When you make a to-do list, the best part is striking a check through the empty box. You finished your task! Congrats! Being productive is something that we all strive for every day.
However, it might be hard for you to remember deadlines or directions, stay organized, find motivation, or focus on your work. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful! In fact, there are plenty of ways you can be your most productive self.
Write out a to-do list
People with autism often do best in a structured environment. Well, to-do lists are the best way to keep structure and routine in your day! Get into the habit of listing out your work tasks and deadlines by day or week. This will help you remember your duties, how to accomplish them, and when they are due. If you want to take your to-do list to the next level, schedule the times you will do each thing. Before lunch, what will you accomplish? Before you go home, what can you say you finished? These are the types of things to think about when writing your list.
To-do lists also make tasks easier to accomplish because it is a visual tool (instead of having the tasks be abstract ideas in your mind). Writing your lists out is beneficial. If you can see it, you are more likely to keep each task in mind.
Clean your space
Getting in the habit of cleaning your space means being organized and keeping things where they belong. Doing so increases your ability to access your things quickly when you need them. Having autism can make it hard to stay organized due to differing levels of executive functioning. Cleaning up helps solve this problem! If you clean before you go home each day, your space will not get out of hand and all your tools will be easily accessible for your upcoming tasks.
Be a morning person
Take advantage of the quiet hours of the day. Mornings can be the best time of day for people with autism because it is when you have time to be alone with your thoughts. Use this time to find your motivation — in the morning you have time to reflect and self-improve.
What do I mean? Finding your motivation is key to being productive, because it gives you a drive: a reason to go to work. Before going to work, wake up and think about the reason you are going to work. This is also a great time to create your to-do list for the day. Read, sip coffee, watch the sun, stretch, or do whatever it takes to get your mind ready for the day, keeping motivation in mind. Take this time for yourself to not have to worry about social interaction or other stressful situations.
Make sure when you set your alarm that you are getting enough sleep. You should be getting about 7-9 hours a night, so when you go to bed, take this into consideration before setting your alarm. A rested body is extremely important!
Move and take breaks
Moving can mean many things, but the overall idea is that you get some form of exercise daily. Focusing is something that can often be hard for people on the spectrum. Have you ever felt like you could not sit still and complete a task? The good thing is that activities, such as exercise, can boost your ability to focus. The chemicals that moving creates produces an ability to sit still and get tasks done more readily.
Some things you could do include walking around the block during a lunch break or just pacing around your worksite. When I worked at Chik-fil-a, I used to walk around the restaurant to keep my blood flowing and then I would be able to serve people at the counter better.
Along with moving, it is crucial to give yourself mental breaks. It is actually quite healthy to take small breaks throughout the day. Your autism may cause you to feel overwhelmed throughout the day, whether it be emotional, social, or sensory issues. Working can exhaust your mind when you are being exposed to frequent sensory stimuli and social interactions. If you do not give yourself a rest, it may become too much. So be sure to take a break! If you rest your mind, it will not be as fatigued.
Make a habit of these things and you will go to bed with the greatest satisfaction of having been productive that day. What a reward! When you get a lot of work done, your mind will want to rest and will be able to rest because it has accomplished so much in one day. Don’t let a few obstacles stop you from being productive! Remember: The main things you need to do to be productive are find your motivation, have a plan/to-do list, and focus on your work. You are more than ready! Go show your boss how well you can check the boxes.