5.2 min readPublished On: November 24, 2022Categories: How Tos

We are all tremendously busy, in fact, now more than ever.  The feeling of overwhelm from having too much to do is one of the most common issues clients come to me with. They need simple, straightforward ways to increase their productivity. They can’t see clearly because their heads are so busy, and can spend ages worrying about how they are going to achieve all that needs to be done that it hugely affects their productivity.  

Firstly, you need to take a step back.  Use a small amount of time to see what actually needs to be done and put some simple steps in place to help reduce the stress and create a good working environment.

Here are a few ideas to help increase your productivity, and I promise you will be more productive, gain time, and feel super smug at all you have achieved.

Make A List

Never underestimate the power of making a list.  Personally, I love a list, and I make them over and over again – I have no idea how anyone can get by without them.  It’s one of the first things I do each morning; I brain-dump all that needs to be done, both for work and personal admin.

Making a list will clear your head of all that you need to do, and by doing so will enable you space to think clearly and create.  Once you have a list, prioritise what needs doing first, what’s essential to complete today and what can wait. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than ticking things off as I go along and seeing what I’ve achieved.  Make a list on your phone, on a notepad (I’m a sucker for malpaper.com) or even use apps like Asana.com.  Whichever method works for you – this is a great habit to get into.

Create The Right Environment

If you’re working from home with This Morning on in the background, it’s probably not going to help with your productivity.  Neither is a messy desk or messy house.  Your environment needs to be clean and tidy so give it a quick once-over before you sit down for the day.  If you’re in an office with distractions, see if there’s another room you can use for a while – I appreciate that’s not always possible but see if there are any changes which you can make.

Use OoO

A lot of my clients baulk at this idea initially as it seems so alien but seriously, if you need some time to focus, one of the best things you can do (in my opinion) is to turn your Out-of-Office on.  We live in an instant world whereby people expect us to be sat at our desks waiting for their email to come in so we can reply instantly. 

This is obviously not the case, but it’s often how we feel, so to remove any anxieties you may have, put your OoO on, even if just for a couple of hours.

You can then rest knowing that any incoming emails are aware you are unavailable and will respond to their email later.  Think of it this way, if you were in an important meeting, you wouldn’t be able to check and respond to your emails. So why should your time be any less important? No one needs to know what you are doing, just that you are unavailable.

Turn Your Email Notifications Off

So, you’ve turned your OOO on, but you can still see the notifications pop up in the corner of your screen when an email comes in or even more distracting, it might ping on its entry to your inbox.  I’d put money on it that you will still need to check the email (I would, anyway).  I only discovered this the other day, but you can actually turn these notifications off to avoid distraction and concentrate on the task at hand.  Who knew?  This has been an absolute game-changer for me, and I hope it is for you too.

Set Specific Times To Check Your Emails

Plan your day and allocate some time to check your emails.  Doing this enhances the previous two steps and hopefully reduces your anxiety with the need to constantly check in with them.  Yes, you will come back to more emails at once, but I guarantee they will not all need your urgent attention, plus you will have completed something from your to-do list. Which is more important?

Turn Your Phone Off

I appreciate this is a no go for many of you so if you can’t bear to turn your phone off, at least have it on silent and turn it over so you can’t see all the notifications coming in.  I even find this hard and if I have my phone next to me, I will still have to check it from time to time to make sure I’m not missing anything.  The only way for me is to leave my phone in another room.

Pomodoro Technique

If you’re working on a particularly large or hard project, either break it down into manageable-sized chunks or use the Pomodoro Technique.  This technique gets you to set a timer for 25 minutes where you focus solely on the task at hand, when the alarm rings have a 5-minute break.  Repeat this up to 3 times and then have a 30-minute break.


At the end of the day, take a few minutes to reflect back on all that you have achieved for the day.  Celebrate your wins, however small and make a note of all of your achievements.  Look at your to-do list and how many things you’ve managed to cross off.  Notice how you are feeling. 

Which of the above techniques worked for you?  We all work differently so you need to see which methods work for you. 

How did turning your OOO on go?  I know it’s an odd concept for some but as soon as you see how much more you can achieve by not checking in to your emails the whole time, this is definitely worth investing in.