It always seems like there is a never-ending to-do list. This list can be memorialized in your mind palace, various techy gadgets, or on paper. We all need this list to keep track of our many tasks and obligations related to school, work, family, and friends. Sometimes, it can feel good to always have something to work on or even to look forward to. I always feel a sense of accomplishment when an item is checked off my to-do list. While it gives me the motivation to keep pushing forward, this can become excessive and detrimental if I do not set boundaries.
Working myself this way led to burnout that manifested itself in various mental and physical symptoms, such as anxiety, stress, fatigue, and irritability. Realizing that I no longer want to feel this way, I found more effective ways to manage my productivity effectively without compromising my well-being.
Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned over the years that have led me to be more productive:
- Taking regularly scheduled breaks for rest. You are more productive if you are well-rested.
- Acknowledge the to-do list will never end. Do not try and complete everything on your to-do list. Instead focus on completing 3 or 4 big things that you need to for today.
- Start early. Give yourself enough time by starting your task early or showing up earlier for things. Giving yourself enough wiggle room allows you flexibility and eases your mind. This is especially applicable for school and work-related deadlines.
- Clean your space. The old saying, “a cluttered space is a cluttered mind” is very accurate. Having your desk littered with unnecessary junk can be distracting and overwhelming. Taking a few minutes to straighten up your space can help clear your mind.
- Learn to prioritize. As mentioned, you cannot do everything. You can only spin so many plates (work, friends, family, etc.) at one time, and you may have to let something go. You may disappoint someone by saying no, but it’s better than disappointing yourself when all the spinning plates fall.
- Follow a routine. A routine provides comfort by reducing your anxiety and gives you a safe space to build habits. Most importantly, it can help you gain confidence to accomplish the rest of your to-do list.
Have you experienced burnout by trying to be too productive? What are your tips to be more productive? How can you take care of yourself while having a busy schedule?