How to be more productive without working yourself into the ground

Ashley Wilson

Busy professionals and entrepreneurs usually have a to-do list a mile long, and most tasks on this list may be critical or important in some way. It is easy to feel stressed and anxious with so many pressing things on your schedule. In fact, you may even feel overwhelmed and discouraged if you do not make excellent progress through this list.


You may think that productivity equates to plowing through your action items at full speed each and every day, but this is not actually the case. The reality is that you need to properly manage your mental resources in order to remain productive and to avoid the possibility of having a burnout.

These are a few of the strategies that you can use to remain more productive each day. 

Use Mind Mapping Techniques

A common challenge associated with a lengthy to-do list is getting bogged down and not knowing where to start. You may also not know how to prioritize the activities or manage your time. A mind map is a visual representation of primary activities as well as associated activities that are linked to your primary areas of interest.

By visualizing your to-do list and seeing how different tasks are interconnected, you can make better decisions about how to manage your time and be as productive as possible. Essentially, you are creating a mental structure where they may otherwise be chaos. A smart idea is to create a mind map at the end of each day so that you can get right to work the following morning.

Mind mapping is so effective that you can even use it for project management and team collaboration. For example, in a team meeting, you can break out the action items covered into a mind map. This gives your team the ability to visualize each person’s or department’s role.

Employ the Right Technology

While some people equate technology to distractions, technology can also improve your productivity level in different ways. Certainly, social media, personal email messages and more can be distractions that could result in you squandering hours each day. However, some technology could help you to boost productivity through automation, enhanced scheduling, digitalization and more.

A smart idea is to identify the areas of your day that are most demanding of your time. Research technological solutions, such as for paying bills or managing your scheduling. Using too many apps and productivity tools may actually waste time, so only use the tools that are most relevant to your current needs and activities.

Break Down Work Into Intervals

It is difficult for the mind to focus on relevant tasks for hours on end without wandering. You may find that you can remain focused and diligent when you break your day’s activities into smaller sections. The Pomodoro Technique essentially requires you to set a timer for a short period of time, such as for 15 minutes, in order to boost productivity.

While the timer is running, you will focus on a specific task without interruption. When the timer, or Pomodoro, sounds, you can take a short break to mentally rest and regroup. Repeat this process throughout the day, but take a longer break after each fourth timed section.

This technique has been proven to help individuals remain hyper-focused on activities without feeling overwhelmed with a busy schedule. It can help you eliminate burnout and even bolster creativity. While you may take numerous breaks throughout the day, you may be more productive than if you did not take breaks and simply tried to power through.

Find the Balance

While you may think that you need to work longer hours in order to increase productivity, this is not actually the case. For many professionals, finding smarter ways to work and even taking time for mental health breaks can bolster productivity. From mind mapping and using productivity or automation tools to remaining hyper-focused through the use of short, planned breaks, you can see an improvement in productivity without having to lengthen your work hours.

Working should be purposeful, but it does not need to be stressful. Understanding how time management can bolster productivity is important. Spend time learning more about each of these strategies, and begin incorporating them into your workday.

Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.

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