back to top

21 Productive People Share Their Best Tips For Getting Shit Done

Let's do this!

Posted on

Recently we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their best tips for being productive. Here are some of our favourite responses.

1. Find one place to study or work.

"It’s a great idea to condition yourself to work in a certain place – find a room or spot in a room and work only there. Once you start getting distracted or doing something other than working, leave. Eventually you’ll associate that place with working and feel so productive!" – eh0kay

2. Embrace a to-do list.

"I put literally everything on my to-do list – wake up, shower, eat, etc. Once I start crossing things off, it feels great and makes me want to keep going!" – sarahe

If you prefer a digital to-do list, try Tasks in Gmail, or the app Wunderlist.

3. But structure your lists with actionable items.

"There's nothing worse than making a to-do list with things that take super-long and are basically never ticked off. For example, I'd never put 'write thesis' on a to-do list, but instead a directly actionable bullet point, e.g.: 'read Paper A and summarise it in the introduction.'

Once the thing you have to do is broken down in little parts, even a large task is much more manageable. At the end of the day you can tick off many boxes which is really satisfying, instead of having very general and large things staring at you on your to-do list for weeks." – ktv13, Reddit

4. Or prioritise your tasks with colours.

"I do triage with red, yellow, and green flashcards.

Red Card:

Anything on the red flashcard has to be done that day or taken as close to completion as possible. Even if it's just a simple task like calling someone to make an appointment.

Yellow Card:

The yellow flashcard represents things that have to be done in the next two to four days. If I clear the red card, I start working on the yellow card – but I do not move to the yellow card until the red is fully completed. I number the items on the card in order of priority, with a due date. If they are not completed by that date they go to the red card.

Green Card:

Green are items that have to be done in a week to 10 days. Follow the same procedure listed above for the yellow card but move items from green to yellow.

Might seem a little complicated at first but things just fly off the list." – _-___-_---_-__---__-, Reddit

5. Try bullet journaling.

"It has helped me soooo much for organising everything, creating lists for chores, and keeping a schedule. But it's also great for reminding me of the fun stuff I want to do, such as books to read, movies to watch, and places I want to travel." – chacojones

Here is a beginner's guide to bullet journals and check out these amazing ideas for customising yours.

6. Give yourself time to breathe between tasks.

"This is for people who always say 'There never seems to be enough time in the day': Pad your activities by 5-20 minutes each. Give yourself a 10-minute buffer on your commute, or try extra-hard not to schedule three meetings back-to-back. Those few extra minutes will prevent you from stressing out about being late, and give you enough time between tasks to prepare and be as efficient as possible.

I've had bosses who were frustrated that I would schedule 45-minute meetings... until they started to realise I was the only one who came in with an agenda, and leave with a list of action items to send out. It was better than 60-minute meetings that resulted in 100 emails and nobody knowing what they were supposed to do after." – HandInUnloveableHand, Reddit

7. Have a list of projects to do when you have a spare hour.

"I have a jar of projects I would like to do around the house. When I feel motivated I pull out a paper from the jar and do the task. Start to finish. I have found if I start and take a break it won't get done. If I give myself time to finish, I complete the task." – TravelsWithTheDoctor, Reddit

8. Do some light exercise to help you focus on whatever you need to get done.

"Before a long study session, and even on the morning of an exam, I like to go for a walk with my dogs. The proteins and hormones your brain releases after a simple walk provide you with a mood-boost and mental clarity. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to be running marathons to reap the benefits of exercise." – julias

9. Make things fun.

"I use an app called Habitica that gamifies productivity, habits, and daily tasks. It’s worked well for me over the last couple years." – HopWorship, Reddit

10. Break up your to-do list with things you want to do.

"I divide the tasks I have to do in two groups: 'things I have to do but don’t want to' and 'things I have to do and want to do', or 'just want to do'. Then I just alternate one thing from one list with one from the other." – aseretsarim

11. Reward yourself!

"If I'm not really in the mood but I know I have to do chores when I get home, I'll buy myself a treat. When I get home I make a note for myself encouraging me to do the dishes (or whatever I have to do) so I get motivated to do it, then I get my treat at the end." – dhknwst01

12. Or set up a reward system.

"It sounds childish, but I made myself a sticker chart, like you would for a kid. I get stickers for things like chores, emptying out my email inbox, or making healthy choices. Every so many stickers I get a reward. It works better than I could have imagined." – chunkyrice13

13. Keep yourself away from your phone.

"I always get distracted if I have my phone with me, so I put it in another room. After every hour that goes by I use it for about 15 minutes and then I put it back. Not creative, but it is definitely helpful!" – charv717

"The app 'Forest' keeps you off your phone. You plant a tree and if you go into certain other apps, the tree will die. This keeps you more aware of your phone usage and kills a lot of the mindless scrolling instead of work." – m48ecfedb2

14. Make sticky notes your friend.

"I have a sticky note calendar. It's not exactly environmentally friendly, but it's so satisfying to throw sticky notes away when I complete the task. Every week, I make a master sticky note calendar, then every morning, I make a smaller one for the tasks I need to accomplish for the day.

If I don't finish something that day, it's really easy to just move it to the next day. It's by far the easiest thing to keep me on track. I want to throw away all of my sticky notes assigned for the day!" – szelt

15. Work in chunks.

"The one thing that really helped was setting a timer on my phone for 25 minutes and working, then taking a five-minute break. It’s easier to set your phone down and focus when you know you can take a break soon. After doing that four times, take a half-hour break." – ashleejob

This is called the Pomodoro Technique. There's a website that'll time it for you, as well a few different apps.

16. Keep yourself accountable.

"I will text a friend and let them know I am studying and that I will check in after an hour. Knowing that there is someone to hold me responsible keeps my motivation up." – bethanym

17. Embrace the mornings.

"Wake up early! If you're awake and out the door by 8am to go grocery shopping, go to the gym, and to appointments, then you're done with all the not-fun stuff by 11am. Take a nap, then you have the rest of the day to fuck around." – MiaK123, Reddit

18. Just do a bunch of small, productive things to make you feel good.

Whether it's cleaning out the fridge, doing the laundry, clearing out your inbox, or reading an article you've been meaning to for a while. You'll feel so good for getting them out of the way.

19. Meditate.

"I find myself endlessly scrolling through the internet with no real point. When I eventually pry myself away and sit in silence for 20 minutes, breathing deeply and steadily, attempting not to dwell inside thought, the bonds of that addictive behavior dissolve. When I get up, I'm refreshed, focused, and resolved to get something done. I can go back to the computer and write or make videos without getting trapped in endless clicking.

The trick, I think, is realizing that being lazy is not necessarily restful. The brain needs a true break in stimulation to switch from performing input functions to output." – MrHawks, Reddit

20. If you have short tasks, JUST DO THEM.

"If it will take five minutes or less, just do it, without hesitation. Having this rule really helps me to not procrastinate." – dick-nipples, Reddit

21. And if all else fails, start your day by making your bed.

If you begin the morning on a productive note, it'll give you momentum to achieve heaps that day. Plus, if you end up having a really shitty day, coming home to a tidy, made bed is SO NICE. Here's a video about it.

Note: Not all responses came from BuzzFeed Community members. Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.

Follow BuzzFeed Community on Facebook and Twitter for your chance to be featured in upcoming posts!

For more Do Better 2018 content, click here!