Throughout the ins and outs of our day-to-day life, it can become easy to feel like we aren’t really accomplishing anything. Our everyday activities can seem mundane, and the opposite of productive – and no one likes to feel unproductive.
If you’re starting to get that itch that makes you feel like you need to just get something done, help is on the way. Today, we’re going to talk about some productive activities that anyone can engage in. Read on to learn more about being productive and different activities you can engage in to improve your productivity.
What Does it Mean to Be Productive?
In its simplest terms, being productive basically means to produce results. A productive person is known to do a lot of work. You may most often see this in the workplace, where some people sit and work tirelessly until quitting time, while others scroll through social media and chat with their co-workers. This is a display of productive versus unproductive.
However, productivity goes beyond spreadsheets boasting raising numbers in the office setting. While productive workers can showcase their many results, a productive person can offer positive results – both big and small, and very widely described.
For example, a productive conversation between you and one other person may not be making a company more money, but it helped one of you come to a decision that you otherwise were not able to.
To better help you understand being “productive,” take a look at some of these synonyms often used in its place:
Your levels of productivity often reflect your attitude and actions surrounding everything you do. In reality, you can get a lot of things done, but how productive are you really being? In the same breath, your lack of productivity frequently relates directly to how you approach an action.
If you go into work with the attitude of not wanting to be there and not feeling like doing anything, you probably will not be very productive on that particular day. The same goes for all the areas of your life.
Productivity, though it seems to be a very business-like word, touches our health, our families, our relationships, and our home life as well. Something can be considered productive if it benefits your physical well-being or your mental health.
You may not be sealing the deal on important company partnerships, but getting all the laundry done and cleaning the house is still a productive day.
With a clear definition of what being productive means, let’s talk a little about how we can be our most productive selves.
How to Be More Productive
It may seem like a silly question to some people: How can I be more productive? For certain individuals, being productive comes naturally. They like to get things done and enjoy the benefits they receive, including a feeling of accomplishment.
However, some of us need a little more help in that area. We want to become productive people, but sometimes lack the motivation or become easily overwhelmed – and that’s okay!
With a few tips and tricks, you can learn to be productive in any area of your life. It may not happen in the blink of an eye, but some determination can get you where you want to be.
Productive people absolutely love to-do lists. If you have ever made a list of things you need to get done, you know just how great it can feel to cross things off. A to-do list will help you keep track of all the things you want to accomplish.
Keep it simple, though, especially if you’re new at being productive. A long to-do list can be overwhelming, and if you don’t accomplish everything on the list, you may feel defeated and unproductive.
Long, unreasonable lists can also lead to procrastination, which is often times an issue already involved with not being productive.
It’s also important to keep your list balanced. If your list has too many unequal tasks, you’ll find yourself focusing on completing all of the quick, easy ones and neglecting the harder ones.
Large tasks can seem overwhelming, which is why it feels so hard to be productive through them. Rather than focusing on the large scheme of the whole of the project, set mini goals throughout it. If you have a big report to write, focusing on nailing down all of your headings, then writing your introduction, and taking each section on its own.
Breaking up your projects or assignments will make them seem less scary, and before you know it, you’ll be on your last step. Sometimes it’s all about good organization and clarity of what needs to be done.
Track Your Time
At first glance, this can feel like a silly thing to do. However, tracking your time and how you tend to use it can help you better organize your activities. Some people are more productive in the afternoons, while others like to get a jump start on their day bright and early.
By tracking what you get done and when you can reorganize your priorities to suit their needs. If you find that you work better after a drawn out morning of waking up, eating breakfast, and generally waking up, save all of your larger and more difficult tasks for the afternoon.
In the same way, a morning person should be as productive as possible as soon as they wake up, saving smaller and simpler tasks for the end of the day when you may be losing steam.
This applies to all areas of life as well, not just work. For example, some people have their best workouts first thing in the morning when their energy is fresh. However, other people need to have the chance to wake up and get other things done before they can hit the gym.
Some good time management and planning will go a long way. Though you feel unproductive now, perhaps you’re just trying to do the wrong things at the wrong times.
Pick a Task and Do It
Based on your individual work ethics and what works best for you, this method may be very helpful. While lists are great, and we should certainly implement them for a more productive lifestyle, sometimes looking at that list all day can be daunting.
After you have made your list, pick one task from it and set it aside. That way, you can focus on getting that one task done without distracting yourself with the 10 other things on the list that need to be done.
Some people are project jumpers, meaning they’ll start one thing and think of something else and jump to that, never really focusing on one task. Extreme multitaskers may find that this method works for them, but perhaps focusing on one task at a time will work best for you.
Contrary to what some workaholics may think, walking away from your task for a little bit can help you finish it faster. Sometimes your brain just needs a break. Whether you work from home or in an office, try to find time in your day for a quick 10-minute walk.
Not only will this give you a chance to stop thinking and clear your mind, but even the low level of exercise can help increase your alertness, blood flow, and cardiovascular health. A short walk can minimize your anxiety and help you deal with stress.
When you sit back down at your desk, you will feel refreshed and ready for another round of productive work. The same goes for other projects and activities. Walking away from a painting or a half-cleaned kitchen can prepare you to finish strong.
Why You Should Be Productive: The Benefits
Being productive seems to require more effort on your part, so why should you bother? Other than “getting things done,” are there any real reasons we should all try to be a little more productive? My answer is this: of course, there are!
Do More with Less
If you struggle with being productive, you have probably seen in your own life that it takes a long time for you to get things done. Being productive allows you to do more with less time. This is a great benefit because it can allow you to get ahead of the game.
Someone who works on a project basis may find, with productive techniques, that they have more time at the end of their day. When you cross off your list early, you can either call it quits, or start tackling your list for the next day.
Someone who plans on spending their day cleaning the house from top to bottom can employ productivity techniques to finish early, giving them the rest of the day to relax, enjoy a hobby, or spend time with family.
Time is one of the most valuable things in this world. Being productive creates the illusion that we have more of it.
Depending on your job situation, being more productive in the same amount of time can increase your earnings. A writer who gets paid by the project can fit more projects into their schedule, thus boosting their pay. Someone else may earn a promotion in the long-term based on their ability to get more work done than others.
You can also count your “earnings” towards other productive activities outside of work. A productive workout session at the gym is going to give you better earnings towards your physical appearance and health, just like a productive volunteer shift will produce better outcomes for an organization.
When you maintain a productive schedule, you have greater control over your life in general. Being unproductive often means procrastinating, and next thing you know you have to squeeze everything in and get it all done before you can get to what you really want to do.
By the end of the day, you’ll find yourself wishing you had started earlier, so you weren’t forced to sit and do everything at once.
Take control back by making a plan and sticking to it. Deadlines can’t control you if you’ve already completed what’s due far before the date.
Learn Discipline & Avoid Stress
Being productive can improve your ability to have discipline while also reducing the amount of stress you feel. When things pile up, it shows a great lack of discipline. You then suffer the result: stress.
Avoid stressing yourself out by getting things done before they need to be done. If you know on Monday that you need to get something done by Wednesday, plan to have it done by no later than Tuesday. If you absolutely cannot get to it until Wednesday morning, then plan to get other things accomplished in the meantime.
Discipline will take you a long way in life, and being productive is a good way to improve upon your discipline while giving yourself more time to breathe and relax.
Specific Productive Activities
We can talk about being productive all we want, but sometimes, it can be hard to come up with something on the spot that you can consider productive. For that reason, we’re going to spend a good chunk of our time here today discussing specific, generally productive activities that you can do anytime you’re bored or feeling like you just haven’t gotten much done recently.
Let’s take a look at some of these activities.
When you think of being productive, your first thought probably doesn’t go directly to yourself or your own personal health. But the truth of the matter is, you should be just as productive within yourself as you are for your job, your family, and your friends.
Take care of yourself by doing a little bit of exercise. Any way you can get out and move is an activity that’s productive; just make sure that the exercises you’re doing are in line with your physical health and activity level.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring, either. There are tons of ways to get your body moving and your heart pumping. Some simple ways to do this is to go for a walk or a run, ride a bike, and jump rope.
If you’re looking for something that’s going to deliver some serious results, you can try lifting weights and implementing some high-intensity interval training.
Whether you’re keeping it casual with a walk or working on building some muscle, exercising is certainly a productive activity that you will never consider a waste of time.
Read a Book
Just like physical activity is productive for our bodies, mental activity is just as beneficial. Exercise your mind and make good use of your time by picking up a new book. Challenge yourself with something you never thought you could read or dedicate your spare time to finishing the series you started ages ago.
This activity is productive because when you read, you stretch your mind. No matter the subject or gene, reading grows your general knowledge. It also is known to relieve stress, serving as an outlet to escape work, personal relationships, and other life issues. Plus, few things are more enjoyable than curling up with a good book and truly immersing yourself in the story.
Reading can also improve your memory, expand your vocabulary, and promote analytical thinking – all of which are very productive. If you’re looking for an easy way to fill your time with something productive, pick up a book and spend some time getting lost in literature.
There is always something that needs to be clean. If you’re a homeowner, you know this more than anyone. And if you have kids or even a pet, it’s almost a guarantee that there’s some form of cleaning that can be done.
Cleaning can be great busywork that not only passes the time but delivers pleasant and positive results. They say a clean home is a happy home, and I would have to agree.
Even if you live alone, cleaning can give you a great sense of pride over your living space. It just feels much better to sit in a spotless, organized living room rather than an unvacuumed, cluttered space. If you’re looking to be productive, do a quick scan of your bedroom or home and see what needs a little help.
You can start with something small, like doing the dishes and take it from there. Clean and fold any dirty laundry you have in your hamper right now. Go through your refrigerator and toss expired products. Wash your windows. Clean the bathroom.
Any kind of cleaning is productive.
Write a Letter
These days, no one sends letters anymore – which is a shame, because who doesn’t love receiving mail? If you’re the kind of person who feels productive by helping others, then you should try writing letters. Do it old-fashioned style with a pen and a piece of paper.
Write a nice letter to your mom, your best friend, you grandmother – anyone you can think of who you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while.
On the one hand, handwriting will be good for you in some of the same ways that reading is good for you, and on the other hand, the recipient of your letter will be very pleasantly surprised.
Some of us love it, some of us hate it, but I think we can all admit that yard work is a very productive activity.
If you’re feeling unproductive, accomplishing some tasks around the yard is a surefire way to fix that. Someone needs to mow the lawn, so be the person to take the initiative and get out there.
You can also work in the garden. Pulling weeds will keep your flowers or vegetables happy while also brightening and clearing out the space for a nicer overall look. You can plant new seeds and trim back overgrown plants.
Yard work may also include raking, picking up sticks, mulching, shoveling, and various other activities. Try to think of yard projects you’ve been putting off. You will feel very much accomplished once you check them off your list.
Get a Second Job
Many of us do not feel productive unless we’re at work. If your job isn’t doing it for you, perhaps you should try getting a second job or a new job.
A second job can help fill your time outside of work while contributing to your household income. Not only will you see your efforts go to good use within the office, but you will reap the benefits of a second paycheck.
Perhaps, rather than getting a second job, you might consider getting a new job. It’s not uncommon for someone to feel like they have reached a dead end in their job. Your daily activities in your current position can feel meaningless.
If that’s the case, it might be time to move on to something that feels more productive for both you and your company.
And, if you don’t have a job at all, maybe it’s time to get one! This can be the case if you’re a student, a parent, or a retiree. While not working may have been the right choice for you at one point, your feelings of unproductiveness and boredom can be solved with a new work opportunity.
Develop a Hobby
There are tons of productive hobbies that you can choose from that will make you feel like your using your time better. While hobbies don’t always scream “productive,” it’s true that having a hobby is good for your overall mental health.
Hobbies hold several benefits to our lives, such as helping us cope with stress – like with reading. They can also boost our creativity and overall zeal for life. These feelings often overflow into other areas of our life.
Certain hobbies can help you make new connections and friendships. They give you something interesting to talk about when you meet new people. They can even help structure your time, so you aren’t wasting it doing meaningless things.
There is an endless number of hobbies to choose from. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Learn to cook
- Take up drawing or painting
- Write stories, blogs, or poems
- Start a garden
- Learn to play an instrument
This list is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of hobbies. Think about it – there are so many things out there to get you started.
Set a Goal
What is more productive than accomplishing a goal? It’s no secret that completing our goals makes us feel good and is a very positive thing. But, you can’t accomplish a goal that you don’t set.
Think of any goal that is realistic and attainable for you. It can be within your job, your personal life, your relationship, your education – anything, really. Identify your goal and write it down, posting it somewhere you will see it often.
In your spare time, work towards your goal. Maybe your goal is to lose some weight or learn a new language. Perhaps you want to earn a promotion within the next year, or you’d like to save enough money for a family vacation.
Use your time wisely and productively to reach your new goal. All the effort you put in will make attaining your goal that much more satisfying.
Some people may agree that volunteer work is one of the most productive things you can do with your spare time. When you volunteer, it not only makes you feel good about the services you are lending, but you can see the real results of your efforts.
Volunteering can include work at your local church, helping at homeless shelters, aiding animal shelters in their daily operations, or working at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. You can also volunteer your time to rebuild parks, clean up trash, and even build homes.
The goal of volunteering is to provide services that would otherwise need to be paid for. When you volunteer your time, others greatly benefit from it. In addition, volunteer work looks great on your resume.
A Productive Lifestyle
Living a productive life can be very fulfilling. After hours of binging our favorite TV show, we can’t really say that we have accomplished something. Nobody calls up their friends to brag when they finished a show.
But when something good and productive happens, we want to tell everyone. That’s because being productive makes us feel accomplished. We worked for something and have results to show for it.
Perhaps up until this point in your life, you have procrastinated and left things undone. You can still fix that! You can use the techniques we’ve talked about and engage in some of the everyday activities we have mentioned to be more productive. Once you take up a productive lifestyle, you’ll love the way you feel.
So what are you waiting for? Get up and get something done today!