Having experienced these overwhelming situations myself, over the years, I have tried out countless tips in hopes that they would help me to not only survive – but to thrive  – even during the most hectic and chaotic kind of days.

Here, I’m sharing with you some of these simple productivity ‘hacks’ that I have personally found to be most effective. Give them a try! I hope that they’ll be as useful for you as they are for me.

1. Make a Daily Schedule and Stick to It

jot down a daily schedule

Before you begin each day, make a list of the main tasks that needed get done that day – this includes everything from routine tasks to projects and meetings. If possible, make it as detailed as possible and be sure to give yourself a realistic amount of time to get each task done and for each meeting (base it on your previous experiences).

Though it’s true that we often can’t quite pin our days to stick to the schedule we’ve set for ourselves (as it can easily change unexpectedly), if you make a point to set deadlines and divide your time accordingly, you will much less likely to waste time as you have a clear plan as to how your day will and should play out.

2. Take Up Meditation

It may appear to be counterproductive to add on yet another thing to our already endless list of tasks, however, I found meditation to be the most powerful ‘tool’ to use if we’re looking to stay calm and focused, no matter how full our day is.

By just setting aside as little as 10 minutes a day to clear our mind, preferably in the morning before we start our morning routine, we are able to practice mindfulness and learn to be more present in the now.

Meditation helps to achieve a state of peace and calm

Image credit: Greatist.com

For many of us, the reason why we continuously struggle in our effort to become more productive is because we often let our mind wander – as opposed to giving our full attention to the task at hand. When practiced on a regular basis, meditation helps us to center our thoughts in the present moment, enabling us to set aside feelings of worry or anxiety that surface throughout the day which allows us to focus our efforts and attention on whatever it is we needed to get done.

3. Do One Thing at a Time

With so much to do in so little time, in the past, I would find myself constantly doing several things at a time –  that is until I realized recently that I get so much more done when I started to focus on one task at a time. As it turns out, though it may seem logical that we’ll save time by working on several tasks at a time, studies found that it can actually reduce our productivity by up to 40%!

Though it wasn’t exactly a breezy walk in the park, but ever since I replaced my multitasking tendencies with unitasking, I found that not only was I able to get things done more efficiently but I was able to do so more effectively.

4. Minimize Distractions

A typical work day at an office

When working in an office or cafe full of other people, it can be a challenge to focus on getting things done when there are much distractions to begin with. While we may not have the option to ‘shut out’ those around us, what we can have control over is our gadgets. So, during your working hours, keep your gadgets away from within reach (for example, you can put it in your drawer or bag) and keep your social media use to a minimum.

Additionally, instead of checking your emails each time a new email arrives in your inbox, create designated times specifically for checking emails. Prioritize on only attending to emails that require our immediate attention. This tip is especially useful when you are pressed for time as it greatly reduces the amount time wasted so you can focus on more important tasks that needed to get done. As productivity Guru, David Allen, said “If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention that it deserves.”

5. Give Yourself Designated Breaks

Taking a walk outside can give you a quick breather

Giving yourself short breaks in between tasks is crucial as it helps you to refresh your mind and to give you a burst of relaxation. Think of these breaks as well deserved little rewards to keep you refreshed and motivated throughout the working day.

These breaks, though brief, can help you to build mental endurance over a period of time and help you accomplish that long to-do list of yours with greater ease. Whether you choose to spend it to take a 10-minute brisk walk outside, a meditation session or a make a quick call to your significant other – make sure that you do something that gives you joy and is *not* work related.