Home > Personal Finance > 7 Ways to Be More Productive in 2014

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


Have you ever noticed that our to-do lists are getting longer, our distractions are getting more high-tech, but our days aren’t adding any more hours?

Well, high demands require innovative solutions. If you need some creative strategies for getting more done in 2014, here are seven ways to power up and boost your productivity.

1. Create Actionable Lists

For me, lists are the drivers that document and propel my personal productivity. Without them, I’d be covered in sticky notes and wondering where I parked my car. But not all lists are created equal. The best to-do lists prioritize tasks, include supportive or prerequisite tasks, and are precise and actionable.

For example, instead of “open an individual retirement account,” break that rather large task down into more actionable steps and get specific. The first step might be to research traditional versus Roth IRAs. The second: Decide on the type of IRA and research three potential providers and their corresponding fund choices.

The third step or task might be to choose a provider and make your investment selections. Dividing larger to-do’s into actionable and specific tasks helps get things done by promoting incremental progress each and every day.

2. Stop Multitasking!

Yes, this one deserves an exclamation point. Multitasking gets a lot of good press in our professional lives and in popular culture, but it’s not the best strategy for accomplishing every set of tasks we face.

Instead of trying to juggle three or four to-do’s simultaneously and risking mediocre results with each, focus your attention on one task at a time. Giving a single activity our laser-like attention helps us see opportunities, catch mistakes, and create efficiencies that would otherwise be the casualties of multitasking.

3. Quarter Your Day

Dividing the block of our waking hours into quarters can help us create mini-itineraries, each with its own goal or set of goals. A rough quarterly schedule might include a specific set of priorities for 7 to 11 a.m., another set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and so on. Beyond the normal to-do’s like commute, work, prepare dinner, etc., focus on one or two of those “I’ve really been meaning to … ” tasks that can be reasonably accomplished in each block of time. By day’s end, you’ll have worked through at least four to-do’s and kept a healthy, consistent pace.

4. Un-silo Your Activities

From the solitary experience of driving in our cars to work to working out at the gym, modern life is filled with siloed activity where we’re performing a single task to the exclusion of all others. But it hasn’t always been this way.

Not so long ago, the lines between our activities were happily blurred. For instance, gardening was a food production chore but it was also a chance to socialize with neighbors, get some exercise and spend time with our kids. Rural life was centered on complementing activity that wasn’t so much multitasking as it was task-blending. And it worked like a charm.

Today, we can accomplish more by taking a critical look at our siloed tasks and rethinking our approach. Consider those activities that naturally fit together. Could you turn that solitary daily commute into a carpool and network with co-workers? How about scrapping the gym membership and strengthening social ties by bicycling with friends and family instead? Maybe you could pick up an elderly parent or neighbor the next time you go grocery shopping and provide broader value for you and for them.

5. Plan 1 Major Project Each Month

We all have those lingering not-so-much-fun projects that we tend to put off month after month. Cleaning the garage, turning that spare bedroom into a home office, making a will, or updating our resumes and LinkedIn profiles all seem to get kicked down the road.

Make 2014 the year you tackle these hangers-on by knocking them out 30 days at a time. Choose one major project at the beginning of each month and resolve to complete it by month’s end.

But be tactical. A month of heavy traveling for work probably isn’t the best month to build your home office, but it could be the perfect time to update your resume, tend to your LinkedIn profile and focus on building your professional network.

6. Derail Distractions

There’s hidden irony in the electronic devices we’re surrounded by every day. They’re designed to make our lives easier and more productive, but they often have a profoundly opposite effect. Phone calls, audible email notifications, texts and IMs create a competing expectancy that divides our attention and dulls our effectiveness.

As surreal as it may feel to turn off that smartphone or set your online status to “busy,” carve out time in your day for uninterrupted work. Even a single hour of distraction-free focus can be enormously productive.

7. Review and Reward

Sure, completing a task is its own reward, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a few bonuses here and there. Reviewing progress and rewarding success are key pieces of productivity. As you complete a project or check each item off your long list of to-do’s, take a moment to acknowledge your progress and reward yourself with a day off, a lunch out or an extra-long afternoon coffee break.

Remember, boosting productivity is one part strategy, one part discipline and one part psychology. Positive reinforcement doesn’t hurt.

Increasing your personal productivity doesn’t have to be painful, and finding the time doesn’t require staying up until the wee hours of the morning. With some basic planning, a few solid strategies, and the motivation that success brings, you can become a powerhouse of productivity in 2014.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

More from Money Talks News:

Image: Digital Vision

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.


Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team