5 Productivity Tips You (Probably) Haven’t Heard A Million Times

Looking for productivity tips? Want to be more productive without resorting to the usual suspects? These tips will help! Click through and be more productive today! #productivity #motivation #goalsetting
You’re clever. You know the usual suspect productivity tips. You know about prioritizing. You know about coffee. But do you know theeeeese productivity tips?

“The First 10 Minutes” Trick

When I get home from work, the temptation to kick off my boots, eat a bowl of cereal and sit down in front a Hulu is nearly insurmountable. However! I (try) to force myself to spend the first ten minutes of my time at home doing something productive.
Maybe that’s paying bills, putting a load of laundry in, catching up on emails or changing the litter box. Regardless of what I do, those first ten minutes of my time away from work set the tone for the rest of my evening, and I find it a lot easier to keep doing stuff if I start off in that mind set.
On the same token, if you’re a workaholic who has a hard time winding down, you can use your ten minutes to do some stretching, make a cup of tea, cuddle with your lover or play with your cat. It’s not hard to have a relaxing evening if you make a conscious effort to have one from the minute you walk in the door.

“The 20 Minute Timer” Trick

If Sunday evening usually finds you slightly sulky with the knowledge that you have heaps to do and very little interest in doing it, may I introduce to my best friend: the timer? I use this trick all.the.time to derail fits of laze.
Set your phone timer for 20 minutes and force yourself to start on some of the things that you need to do. Just knowing that you only have to work for 20 minutes makes it soooo much more bearable.  Often, you’ll find that once the timer goes off, you’re willing to keep going for a bit longer. And if you’re not? You still got something accomplished, you clever minx, you!

“The Three Equally Important Things” Trick

If you were given two options: going to the beach on a gorgeous day or organizing your important paperwork, which one would you choose? Perhaps the beach? Maybe?
But what if the options were: organizing the paperwork or doing laundry? or writing a research paper? or sending out resumes? You totally know how this one goes – once you need to write a research paper, your resumes suddenly because so much more interesting. I (try) to harness this avoidance technique to get things done. Everything will eventually get done, if only because I will do anything to put off cleaning my refrigerator.

“The List” Trick

Really blowing your mind with this one, right? Making a list? Checking things off? Yup. Makes me get more stuff done. Maybe because I painted my front door with blackboard paint and have to look at a list of unfinished items every day before I leave for work.

“The Weather Watcher” Trick

This trick might be applicable only to those of us who live in places with temperamental temperatures, but I’m something of a slave to the weather.
On the three days of the year when the Minnesota weather is lovely, I use that time to walk around the neighborhood running errands, catch up with friends in outdoor cafes, lay in the grass and write or read the paper by the lake.
When it’s overcast or cold (the other 362 days of the year) I have zero qualms about hunkering down with my computer, repainting the living room, or spending hours attempting to teach my cat to fetch.
How productive are you? What are your tricks?
photos by henry be and delfi de la Rua // cc

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  1. A

    I think I'm doing the three equally important things trick today. When the other option is data analysis, you know I'm going to choose to prepare nifty animated slides for a lecture.

  2. Tiffany

    I might have this post tattooed on my head. (Backward, so I can read it in a mirror.)


  3. Nell

    Ah, I love the blackboard-door! I am a mega listaholic, gotta have those achievable goals 🙂

  4. MP

    Try to do the 'Ten Minute Trick' everyday when I put Ro down for her nap. And then the 'Twenty Minute Trick' whenever I need extra motivation, which is often!

    Great post, this time of year I need any help I can get in the motivation department!

  5. Alexandra

    I use the list trick. Works most of the times.
    Let's say if something needs to get done, I usually like to deal with that right away even if sometimes I whine a bit in the process…

  6. Becky

    So you know the Thriller dance and you want to participate in a large group dance? If you're still not 31 by Halloween next year, I say visit Lexington, KY for our annual zombie Thriller dance! It's a big deal, and super fun (even to watch – I've not participated yet).

    Also, I like your ten minute trick, and the timer idea. Brilliant.

  7. Sarah Von Bargen

    Becky, I actually *did* do it! I wrote it all up and I think the post is queued up for this weekend 😉

  8. Gene

    I need so much help being productive that it's not even funny.

    At work, I like to schedule blocks of time to work on projects. That way, I always know what I should be doing at a given time. It just takes a couple of minutes in the morning and it's proven to be pretty effective.

    Also, you're so right about those first 10 minutes. My trouble is on the weekends instead of when I get home. One interesting thing that I've found is that if I make four cups of coffee on Saturday morning, then I'll lounge while I drink four cups of coffee. If I only make two cups, however, then my brain thinks that I have to get to work that much sooner.

  9. Brooke

    I *LOVE* the "first 10 minutes" trick… think I just might have to cop that and make it my own 🙂

  10. aquirkydelight

    Oh, I love the idea of forcing yourself to do something with your first ten minutes in the door. I am absolutely using that one. (Shakes fist at hulu.)

    My productivity tip is to make a list of everything you need to do and a calendar of the next week, and then fit your list into your calendar. Many, many times I will suddenly realize that if I don't practice the oboe today, I never will.

  11. Danielle

    That first trick – "The First Ten Minutes" – is nothing short of genius. I always come home from class/work and just wanna relax. But what's an extra ten minutes after several hours of work? Thank you!

  12. The Naked Redhead

    The Timer and the First Ten Minutes are my go-to laziness avoiders…and so is a shot of some super concentrated energy drink or pill. You know, the kind that muscle heads take right before they go to the gym. I don't recommend this trick on a regular basis (it'll probably give you the screamin' shits after awhile), but if you're in a pinch, it works.

  13. Martina

    I love all your tips and certainly use them regularly; my variation on the timer method is to put on a good album and tell myself to work till its done. Sometimes, I keep working once it's over just because I liked what came on next so much! But my best technique is possibly a little masochistic: I make it embarrassing to not get my task done. This is accomplished by telling my boyfriend, sister, mom, whomever, that I most certainly shall be _____ (insert boring task here) on my Saturday instead of loafing about because I most certainly am responsible and mature. Then if I've avoided _____ all day and am about to have a nightly chat with the boyfriend, I know I absolutely have to finish that task or eat my words. And I hate eating words more than I hate eating bell peppers. It's a great motivator!

  14. Jade

    My foolproof trick is to get it done in the morning. That way I know it'll get done, and I won't feel bad about zonking out on the couch later! Love all of the other tips, too!

  15. Elizabeth Bennet

    *copies down list for use this week while trying to pack to move house*

  16. stephanie

    i think i will need to implicate all of these tips so i can be SUPER productive. i have 2 weeks until my next art show and have a TON of stuff to make. plus i have to remember to eat and sleep. thanks for the tips!

  17. Lizzy

    These sound really helpful. My only problem is that I have 3 big papers to write by next week and they are all equally important! Maybe I'll use the 20 minutes to start 🙂

  18. lo

    I agree with Martina. Accountability makes me MUCH more motivated to do things!

    In that same vein, I try to sit down and think of the positive effects of getting the task done. If I do the dishes and put them away, I will have a clean bowl to make myself banana bread with! If I put away that huge pile of clothes, I can find that black tank top I've been looking for!

    I also bribe myself haha- "Just clean the bathroom Lauren and you can have a cookie!" Sadly, it works every time 🙂

  19. Hammy

    See for me the 20 minute timer thing turns into 'I will start in 20 minutes' :/
    I do have a massive to do list whiteboard though!

  20. Luinae

    The "10 minutes trick" is one I've never heard of and certainly one I will be trying- thank you!

  21. Jacque

    Oo! I'm such a sucker for productivity tips! "The First 10 Minutes" trick is awesome!! I'm a list-making-aholic so I really liked the "The List" trick! I have a gigantic white board on my wall that is covered in my lists. I think it is adorable and wonderfully quirky that you painted your front door in chalk board paint! Love it!

  22. lizzle

    Your front door list is an awesome idea! I'm (hopefully) redecorating my bedroom next month, and that may just be incorporated =)


  23. {Tara}

    The 10 minute trick is excellent! I find it nearly impossible to actually do anything productive once the pj's are on! I'm going to try this!

  24. cuileann

    My (one) productivity tip I got from another blogger, and it is: any task that takes less than five minutes, do as soon as you think of it.

  25. Noelle de Novo

    I do the time trick, too, but my magic time if 15 minutes.

  26. abigail's treasure

    Just found your blog, absolutely amazing! I have set myself new years resolutions (including starting my own design blog) that I am determined to keep and you have so many ways of helping people achieve things.

    Your outlook on life is inspirational, thank you for sharing it.

    my productivity tip might sound a little strange but to have lots of things on the go at once. Obviously not too many that you don't get anything done but I find I am lazier and less productive if I have only one thing on my to-do list. being busy can be great!

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