break it up into 3, 4, 5, or as many smaller tasks as it requires. Separate each task on your to-do list so that your brain just thinks of them as small, not-so-daunting tasks. 

11. Focus on one thing at a time

You have a million things to do. I know. I totally get it. But the only way you’ll get everything done is when you work on One. Thing. At. A. Time.

Whenever I have a never-ending to-do list, I tend to lose focus on one task because I’m thinking about that other thing I need to do, and that other other thing I need to do. I have to constantly remind myself that this way of thinking is NOT helping me – in fact, it’s distracting me from doing what I need to do!

Just take it one step at a time. You’ll get to everything. Don’t worry.

12. Have a good organizational system in place

If you’re anything like me, then you naturally have about TEN different places where you keep all your thoughts and notes organized (email, Google Grive, Dropbox, Microsoft Word, notes on my phone, notes in my notebook etc etc…). This is no way to be, and it will just end up adding more time to each of your tasks.

One of the best decisions I ever made in terms of my productivity was to streamline my organizational system. How did I do it? One word: Evernote

Evernote has been an amazing help in keeping all my many (MANY) thoughts organized an in their place. Honestly, if you haven’t already, I recommend downloading it (it’s totally free!).

13. Minimize distractions

Social media is great way to connect with people. It’s also a great way to lose FOCUS.

I, along with many of you I’m sure, have often fallen into the trap of taking a “five minute break” that turns into me scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed for HALF AN HOUR (I swear that social media distorts the time-space continuum).

My best advice to you? Switch your devices off. Your friends can wait, you can upload photos later, and you definitely don’t need to see who posted the latest vacay pic.

I know that this can be difficult to do on your own, but there are some super helpful apps out there that can help you out with this.

14. Get enough sleep

Who could say no to some extra Zz’s?!

Just like eating healthy and exercising, sleep is another vital function that our body NEEDS in order to be in tip-top condition to get things done.

If you struggle getting enough sleep, then I recommend you check out my Free Anxiety Handbook. In it, I share one super effective relaxation technique that works absolute wonders in helping you fall asleep easier and faster!

 

15. Say ‘no’ sometimes

One of the biggest things that has helped me focus more on the important things is learning the art of saying ‘no’.

It can be difficult to tell people that two-letter word, but honestly, once you learn how to, it’ll be a total game-changer. Whether it’s taking on more responsibilities at work, running some errands for your family, or doing a favour for your friend – you are always allowed to say ‘no’.

People will understand if you just explain the truth – “I’m really sorry, I won’t be able to do this for you because I have a lot of pressing things I need to get done but I’ll be happy to do it [insert time when you’re free]”.

 

16. Realize that the world will go on if you don’t get everything done

Go easy on yourself. If you don’t get everything on your to-do list done, it’s okay. You’ll survive. The world will go on.

You need to work through your to-do list with less of a “I-need-to-get-everything-done-OR-ELSE!” mentality and more of a “I-just-have-to-work-through-this-step-by-step” mentality. All is good, all is well.

You’ll get it done.

If you want more help crushing your to-do list and living a stress-free life, then check out my Productivity Secrets and Goal Planner! In it, I’ll be giving you worksheets and planners that guide you in structuring your day in a way that works for your schedule and aligns with your goals!

Natalie Burns-Holland

Natalie Burns-Holland

Content Creator at Mindaya

Natalie is a freelance writer living in Edinburgh, Scotland.

How to use stream of consciousness journaling: 7 tips to start clearing your mind

How to use stream of consciousness journaling: 7 tips to start clearing your mind

Picture this:

It’s Saturday morning.You wake up with a beam of sunlight pouring into your room and birds singing outside your window. It seems like the perfect morning. But something’s not quite right. Despite the sun, the birds, and the weekend vibes, something’s just…off.

You don’t feel relaxed. You feel overwhelmed. There are a gazillion things rushing through your mind – I have to buy groceries. When’s that assignment due? I really should clean the bathroom. The job application deadline is tomorrow. I need to get started on that. Will I have time practice guitar? I haven’t practiced in ages. Maybe I’m no good at guitar. Maybe I should quit. I can’t quit! When do I get paid? The more you think, the more anxious you get. No wonder you’re not feeling the Saturday morning vibes – your mind is going crazy!

When your thoughts are running a hundred miles an hour, it’s easy to feel confused. And when you feel confused, you lose sight of what really matters, and how you really feel. That’s where stream of consciousness journaling comes in.

What is “Stream of Consciousness Journaling”?

Stream of consciousness journaling is a method of journaling that involves writing down your thoughts as they come to you. No proofreading. No overthinking. Just transcribing every thought that pops into your head down on paper.

In stream of consciousness journaling, the magic happens in the messiness. When you stop censoring your thoughts and instead let them come to the page organically, what you’re really doing is allowing yourself to communicate with your inner voice, your intuition, your soul. The part of you that has all the answers. The part of you that’s unclouded by stress, anxiety, and ego.

It will Help You Understand Your Mind

Stream of consciousness journaling has a tendency to bring to the surface problematic thinking patterns, to uncover fears you didn’t know you had, and insights you didn’t know you needed. Thoughts that come from the depths tend to be the most profound, and the most necessary.

So if you’re ready to push past the distractions and delve deep to discover what’s really important to you, here are my 7 most helpful tips on stream of consciousness journaling:

1. Journal in the morning – Our thoughts tend to be the most chaotic and muddled when we first wake up. By writing in the morning, you’re sifting through all that chaos straight away, leaving you with a clear, focused mind for the rest of the day.

2. Don’t force anything – Be true to your thoughts. Stream of consciousness journaling should never feel contrived. It may not be enlightening, it may not be earth-shattering, it very well may be “I’m so tired, I don’t know what to write”. If that’s what you’re thinking, write it down.

3. Be patient – Don’t give up if you don’t get an ‘aha’ moment straight away. If you continue with it every day, your intuition will take you where you need to go. You know just as well as I know that all good things take time.

4. Forget the rules – Throw any concerns you have about spelling and grammar out the window. The point isn’t to create publish-worthy prose, the point is to let your soul take control (your soul doesn’t care about ‘you’re’ vs ‘your’).

5. Be specific – Your journal is no place for cautious generalities. Pin-point as much as you can – specific names, feelings, emotions, events. This is for your eyes only, so don’t shy away from writing precisely and explicitly.

6. Write by hand – Writing by hand in a physical journal rather than on your computer slows you down and keeps the intuitive part of your brain engaged. Your keyboard is far too linear for this type of writing.

7. Allow for jumps – Our thoughts can sometimes be quite sporadic, and that’s okay. If at one point you’re writing about your dog, which then reminds you about that movie you saw last night, which then reminds you about a dream you had one time – let yourself go there. No need for tidy transitions.

You have the tips, you have your journal, and you have your pencil. All that’s left for you to do?

Let it flow!

Natalie Burns-Holland

Natalie Burns-Holland

Content Creator at Mindaya

Natalie is a freelance writer living in Edinburgh, Scotland.
5 best strategies to fuel self-growth and unlock your fullest potential

5 best strategies to fuel self-growth and unlock your fullest potential

The most beautiful and most unifying thing about life is that we are all on this earth with the same (but individually unique) purpose – to grow and become the best version of ourselves. But in this rat race of an age we live in, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that “self-growth” means “career-growth”.

The truth is, your career doesn’t necessarily dictate how much you’ve grown as a person. Often, we find the most self-growth outside of work and school. I know I certainly have. I truly believe that if we reframe our minds to focus on our own self-growth over career-growth, the world would be a very different place.

These are my five favourite strategies for fueling my own self-growth, and trust me, none of them require meeting strict deadlines at work or finishing any school assignments!

Travel somewhere new – ideally for longer than a month

If you’ve ever travelled anywhere for an extended period of time, you’re no stranger to the serious amount of growth that comes with it. Travelling forces you to start from zero in a completely new environment – whether that’s a new city, province, or country. And with that comes a ton of life lessons.

When I moved to Scotland, every single day brought new opportunities to expand, develop, and just learn about myself in ways that I never would have if I stayed back home in Ontario.

We’re extremely fortunate to be living in an era where travel has become so accessible. Taking a gap year (let’s be honest – gap years) is becoming the norm among our generation.

But if travelling for an extended period of time just isn’t financially possible for you (trust me, I get it), short-term is your next best option. Go on a week-long Contiki trip to Brazil…or Greece…or Vietnam! The world – and an undiscovered part of yourself – awaits!

 

Get outside of your comfort zone (and stop being self-conscious about it!)

If you love belly dancing, but you’re way too nervous to sign up for classes, sign up for them anyway. The fear of having people judge you is holding you back from being your authentic self.

My life opened up in so many extraordinary ways when I finally realized that strangers do not care.

I guarantee that when you’re on the dancefloor shimmying your stuff, everyone else is too busy worrying about how they look to care at all about you!

There are so many daily practices you can do to get your comfort zone walls tumbling down.

Go to a bar alone. Go to the movies alone. Strike up a conversation with that cute Italian barista. Get lost in a new (and perhaps a bit eclectic) neighbourhood. Go to a palm reader. Send a message to that boyfriend who broke your heart in grade 10.

When you start doing things that push you outside of your comfort zone, over time you’ll get more comfortable with it. And once you’re comfortable feeling a bit uncomfortable, a world of possibilities opens up to you!

Re-awaken your inner child

Many of us who have passed the threshold from childhood to adulthood are in a constant state of mourning for our inner child.

We may not realize it consciously, but deep down we all yearn for a missing part of ourselves – the part that was more free, more creative, more imaginative, more playful, and more open to life.

As we age, we often lose touch with our inner child. This may manifest in a number of ways, including (but not limited to):

  • Having a pessimistic outlook on life; never really feeling excited about things
  • Conforming to what everyone else is doing even when you really don’t want to (a wardrobe full of grey and black when your favourite colours are pink and green)
  • Feeling overly anxious and self-conscious around people (“What are they saying about me? What do they think of me?”)
  • A paintbox full of untouched paints
  • A bookshelf full of unread books
  • A forgotten hobby
  • A forgotten passion
  • A forgotten backyard

If any of this sounds like you, don’t worry. You can re-awaken your inner child by doing a bit of mental time-travelling and getting back in touch with the things that made you light up when you were young.

And once you do, you’ll discover a beautiful, long-forgotten side of yourself you didn’t realize how much you were missing.

Journal every day

When it comes to self-growth, journaling is the equivalent to breathing.

Every morning when you wake up, write as many pages as you can of stream of consciousness style writing.

When we write without thinking too much about it, what we’re really doing is getting in contact with our higher self (our soul).

The magical thing about stream of consciousness journaling is that all you have to do is show up on the page and your soul will do the rest. It may sound a little bit cheesy, but before you mock it, try it.

I promise you that through the physical act of writing, insights will begin to bubble up inside of you and flood out onto the page – insights into what you’re truly thinking and feeling.

After a few months, it’s amazing to look back at older entries to see how much you’ve grown through the pages.

Listen, listen, listen – to everyone and everything

Make a deal with yourself. Instead of thinking “I already know this”, instead ask “what can I learn from this?”.

This simple way of reframing your mind can have a radical impact on your personal growth.

Once you approach the world with an open mind and an open ear, you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of learning something new every day and exposing yourself to new perspectives that may change the way you think about life.

Listening to podcasts and reading books are two of my favourite tools for learning something new, so I always have a book in my bag and a couple good podcasts downloaded on my phone.

Ted Talks are another fantastic resource for expanding yourself and exploring new ways of thinking.

But sometimes, even just talking to a stranger at a bar, or a party, or even a bus stop can expose you to eye-opening new perspectives.

Everyone has their own story to share, and we can all learn from a good story. Try treating everyone you meet like your guru and see what unexpected insights you discover.

***

I continue to use these five strategies to grow and expand myself each and every day. I hope that you too will benefit from them as much as I do!

I wish you good luck on your journey – remember I’m right there with you.

Natalie Burns-Holland

Natalie Burns-Holland

Content Creator at Mindaya

Natalie is a freelance writer living in Edinburgh, Scotland.