We’d all love to nail that perfect work-life balance, but let’s be real, unfortunately we don’t always have the motivation to do that 5 am yoga session or midday meditation without ten thousand critical thoughts running through our brains, telling us we’re throwing time into a paper shredder.

The fact is, busy doesn’t always equal productive.

If you’re at work and reading this article, consider this the first step to jumping back onto the path of productivity and then follow along with the next four; you can thank me later.

1. Focus on goals, rather than tasks

Create a checklist of goals ordered by deadlines and importance. Be picky, too! If one of your goals is a “nice to do” rather than a “need to do”, you’re best to leave it off your list until you have a little more breathing room. Steve Jobs once said, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”, and we all know that dude got stuff done.  Keeping your goals to a necessary minimum motivates a “can-do” mindset which helps you slowly but surely conquer that bigger picture.

2. Bite the bullet in the morning

If there’s a task you’re dreading, get it over and done with at the start of the day. Completing it first will increase productivity for the rest of the afternoon, as opposed to watching the clock and dreading tackling the task as the end of the day ticks closer and closer.

3. Productive people take breaks

If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro Technique before, allow me to blow your mind. In the 80’s, this time management technique was created by Francesco Cirillo to break work down into manageable chunks. For example, using the Pomodoro Technique means you pick a task and start the timer. When the buzzer sounds in twenty-five minutes, you can stop and go to the bathroom, take a walk, paint your nails – whatever you like, as long as you stop the task. The development is based on the idea that frequent breaks improve mental agility, and taking on a ten-hour project is far more manageable when you break it down into bite-sized pieces.

4. Have a bit of wine (seriously)

Stop telling yourself you suck, that you’re a professional procrastinator, or focusing on how much further you have to go. Instead, sit down, pour yourself a glass of wine (or whatever your tipple of choice) and, in traditional Primary School fashion, give yourself a pat on the back. Focus on what you did complete rather than what you didn’t; you’ll thank yourself the next day when you wake up in a better frame of mind, ready to smash that daily grind.

Images: Beck Wadworth – An Organised Life; Amanda Shadworth – Oracle Fox; Beck Wadworth for Penfolds – @beckwadworth