In 2019 and 2020, users spent an average of 145 minutes per day on social media, according to Statista.
Social media is only one distraction of many, of course, but it’s a major one. So many productivity-eaters abound in our work and daily lives. And in our increasingly digital world, in which we’re constantly glued to our devices, often working from home and otherwise facing complicated, distracting environments, it seems like we can never get anything done as we want to.
How can maximize our productivity and reclaim time in our busy workdays? Start with these simple habits.
1. Plan out your day in advance.
Going into your day blind means you don’t have direction. You need to plan for productivity — it doesn’t just materialize. So, the night before each workday, plan out everything you need to do. Write it down on paper, breaking big tasks up into smaller components if possible. When you commit your objectives for every day on paper, you’re far more more likely to achieve them than you are if myriad responsibilities are floating around in your head.
This is what Google’s executive productivity advisor, Laura Mae Martin, does. Using a Daily Plan template she created, she writes down her three key priorities. “Underneath the first priority, it says, ‘Until this first task is finished, everything else is a distraction.’ So that’s my one thing I need to get done,” she said.
2. Lock your email and social media accounts.
Constantly checking your email and social media accounts eats up time and damages your productivity. Whenever you look at your phone to see that new Instagram comment or send off a quick, personal email, you’re distracting yourself from pressing work tasks.
But there are workarounds. Apps like Freedom allow you to block certain sites and apps for given periods of time, making it impossible for you to succumb to these time-wasters.
3. Say “no.”
“Really successful people say no to almost everything,” according to Warren Buffett.
Of course, you may not have the option of saying no to “almost everything,” but you can practice using that word more frequently. Commit saying no at least two to three times per day. Start small-scale, focusing on tasks you might do for the sake of avoiding conflict. Once you practice turning down low-stakes tasks (ones you can reasonably avoid without causing problems), you can turn to bigger issues.
Increasing your productivity at work — and overall — doesn’t have to be a life-altering experience. These simple habits don’t take significant energy or time to incorporate into your schedule, and once you do, you’ll see a huge impact immediately.