How to Increase Your Productivity + Add Hours to Your Day

how to increase productivity

Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? I don’t know about you, but I consider myself a very productive and efficient person. If I’m being honest, sometimes I think I’m a little too efficient, as I can easily get frustrated if things aren’t going as smoothly as possible. But in times when I have a lot on my plate, I constantly find myself starting one thing and moving on to the next before finishing and am easily distracted, something I like to call “overstimulation ADD”. Can you relate?

This has never been more apparent than now, as I am working to grow this little ol’ blog of mine while also managing my full-time “day” job. Here are six tips to help increase your productivity throughout the day that I have found helpful when trying to “fit it all in”!

tips on how to increase productivity

Get on a regular sleep schedule. I am not a morning person at all, but I’m realizing the importance of getting into a regular sleep routine. When I stay up late or get up earlier than usual, it can throw me completely out of whack and result in less energy throughout the day. A good night’s sleep is key to establishing a regular sleep routine, and this post from Pellerini Proclaims is sure to help you hit the pillow faster.

For me personally, it’s a goal of mine to work towards an earlier wake up time. No matter how much I hate it, I find I can get more done if I have a few extra hours in the morning. These tips from Cohesive Fitness have been extremely helpful in this new endeavor!

Get organized and make it fun! Whenever I start a new project, I have to have all of the essentials. You know, pretty folders (I have these and am obsessed), colorful sticky notes, a white/chalk board, and highlighters that can be found in every color of the rainbow. Why? Because if I’m going to get organized, I might as well make it fun and something to look forward to!

Make a to-do list for the day. Those who know me know I love to create lists. There’s just nothing like that feeling of crossing something off once it’s completed. Sometimes, I will add something just to run my (colorful) marker through it, even after it’s already done! Tell me I’m not the only crazy one out there… The key to making a realistic to-do list is to make sure it is manageable and that all of the items can be done that day.

Create an agenda and block time for specific projects. I do this during the weekdays and on the weekend when I have a lot of errands to run. Think through when and how you are going to get your “to-dos” done for the day before getting started. If you have a job or several projects you are working on, block out times on your calendar. By creating time blocks, it is easier to focus on the task at hand (even though I know it’s so tempting to pick up your phone and scroll through Facebook or Instagram!) without getting sidetracked.

Turn off your phone and/or notifications. There’s nothing more distracting than the chime from your phone or computer every time you get an email, text, or a social media notification. If you have blocked a window of time to get a specific project completed, do yourself a favor and turn off those chimes, buzzes and beeps!

One of my favorite tools for turning off email notifications is called Inbox Pause. It places a pause button in my gmail account that I can click when I am trying to work on other things. No more annoying pop ups tempting me to immediately visit my inbox!

Eat right! There’s a method to my healthy madness. Ever since focusing on eating better by consuming whole ingredients and plant-based meals (don’t worry, there’s still a place for just about everything in my diet!) I have noticed that I not only feel better, but I can focus without having to reach for the extra cup of coffee in the afternoon. My husband even mentioned that since making him a green smoothie every day he has noticed an increase in energy! And this is coming from a guy who claims he enjoys coffee more than beer. So naturally, this proclamation rocked my world! For tips on how to get more fruits and vegetables (energy boosters!) in your diet, check out this post.

Which of these tips do you struggle with the most? How do you increase your productivity? Share with me in the comment section below!

Join the discussion 97 Comments

  • Liz says:
    I am the queen of to-do lists! But I really need to work on turning off my phone more... Always gets me off track! Liz recently posted...Why I RideMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Liz - My phone is my number one distraction when I'm working. It's always so tempting to reach for it when a notification appears or scroll through social media. We have a love-hate relationship. Ha!
  • Julia says:
    Love your blog! Eating right totally changes your productivity. I am naturally thin, but grew up very much in the habit of eating junk food. Even though I never gained the weight, I was always groggy in the mornings and unable to get up without a sugary starbucks drink, and I had cravings throughout the day for sugar...until I would crash at nights and was sooo moody. I was lucky and got the help from a program called vitagene. they really taught me to eat balanced and incorporate lots of fruits and veggies in my diet based on my genes. My advice is cut out all processed sugar--keep it to natural fresh fruits. This will absolutely affect the way you sleep and function on a day to day basis.
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Julia! Thanks!! That's great advice. I have really been focusing on consuming a diet of whole foods and lots of fruits and vegetables and it has really made a difference in my energy level!
  • I struggle with putting my phone down before bedtime, and going to sleep earlier. It takes a lot of discipline! Thanks for sharing this post - great tips. Jess @hellotofit recently posted...Vietnamese style beef stir fryMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Jess! Those are two big struggles for me, too. My husband is a night owl, which only makes it harder! It's a work in progress :-)
  • YES! Love this. My fav tips are to turn off the phone and to block out time for specific tasks :) Tara | Treble in the Kitchen recently posted...Five Things Friday 7.17.2015My Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Tara! Glad you like the post :-). The hardest part for me is turning off my phone... it's always so tempting to reach over and scroll through notifications. Happy Monday!
  • Wendie says:
    Yes, eating right is so important. We all so often forget that piece of the puzzle. Thank you for the reminders! Wendie recently posted...What I Ate this WeekendMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Wendie - You are welcome! Eating right and getting enough sleep are my two biggies... without proper nutrition and feeling well rested, I can find myself dragging my feet way too often. Thanks for stopping by!
  • Emma says:
    As a new blogger managing a full time day job, this is such a helpful list! I'm especially guilty of checking my phone notifications all day. Love your suggestions (and your blog, which I've just discovered). Keep up the amazing work!
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Emma - Nice to meet someone else who is in the same boat I am! Managing a full time day job and a blog that you hope will continue to grow is tough! Keep going, girl - you can do it! Looking forward to checking out your blog as well :-)
  • Lindsay says:
    These are excellent tips that I really will use! I've been overwhelmed with projects, goals, and to do list items, yet seem to get nothing done. Pretty folders, setting a schedule, and unplugging will help!
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Lindsay! I can totally relate to your feelings of being overwhelmed. I'm feeling the same thing right now, but I try to keep these things in mind to help me get things done!
  • Aishwarya S says:
    I totally agree this. I mean I just do everything opposite to this, in my holidays now. But, once college starts, these points are going to be vital! Keeping a note. :) Aishwarya S recently posted...Boredom. (Monday Moments #8)My Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Aishwarya - Glad I could help you organize your time a little better! Your time in college is especially important to building these healthy habits so that you can find success when you graduate and get a job. Good luck!
  • Love this tips! They're all so practical.
  • Hera says:
    My biggest struggle is not immediately checking my email, Facebook and Instagram upon waking. It's become such a dirty habit. I turn off my alarm and I go right into checking everything. I hate it. Must stop it! :) Great post! Hera recently posted...Motivational Monday: Have Faith In What Will BeMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hera - I can totally relate! That is one of my big struggles, too. In fact, I did this just this morning! Always a work in progress :-)
  • Great advice! Sleep is the most important one for me. I'll have a schedule and things organized, but then I just feel so tired sometimes I can't bring myself to do what needs to be done. Becky @ Disney in your Day recently posted...Giveaway! Runner’s Guide: skirt from Auntie Vicky’s ClosetMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Becky - I totally agree! It is really easy for me to burn out if I'm not taking care of myself with adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and a healthy diet.
  • I always write to-do lists as it keeps me in check and allows me to see whether there has been any changes in the schedule. Maybe I need to switch my phone off though it is so distracting!
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Ana - Yes, my phone is my number one distraction! Even when I have it on silent, it still vibrates, so I either have to turn it off, or set it on the other side of the room... ha!
  • Chelsee says:
    Wow these are great tips! I have seriously been struggling with increasing my productivity. I need to study for test but it is like by the time I get home I am so tired that I don't want to do anything. I def. need to try the smoothie idea! Chelsee recently posted...Accidental Happiness: A ReviewMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Chelsee - I'm so glad you like my post and found my tips helpful! Green smoothies can definitely boost your energy. I have found that since focusing on consuming more of a plant-based diet and whole foods, I have a lot more energy. Good luck on your test and happy studying!
  • Cole says:
    All of these are such excellent tips! I'm still struggling to get on a better sleep schedule which really makes it difficult to get things done! Cole recently posted...The Vegan TransitionMy Profile
  • Sandy says:
    I am pretty organized in the things that need to be done, and can't live without To Do lists, but sleep, this is where I am lacking and I know how huge this is. I need to get into a regular sleep schedule. But I lose track of time in the evenings and before I know it, it is 11:30 or later and this means in the morning I snooze or just plain turn off the alarm... still working on it! Sandy recently posted...I Need an InterventionMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Sandy - This is a huge struggle for me, too. I do a lot of work on my blog in the late afternoon/evening and it is so hard to turn off my brain at night. I've been trying so hard to get up early, but it's so hard when I was up late the night before!
  • Nikki Rae says:
    I love these tips. Although the hardest thing for me is turning off the phone. A lot of the time, my work revolves around social media sites and it's hard not to be distracted. Nikki Rae recently posted...4 Lessons My Second Born Taught MeMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Nikki - Yes, I am right there with you! In my day job, I'm a social media manager and then of course, for my blog I am very social, so my phone is constantly buzzing. It's so hard to resist!
  • Great tips. I'm very organized but sometimes I don't have time to finish all my tasks. Ilona @ Ilona's Passion recently posted...Snickers Cupcakes with Chocolate GanacheMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Ilona - I can totally relate! Sometimes my to-do lists is a little too long, or the day gets away from me and before I know it it's over. I hate when that happens!
  • Lauren White says:
    I need to work on all of these, really. Especially ignoring my phone! I will have to try that app. I don't get much sleep, so I used to sleep in every extra minute. I have come to realize that getting up at the same time each day helps me feel less tired and I am more productive before the kids wake up. Lauren White recently posted...4 Tips to Raise ReadersMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Lauren - This is something I am really trying to work on. I know that if I can get up earlier, I can get a lot done that I would otherwise put off until later in the evening. I, too, have found that going to bed and waking up around the same time every day has really helped me to feel less tired!
  • Amanda says:
    Great tips! I am working toward being more productive and have seen some improvements so far! I really tend to have problems getting sidetracked with my phone and notifications constantly popping up, so I will need to look into Inbox Pause! Amanda recently posted...How to Spot a LiarMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Amanda! I'm so glad you liked my tips. Hopefully they help you in your goal of being more productive! Notifications and my phone can be a huge distraction for me, too. Inbox pause is a great tool!
  • Mary Hill says:
    I need to be better organzied. I use an online tool called Evernote. It is great. I also use my Google calendar some. I just need to be more deliberate about making time to plan. I take my day in chunks with my daughter home from school and taking care of animals and the house too. I am impressed that you are blogging and working fulltime too. Thanks for sharing these tips. Mary Hill recently posted...Free IndeedMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Mary - It's definitely not easy, and I know at some point I am going to have to make a choice regarding my full-time job in order to really grow my blog the way I would like to. But for now, it's working okay! I work with a few people who use Evernote and they swear by it. I need to take the time to learn it and try it out because it seems like something I would really enjoy!
  • Hi! Thank you for these great tips, I love writing down my to-do list for the day and just cross out what I have done already. I need to work on turning off my phone and creating an agenda. Ros Emely@stressfreemommies recently posted...10 Tips on how to Feel and Look Confident after having ChildrenMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      You're welcome, Ros! I love love love my to-do lists. Turning off my phone is a downfall of mine and I am always tempted to grab it to see if I have any new notifications. I'm working on this one, too!
  • Nastasia says:
    I really enjoyed this post! I agree that organization, white boards and pretty highlighters definitely help with motivation and getting the job done! Thanks for sharing:) Can't wait to check back on your blog for more! xx Nastasia
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Nastasia - I'm so glad you liked my post! Organization that is fun and pretty is very motivating to me. It immediately boosts my energy when I open up a pretty notebook to write in or have colorful pens :-)
  • Mionna says:
    My friend was just telling me how she turned off the notifications on her phone for this very reason!! These are awesome tips. The ones I use the most are organizing my days with my planner and making to-do lists. The next step is to actually block off periods of time for certain projects. I think this would help me move forward a little more efficiently. Great post!! Mionna recently posted...June '15 Length CheckMy Profile
  • Shavon Olson says:
    These results such great tips. I'm in a huge transition right now and trying to stay balanced is harder than ever. Being a newlywed, balancing my work and personal life and my blog has proven to be more difficult than I thought. -Shavon Olson www.shavonolson.blogspot.com
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Shavon! I can totally relate. I got married almost a year and a half ago and ever since then, it seems as things are always changing. Finding balance can be difficult and I think the key thing for me to remember is that there never is a "perfect" balance. Setting priorities and seeing these things through first is the most important thing for me.
  • I love lists too! The only way I've been able to stay organized is with Bullet Journaling. It's a list maker's heaven, IMO. I also make daily lists, and it has been working out really well for me. Cori from The Blog Love Project recently posted...Writing NotebooksMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Cori - I am so intrigued. What is bullet journaling? I've never heard of that before but sounds like something I would love!
  • Jaclyn says:
    These are all great tips! I've gone through phases of using each of these and dropping the ball on each of these haha. Sleep is the hardest one for me, because, well, I have a toddler. :D Jaclyn recently posted...What This Mama Wore: Summer Work StyleMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Jacyln! A toddler will definitely keep you busy and on your toes! I'm not perfect at any of these either, and it's always a work in progress!
  • Liz says:
    I'm totally guilty of adding things to my to-do list that are already done just so I can cross them off haha! So glad someone else does that too.
  • Kara says:
    I love this ideas. To-Do list get me though life, and make me stress not as much! Thanks for the ideas!
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Kara - You're welcome! Glad you found the tips helpful. Lists are definitely my saving grace in keeping me sane and less stressed!
  • an agenda is key! i don't have one but every day i make notes in my phone. i think writing it down would make it so much easier for me though Beverley @ sweaty&fit recently posted...ADIDAS #runmore x Sweaty and FitMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Beverly - I find that an agenda is extremely important to keep me on task for the day! I will make lists in my phone too, but there's just something about paper that helps me get it done. Maybe it's because I don't have to go into my notes to look at my to-do list, since the sticky note is always staring back at me!
  • Besides the sleeping (because of a 9m old) this is so me!!! I love organizing!
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Kayla - I love organization, too! I think that's how I'm able to multitask relatively well :-)
  • mistle says:
    Great tips!! There are times when I feel ADD at times too, due to skipping on to tasks before finishing them. I find when I have a consistent sleep schedule it helps me be better prepared. mistle recently posted...Monday Coffee TalkMy Profile
  • Such great tips! I am a check list monger!!! Love my lists. I even make lists for the Facebook groups. LOVE THEM. Such a great post for people who are easily distracted, feel tired or just can't seem to get their heads in the game. Thank you for sharing it with us today. Trisha @ The Ham & Cheese Of It recently posted...What I Work For: Goals for a Blogaholic Vol. 8My Profile
  • Iyanna says:
    When you read a post about productivity and the first thing you see is get on a sleep schedule... looks around because you are the only one up! lol. Great advice. I really suffer to try to make the most of my days, but it is hard being a mother and caregiver! Will not give up. Thanks for sharing! Iyanna recently posted...Easy Advice on Preparing for DaycareMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Lyanna - Haha! Gets ya' doesn't it? I bet the balance of being a mom is extremely difficult. I'm savoring my free time until my husband and I decide to start a family! I'm going to have to come to you for some pointers when the time comes :-)
  • Shannon says:
    I'm obsessed with to-do lists and organization but I totally look at my phone every time I get a notification and check my email constantly. No wonder I never feel like I get anything done. :) Shannon recently posted...Our First Airbnb ExperienceMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Shannon, I am totally guilty of this, too. I think I'm being so productive, but really it's my phone always distracting me! It's probably my weakest link... ha!
  • Jessica says:
    I so pinned this. I need to apply all of these steps to my life. I always feel like I need more time and I am always tired so I know these steps would be a great change to my life. Jessica recently posted...How To: Fix Chipped Wood with a Stain PenMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Jessica - I am so happy to hear that you loved these tips! I haven't perfected all of them - it's alway a work in progress. For me, having a plan, eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep is the recipe for increased productivity. Thanks for pinning!
  • Nakeya says:
    This is an awesome post. You gave so many wonderful tips for increasing productivity. Thanks for the post. I'm so happy to have found you on the Blogging Boost site.
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Thank you, Nakeya! Hopefully they help you increase your productivity level. Happy to connect! :-)
  • These are such great tips and right on time! I love to get up early but it doesn't come naturally to me either. I wonder if it's generic? Lol anyway I tend to stay up too late working on the blog and it throws me off the next day. I know I wil get there. Thanks for the motivation. Xoxo Dorcas@feelgoodfoodblog recently posted...Bahn Mi TacosMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Hi Dorcas - Glad you liked the post! I was staying up really late working on the blog, too, but I found I am much more productive in the morning, especially when I need to write a post. You will get there - it takes a lot of willpower!
  • I totally agree with turning off notifications - makes managing time SO much better! Caroline @ In Due Time recently posted...Genesis 28:15 – His Promises #104My Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Yes, it does! I turned off my instagram notifications for the first time today and wow! What a difference!
  • These are great tips! I recently turned off my push notifications on my phone and it has done wonders to get things done without distractions! Heather @ The Deans List Blog recently posted...Room Tour: Guest Bathroom Remodel (on a budget)My Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      That's awesome! I turned off my instagram notifications for the first time today and noticed a big difference in my ability to focus!
  • Kate says:
    These are great suggestions.! Thanks. :) Kate recently posted...How To Stop Giving Trolls Your PowerMy Profile
  • Lisa Sharp says:
    Great tips, thanks for sharing. Getting enough sleep is a big struggle for me. Lisa Sharp recently posted...Easy Homemade PancakesMy Profile
  • Leah says:
    I put things on my to do list that I have already done just to check them off!
  • Such great tips. Simple but easily overlooked. I like doing my hour by hour breakdown of the next day on a small legal pad every night before bed. Makes me sleep better. So two birds with one stone! Heather with WELLFITandFED recently posted...Thinking Of Joining A Gym? ~ Why Your Local, Old School Gym, Is A Better ChoiceMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      That's a great idea! I need to get better about time blocking. I have my general to-do list, but blocking out my time would be helpful, too!
  • Getting on a regular sleep schedule is something I definitely want to work on. Right now I have been falling asleep around the same time, but I'd love to be more intentional about it. Thanks for sharing Inbox Pause. I need to start using that, like, right now. Haha! Miranda @ Miranda Writes recently posted...CurrentlyMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      You're welcome! Getting into a sleep routine can be hard. I've gotten really good about waking up at the same time most days, but my bedtimes still vary!
  • Tammy Greene says:
    There is nothing quite as satisfying as crossing something off my list. Great post with some awesome tips! Tammy Greene recently posted...Strengthen The Foundation Of Your Marriage – Marriage QuoteMy Profile
  • Nakeya says:
    I love having to do list. They are an absolute must. My main problem is always checking my phone for emails. I know its a distraction, but I always feel like I could be missing something. I'm going to work on checking it less often. Nakeya recently posted...How to Avoid Digital Eye Strain. Phonetic Eyewear Review & GiveawayMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      I know that feeling all too well. I've found that even putting my phone face down so I can't see the notifications or across the room for periods of time helps!
  • The first tip is for me, more sleep! Maybe that's for all moms. But, you're right sleeping, good sleep is so key. I find myself oftentimes up very lat, and up very early. Tirralan - Tinseltown Mom recently posted...Rachel Zoe Shares Tips to Style That Little Black Dress 3 Different WaysMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      I know that when I'm lacking in sleep I definitely can't function as well. I'm not getting as much as I should be right now, but it's enough!
  • Brittany says:
    I can not tell you how many time I make a to-do list and the lose it. I have been working on time management and found that I just try to put too much into one day. I have a documents on my computer with 2 important task per day. It helps keep the stress down and my life a little sane. Brittany recently posted...SEO Tips For BloggersMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      That's a great idea! I'm running into the same problem. I only get to about half of the things on my to-do list and it frustrates me because then it just adds on to the list for the next day! I think limiting the amount of things is a great way to keep it manageable!
  • These are great tips, and one I needed to be reminded of at this very moment. Thanks! :) ~Lorelai Life With Lorelai Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai recently posted...Watermelon, Blueberry & Feta Salad RecipeMy Profile
  • As a fellow blogger there's always things to do and not enough time. Love these tips! Prioritizing and getting up early are some of the most effective things. I always do most of my blog work in morning or weekends. After an 8 hour regular workday and an hour workout, I'm not always in the best state for blog work. Matt @ Plating Pixels recently posted...Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Blue Cheese DressingMy Profile
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      Matt - I hear ya! It can be hard to fit it all in at night and I like to get my blog posts written first thing in the morning. Thanks for stopping by!
  • Ariel says:
    All of these are great ways to stay on track! I love organizing in fun ways to stay motivated! I've redesigned my home office with neat little DIY crafts and have a planner I've color coded to schedule, and for some reason it helps me stay more focused! Thanks for sharing all of these awesome tips! :)
    • Carly Ferguson says:
      I totally understand when you say being organized and making it fun helps you stay more focused. I can totally relate! I'm glad you found the tips helpful, Ariel :-)