How To Be Productive: Get Things Done Without Burning Out

Posted on - in Work Productivity
avoid burnout

Learning how to be productive requires more than working at full-speed all day long. It requires a realistic rationing of your mental resources.

Say you have a project due at the end of the day. Your watch says it’s 4:22 p.m. and you’ve been staring at the same blank screen for over half an hour. There is an evident correlation between each second that passes without any work done and your decrease in motivation. It’s safe to say that the burnout is real.

This feeling is not uncommon. Your motivation is a resource that can be used up in a short period of time. Your gas tank of willpower can hit “E” very quickly if you don’t manage it throughout the day.

There are some things that you can do to increase your productivity and avoid that dreaded burnout. Here are some activities you should try throughout the day to ensure that you are motivated at the end of the workday.

Manage Your Emails…But Not Too Much

You should stay on top of your e-mails, and the perfect time to do this is when you can’t get any other work done. This presents an opportunity to momentarily step away from the task that you are struggling with, while still doing something productive. E-mails will take you away from your tasks at some point of the day anyway, so you might as well make that time when you feel like you’re being unproductive.

Going through and responding to e-mails can be very time consuming if you don’t have a strategy to do it quickly. Some things to keep in mind when making your way through your inbox is to keep your e-mails quick and actionable, get to the point and make it easy for the reader to scan.

Plan For Tomorrow

It’s scary when you go into the day without a game plan. Projects build up and your mind is full of responsibilities. This can be overwhelming.

It is very rewarding when you take 20 minutes out of your day to plan for tomorrow and set yourself up for success. One way to do this is to create a to-do list to make sure that you know everything that you have to get done the following day. Your brain loves structure, and you will find yourself being much more productive when your tasks are written down in an organized way.

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Take A Break

Yes, breaks can make you more productive. It sounds twisted and backwards, but it works. There are many studies that support this theory.

A 15-second break every 10 minutes can reduce fatigue by 50 pecent. Also, breaks that last from 30 seconds to five minutes can improve mental performance by 13 percent. It has also been found that people are more productive when they work for 90 minutes, and then take a break.

Don’t be afraid to take a break. You should also use this break to take your mind off of work. This will make you more concentrated and motivated after your break. Exercise, meditation, listening to music and watching an episode of your favorite TV show are all great activities to do during your break.

Start A Side Project

We all have some activity or hobby outside of work that we are passionate about. You might clock in at work to pay the bills, but you might have aspirations to start your own company or tour with your band.

Side projects are great because they keep you motivated and happy. There is very little pressure because if it doesn’t take off, then you still have your day job. Additionally, side projects offer many psychological benefits that could increase your productivity at work.

Take some time after work or at the office (maybe on a break) to work on your side project. The excitement of working on something creative that you are passionate about will roll over to your work tasks, and may increase your overall productivity.

In what other ways have you learned how to be productive while avoiding burnout? Tell me in the comments section below!

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!
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  1. Ahmad Imran

    Kayla – first time to your blog and liked the idea. Many people talk about productivity but only a few put an effort to share the learning and experience with others, I am glad that I found your blog. I will be a future reader here.

    You did not mention about any tool you use as your main organiser of activities – in other words, a “task manager” tool. I use Todoist and love it. Was wondering do you use any? As a productivity writer, I am sure you will have some opinion about this? Any experience on that would really help.

    Nice to connect with you

    4 years ago
  2. Curtis

    My favorite trick to manage email and keep the inbox empty (yes, empty!) is to move them to their appropriate place rather than leave them for follow up later.

    They’re either a calendar date, a task, or actionable then and there. And I set the task view to only shaw tasks due that day so the list is never overwhelming.

    Just a small thing I thought you could use.


    4 years ago

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