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How to be more productive in all areas of your life, according to experts

Looking to increase efficiency at home or work? Try these productivity tips.

Some days you wake up and the idea of tackling your to-do list feels like, well, a chore. Then determining how to be more productive becomes a challenge in and of itself, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and falling even further behind.

To help you, we spoke with mental and behavioral health experts about their best productivity tips (spoiler: say goodbye to multitasking). Nothing is one-size-fits-all, which is why the following experts touched on the many different ways you can boost your productivity, whether it's at home, work or beyond.

Take a look at the productivity hacks below to find something that works best for you, your way of thinking, your job and your lifestyle.

Have a routine

There’s a reason people wake up at the same time every day or schedule meetings at the same time: Routines can benefit productivity and increase efficiency. “For many people making their bed isn’t about perfection, it is about beginning the day with a feeling of order and being unburdened with clutter,” Rachel Heitman, NCC, a licensed professional counselor at Carolina Minds, tells “Having a routine frees your mind up to think about other things.”

A routine doesn’t need to remain the same forever. Change it up if you feel like you’re in a rut or things start to feel stale.

Don't multitask

Yes, there are some instances where life will require you to multitask, but unless it’s necessary, fight the urge to do so.

“There is always something that you could be doing, whether for work, your house, or your family. The belief that our value comes from how much we do or know is creating constant tension between ‘just do it’ and ‘just breathe,’”Heitman says. “Allow yourself to be fully in the moment you are in. If you’re working, then work. If you’re playing and relaxing, let that take over! This will protect you from guilt and the urge to numb out.”

Determine what time of day you're most productive

For some people, waking up early to start their work day is the best way for them to be productive. Other people find the evenings are where they shine. Evaluate when you’re most productive and try to structure your day around it.

“Complete the tasks that demand the most of you during that time of day,” recommends Melanie Chinchilla, a clinical psychologist at Approach Therapy. “Do your best to schedule the tasks that require less of you — like a meeting where you have to listen but not present — at times that are not your peak performance hours to ensure you can still get less challenging or demanding tasks done too.”

Batch tasks

Try batching types of work instead of bouncing between tasks and constantly switching mindsets. “Just like exercise, it takes time to warm us, get into a groove, wind down and transition to a new task,” Chinchilla says. “To be more productive, schedule a chunk of time to respond to emails, return calls, write evaluations or work on reports.” By organizing your day this way, you can stay present int he work and save time adjusting your thought process.

Acknowledge when productivity has stopped

Sometimes you have an extremely tight deadline or must be working at that exact moment. Otherwise, it’s important to acknowledge when you’re “working” but not actually producing anything.

In these cases, Chinchilla recommends stepping away from the computer, getting a snack or taking a walk. “Although it sounds counterintuitive, taking work breaks can improve our productivity. Many people feel guilty leaving work undone. However, when you are not being productive, it is counterproductive to continue to sit in front of a computer feeling bad and wasting time,” she says.

This choice to step away also fights burnout and continued low productivity. Otherwise, Becca Smith, LPC, the chief clinical officer at Basepoint Academy, says "it's like starting strong in a race but eventually hitting a wall and being unable to finish."

Hold yourself accountable

You’re not the only person who struggles with accountability. With that in mind, Heitman suggests asking a friend or coworker to be your focus partner and check in with you regularly. If there’s no one you can easily turn to, use a journal to monitor your progress and set goals. Having any form of accountability can keep you on the right track.

Set realistic timelines

It can feel great when you finish something quicker than expected, but it won’t always be the case or lead to your best results. Heather Wilson, LCADC, CCTP, a licensed clinical social worker and executive director at Epiphany Wellness, stresses the importance of giving yourself ample time to do everything on your list instead of rushing through them.

Set realistic goals and break them down into smaller tasks. “Competing with others’ productivity or societal expectations can also be harmful — focus on what works for you and your well-being,” Smith tells

Delegate tasks

Is it hard for you to concentrate because there’s simply too much currently on your plate? Delegate, delegate, delegate. If you’re taking on other people’s tasks because you think it’s easier than teaching them or think you can do it better, then it’s time to reevaluate. Think about what falls within your job description and what would be better serve a colleague — or you.

Find a motivating factor

Sometimes we work because we want to. Other times, we do it because we have to. In either case, having a clear motivation can keep you focused and excited about completing the task at hand. “For some people, it might be the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing something,” Wilson says. “For others, it might be the opportunity to learn something new.” It may change based on what you’re working on at the moment, but it can always recenter you and remind you why you’re doing the work.

Lean into your curiosities

It is almost impossible for your mind not to wander throughout the workday. However, it’s critical not to shame yourself for it. “Instead of beating yourself up when you find your mind wandering, try to be curious,” Heitman recommends. Maybe this is the time you take a break and get fresh air. Perhaps your random thoughts will eventually point you in the right direction. Either way, embrace the momentary change of pace as part of your productivity journey.