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Nine helpful yet realistic tips for boosting personal productivity

They're low-tech and simple -- and they really work

by Gretchen Rubin  |  17416 views  |  1 comment  |        Rate this now! 

6.) If there’s something you don’t want to do, prepare all the necessary preliminary steps the night before, and make yourself do it first thing in the morning. For example, I dislike making even the easiest phone calls, so I always steel myself to do those right away. (Check here if you need more tips for making yourself place phone calls you don’t want to make.)

7.) Be diligent about “unsubscribing.” I need to be better at this. We all find our way onto email lists and newsletters of all sorts, and I often let weeks or months go by before taking five seconds to unsubscribe. But it’s worth it to weed out clutter from your in-box.

8.) Keep a daily scratch pad. You know those notes you write to yourself -- phone numbers, URLs, the “call John Doe” reminders, the quick “don’t forget” notes -- all those nagging loose ends that clutter the surface of a desk, and then vanish, get thrown away, or can’t be deciphered when you’re looking for them? Now I keep a scratch pad on my desk, and anytime I have the urge to make a note, I discipline myself to write it there. At the end of the day, I copy anything I need to keep (this is important!), then toss the paper.

9.) Remember my Eighth Commandment and “Identify the problem.” This sounds so obvious, but it’s astonishingly helpful. For example, I like to work in coffee shops, and for years, and I mean years, I spent a lot of time running out of battery power and chasing around looking for someplace to plug in my laptop. Then I asked myself: “What’s the problem?” Answer: “I need more battery power.” Light dawned. I could buy an extra battery! I did, and it gave me a huge boost in productivity.


About the Author

In her blog, The Happiness Project (, Gretchen Rubin recounts her daily adventures as she test-drives the wisdom of the ages and current scientific research about how to be happier.

Read more by Gretchen Rubin

1 comment so far...

  • Great suggestions! I really like #3. Doing a daily errand or a bi-weekly errand afternoon gives you a "parking lot" for all those things you have to get done. Rather than feeling like they're hanging over your head, you can put them out of your mind until the assigned time.

    Another strategy that has helped me is pushing back school pickup time by 20 minutes or so -- I do a quick errand then pick up the kids. They get a few extra minutes to hangout with friends, and I don't get stuck in the pickup traffic. At first I felt guilty ("How can I leave them waiting?") but then I realized it was a win-win for all of us.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by LauraGiveMe10 on 22nd April 2013