I remember the first time I felt truly overwhelmed. Balancing a new technology job, an investment banking internship, and 18 credit hours in undergraduate school, pushed me to the brink. Each opportunity was important as the last, and it seemed as if the days had increasingly less time to accomplish each new task. As stressful as the situation began, it gave me the push I needed to admit the obvious, I must increase my productivity to maintain my health and comfort. I began researching many potential solutions for increasing my productivity. From practicing these five essential and easy to remember steps, I was able to see not only an increase in my output but also my free time and mindset.

To ensure a healthy work life balance, productivity is everything. Here are five tips in under 3 minutes to help improve your productivity, stress levels, and life.

1.) 2 Minute Rule:

This tip is both easy to remember and easy to do. The “2 minute rule” by David Allen states that if something can be done within 2 minutes, it is best to do it right away and not add it to your task/to-do/procrastination list. By doing this, you will spend far less energy and time by getting it out of the way immediately. Plus, you can relieve your mind of at least one more task.

2.) Perfect is the enemy of the good:

Trying for perfection is a tiring action; there will always be more things to organize and more tasks to accomplish. Life will be much more enjoyable setting realistic expectations.

3.) Busy does not equal productive:

It is all too easy for people to fall into the mindset that, “if I am busy doing things I must be being productive.” In fact, allowing yourself to be too busy often leads to becoming overwhelmed and is as unproductive as doing nothing. Take into consideration how efficient you are being with your tasks, do you really have to be AS busy as you currently are? Or could you perhaps save a few of the tasks for another day.

4.) Consider the 80/20 rule:

The 80/20 rule originally was a Law established from the great economist, Pareto. He determined that 80% of the yield of his garden was accumulated from 20% of his seeds. Conversely the other 20% of his garden yield came from the other 80% of his efforts. So, by sussing out the efforts that generate the majority of the successes and resources you will know what to properly devout your time and energy to. Essentially, cutting out a lot of the fat in your schedule. This also holds true in so many different industries. Especially in regards to minimizing the clutter of your calendar and tasks.

5.) Avoid the Parkinson’s Law Effect:

According to Parkinson’s Law, the perception of importance and complexity of any task will always escalate with the more time you allot to your task. Determine the tasks that are MOST important and schedule LESS time for them. Sound Crazy? I agree it does, but this counterintuitive concept will force you focus on important tasks with much more intent. Additionally, it will not allow for Parkinson’s Law to kick in and for you to get stressed out.

You’ll notice that a lot of these suggestions have to do with changing our own mindsets.

Originally published at medium.com