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We all are master procrastinators and energy conservationists. No matter how hard we try to be productive, we always find the reason to slack. How about Elon Musk, or your 58 year old English teacher? Well, some people just know when to pull the reins that start the heavy lifting. Productivity is made up of all the opportunities to be lazy that you simply did not take.

All those times you could have put something off for tomorrow, but you still manage to accomplish within the day. It’s a habit. And that, my friends, is the key to motivation.

Motivation and productivity work hand in hand. Productivity is the result of motivation. If you are creative enough, you can make even the most tiresome or most boring tasks fun. (Yeah, that’s a whole new topic in itself. We’ll stick to the basics in this article.)

You don’t have to overwork yourself to a point of fatigue because that just makes you lose interest in even the most fun activities. And when you’re literally sick and tired, you might end up resenting your job and quitting is imminent! Think about your laptop (very creative analogy, huh?), you want to finish your project within the day, you’re tired and cranky and impatient already. And surprise, surprise–your laptop isn’t cooperating! It is all laggy and frequently crashes down too. You have to reboot and let it rest too. Why? Because the amount of work is too much for the system.

Just like any other machine, your mind and body can only handle enough work and pressure. To keep it in tip-top shape, you need to learn how to maximize your productivity without sacrificing the quality of your work.

As a home-based business owner, these are the top 5 tried and tested techniques that keeps me motivated and more productive, especially when all I want to do is lay on the couch and get another bowl of pasta:

1. Keep track of your ideas


Maintain a list of ALL your ideas, every time an idea pops up (i.e. Business ideas, outfit ideas, new hobbies to try), write it down. It doesn’t matter if you write it in a notebook or a checklist app, or both—whichever you prefer, make sure that you can go back to this list. Try exploring the concept of mind maps which are great for visualizing ideas.

2. Keep a simple to-do list and prioritize 3 items

There are a lot of ways you can do this, but I would recommend that you list all the things you need to do for the next day. Categorize the tasks as: urgent and important, urgent but not important, important but not urgent, not urgent and not important, and if you like, add another list which I call a task bucket wherein I add all the things I want or need to do for the week. I started putting all my projects on Trello and use it to keep track of my to-do this as well.

Want to try it for yourself? Here’s a sample to-do list: Trello To Do Don’t forget to make your own copy of the board!

3. Separate your work space and sleep area

The mind is an amazing thing. It can anchor certain ideas and feelings to an object or place, and for most home-based business owners, sometimes the bed offers a better and more comfortable work area. The problem with this is the fact that working in the same area where you sleep drastically affects ones’ productivity. Trust me, I would’ve been a better student if I didn’t read and made my reports in my bedroom (LOL!).

4. Keep your work area free from distractions


Seriously, don’t even think of putting a TV in or near your work area. It’s best to work in a quiet and well-lit space—once you’ve been distracted, it can take up to 5-15 minutes before you regain your focus. Don’t forget to keep it neat and orderly (guilty here), not only will it be a more peaceful place but it will save you time finding those markers, clips and glasses.

Ever spent a day just looking for a card or key? Not a really productive thing to do.

5. Careful where you spend your energy


If there’s one thing I stopped doing which made me productive, it’s watching TV for hours. I found out that I’ve been spending hours watching my favorite shows and criticizing politicians and other celebs that I cannot control and don’t really care about. These things don’t add value to my life. I don’t have to follow what’s in or what’s not.

I don’t want to spend my time complaining about the government—I want to spend my life and my energy on the things that matter to me. My time belongs to my family, my business, learning and helping others. How about you? Can you share how you maximize your productivity? Please share them in the comments below.

It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen. -Scott Belsky