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17 Tips That’ll Help You Become More Productive (Really!)

Wasting time is so damn easy; these things will help you stop.

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1. Add a set of tabbed sticky notes to your agenda or journal that can be used as dividers or for keeping your to-do list.

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Promising Review: “I love these tabs. I use them to divide the sections in my planner. To make them more durable, I use packing tape on the tabs, taping two sticky notes together to make them a little thicker." —Erica

Get a 60-pack of dividers from Amazon for $6.45.

2. Set an alarm clock on your dresser or nightstand so you can easily keep up with the time and avoid running behind.

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An alarm clock is a great backup to your phone’s alarm. And you can even place it in a spot far away from your bed, forcing you to get up and turn it off, instead of simply pressing snooze.

Promising Review: "I'm pretty picky when it comes to the brightness, number size, and sound of my alarm clocks. I'm terribly nearsighted. But the numbers on this clock are big and bright enough to be visible at 15 feet. I'm also sensitive to light in a dark bedroom, and this clock doesn't create that cloud of light around it that so many of my previous clocks have. Finally, it is loud enough to get me up at 3:30 a.m. But it doesn't make the neighbor's dog howl. (Yes, this is actually a problem.) This clock is cheap, functional, compact, and one of the best I've ever owned.” —Angela Stringetta

Get it from Amazon for $8.36+ (available in two styles).

3. Slide on a pair of noise-canceling headphones to prevent any outside sounds from distracting you from getting your work done.

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Promising Review: "These are great headphones! I ride the train daily and needed some noise-cancelling headphones. They are lightweight and fit my large noggin very well. The microphone works well, too, and I enjoy having a mute button. So far, they are holding up very well!" —DLC

Get them from Amazon for $20.99 (available in four colors).

4. Archive or delete any emails you no longer need and set up a system to keep your inbox in order.

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The right system will make sure you don’t miss important messages or accidentally lose something you really need.

And check out a guide on cleaning out your inbox here.

5. Organize your tasks and keep track of your goals in a Simple Elephant Agenda — because we know that pile of sticky notes is getting out of control.

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Promising Review: “This is a great planner. I love the fact that it helps you focus on growth and the future. I purchased two: one for myself and one for an employee!" —Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

6. Snag a pack of affirmation cards you can read each morning to motivate yourself to stick to goals you’ve set.

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Promising Review: "I love these cards! My 12-year-old daughter and I have made a routine of sitting down and picking one card for each of us and then one card for each of the animals in the household. We read them together and then talk a little bit about what it says and how it applies to our lives or the animals' lives. It is a really great experience for both of us!" —Amazon Customer

Get a 60-pack of cards from Amazon for $9.60.

7. Give the Carrot talking productivity app a try, which will give you some choice words if you fail to complete your planned tasks.

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Promising Review: "This is a fun app! It's rude and pushy in a way that is not nagging. The game aspect is cleverly done without losing sight of this being a productivity app first. I'm not normally a list person. But the design encourages me to put stuff on my list and check them off.” —Real

Get it from the iTunes App Store for $2.99.

8. Pick up a simple to-do list pad you can use daily or weekly to identify and prioritize everything you need to accomplish.

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Promising Review: "This is my favorite to-do list! I like how it is laid out. It's simple but eye-catching. And with the large to-do header, there's no mistaking it for another list. When I run out of this list, I order another one instead of shopping around for a different list. This one is my favorites and has been for years!” —ChiChi

Get a 60-sheet pad from Amazon for $7.60 (available in 30 other task options).

10. Open a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for some major motivation to get your home back in order — which will definitely help you live a better life.

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The book breaks down in detail Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method for organizing and storing your items.

Promising Review: "Many times I have said to myself that I will declutter my house, which will then declutter my mind. I am not disorganized, but I have accumulated many items that I do not need. And I am determined to use the methods described in this book to get my life in order. Simplicity is key for me!” —Serene

Get it from Amazon for $9.89 (available as an e-book, hardcover, and paperback).

11. Grab a pretty set of fine-tip Sharpie art pens so you can code tasks by importance in your agenda or while making your to-do list.

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Promising Review: “I love these pens so much. They're awesome for sketching, doodling, or outlining pencil drawings. And they also write smoothly and dry instantly.” —Maddy

Get an eight-pack from Amazon for $9.01.

12. Update your Google Calendar with all your tasks for each week to easily identify free blocks of time in your schedule — which will make planning your schedule for the day so much easier.

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And you're likely already using Gmail anyway.

You can also download the Google Calendar app for your phone, so you can easily access your calendar while on the go. Get the Google Calendar app for free on the iTunes App Store or Google Play.

13. Track all the tasks you’ve actually completed with a colorful set of chisel-tip highlighters.

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Looking back over your highlighted items each week will give you a sense of accomplishment and encourage you to stick to your goals.

Promising Review: “These highlighters don't dry out if you accidentally leave them clicked open, and the chisel tip is sturdy and accurate. They deliver the perfect amount of ink and don't puddle at the end of each highlight. They also do not bleed through the pages of the books I use them in.” —Amazon-O-Holic

Get the eight-pack from Amazon for $8.38.

15. Download a time-management app — like Timely or RescueOnline — to keep track of how you use your days.

itunes.apple.com, play.google.com

A time-management app can help you learn more about how to effectively use your time, identifying places where you may be wasting precious minutes and hours.

Promising Review: "RescueOnline is so great, and one of the best decisions I've made. After using it, I quickly became hooked on checking the data!" —Lana

Get Timely from the iTunes App Store for $4.99 and RescueOnline from Google Play for Free.

16. Wear the same thing every day to reduce the amount of time and energy you put into figuring out your outfits for the day.

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It may seem daunting to completely overhaul your closet to just a single look. But this approach is a simple way to build a little more time into your day.

Stores like Gap, Uniqlo, and Asos are great for affordable basics to help you build your minimal wardrobe.

And for more store options, check out our list of underrated places to buy clothes online here.

17. And finally, please get a quality night’s sleep, seeing that fatigue will seriously lessen your productivity.

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We know you're tired of hearing it. But getting adequate rest is key to ensuring you have enough energy to be alert and energized to take on your tasks each day.

Check out a guide on getting better sleep here.

The reviews for this post have been edited for length and clarity.

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