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Tomic Riedel 💙
Tomic Riedel 💙

Posted on • Originally published at Medium

10 tips to drastically increase your productivity (and a bonus tip)

Emma Dau on Unsplash

In the last one and a half year I have been working on the topic of productivity and have collected many tips on how to improve it.

Today I'm going to share with you 10 tips (and one bonus tip) that you probably haven't heard before and explain them too!

Let's get started, Happy reading!

1 - Film yourself while working

Okay, this sounds very strange at first, but I highly recommend you to do this. Why? Well, if you're filming yourself working, you don't want to ruin the recording by looking at your phone and scrolling through social media.
Plus, it's also very helpful if you want to remind yourself to sit up straight, etc. A person always wants to look good in front of the camera and you will automatically remember to sit up straight.

Oh, and don't worry: you don't have to publish these videos ;) Just keep them for yourself and you can also delete videos that are 1 week old.

2 - Clothes make the man

Maybe you know this phrase, but you're probably wondering now what it has to do with your productivity, right?
Well, while you are working you should wear clothes that make you productive. For example, I always put on a shirt to feel more productive.

This is of course just a psychological trick, but if you believe that you will be more productive with good clothing, then you will be.

Oh, and you are of course much more beautiful on the recording 👌

3 - 1h work, 10 minutes break

Fact: People cannot work productively for 5 hours at a stretch. We all want to finish a task as fast as possible and still think that we have to work hard for it. Without a break, full focus and nothing else.

But this is exactly wrong! We need breaks to regenerate our body and simply switch off.

I think I have explained sufficiently why we need breaks, but what should you do in the break? Well, you have 2 options:

  • You do nothing! And by that I really mean nothing. You sit down on a couch or a bed, let your mind wander and you can think about things. You can meditate for example. Doing nothing involves NO SOCIAL MEDIA and NO DIGITAL DEVICE.

    Why not social media, it's pure relaxation, right? No, just not. On social media, we keep running into the most beautiful people with filters on them and desperately want to look like them. While you're on social media, you release happiness hormones, such as dopamine.

    This is all well and good at first, but there are two traps on social media:

    a) You are happy at that moment, but in the long run and a little bit even while scrolling, you release hormones that create stress, for example adrenaline and noradrenaline.
    And it is precisely these stress hormones that you should not generate during your break.

    b) You will not be able to stop scrolling. You probably think to yourself: I can control myself, if I want to be on social media for 10min, then I won't be on social media any longer.
    But let's be honest, we have all been on social media much longer than planned. That's why it can be easy for your 10 minutes of social media to turn into 20, then 30, and even 2 hours in the end. Great, now your productive day has come to nothing.

    So the bottom line on social media: No social media!

But let's get back to the main topic and look at the second thing you could do:

  • Go outside. Even if it's just 10 minutes, you should go out. Your brain needs fresh air to regenerate and be more productive. Walk a few steps around your house or around the block and then return. You'll find that you can get back to work very quickly after that!

4 - Checklist strategie

Checklists are underrated. And I'm going to tell you why (Trigger warning: It's about blood and a gunshot wound):

A surgical team in San Francisco got into an extremely tricky situation while treating what they thought was a superficial stab wound.

Only after the surgeon had made the incision, when vast amounts of blood began to spurt from the patient, did the team realize that the wound was a full 30cm long.
Source: Blinkist

In the end, the man survived the wound, but if only someone had thought to ask which cartridge was used to shoot, this incident would not have happened. So with a checklist that says to ask such things, this would not have happened.

Of course, you probably don't face situations like this in your life, but I think you get that you should make a checklist of everything you want to do that day. And by the way, this was a perfect segue to the next tip.

5 - Plan only 50% of your day

Hold on... I'm only supposed to schedule 50% of my day but do a lot? How is that supposed to work? Of course your question is understandable, but I'm going to explain why you should use this tip and why it won't do you any good to plan your full day.

Okay, here's the simple explanation:
We humans like to overestimate ourselves. We think that we can easily complete a task in an hour, but then we need 2 hours or even more. And the reason for that is that unforeseen things happen. An example from programming:

You are blithely programming, think you can do it in the planned time and then the console says: "Error!" Great, you don't make it after all. Now you try forever to fix this error and you are way over your planned time.

You're stressed to get your other scheduled tasks done and at the end of the day you're unhappy. We don't want that!

Plan your day like this instead:

  • 1h coding
  • 1h emergency time
  • 30min Writing
  • 30min emergency time
  • ...

If you don't need your emergency time, it doesn't matter. Just continue with your tasks and at the end of the day you might have more time left than planned.

6 - Clean up your workspace

What?! You want me to clean up my room?

It sounds terrible to some, and it is terrible, but here are the benefits of a tidy environment:

  • You can focus much better. I don't think I need to explain this point too much. Of course, you can focus better if there isn't a messy pile of papers in the corner of your eye all the time and half a pencil case scattered on the table next to it.

  • You save an enormous amount of time. As just mentioned, you may have a huge stack of files. And then you need a single file for your work. 30 minutes of searching, just for this one file?
    This is definitely faster. Take the time to sort your files alphabetically and by category and you will only need 30 seconds to find your one document!

There are many more advantages, but I hope I could convince you to tidy up once in your life and never again when you put everything back in its place.

7 - A bottle of water should always be at your workplace

I think this explanation is very simple. Your body needs water, just like oxygen, to concentrate. That's why you should put a big bottle of water at your workplace and drink from it regularly.
You can put some lemon slices in it or something else healthy, but no sugar and no sweetened water! This will reverse the effect and make you less productive.

8 - Snacks are allowed at the workplace

Now you might think I'm completely crazy, but let me explain first:

You may already think that chips and chocolate have no place in the workplace, and I agree.

What I mean by snacks is that you put together a big plate full of cutted vegetables and fruits before you work. Not only does this drastically increase your productivity because you're taking in vitamins and other healthy nutrients, you're also eating healthier, which is great of course.

9 - 80/20 rule

You may already know this rule, but it is applied far too rarely.
This rule says that you can do 80% of the task with 20% of the work. This doesn't sound very real, but let me explain:

Humans are often very perfectionistic. On the one hand, this is of course good, but in working life it can also bring us very big difficulties. This perfection is the other 20% of the work.

Since everything has to be perfect, you naturally invest a lot of time in this half, which is on average the 80% of the time.

So, put away your perfectionism. You will feel much more liberated and have much more time for other things!

10 - Divide the tasks into mini-tasks

Oh dear, you have a huge amount of tasks and you don't feel like working on them. You don't even have a clue where to start. Believe me, I felt the same way for a long time and still do sometimes.

My tip is to divide your tasks into minimally small parts. These can be so simple that you no longer perceive them as a task. For example: Open the program.

You then put this into a checklist and you will feel so good when you check or cross something off again. And once this big task is done, you will feel like a new person, I promise you!

Bonus - Listen to white noise while working

Many say that noise reduces productivity, but this is not quite true. We humans hear normal sounds at work, like the clatter of a keyboard or the rush of a fan heater. These noises are not distracting noises.

Noises only distract you when something in your soundscape changes. This can be the squealing of wheels, for example.

And this is where White Noice comes in. White noise is a sound or frequency that covers the entire spectrum of human hearing.

As a result, no more wheel squeal will pull you out of concentration. For some people it is unpleasant to hear White Noise. At this point I can recommend an alternative to White Noise, and that is Brown Noise. This also covers a large spectrum, but not the full.

End - Thanks for reading!

I really hope that I could help you with this post! If so, I would be very happy if you could share and like this post! For one, this would be hugely supportive of me, and for another, it will suggest this post to more people, making even more people productive!

If you want to read more of my content, you should follow me on Twitter! Great blogposts you will get sent if you follow me here ;)

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

Top comments (2)

iamludal profile image
Ludal 🚀

Great tips, especially the fifth one (I tend to overestimate the tasks I can achieve in one day 😅). Thank you!

tomicriedel profile image
Tomic Riedel 💙


Thanks for your feedabck, I'm very glad I could help you ;)

Yes, when I first learned about the 5th tip, I was also incredibly happy when after the first few days I could always do my tasks!