8 Ways to Boost Your Productivity

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Feeling unproductive can be stressful and frustrating. If you’ve been struggling to be productive, there are steps you can take to improve your productivity levels.

This article explores the components of productivity, factors that can affect your ability to be productive, and strategies to boost your productivity levels.

The Four Components of Productivity 

These are the four factors that are essential to productivity:

  • Focus: You need to be able to focus on the task at hand and avoid any distractions.
  • Energy: You need the mental and physical energy required to complete the task.
  • Time management: You need to be able to prioritize tasks strategically and manage your time effectively.
  • Consistency: You need to be able to maintain your focus and energy in order to work at a consistent pace.

What Causes Low Productivity?

These are some of the potential causes of low productivity:

  • Distractions: Distractions, such as social media for example, can pull you away from the task at hand and lower your productivity.
  • Interruptions: Frequent interruptions, such as calls, email notifications, or meetings, can disrupt your focus and make it hard for you to get something done.
  • Fatigue: Not getting enough sleep or overworking yourself can leave you feeling fatigued and low on energy, which can affect your ability to be productive.
  • Stress: While short bursts of stress can help you complete a big project or meet an important deadline, high levels of chronic stress can take a toll on your productivity levels and even lead to burnout.
  • Boredom: If the tasks you’re working on are not engaging or stimulating you, you might find yourself feeling bored, which can affect your productivity.
  • Health conditions: Research shows us that health-related issues can significantly affect productivity. A 2021 study notes that while serious conditions like cancer or osteoporosis can make it hard for you to be productive, even minor health problems like a headache or the common cold can lower your productivity.
  • Toxic environment: A toxic home or work environment can affect your productivity and harm your mental health.

Why Are Some People More or Less Productive Than Others?

A combination of individual and environmental factors can affect one’s ability to be productive, making them more or less productive than others.

These factors may include:

  • Personality traits: Certain personality traits help people be more productive than others. For instance, a 2022 study notes that people who have traits like passion, perseverance, and openness tend to be more productive than those who display high levels of neuroticism.
  • Genetic factors: Research shows us that genetic factors can play a role in determining how productive someone can be.
  • Motivation levels: People’s motivation levels can vary based on factors such as physiological needs, social context, cultural background, and personal factors.

How Mental Health Conditions Affect Productivity

Having a mental health condition can affect your mind and body in ways that can make it hard for you to be productive. These are some mental health conditions that can affect your productivity:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): ADHD can affect the brain’s development in ways that can make it hard for you to sit still and focus. This condition can affect your ability to pay attention to details, get organized, or complete tasks.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): OCD can cause you to experience recurrent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, which can be debilitating and affect your ability to work and go about your daily life.
  • Depression: Depression can affect your productivity and job performance, particularly if you don’t have sources of emotional and social support you can count on.

Living with a mental health condition that affects your productivity can be frustrating and demotivating. A mental healthcare provider can work with you to improve your productivity and cope with the symptoms of the condition.

8 Ways to Boost Your Productivity

These are some strategies that can help you boost your productivity:

  • Tidy up: Tidying up your workspace and getting rid of clutter can not only improve the utility of the space but also improve your decision-making ability, productivity, and overall well-being.
  • Make a to-do list: Having a written plan of action has been shown to increase productivity. It’s especially helpful to organize your to-do list in order of priority, so you know what to tackle first.
  • Focus on one task at a time: Avoid trying to do multiple things at a time. The human brian is not wired to multitask, so you’ll be more productive if you focus on one task at a time, rather than trying to switch between multiple tasks.
  • Block time in your schedule: Designate time to work on a certain task by blocking time in your schedule. This technique is known as time boxing. You can use a calendar app on your phone, computer, or email to block chunks of time. You can use this technique for work-related tasks or even household chores that you’ve been putting off.
  • Try the Pomodoro technique: The Pomodoro Technique involves dividing tasks into 25-minute intervals, known as pomodoros, with a 5-minute break in between each interval. Setting a timer to demarcate intervals can help you stay on track, manage your time better, and meet your goals.
  • Limit interruptions: Take steps to limit distractions and interruptions. This could mean switching off your email notifications while you’re working or signing out of your social media apps so you don’t get tempted by them. You could also designate one or two days of the week for uninterrupted work and avoid scheduling calls or meetings on those days.
  • Learn to say no: Since you have limited time and bandwidth, it’s important to focus on tasks that can help you meet your goals. In order to improve your productivity, learn to say no to other requests that take away from your energy and don’t contribute toward your goals. Otherwise, it can feel like you’re always busy but never able to complete anything you need to get done.
  • Practice meditation: Meditation can help boost your productivity by improving your concentration, motivation, creativity, memory, and emotional intelligence.

What to Do When You Can't Find the Motivation to Do Tasks

If you can’t find the motivation to do something, here are some strategies that can help:

  • Take a break: Sometimes, rather than trying to force yourself to do something, it can help to step away from it and take a short break. Go out for a walk, give your friend a call, or watch an episode of a show you like. Come back to the task in a little while with a refreshed mindset.
  • Reframe the task: Reframe tasks to remind yourself of your motivation. For instance, instead of thinking “Oh no, I have to write another boring report,” you could tell yourself “Writing an interesting report about this topic will help me impress my manager and increase my chances of getting a promotion next year.”
  • Seek professional help: If you often find yourself lacking the interest, energy, motivation, focus, or ability to do the things you need to do, it may be helpful to see a mental healthcare provider. They can help determine the cause of the issue and help you cope with it.

The Effects of Toxic Productivity

Toxic productivity is a mindset that causes you to work or do something all the time, without giving yourself enough time to rest or do things you enjoy.

Also known as workaholism, it can be difficult to identify because working hard is often viewed as a positive trait. However, overworking yourself can harm you physically, mentally, and socially.

These are some of the potential effects of toxic productivity:

  • Poor mental health
  • Physical health conditions and strain
  • Difficulty maintaining social relationships
  • Low job and career satisfaction 
  • Increased risk of burnout
  • Reduced well-being and lower quality of life

Strategies for Avoiding Burnout

If you’re overworking yourself, it’s important to re-evaluate your life and take steps to prevent burnout. Harvard Business Review suggests some strategies that can help you avoid burnout:

  • Get adequate rest: It’s important to replenish your energy by making sure you get enough sleep.
  • Practice self-care: Work on restoring your emotional and mental energy levels by spending time with loved ones, exercising, meditating, journaling, enjoying nature, or doing other things you enjoy.
  • Delegate: While doing everything yourself can help you feel more in control, delegating responsibilities can help free up your time so you can work on more important tasks that require your attention.
  • Set boundaries: Setting boundaries around your time can help you ensure you get adequate rest and personal time.
  • Reevaluate priorities: If your schedule doesn’t allow for any rest or downtime and is affecting your health or your personal life, you may have to reevaluate your priorities. For instance, a high-paying job may not be worth it if it’s causing you to experience stress, weight gain, headaches, and heartburn.
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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Sanjana Gupta
Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.