Do you get overwhelmed with how much work you have to do? Does your energy go to waste because you’re not spending enough time on the things you need to do? Do you wish that you could produce more and not suffer from burnout? Well, you’re not alone. Our society pushes a hustler culture that promotes limited sleep and constant working. That’s not healthy in the long-term . But having a flexible routine or schedule can have you achieving your marks, producing quality work while minimizing burnout and creating a more balanced life. Here are 13 ways to be more productive.
- Create a morning routine.
A morning routine might sound counter-productive to what you’re trying to do because you might feel inclined to just jump right into action. That’s great! But studies show that morning routines are good and actually help set the tone for your day. Try creating one that helps you feel grounded, focused and can channel your enthusiasm into your work. Maybe a healthy breakfast after a good night’s sleep and a quick meditation to start.
- Initiate before you’re inspired
Who doesn’t love a good motivational quote once in a while? They are inspiring and really light a fire inside you to go out and do that thing. But waiting to start something until you are motivated is not going to help you get motivated. You’ll be waiting for a long time. It’s better to start and let that inspire you and you will inspire yourself to do more. Trust me. I hate starting but once I start, I don’t want to stop. I’m having too much fun.
- Break tasks into smaller ones
The best way to eat an elephant is to take one bite at a time. It’s inhumane imagery, I know, but the graphics are pretty clear. When you think about the tasks that you have to complete that you don’t want to do, you feel overwhelmed because it seems like too much. It’s easier to complete the task when you break it down into small, clear tasks. You even start getting ideas on how to do more work with less stress and effort.
- Focus on the most important tasks first (or the most boring)
Some tasks are more important than others and some tasks we’d rather not do. However, once this task is done, you’ll feel so much better. Mark Twain once said “eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The “frog” is the biggest, most important task, that you’ll most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t work on it early.
- Don’t multitask
As good as you might be at it, please don’t do it. You might be successful with low level tasks like chores but with tasks that require more mental engagement, you will tire yourself out faster than focusing on one task. A Stanford University study found that “multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time.” The study also found that people who are regularly bombardo “several streams of electronic information can’t pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.”
- Limit distractions
Anything is more interesting when you have work to do and you’d prefer not to do any work. Random thoughts and errands pop into your head and you remember that you have to go do your laundry. It’s normal to have distractions but you don’t need to tend to them immediately. Try having a separate list of random things that come to you that you think are important and do them later.
- Don’t be let down by failure and blinded by success
We all fail. It’s not normalized but it happens all the time. We think that the road to success is smoothly paved but failure is the price you pay for it. Success is amazing but it can ironically make you stagnant and comfortable in where you are. However, don’t fail or succeed for free. Learn from both experiences. What led to you missing your goal and how can you improve next time? What have you gained from it? What helped you achieve your goal and what can you do next time to replicate similar results or expand further on it?
- Monitor where your time goes
From YouTube and Netflix to video-games and social media, binges are a big ritual that a lot of us participate in. You can be preoccupied with this activity and then suddenly, it’s 2 am. It’s draining and a better way to be more productive, is to limit these binge sessions. Be aware of where your time and energy goes and how you feel when you have participated in these activities : do you feel energized, depleted, stressed? How do you want to remedy that? If you plan your time, you can complete your tasks and still have guilt free chill sessions.
- Take breaks and recharge
Once you get going, it’s almost impossible to stop. Your newly discovered overachiever will want to do everything that has ever existed but you will need to slow down and take breaks . A great method that helps with incorporating breaks, limiting procrastination and improving productivity is the Pomodoro technique. A period of of 25 minutes of deep, focused work is followed by a 5 minute break. It’s very important to actually detach from work when you take breaks. Maybe do a few stretches, take a short walk or do some breathing exercises.
- Learn to say “no”
Not only is this habit good for your self-confidence and establishing authority in your life, it’s also good for your productivity. You might be tempted (or forced) to agree to doing something you don’t actually have the time for. Your productivity plate is already full. Don’t take on something that has nothing to do with you. Saying no is a life and time saver.
- Use the 80/20 rule
The Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule is a principle that states that roughly 80% of your results and outcomes come from 20% of your efforts and methods. Basically, you need to practice focusing on 20% of your to-do list that is responsible for 80% of the results you need. Let’s say you’re learning how to play guitar. Instead of learning strumming or hammer-on, consider learning basic chords and transitions. That way you get 80% of the results in 20% of the time.
- Make fewer decisions
Making decisions can be surprisingly time consuming and takes a lot of brainpower. An easier way to solve this is to automate. Make things easier for you to do without much thought. Don’t have enough time to cook every day? Try meal prep or a food delivery service. Don’t know what to wear? Look up “capsule wardrobes” or try keeping your style to minimal, similar (clean) clothes. Artist Andy Warhol was almost always in a black polo neck (USA :see turtleneck ). You have many decisions to make. Don’t let irrelevant decisions take up your extremely valuable time.
Bradberry, T. (2015, January 20). Multitasking damages your brain and career, new studies suggest. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2014/10/08/multitasking-damages-your-brain-and-career-new-studies-suggest/#429d9ff456ee.
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