Your to-do list keeps growing longer, but with so much to do, the days only seem shorter. Keeping your productivity up can get harder and harder to do as you get more overwhelmed with assignments.

We all know we’re supposed to work smarter. But how?

Tech is Your Friend

For one thing, use technology to help you figure that out. There are some great time-tracking apps that can help, as recommended in this article on Brit + Co.

“Once you know how much time certain tasks actually take, you can start planning your time efficiently – and see where you’re potentially spending too much time. (We’re looking at you, Pinterest.),” blogger Amanda Digiondomenico writes.

Her article shares some great tips for becoming more productive and cites ideas in Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week.

“Basically, he [Feriss] suggests you spend two to three hours each day focusing on one thing that scares you or makes you anxious, and he promises that when you finish that one thing, you’ll feel super accomplished,” Digiondomenico writes. The article also suggests getting more sleep, waking up earlier, taking mini-breaks and drinking plenty of water.

Get Rid of Constant Distractions

Another article also stresses the importance of figuring out where you’re wasting time. For Michael Simmons, co-founder of Empact, it was Facebook.

“One minute I was focused on the most important thing on my to do list; the next I was on a news site or on social media with dozens of tabs open in my browser. Once I started noticing myself on Facebook while I was driving, I knew something had to change. Constant distractions had rewired my brain and were having a direct impact on my company’s success and even my safety,” Simmons write on this article in Entrepreneur.

Simmons deleted social media apps from his phone and added parental controls so he could not access them from his browser. He downloaded the StayFocused chrome plugin to limit him to 20 minutes of social media per day and eliminated his Facebook news feed.

Simmons shared a couple other recommendations for making your day more productive:

  • Take on simple, easy tasks first to get them out of the way and build momentum
  • Block your day into 15-minute increments and schedule tasks on your list

“Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take,” Simmons writes. “Assigning work to times reduces the urge to procrastinate. You are no longer deciding whether or not to work during a given period; the decision is already made.”

Nothing motivates like a deadline. If you don’t have time pressure, create it yourself.

“Some of us work best under pressure,” Digiondomenico writes in Brit + Co. “The tick-tock of a looming deadline gets us in the zone. But you can’t put everything off until the last minute. Track your own personal deadlines in a planner, and see what you can accomplish.”