10 Ways to Boost Productivity in 10 Minutes or Less

posted by Andrea | 04/5/2013
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10 ways to boost productivity

This time of year, when the days are getting longer and the weather is finally starting to warm up, I often feel like I’m going stir-crazy inside. And despite my best efforts to be productive, there are too many times when I find myself distracted by Nora, more interested in being outside, thinking of future house projects I want to tackle, or just wasting time on unnecessary tasks.

Can you relate? 

Well, you probably won’t be surprised that my solution to “unproductiveness” is to make a list. Yes, I love lists! 🙂

I’ve found that by having a list of quick tasks I can do in 10 minutes or less, I get the satisfaction of crossing something off my list, plus I have an instant productivity boost that propels me to complete one more task… then one more.

Before I know it, I’m back in my groove!

These are 10 of my favorite ways to boost productivity — all in 10 minutes or less…

1. Go for a quick walk.

Getting some fresh air is always good for me (and for Nora).  Even on cold days, we can both handle at least 10 minutes outside. If it’s raining, we’ll “play” with her shopping cart and scooter in our garage 🙂

Just a few minutes outside will give your brain a break and get your blood flowing — which will hopefully help you to be more productive when you get back inside.

2. Make a list.

Yes, another list — any type of list.

Make your meal plan for the week, your grocery list, a list of upcoming birthdays you need to buy gifts for, a list of activities for your child’s school, a list of things you want to do tonight, a list of house projects you want to work on this summer, a list of books you want to read.

I find that by focusing on something for just 10 minutes (and keeping my hands busy writing) my brain automatically starts to regain focus… plus, now I have another list to keep me on track!

3. Get dressed and ready.

Some of you might be rolling your eyes right now — but I have a feeling many of you are nodding along with me. Yes, there are days when I don’t get dressed until after lunch — but not that often, I promise.

I’ve found that by taking 10 minutes to throw on normal clothes (no yoga pants allowed), brushing my teeth, and quickly doing my hair/make-up, I feel more productive and I’m ready to face the day (or unexpected visitors.)

4. Do something you love doing.

Remember, this is just for 10 minutes, so don’t let yourself get too distracted. However, if you enjoy doing something like knitting, scrap-booking, reading, online shopping, facebook, etc., I would encourage you to set the timer for 10 minutes and let yourself forget about everything else on your to-do list.

Sometimes that little break is all you need to get back to work again.

5. Zone out.

Yes, this can actually be a productivity tactic. Even if you have 101 things to do, I’ve found that by simply sitting in the quiet for a few minutes (before everyone wakes up or after they go to bed), I give my body and my brain a chance to relax.

6. Dance and sing.

OK, so this one is mainly because Nora LOVES to dance and “sing” along with music — but I’ve found that it also helps me be more productive. We frequently turn the radio on and dance like crazy around the living room just for a bit. Nora get’s my undivided attention, we both get some good laughs, and after we’re finished dancing, she’s more content to play on her own for a bit — which allows me to finish a quick project, change a load of laundry, or start dinner.

And yes, Dave participates in the dancing when he’s home 🙂

7. Purge 10 things from your home.

There’s something about purging that definitely helps me to feel productive… and I’m guessing that you can easily find 10 things in your home that you can live without.

Ask yourself “Do I love this? Do I need this? Do I use this? Do I want this?” If the answer is no, put it in a donation or trash bag and enjoy an instant productivity boost.

8. Decide to eliminate a task from your to-do list.

This might sound like an easy way out, but in fact, it can actually be a pretty effective productivity booster. If you’re short on time and always thinking about everything you still need to do, consider taking a good hard look at your to-do list and eliminating anything that isn’t 100% necessary.

It might not be an easy decision to make, but I always feel relieved and at peace once I’ve made the decision to drop a task I know I don’t have time to complete.

9. Do ONE thing.

Think of just one thing that needs to be done… and then do it. It could be as simple as putting the newspaper in the recycling bin, putting the milk back in the fridge, or moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer.

By doing just one thing, you get your body moving and you stop procrastinating — both of which are essential to productivity!

10. Make a “done list”.

I’ve talked about my “done list” before — and while I realize it sounds a bit silly, I think you’ll be amazed at how much more productive you feel after making one.

Take 10 minutes and literally write down everything you did today — packed lunches, started the dishwasher, responded to emails, got the mail, changed a diaper, vacuumed, got groceries, read a book. EVERYTHING. I guarantee you’ll feel more productive after reading over everything you’ve already accomplished.

These are just a few of the quick productivity boosters I use when I’m in a slump and need to get myself back on track. So the next time you start to feel your energy level drop and your productivity plummet, pick something off this list and do it!

And if you’d like even more tips and ideas to quickly boost your productivity, head over to the Turnstone blog — I’m sharing 15 MORE productivity boosters!

What are your favorite quick and simple productivity boosters? 

Filed under: WorkProductivity


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  1. Ree Klein


    What a great set of tips. I’ve been a “list” girl for as long as I can remember…I got it from my mother. That’s a strategy that has worked for me and when I stray from the habit, it shows by a drop in my productivity.

    I particularly like tip #7: Purge 10 Things From Your Home. I wrote a post on EscapingDodge.com called The Art Of Personal Archaeology. It compliments the purging theme from a lifestyle and “stuff” perspective.

    Love your site, Andrea, your content has a ton of value!


  2. Thea


    Thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling with this issue, and what seems like constant condemnation from relatives in that I am not as productive as they like. I am coming to the conclusion that I am just wired differently. If it were a big deal, my husband would let me know. And he does, in a much more “productive” way than anyone else! 🙂 Thanks for the great motivating tips!


  3. Greta


    Lists save my life. Seriously they bring me so much peace and accomplishment. I make so many lists, that I decided to make my own planners too and I have been doing that for a few years now. One of my best time-saving and organizing tools! http://projectmomma.com/diy-planner/


    Tara Reply:

    Wow Greta! Thanks for sharing your DIY planner blog post link! I love it. I’ve tried so many planners and styles and I always feel like it’s the hugest waste and I feel like I fail at using them and return to my menagerie of lists. Your idea allows for a more freestyle planner. I also love that I can pick one up anywhere. It’s very much my style. 🙂 Thanks again for sharing!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Greta,
    Your planner looks great! I’m not sure I could use that system, but I know it would be helpful for so many of my readers so I just shared it on my facebook page 🙂


  4. Ellie


    Awesome post Andrea! Thanks for your blog…it has been so encouraging to me as I have a 6 month old daughter who has some similarities to your sweet and energetic Nora. Just by you sharing your experiences with Nora, you have helped empowered me to parent the way I feel is right for me and my baby. It makes me feel better Just knowing there are others mommies out there whose babies prefer mommy milk to solid food, fight naps, get up during the night multiple times, etc! Thank you for all your amazing tips as well. Love the play ideas in this post.


  5. Tara


    Ha! I agree with the above poster that your blog is my productivity booster. I sit down exhausted (In fact, I’m doing it this very moment) then I read through a post or two of yours that inspires me to get productive in a simple way. On really hard days I’ll read 2-3 of your posts for a little extra physical rest. I like to hit your archives for some posts I haven’t seen yet.

    I’d say it’s been 99% successful in helping me rest, then get back up and tackle at least one more thing on my list.

    Thank you Andrea! 🙂


  6. Lauren @ Rustic Honey


    Thanks for all the tips! My favorite is to eliminate something on your list. I have a bad habit of continuing to add random to-do’s to my list which only make it seem more overwhelming! I once heard, the only way to complete your to-do list is to stop adding to it! Great point!


  7. Sarah


    I am with you on the lists! I keep many different ones. I love your idea of a “done” list, though – I don’t have that one yet.


  8. Georgiagal


    I dealt with this last night. I wanted to finish an article and was overwhelmed by the content I still needed to add. I wasen’t getting very far and I kept “taking a break” to refocus. I finally decided to change the article and add less recipes to get it done. It was a huge relief and it saved me a lot of time.

    Like you Andrea, I’ve learned to keep it simple and that change can be for the better. I also agree that lists are a must! Hope your weekend is wonderful!


  9. Mama Murrey


    I set the timer and spend five minutes in each room of my house. Whatever I can see that needs to be done (generally just tidying up), I work as fast as I can in that room until the timer beeps. I am always amazed that most of the surface mess in my house can be cleaned up in just five minutes a room. WHY do I procrastinate so long when it takes so little time to clean up???

    The peace and beauty this brings to my home is hugely motivating for me.


  10. Organize365



    My 10 minute break EVERYDAY is to come over here and read your posts!

    I am always inspired by your productivity, positive attitude and energy. I then go back to my list and projects and work harder!



    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Lisa! Happy {almost} weekend!


    Patricia Reply:

    I agree. No moaning, just a “get it done” attitude with a smile and I absolutely love your loving interaction with Nora. I keep coming back for more


  11. Angie


    I am a list girl and love to be able to cross things off the list. I read a long time ago that wearing sneakers in the house would make you more productive so no matter what I have on, if I am in “work” mode, I wear my sneakers and I swear I get things done more quickly – maybe it’s all in my head. 🙂 Loved your ideas.


  12. Deni


    I am SO with you on the lists! I have been making lists since high school, and I love checking things off. I will also write down what I’ve accomplished just so I can check it off! When I need to straighten the whole house, I like to do one room at a time. I start with small rooms like bathrooms. I tidy them up and it gets me motivated to do the big ones. I have master lists of big projects as well and try to do them according to priority. Without my lists, I lose motivation and get distracted. Especially meal planning, I feel so disorganized when I haven’t planned our meals and it gets a little stressful when my family asks “What’s for dinner?” Glad I’m not the only list maker! Being organized makes life so much easier : )