We go to work to be productive but are we productive at every minute? I know a lot of people who drag themselves to do the bare minimum and get over with the day. They don’t care about their growth or their company’s. If they could get away with doing nothing and still be paid, they would do it in a heartbeat. If you are one of those, then I am not sure if this article is going to change your mind but if you wish to do as much as they can in the given amount of time then good for you. We have just the thing for you, read along and achieve all you want.
1. Make a to-do list
I know this can be boring or extra work but hear me out when I say it will make your day way easier. I started at the same place as you might be at right now if you don’t make a list. To me, it seemed stupid to waste time making a list when I could be using the time required to do the actual work, and this is where I was wrong.
Planning is a crucial step for anything you want to do. From where I see it, there are two ways you can go, either spend a few moments planning and get the work done accordingly or save time planning and work in chaos, figuring out what to do next as you go.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the
Doesn’t the first option make more sense? Then comes the correct way to make your list. Most people try to fit in a ton of work for the day under the pretense of being productive, but it doesn’t work that way.
What you have to do, to begin with, is, write down the tasks that you have to do or you can do in a day, no matter what. This helps you to minimize your list and keep realistic goals for the day.
2. Break down your tasks as well as time
Now, this is something people either overdo or don’t do enough. The reason why this is important is that it brings your task into perspective and you can micromanage your way through the work without being overwhelmed.
Breaking down your time and tasks into smaller chunks helps you assign the said tasks more efficiently. You know what time works best for you for what function, so you group similar tasks and do it in the timeframe that works for that particular job.
Alternatively, you can also try the Pomodoro technique if it works for you. It’s basically breaking down your time in chunks of 25 minutes each and taking a 5-minute break after each session (or Pomodoro). After four Pomodoros, you can take a longer 15-minute break.
This makes bigger tasks much more manageable and you can see your self making progress every day, rather than being overwhelmed by one big task on which you don’t make any progress.
3. Track the time needed for each task
A lot of people misjudge the time they need to do a job. Knowing your speed and efficiency can be a great asset in terms of productivity. Start timing each task you do. Do this for a few days, and you will get a fairly good idea about how much time you need for a particular task.
This little something can help you plan well, and you will be able to do all the tasks you take on without the stress of the work or the time.
4. Set self-imposed deadlines
Parkinson’s Law states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Deadlines stress people out and in some way, they should. When a project is open-ended and does not have a finish line, it is easy to get lost and keep pushing the tasks for the next day, but when you put a deadline to it, the ticking clock helps you get going.
If you feel stressed out just by the idea of deadlines, then you can put up a small reward for yourself or a restrainment. Let’s say you want to go out on Saturday; then you can use that as leverage to get your work done on Friday. Tell yourself that you won’t get to go out if you don’t finish the task. This way, you will get your work done as well as get to enjoy your outing without the ever-lurking presence of an incomplete task.
5. Take frequent breaks
Some people think taking a break means not utilizing time to its fullest. You could be working, right? Wrong. Breaks are necessary to let our brains recharge, and a tired mind is going to get you nowhere. The work you do is not going to be the best, every task will require more time to be completed, and so on.
If you have a job that requires more mental presence than physical efforts, then breaks are essential for you. It doesn’t have to be a long break; a 10-minute rest between set hours or tasks is enough to refresh your mind for the next job.
6. Take a walk
When you have a desk job, it is difficult to work your body out naturally unless you make a conscious effort. If you can’t go out for a walk during work hours, a few rounds of the office would do just fine.
Take a 10-minute walk after lunch or stretch your legs between long tasks. Use it as a way to refresh between short tasks or take a walk while you think about your strategy. A little exercise awakens your body, and you feel more energized to tackle your next order of business.
7. Take a step back
When you feel like increasing your productivity, it is only natural to be tempted to put in longer hours or pack in more work in your already tight schedule. Fight that temptation because it is going to do no good; all it will do is stress you out. This moment is when you need to take a step back and evaluate everything.
Don’t be afraid to downsize the work you do if you think you are not doing justice to it. After all, at the end of the day it’s all about doing a good job and growing from it. If the work cannot be reduced, then you need to take a step back and think about other ways to tackle it because the goal is to work smarter, not harder.
Productivity isn’t something that is achieved overnight. You need to work for it as you need to work for other things. Making small daily changes and keeping up with them is what helps you reach where you want to be. Think about where you are, what you want to achieve, and what you need to do to get there. Now, find a way to do it better, faster, and smarter because a busy day isn’t exactly a productive day.
How to Use Your Calendar to Increase Productivity and Achieve Big Goals
Are you tired of not accomplishing your goals or being unproductive at work? Are you tired of finishing things at the last minute for every project you have? You might have tried many systems and they just do not seem to work.
You may have noticed your peers excelling and getting things done although they have the same amount of hours as you do in a day. Fortunately, there is a great system which may help improve your productivity.
One of the primary reasons why individuals are not productive is because they are constantly interrupted or feel overwhelmed by the goal/task they need to accomplish. The feeling of being overwhelmed causes projects to be postponed until right before the final due date. To avoid this feeling, you must try and break the project into multiple sub-tasks. For example, if you need to repair a fence in your backyard, this can be broken up into the following tasks:
- Buy materials for fence repair
- Remove damaged fence parts
- Replace fence parts
- Paint fence
The overall project should be broken down into mini-tasks to make this more manageable. Although this process will make a project less overwhelming, it still misses another important point, which is getting interrupted by other higher-priority tasks. Therefore, it is important to write these down on a paper or on your phone or computer.
Many productivity specialists say that writing down your goals will make it more likely that you will accomplish them. I have written down goals before and failed to accomplish anything. At work, I was behind on projects and getting interrupted constantly – it happens sometimes.
After much investigation, I realized that I was missing a core element and that was a reminder system. I could write down my goals and put them on my computer but if I did not review them, the lists would be useless.
Fortunately, the solution to this problem was at my fingertips. I decided to take these lists and add them to my calendar on my phone. I would dedicate at least a 30-minute block to the tasks I wanted to do and set a reminder time at least 5 minutes before the task. Start your day doing this and block off all the hours in your day on your phone’s calendar. If you get interrupted, you can simply move tasks to other time blocks.
You can also combine it with the Pomodoro technique to increase your productivity along with your accountability that will come with setting up the reminder.
Why does this work?
This works because you are telling your mind that you need to work on a task during this time period. The reminder from your phone/computer reinforces this and allows you to focus. Paper-based systems failed for me because I did not review the tasks I had written down. As soon as a higher-priority task came up, I did not accomplish what I wrote down. Instead of relying on myself to do a “review”, the phone’s calendar does it for me.
It also gives me a sense of accountability, because I know that I am supposed to do the said things in the determined time block or else everything else will also suffer. It works like a pang of mini guilt for me. It also gives you deadlines to complete your work, nothing works better at making you feel accountable than a deadline.
Breaking down big goals into smaller goals is something that almost all of us know. It is one of the basic steps that anyone mentions when they take about achieving your goals. But, sticking to accomplishing to those smaller goals to achieve the bigger one is where people fail. This is one of the simplest ways to hold yourself up to the completion of the task.
Creating a sense of accountability is very important. When we feel responsible for something, we tend to be more serious about it. Written goals make us accountable and constant reminders keep us on our toes, making us answerable to ourselves.
If you are tired of writing tasks down or wanting to do major projects and not getting anything done, then you may want to try breaking apart major tasks and add these tasks to your phone. You may find yourself accomplishing things you never imagined!
5 Tips to Increase Your Focus
Low attention span or difficulty in focusing is becoming a common problem for many. With so many entertainment options readily available, it has become easy to be distracted and to procrastinate. Our work takes the hit and that, in turn, makes us feel bad. Instead of dismissing your lack of focus as something you have to deal with, learn to increase it.
Like our body, our mind needs exercise too. The areas we consider to be weak can be built up if we put our mind to it. Just because our focus isn’t as strong as we would like it to be, doesn’t mean you have to accept the fact and do nothing about it. Try to better it. There are things, practices, and exercises that if done regularly, can help you increase your focus.
If you didn’t know, meditation has different types that focus on different areas. Mindfulness meditation can help you boost your attention span significantly. Not only that, meditation in itself can help you relax, and become calm and collected. Now, that your mind has relaxed and is free of a thought jumble, it becomes easier to focus on things that actually matter.
Meditation for just 10 to 20 minutes a day will help you increase your focus and attention span. Start your mornings by focusing on your breathing for a few minutes, followed by your meditation ritual. You can also do some light breathing exercise just before doing something that requires focus to clear your mind.
2. Include practicing mindfulness in your day
While mindfulness meditation helps you become more aware and helps increase your focus. Practicing mindfulness throughout your day will help you fight distractions and focus on the tasks at hand. Mindfulness simply is being very attentive to every aspect of the task you are doing, and also noticing every small detail about your task.
It can seem like it isn’t easy, but it is. What I do is that I imagine I am writing about whatever I am doing – not informative writing but descriptive. So, suppose I am eating my lunch, I will pay attention to the cutlery, the color of my food, the smell, the taste, the texture of each ingredient. I will focus on chewing and swallowing, on the feeling it gives rise to.
What we usually do is that we focus on distractions while eating, and our primary task somehow becomes secondary. Our focus shifts towards our phones or the shows we are watching. This is what happens with many of our tasks.
3. Don’t listen to music while working
Many of us have the habit of listening to music while working on something. While it helps people most of the times and can be a good thing, it does the opposite for people with poor focus. If you know the song, then you are most probably going to sing along, and that stops you from giving your all to the task at hand.
Let’s say you are doing something that is going to be using the same parts of your brain, then will doing those things together make sense? No, right? When you are doing something that uses motor functions like your household chores, then listening to music is fine, but not while reading if you don’t have a high focus level.
4. Build your willpower
Willpower will allow you to ignore distractions like playing songs or using your phone and will help you to stay focused on the task at hand. Consciously saying no to yourself whenever you feel like doing something else is very important and a skill that you should definitely develop if you want to increase your focus level.
Your attention span will be served well with intentionally trying to focus and also having strong willpower isn’t only good for building your focus but also for being productive. At the end of the day, what you do or do not do boils down to your willpower, saying no to distractions depends entirely on your willpower.
5. Increase your focus gradually
Like any habit, you need to start slow. Like when starting exercise, you are advised to start slow because your body might not be able to take it, the same goes for anything mental. The best way to stay focused is for you to start using the Pomodoro technique. This lets you start working in bouts so that you can start with a short amount of focusing time.
You traditionally work for 25 minutes and then take a five minutes break. After you have repeated this four times, you can take a longer break. Because you know that you have to work for only 25 minutes, it becomes easier to focus. This is a great way to start out.
All it boils down to is will power and persistence. If you are really dedicated to increasing your focus, then you will find it easier to do things to help. I would say, convincing yourself is the hardest part, so start out by taking small steps. Don’t decide to start being completely focused for the whole day, that isn’t going to happen. Use these tips to slowly but gradually increase your focus.
7 Easy Productivity Hacks to Make More of Your Day
A lot of people still believe that by trying hard and pushing their limits, they will be able to get more work done in the day. This is not true. By using all your willpower to get more done, you will feel jaded at the end of the day. Willpower is a limited resource. If you go by your day without learning many tried and tested methods to increase productivity, your body and mind will eventually break down.
According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity in American workers has been decreasing at a steady rate since 1973. The 2007-2018 decade has seen some of the lowest levels of productivity. This is a worrying fact.
Here are 7 easy productivity hacks to make more of your day.
1. Follow a morning routine
Starting your day with a preset routine gets you into work mode right away. Morning is not a time to think and ponder. Get out of the bed as fast as possible and begin your morning routine. I know some people like to plan their day in the morning, but I feel that it puts you into a contemplative mood. It is something you want to avoid getting into. Especially, if you want to take massive action.
The best time to plan your day is the night before. A morning routine should consist of things like working out in the gym, a quick meditation session, a morning walk, filling up your gratitude journal, etc. A morning routine is a productivity hack that indirectly affects the quality and quantity of the work you do through the day. Hence, it is regularly practiced by productive people.
2. Keep your phone away during work hours
Productivity in human beings has always suffered due to many distractions. Even before the advent of smartphones, there were distractions like emails and phone calls. But they were quite manageable and the degree of damage wasn’t that severe.
In today’s world, smartphones are the major cause of lack of productivity. It’s impossible to get good quality work done with a smartphone beside you. A study done by the University of London identified the link between smartphone overuse and loss of productivity. They concluded that constant checking of smartphone for new notifications is hurting the level of productivity in the workplace and at home.
3. Batch your work
It takes a lot of time and effort to switch from one type of task to others. Human beings are creatures of habit and we like to cut effort wherever possible. Batching minimizes the effort and energy wasted in task-switching. This productivity hack has been implemented in all kinds of industries. Moreover, it also increases your concentration as you have fewer things to think about.
4. Plan ahead
Planning is a lot more than creating a to-do list or an action plan. To plan and do all the things in a day, you need to first brainstorm ideas and also have a clear vision of what you want. As I already said, these things should be done a day before so that you are in work-mode at the time of execution. Day planning is different than project planning. Factors like your energy levels, possible distractions, and your surrounding environment should come into consideration before writing an action plan for the day.
5. Use technology to boost productivity
Productivity apps like ToDoist and Toggl are helping freelancers and entrepreneurs to become more aware of how they are spending their working time. These apps can change your perspective on work in a matter of weeks. I use an app called Trello to organize and rank my tasks with the help of boards, lists, and cards.
6. Learn to say “no”
Are you one of those people who say “yes” to every request that you get from other people? You feel guilty when you stand up for yourself and put your own interest on the line. You are brought up the self-critical parent who have drilled into you that you need to be good at everything in life and that you are a bad person if you fail to do so.
If this sounds and feels like you, you need to learn to say “no”. Once you understand how saying “yes” to everything is keeping you occupied in mundane tasks which you shouldn’t be doing, you will learn to say “no”. Saying “no” is a modern day productivity hack that every one of us should learn first-hand.
7. Listen to music
A Canadian study says that listening to music while working puts you in a positive mood and, as a result, increases work quality. The quality-of-work was lowest when the participants of this study performed the task assigned to them without listening to music. With all this research proving music to be a productivity hack, it is imperative for you to listen to non-lyrical music while doing your work.
It’s great to keep all the above-mentioned productivity hacks in your repertoire. But you should also put them to use as soon as possible. For most people, starting a project is the hardest part. They spend days thinking about things that can go wrong or why it won’t work. By starting early and failing fast, you will always be miles ahead of your competitors.
“Smartphone addiction, daily interruptions and self-reported … – NCBI.” Accessed June 7, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29450241.
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