5 Productivity Tasks to Try This Week


I mainly work On-The-Internet, which means there are an untold number of distractions that can turn my productivity scale down to 0.

Shiny new thing! Doge! Weasel on a woodpecker! (I mean, come on!)

I also work from my home office surrounded by fun things such as laundry, 3 crazy animals that want playing with, and Netflix. This week I’m going to be concentrating on increasing my productivity without totally altering the way I work, want to join in?

There’s nothing extreme or bullshitty here, no massive life-altering changes, just small things that’ll help you be more productive for maybe 1-2hrs in your work day. That might seem small, but it adds up to over a day’s worth of work over the course of a week!

1// Only answer emails/check your inbox at certain points during the day

This one always works for me, as I’m quick to jump on emails as soon as they hit my inbox. I always find myself glancing back at the gmail tab and checking if anything’s come in. Instead, I’m going to be checking my email first thing in the morning, and replying to anything that needs a response, and then having another check in at lunch time and the end of the day.

Previous daily time spent on email: 1.5-2hrs, new daily time spent on email: 1hr.

2// Checking in with RescueTime to see where I’m getting most distracted.

Have you used RescueTime? It’s a great app that really lets you see (in time and percentages) how productive you’re being. My big distractors are Facebook and Twitter, so I’m going to aim to decrease the amount of time spent on those each day.

Previous daily time spent on twitter/facebook: 1.5hrs, new daily time spent on twitter/facebook: 1hr.

3// Have some Pomodoro sessions

The Pomodoro technique is great, but I find it pretty intense. I work flat out during the 20-minute stretches, which yeah.. is brilliant for productivity, but then I feel exhausted after a couple of hours. I’m going to aim to do 3hrs of Pomodoro each day this week.

It’s hard to give a time for this kind of thing, but I would say (based on RescueTime graphs) it makes me about 25-30% more productive during those sessions, leading to an increase in productivity of around an hour.

4// Schedule time for workouts/laundry/non-work things

You might typically class these as distractions, but scheduling in time for non-work things during a working day often makes me more productive in all aspects. If I don’t schedule things in, I end up trying to do 10 things at once and not doing any of them well. Whereas, if I schedule 15 minutes to laundry-sort, or 20 minutes for a workout, then I set myself to task and don’t waste time.

Again, hard to pin-point the actual productivity increase here, and really.. workouts & laundry, though not productive in the making-money-work sense, are productive by way of having-your-shit-together. Here, it’s more about scheduling things in and making sure things get done, leading to less stress, rushing and “ARGH LAUNDRY” anxiety. 

5// Add more to your to do list that you think you can achieve

Having a big daily to do list might seem daunting, but it also revs you up for crossing off as much as you possibly can. The days when my to do list is a little bare? I end up taking it easy and just doing what’s on there. Beef up your list, and make sure you’re listing out small, achievable steps for each of the day’s goals.

Other tiny ways to be more productive:

  • Reward yourself with a coffee/tea/biscuit whenever you’ve finished something big.
  • If you have an idea mid-work, write that shit down and leave it for later. It’ll still be there.
  • Listen to a playlist that gets you in the zone, this might be one of Spotify’s “focus” playlists, or an album you can have on in the background.
  • Recognise your productivity traits and use them to your advantage. Whenever I’m in a “get shit done” frame of mind, I always yank my hair up into a high-pony. Sometimes you have to put the cart before the horse, so by yanking my hair up my brain goes “oh, right! let’s do this!”. This analogy got really horsey.
  •  Stay hydrated! Your brain will thank you by being more alert.

Do you have any small changes that make you more productive? I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments :)

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  • The hair thing! I thought that was just me. Now my hair is short, I can’t do that anymore. I wear lots of scarves and cardigans – somehow removing layers makes me feel more focused… literally rolling my sleeves up and getting on with it. Alas, it’s a little cold in the office for that today!

    I’m trying the email thing. Unfortunately, a lot of my work revolves around email, but I’m trying to switch it off whilst doing specific tasks, and if I need to send messages doing it offline so they all ping away when I switch back on and I can’t get distracted my incoming mail. I really wish it was more the norm to use instant messaging for routine questions and queries (“can you send me those files?”, “is the big meeting room free tomorrow?”) rather than email – important items get lost. This is the downside of working for a larger organisation… sometimes I long for a start-up, or to be self-employed!

  • I can really relate to this. Thanks for sharing!

    10 years ago when women started to complain about their men surfing the internet for hours every night, I didn’t get that. How could one possible spend so much time on the internet? What was there to be found, except maybe porn. But now, with social media and all this new exciting things going on. I get it.
    Especially when working from home, behind your computer, it’s so easy to get lost on the digital highway for hours with no aim or gain.

    My tip: don’t do online searches while working on something else (in my case: blogging).

    If things come up that you need to research (names, spellcheck, facts), just write it down on a piece of paper (yes, the old fashioned kind). And only after you have finished your writing or whatever task at hand, are you to pick up the paper and start your research. Make it clear before you start: what you are looking for, and how long you will spend on it.

    Facebook I consider a digital counterpart of the coffeemachine at the office. To be taken in moderately for means of relaxation and connection

  • Exercise in the middle of the day. It will make you feel great and allow you to focus for longer periods of time in the afternoon.

    • Awesome tip! I normally hit the gym in the morning which sets me up for the day, but mid-day workouts or walks are great for a break :)