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How to be More Productive and Achieve Work-Life Balance

It’s so important to maintain a work-life balance and knowing how to be more productive can help you find an equilibrium.

Image of a productive person balancing on a fence

Many of us spend far more time at the office than necessary. Sure, you might have a job that looks something like a standard 40 hour work week, but you’re working more than 40 hours. Studies show that most adults are actually working 47 hours or more on a weekly basis. Throw in at least an hour for your commute  each day and you’re already left with precious little time to spend with friends/family or doing other things you enjoy. And don’t get us started on how few people use their paid vacation.

Ok, so you won’t find many people that disagree that we are spending a lot of time at work. But what can we do about it? How can we spend less time in the office, achieve more of a work-life balance, BUT still get everything done at work that needs doing? The answer can be simple, while the execution is sometimes more complicated. But the way to spend less time working and more time doing the things you want to do is by being more productive at work. That’s right, there’s hardly anything that’s taking us 47 hours to do each week that can’t be done in 40 if we just worked more productively.

Sure, be more productive. It’s easy enough to say, but if actually putting it into practice  was that simple, wouldn’t everyone be doing it? Well, the hang up is that there is no one single magic productivity solution. However, there are many different ways you can be more productive. You just have to try a few and find out what works best for you and your situation.

Think of trying to be more productive like trying to lose weight. There is not just one mystical, powerful pill out there that makes weight loss just happen. If there was, everyone would use it. Instead, there are loads of different ways to lose weight, but everyone has to find the way that works best for them. Either way, weight loss is based on two basic elements: exercise and diet. Productivity is like that in the sense that there are also numerous ways to go about it, but there’s two fundamentals that each incorporates: time management and dedication.

Alright, so we haven’t come this far just to tell you that and leave you to figure out the rest. Instead, we’ll offer a few different things you can try to increase your productivity so you can spend more time enjoying a work-life balance.

Make a to-do list

Wait! Don’t leave! This isn’t nearly as lame as it sounds. There’s more to it than just making a simple to-do list. We are talking about The Ivy Lee Method here. And it has legitimately increased productivity drastically for many, many people. Here’s how it works:

  1. When the end of your work day arrives, make a list of the 6 most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow and prioritize them with the most important thing being first and the least being last.
  2. At the beginning of the next day, focus only on that first task until it is completed and move through your list one item at a time, top to bottom.
  3. When your workday comes to an end, move any unfinished items to your list for the next day and repeat step 1.
  4. Go through this process each day.

This method may seem pretty basic, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s simple enough to work, it prioritizes your tasks for each day, and it has dramatically helped people/organizations be more productive since Lee introduced it around 100 years ago!

Silence social media

Do you really need to know what your friend from high school is eating for lunch or what color of lipstick Kim Kardashian is wearing today? Well, first, zero  judgement if that’s the sort of information you like to have. However, do you absolutely  need to know those things while you’re working? Nope!

Feel free to scroll through all your feeds and like all the baby pictures posted by your buddy or whichever “it” couple just popped one out, but do it another time. How about  on your lunch break? Perhaps the bus ride home? Oh, but you get all your news through social media? Get caught up in the morning before you get to work or on the couch after dinner. Either way, social media is a huge distraction at work and a major enemy of productivity.

Having a hard time breaking the habit of using social media while at the office? No problem. There are all kinds of apps and extensions available that you can use to temporarily block whichever sites you find yourself wasting time on. If you don’t want a child to cut itself, take away the sharp objects.

Use a virtual receptionist

Hold on, isn’t that sort of like an answering service or something? Actually, yes, it’s a lot like that, but with some more advanced capabilities. Now, hear us out on this one. Like we mentioned before, there are certain productivity tips that work well for some people, but not everyone.

Ok, so imagine this: You’ve got your powerful to-do list set up thanks to Ivy Lee. All your distracting social media sites have been blocked until lunch. And you are just getting into the ultimate productivity zone when the phone on your desk rings. You answer it, deal with whoever is calling, hang up and get back to….wait, what were you doing? Your productivity has been thwarted by the phone again! And you’re going to keep getting interrupted in the middle of whatever you’re working on all day by phone calls. So here it is lunch time and you’ve checked one item off your list. Sigh.

Now, imagine this: You’re in the zone working on the first item on your list. And you finish it. Before starting the second item, you check your messages that your virtual receptionist has taken for you. Oh, look at that, they’ve already scheduled an appointment for you. Gotta love getting new customers! You return a couple calls, send an email, and move onto the second item on your list. That one gets finished sans distraction, you follow up on your messages, repeat the process and BAM! You’re halfway done with your to-do list by lunch. Time to ‘like’ some baby pictures.

So that’s just a few ways you can increase your productivity, decrease the number of hours you spend at work, and get to spend more time doing the things you want to do by yourself of with your favorite people. It’s all about finding the right methods for being more productive that fit you, your schedule and your style. Looking for some more productivity tips? Great! You absolutely should. Here’s 23 of the best productivity hacks according to Larry Kim. And here’s 13 productivity tips revealed by  CEO’s.

Best of luck out there finding your ideal ways how to be more productive and achieve work-life balance!

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About Andrew Tillery

Born and raised in Oregon, Andrew has now put down roots in Seattle, because he refuses to call anywhere but the Pacific Northwest home. After graduating from Portland State University with a double major in Marketing and Advertising, he spent some time learning Spanish and experiencing all that South America has to offer. It was while he was south of the equator that he uncovered an interest in writing that he strives to develop whenever the opportunity is presented. When Andrew isn't taking care of business at the office, he is throwing fuel on his fiery passions for sports and the outdoors.