We’ve all been there. You sit down with a hot cup of coffee, open your laptop and dream of all of the goals and tasks you will accomplish that day. Yet before you even begin, your brain starts to run wild with reminders: order a birthday gift for your sister, schedule a much-needed dentist appointment, call the dog groomer, pay the electric bill. Suddenly, your mind is being pulled in a thousand different directions, leaving you frazzled, unable to focus and defeated just looking at your lengthy, untackled to-do list.


In today’s world full of schedules to make, passwords to remember, people to take care of and emails to write, how can we clear the mental clutter to make progress on everything we need to get done each day? Check out these productivity tips below for winning your work day once and for all:


Know Yourself

More specifically, know when you operate the best. Do you jump out of bed when your alarm goes off or feel ready to tackle any challenge when the sun goes down? This may sound trivial, but understanding and working with your natural tendencies will increase your productivity and efficiency. Once you figure out what times of day you are at optimal energy, try to schedule your toughest work assignments or tasks during this time period. Having uninterrupted time to work when you are feeling your best will boost both your productivity and enjoyment of the task.


Put Down Your Phone

Yes, you can do it! It turns out that parents, teachers and bosses aren’t telling you to put down your phone just to annoy you – continuously breaking your attention away from tasks is a productivity killer. Contrary to popular belief, our brains aren’t wired to multitask. In fact, multitasking reduces productivity by up to 40 percent, according to research from the American Psychological Association. If you can, put your phone on silent in a drawer or (even better!) in the other room while you work. If you must have your phone nearby, use apps like OFFTIME or Flipd to block access to social media apps with the click of a button. See you later, mindless scrolling!


Make It a Game

When all else fails, turn your to-do list into a game. Setting a goal and challenging yourself to achieve it can turn a lackluster task into a fun competition. Can you dwindle your inbox down to zero in 30 minutes? Unload the dishwasher in the time it takes to play your favorite song? If you need a more specific tool, try the Pomodoro Technique, which is a popular method for breaking a large task into measurable sections. Set a timer for 25 minutes and crank out work until the timer goes off. When it does, enjoy a five minute break before setting the timer again. This exercise trains your brain to focus for short intervals instead of falling victim to distractions or the feeling of being overwhelmed.


Getting work done easily and effectively every single day isn’t impossible. It just takes diligence and training to set yourself up for success. Clear your mind, eliminate distractions and insert a bit of novelty into your day to dominate any and every to-do list.