How to train yourself to be productive

Learn to trick yourself and become productive by doing these simple things.

How to train yourself to be productive

Learn to trick yourself and become productive by doing these simple things.
  • I am a lazy person.

  • It is my default setting, I admit it. With children of course, you can't really afford to be lazy anymore, so things have had to change for me.

  • However, it is pretty hard to shake some of those bad habits. Some days I still find myself slipping into those old ways, especially when the kids are actually giving me an easy day.

  • Those days, despite being awesome on the "kids are behaving" scale, are usually pretty rubbish in other ways. Mainly the "staying organized and being productive" kind.

  • The days I get the most done and feel the best about my productivity, are absolutely the days I stay on my feet and keep myself active. I've got a couple of tips and tricks I try to use to stay productive and curb my old, lazy behaviors from resurfacing.

  • If you're a former lazy person like me they might just come in useful for you!

  • How to trick yourself out of laziness and train yourself to be productive!

  • 1. Get Up!

  • No arguments. No whining.

  • If you truly want to make your days productive, you have to get out of bed.

  • Before I had kids I would lay in bed until ten in the morning, then I'd moan I had no time to do anything with my day!

  • After having my first child, I would let him wake me up. Then, drag myself out of bed feeling groggy and flustered as I was rushing to get everyone breakfast.

  • Now, I set my alarm for six no matter what. I usually get at least an hour of writing in before the rest of the house stirs and I alwaysfeel more able to handle the day ahead.

  • If you think you will be too tired to handle this one, start small - ten minutes earlier every couple of days until you're getting up at least a half hour before everyone else. Trust me, your body can and will adapt to virtually anything, and you will thank me for it.

  • 2. Have a To-do List

  • This is a must if you want to control your laziness.

  • You probably expected me to say "this is a must to stay organized/be productive" but in my personal experience, that isn't what a to-do list is best for.

  • My list is often sporadic. Sometimes I only list big things, sometimes little, sometimes my list is ridiculously long one day and laughably short the next.

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  • That doesn't matter, as long as you are making a list.

  • Why? Because you are holding yourself accountable.

  • Accountability will account for roughly 50% of your success here. If you do not feel as if you have someone to answer too/impress/prove right or wrong, you are far more likely to give up and go back to lazing on the sofa while the dishes slowly pile up in the sink.

  • I love a good to-do list, it takes so much stress out of the day knowing all the things I have to do are lined up for me to see.

  • 3. Clean as you go

  • This one I still struggle with myself. I like to be able to just eat and chill, not stand around doing the washing up! But then I walk through the kitchen later on and I cringe to see the giant pile of dishes next to the sink.

  • I used to be so lazy before kids that I'd have two or three days' worth of dishes to do in one go (I'd run out of clean ones by then). Now if I get to the end of the day without doing any I feel like a squatter in my own home!

  • We often put off tasks we don't enjoy, I really am guilty of this! But ask yourself is a couple of short, easy tasks throughout the day better or worse than having one big, awkward task to do when you're trying to relax in the evening?

  • Cleaning as you go only takes a few seconds of your time, the tasks are so small and usually directly follow on from what you're doing anyway. Employing this mindset is truly rewarding.

  • Imagine putting the kids to bed and turning around to see nothing left to do but relax!

  • 4. Don't sit down until you've got nothing left to do

  • I know, this one sounds kinda harsh, right? Well, let me explain it more clearly and then you can decide for yourself.

  • I love this tip. It is the one that has absolutely helped me the most.

  • Remember that to-do list? Don't let yourself get half way through and start thinking "Hey, I've earned a break!"

  • It's a trap!

  • Every. Single. Time. I think I can reward myself with a break, it derails my whole day. Don't get me wrong, if you've been on the go since dawn and want to sit and enjoy lunch and a cuppa, go for it.

  • What I'm talking about is that hazy period where you're not quite done.Maybe you've just put the kids to bed, the fatigue starts to creep up on you ...

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  • Sitting down when you start to feel that old "please let me be done for the day" urge creeping up is productive suicide. If you're anything like me? Yeah, you won't be getting up again. Everything you just don't have the energy left for will get pushed to tomorrow and, as a result, tomorrow's to-do list will be less likely to be completed in turn.

  • Thus the vicious cycle commences ...

  • 5. Go to bed!

  • When you get down to it, this one is connected to #1. A follow on, if you will.

  • Let's face it, when we get older we just can't be the night owls we used to be anymore. You might have kids or a career or both to contend with, meaning you are most likely being woken up at least once a night every night for a feed, up early for work or up early because your toddler thinks 5 a.m. is the most exciting time of day (true story).

  • Hey, a night out with the girls/guys every now and then is a great idea, or perhaps you and your partner are catching a late movie on date night, good for you! But staying up late every single night to binge watch Netflix or play Xbox One is not healthy for anyone, let alone someone who knows they have a limited time to sleep.

  • If you have your to-do list nicely wrapped up you absolutely deserve to relax, but why not take a bath and read a book? Or curl up together and watch a movie? Just remember to set realistic limits. One film, not an entire trilogy. One chapter, not half the book.

  • You might be used to late nights so this might seem stifling to you, so why not approach it the same way as #1?

  • Start going to bed just ten minutes earlier, every couple of nights, until you have a more reasonable bedtime. I usually aim to be getting ready for bed by 10 p.m. at the latest, because I know my personal limits.

  • Ipromise you will notice a huge difference in your mood, productivity and energy if you get the right amount of sleep.

  • I really hope you guys find these as useful as I did. As with just about every bit of advice, remember these are my personal experiences and everyone is different.

  • If you think these tips might work better for you if you approach them from a different angle, go ahead! Make them work for you.

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  • Have a productive day!

  • Editor's note: This article was originally published on A Life in Practice. It has been republished here with permission.

Claire Elizabeth is a Mum of 2 young boys blogging about living with Negative Automatic Thoughts alongside parenting. Trying to make posts that help people, because no-one gets it right first time! You can find more in her productivity series over at her blog,, or find out how to save money without sacrificing your comforts in her eBook.


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