It’s hard for me to sometimes get things done because I lose focus very quickly. The problem is I get demotivated within minutes if something doesn’t go my way or if things don’t flow smoothly. I already have a hard time staying motivated because some days I wake up tired, have very little energy or have overslept. I wonder if bipolar and productivity can be related? What do you think?
I had a pattern of giving up on things if they started off the wrong way because it stressed me out. Here’s the thing…
Because we live with bipolar doesn’t mean we’ll get any breaks in life. As a matter of fact, we’ll have to work harder to get things done because depression can be a motivation killer. I know with me, if I’m not motivated, then I won’t take the necessary steps needed to complete my work, exercise, write content, design, or whatever else to progress.
One of the biggest setbacks for me of NOT being productive is that my work suffers. Until recently, I was freelancing from home remotely working on content writing projects. Three days ago, I lost my job because my employer had no more writing assignments to send me. But before that, I lost countless of opportunities because I couldn’t stay motivated and productive. It took me a long time to finish work, and this slowed down the number of opportunities I got.
I don’t think anyone should lose great opportunities because they lack productivity. Trust me, I lost some amazing ones, but this was one of the best lessons of my life because it forced me to not take things for granted, and appreciate every opportunity that comes my way. Here are 10 ways to increase productivity right now.
1) Wake Up Early
Getting up earlier changed how much I accomplished throughout the day. For a long time, I’ve had the habit of getting up at around 12PM-1PM. With this type of time schedule, I lost a good 3-4 hours of productivity because I noticed working during the day was optimal for me in getting things done.
When living with bipolar, it can be very hard for me to find a balance in my sleep pattern. Some days I would have no trouble getting to sleep, while other days I would be up for hours. This kept messing up the time I would get out of bed, because some days it would be early morning while others not till early afternoon. Changing this pattern by always getting out of bed by 10am increased by productivity.
The connection between sleep and bipolar is important because a disrupted sleep pattern can trigger mood swings. I’ve provided resources below where you can read about the studies done on sleep and bipolar.
Here are some ways you can train yourself to get out of bed earlier:
- Sleep earlier – no more movies or television at night—this gives me a chance to get to bed 2 hours earlier. Watching TV at night is bad before bed because the light from the TV can keep your brain active, which makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Read – this makes my eyes tired, helping me fall asleep. Instead of watching TV at night, I like to read for 1 hour.
- Sleep Applications – I have trouble falling asleep when I’m thinking too much about work, problems, or what I need do the next day. Sleep mobile applications are awesome because they help calm down my mind. Here are some popular and free applications I use:
- Relax Melodies: Sleep, Sounds. White Noise
- Alarm Clock Sleep
- Deep Sleep and Relaxation Hypnosis
2) Prioritize What’s Important
Getting the most important things done in the morning can increase your productivity because it’s motivating. The night before, I’ll create a list of the most important things I need to get done, and start from the top the next day. The way I’ll construct my list will be based on what provides the most value and gets me closer to my end goal. Each time I cross the top items on my list, it builds my confidence because I’m getting things done and leads to further opportunities going forward.
Just creating a list ensures I stay productive by getting things done and not forgetting what’s important. Here’s what I do to prioritize what’s the most important to me:
Each time I remember something that needs to be done, I’ll write it on a piece of paper. Before I finish up work the night before, I’ll go through my list and write a number next to each item from 1-10.
The number “1” represents least important, while the number “10” represents most important.
I’ll organize my list from the items marked 10 at the very top, and those marked 1 at the bottom. When I start work the next morning, I’ll start by completing those that have the number 10 marked next to them because these add the most value to my work, and keep me focused.
3) Don’t Overcommit Your Day
Productivity means to get thing done, to produce, and to complete. One huge barrier for me was when I would overcommit my day by adding 10 things on my list. I would get through 5 of them, and feel like crap because others were left incomplete. I started to cut down my list and only add work which needed to be finished right away.
Look at point #2 above, on how to create a prioritized list by adding numbers to the most important items. This strategy helped me big time because anything that wasn’t important enough, I wouldn’t add to the list to complete the next day. This cut down my list by 5-6 items and I finished them all. Anything that was NOT important enough for me to finish the next day, I would add it to my list a few days later in the week.
For me to stay productive, I need to feel productive and motivated. Completing my work daily is one of the best ways for me to get that amazing feeling.
I started exercising daily to help manage bipolar; it initially had nothing to do with productivity. But, as I started to work I noticed how the benefits of exercise are awesome because it started to help me focus, stay alert, and provide energy. It all makes sense because when you exercise it increases the blood flow to your brain, which can help sharpen your awareness and make you ready to tackle a big project for work.
For me, it increased my energy, which would increase my alertness at work and motivate me to complete whatever I would have to on my list of items. Being on top of your game will assure that you perform your work correctly and to the best of your ability.
You don’t have to exercise every day, and a cardio routine 2-3 times a week is good enough. That’s how I started— doing high intensity cardio for 20 minutes two to three times per week. If you have more time, then increase your routine because there’s nothing negative about exercising, only positive benefits.
Here are some quick cardio routines-
- The Ultimate 8-Week HIIT For Fat-Burning Program – Bodybuilding.com
- Cardio HIIT Workout + Butt, Thighs, Abs: Ultimate Workout for Belly Fat …
- HIIT Workout: 10-Minute Treadmill Blast | Muscle & Fitness
5) Schedule Well-Deserved Breaks
If I’m tired I’ll lose how much work I get done, decreasing my overall productivity. But, I’ve come up with an effective way to make sure this doesn’t happen by scheduling breaks depending on the amount of work completed. For example, I’ll start working on a writing assignment and will commit to writing 750 words before taking a break. I’ll schedule breaks after completing my desired word count for 15 minutes each to make coffee, skim the Internet or return a phone call.
This works so well because I consider taking breaks a reward and only reward myself if I’ve written my 750 words. If I have an assignment which needs to be 1500-2000 words, it won’t tire me out, and I’ve noticed whenever I’m tired my productivity decreases. Instead, I have breaks to look forward to, and the satisfaction of knowing that each scheduled break represents a job well done.
I time my breaks by using a cool mobile application called Seconds (free version).
6) During Work, Don’t Browse the Internet
One of the biggest productivity killers for me was browsing the Internet while working. It was so easy for me to open up a browser window and start skimming YouTube or other websites. I’d start writing content, and after 200 words, I would spend 15-20 minutes watching a YouTube video. In fact, an assignment that should have taken me 30 minutes to complete would take 1 ½ hours because of how poorly I managed my time. However, this was an easy fix because I downloaded a browser extension, introduced to me by Neil Patel (a fellow blogger).
The extension I use is StayFocused, and here’s what it does:
“StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.
It’s highly configurable, allowing you to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages, even specific in-page content (videos, games, images, forms, etc).”- StayFocused
I increased my productivity time by installing this free extension, and now when I work I stay focused on my assignment, and don’t lose focus browsing on the Internet.
Ask yourself, do you skim the Internet when you’re working? Does it hurt your productivity?
7) Split Up Work
I learned this strategy by trying out a number of things, to find out what works best for me. I mentioned earlier when I have way too many things on my list to complete, it becomes harder for me to stay focused. I end up not finishing some of the items on my list, and this works against me because I lose motivation if I can’t complete the work I’ve committed to finishing. But, it also lowers my productivity when I need to work on a project for 6 hours straight. I get tired, which not only reduces productivity, but lowers the quality of my work.
My strategy is to split up the work into smaller phases, completing each one a day apart. A good example of this is when I need to write content that’s a minimum of 2,500 words for work. Writing of this length takes enormous research and time, which does tire me out and lowers my productivity level. Now, what I do is split the assignment into 500 750-word increments so I can complete it over a few days. I’m more alert this way, and this helps me produce the highest quality of work.
If you’re a freelancer and write content, apply this strategy because it works very well in keeping alertness and focus.
8) Stay Fueled
I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry I can’t focus. I start getting light headed and my work suffers big time. During my scheduled break times, I’ll stay fueled by eating something like an energy bar or will even have a cup of tea. I’ll make sure to schedule my longer breaks around lunch and dinner so I can incorporate nutritious meals.
Does your productivity decrease too when you’re hungry?
9) No Cell Phone
I turn my cell phone to silent whenever I work because I’m easily distracted by it. I’ll be working and if I get a call, I’ll answer it or start to message someone back. Not only do I put it on silent, but I put it in the other room so I don’t have to see the light flashing when someone is calling. There’s been so any times I’ll be working and my friend would call, and I would stay on a call with them for 45 minutes. That’s 45 minutes of my productivity time gone right down the drain.
Do yourself a favor and turn your cell phone to silent whenever you work. Trust me when I tell you that by doing this you’ve at least increased your productivity by 15% – it did for me 🙂
10) Relevant (Batch) Tasks Together
I work on specific assignments on separate days throughout the week. For example, on Mondays I would work on my freelancing jobs, but this doesn’t apply anymore because I recently lost my job. On Tuesdays, I would work on my own personal blog like writing, design, and researching topics.
Whenever I’m working on one task for a prolonged period of time, it helps me get into a certain rhythm or “flow.” Once I’m in that zone, I’m able to accomplish those specific tasks more quickly than if I was constantly shifting from one task to another.
Take some time to figure out what related tasks you can finish on certain days because this helps create a smooth flow for you.
These productivity hacks have been tested to work very well. If you feel you can improve your productivity, then start to incorporate them into your daily habits. Throughout my 17+ years living with bipolar, I noticed how easily I would lose my motivation when working, and my productivity would suffer. But, I’ve now incorporated these strategies, making my productivity increase dramatically. These methods will help keep your focus, and most of all, keep you motivated to push forward.
Here’s some questions:
What slows you down and decreases your productivity? Do you have any other tips you feel will help me/us? What do you think of these productivity tips? Leave your comments in the box below.
likesuccess photo credit: http://www.likesuccess.com/topics/23211/prioritize
translatium photo credit: http://www.translatium.si/
itexam-answers photo credit: http://www.itexam-answers.com/pmp.html
lifehack photo credit: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/batch-related-tasks-into-a-single-chunk.html