10 Secrets of Productivity
Updated: Apr 3
What can you do to be the most productive? Our top 10 secrets of productivity are found here! Make the most out of your time with these tips.
1. Choose the best time
There’s a time and a place for everything. We all know that. But choosing when you will do certain things is as important as choosing what you will do.
This is especially important for those with ADHD who have a limited time on medication.
If you plan to do your homework in the evening when your meds are out of your system, guess what? It will take longer. There will be more frustration. You’re more likely to make silly mistakes. Your handwriting may be less readable. You’re more likely to be tired and unable to recall things as easily.
It just isn’t the right time.
If you have a little extra time during class or between classes to get a few things done, use that time. Don’t waste it.
2. Choose a good location
Many people presume the best place to study is a quiet, secluded place, but that isn’t always the case. If you’re more likely to daydream when you’re secluded, choose an area with others around.
If you’re the type of person that gets distracted by every little sound or movement, you might do better secluded. Or if there are others around, use earplugs to help drown out the sound.
Don’t use your bed for studying. You’re more likely to fall asleep before finishing. And more likely to end up with neck and back problems.
If you like a tidy area and you have a cluttered desk, the clutter might be distracting. Take a few minutes to clear your space before you get to work.
3. Grab a study buddy
If you have a study buddy or are in a public location, these can help you stay on task. Keep each other accountable.
Of course the buddy can get you off track if they start joking around, so make a pact to keep each other on task. If you see your buddy checking their phone, tell them to put it down. If they see you staring off into space, they can bring you back to the books.
3. Sound control
Noises can be distracting.
Whether it’s a bird chirping outside that makes you look or if it’s a conversation at the next table in the library, there are distractions.
Use instrumental music to drown out these distractions. I don’t advise your favorite songs that will make you want to sing along… nothing that distracts you from whatever you’re doing.
Use earplugs if sounds in general drive you to distraction.
4. Find an aspect to like
We all have to do things we don’t like to do, but there can be at least one thing about it that you enjoy.
It might be hard to find, but look for it.
If you have to write a report on a book you hate, think of one aspect of the process that you like. Even if it’s the finished paper, there’s something good to focus on.
5. Break up big tasks
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with big projects, so break them up into tasks that are more manageable.
The secret to this is that you need to schedule time to do each task. Don’t just do one task and forget the rest of the project – people with ADHD are famous for starting many things but finishing nothing!
This technique doesn’t work for everyone. If it’s hard for you to get motivated to start, it might be better to do everything in one big block. Once you get started, if you’re in the zone, stay in the zone. As long as you still have time to do the other things that need to get done that day. If you need to move on, move on.
6. Fuel your body
Don’t forget to eat! Those with ADHD often don’t feel hungry due to medications, but it’s still important to eat at least small portions of nutritious foods.
There is a growing body of research that suggests a link between ADHD and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Magnesium, B-Vitamins (this links to B12, but there are links to other B vitamin pages at the bottom), Iron, Zinc and Copper are all implicated in how our brains work. Not enough of them can lead to symptoms found in ADHD. Read about where you can get these vitamins and minerals naturally. Try to eat a variety of foods with these vitamins and minerals.
When your stimulant leaves your system and you start to feel hungry, don’t grab chips or cookies. Eat real food. More and more evidence is showing that what we eat affects not just our physical health, but also our mood, attention, and overall mental health.
7. If anxiety’s got you stuck…
For many of us, if we’re worried about an overwhelming project, it’s even harder to get started.
Just jump in.
You have to start somewhere. If you have to write a paper but are worrying about the final paper’s readability, content, and punctuation, you won’t be able to just start writing. Start by jotting down ideas. They don’t even have to be complete sentences. You can always go back and add to your comments to put them into coherent thoughts and make them grammatically correct.
For example, for this blog I first looked at my list of topics that I want to cover over time. After choosing productivity, I started by listing the headings/topics that I thought would help with productivity. I then added the explanations under each heading ~ many additions and changes were made along the way. I decided to make photos to go along with each section to make it easy for people who don’t like to read as a last minute thought. Along the way I changed things that needed to be improved. I finally proofread for what seems like the millionth time before posting.
If you’re stuck getting started because you’re worried about the final product, take time to break big tasks into smaller ones. It’s daunting to do big projects, regardless of the project. Even things you want to do can be overwhelming. Find small things that you can do to work toward a final goal. Plus, it’s fun to check off things as they’re done!
We all need sleep.
Many people erroneously think that if they extend their day to 18 hours, they will get more done. The problem is that your body and brain need more than 6 hours of sleep.
If you only sleep 6 hours, everything you do will take a bit longer. You’ll make more mistakes. Things will be forgotten. There are many risks to sleep deprivation.
Make it a priority.
If you need tips on how to get better sleep, see How to get better sleep.
9. Don’t aim for perfection
So often we get stuck because we want the finished product to be perfect.
You know what? It can’t be perfect if it’s not done.
You just need to start. You can always fine-tune as you go, but the trick is to just start.
10. Schedule everything
Taking a few minutes each day to plan ahead can save hours overall in mindless wandering.
Each morning review everything on your calendar for the day.
As you get new assignments or projects, add them into your planner. If it’s a big project that will need to be done over several days, schedule an appropriate amount of time between now and its due date. Waiting until the last minute increases anxiety, which can lead to problems focusing and getting started.
Don’t forget to schedule the little things and the things you want to do. Add in your activities and exercise time so you know what time’s not available for other things. Set your bedtime as a priority so you get the sleep you need.