When it comes to being productive, we often start off with a to-do list a mile long and a mind full of motivation. Yet come 5 o’clock the two measly tasks that have been ticked off your list fill you with frustration, leaving you confused as to where the day went.

Well that’s all about to change, for the next few minutes I invite you to read through a few tips that helped me trade my hoodie in for a suit and tie as I transitioned from CMPR student to working in a professional environment.

With so much going on in the world around us, it can be extremely hard to stay focused on the task at hand, leading to copious amounts of time wasted scrolling through twitter, Instagram, tiktok etc. constantly trying to satisfy our insatiable appetite for consuming content. Although it may be hard at times, we must resist these urges and fight to reclaim our productivity! It doesn’t matter if you are a CMPR student or an industry titan; People are always looking for ways to be more productive in their life.

Enough waffle, wage war on procrastination with the tips below:

1. Make a focused list (Big 3)

A major misconception about productivity is the belief that you need to be focusing on accomplishing more things each day. If you want to be truly productive, your to-do list needs to be concise, prioritising the most important things that need to be accomplished or, as Chris Bailey puts it: “Productivity isn’t about doing more things — it’s about doing the right things.”

What works for me is – each morning I spend a couple of minutes writing down everything that I wish to accomplish that day whether it be completing an assignment for uni or finishing a report for my manager. From this list I pull the three most important tasks that I need to get done, this is my ‘BIG 3’ and I work form here.

If you’re like me there are times when something can end up distracting you and by the time you get back to your task, your whole train of thought is gone. However, by your three high-priority tasks written down you can easily switch between them if needed without ever feeling like you are starting from scratch. Limiting yourself to three also keeps it simple, so simple that you’ll actually do it.

2. Say NO

Tip 2 requires a bit of self-control. Throughout my placement year I realised that it is okay to say no and can often be beneficial when wanting to achieve maximum productivity. A lot of people can be easily persuaded by friends into going out (myself included) but sometimes you must resist the temptation in the short term for a greater pay off down the line.

What have we learned? Say no to the pint/cocktail, instead opt for a cup of tea and an early night. After all a tired, hungover version of yourself is not optimal for smashing through your BIG 3.

3. Make use of what’s available

There will be times in a workplace when you get the opportunity to try things and develop new skills but there are also times when deadlines are fast approaching, and jobs need finished. It is important to be able to delegate responsibility and ask for help when needed.

Cultivating good relationships with the people around you and knowing when to use their strengths can work wonders in terms productivity, utilising each other’s skills can speed up a task and reduce stress levels all round.

Make sure you know what resources you have available whether it be an online tool or a person with a certain skillset. Don’t waste three hours struggling with something that can take someone five minutes – unless you have the time to devote to working on that skill.

4. Down time

No one can work at 100% all the time. For me it helps having a clear separation from work come 5 o’clock. It’s easy to get caught up in work stress even after you leave the office. I like knowing that once I leave the office I can switch off, and not worry about emails or calling clients/colleagues. Having this clear distinction helps me stay focused knowing that from 8:30 – 5:00 I am working, aiming to be as productive as possible.

At the end of the day, you can read all the self-help books, go to workshops and watch all the videos teaching you how to be productive but realistically the only obstacle to overcome is yourself. Figure out what works for you and repeat it consistently until it becomes a habit.

So why not try it? Get started with your BIG 3 and unlock the power of productivity and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

Joshua Van Loggerenberg is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram

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