We all know productivity requires certain amount of discipline and focus. Productivity means working towards your goals in a systematic manner by utilising time efficiently to get optimum results. It is important to plan your work schedule in a manner where you can get your tasks done and get adequate time to unwind too. If you would love some practical and actionable tips in improving your productivity then I really hope you find this post super helpful.
Don’t wake up early
This must be a very unpopular opinion, but just hear me out. Waking up early doesn’t guarantee that you will be more productive. Instead try to understand your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
According to sleep expert Micheal Breus, you can improve your productivity if you know your sleep habits. He categorizes human sleeping habits into four categories of animals – dolphins, bear, lion and wolf. This is a fact that not everyone has the same metabolism and same biological cycle. There are some who work well early morning while some nocturnal beings prefer late night silence.
Hence, for you to be at your productive best it is very essential that you know when you function well. For example: I am not a morning person at all, getting up early makes me cranky and it affects my attentiveness. I work my best during mid morning and afternoons. Therefore, just observe your body to know when you function best.
Train your mind
Our mind is a tricky thing it loves comfort so unless you compel it to work it will give you ample reasons to delay a task. Take this as an example, you want limit your take-outs and instead cook at home but somehow you keep on delaying it to the next day or next week. It’s actually your mind that tricks you into postponing since it has already found its comfort place and resists any change. After all it’s always easier to order food than cook at home.
Consider these points:
- Take baby steps with disciplining your mind like meditating for five minutes a day, where you just concentrate on your breathing.
- Whenever you feel like giving up midway give yourself some pep talk as to why you began in the first place.
- Being your own cheerleader is the best way to keep yourself motivated and tricking your mind into doing a task.
- Write down what you have achieved in a day. Most of us make a to-do list similarly writing down a ‘have-done’ list will show you how much you have done in a day and gives you a quick evaluation of your capabilities.
Planning ahead is important not only for your work but your health and overall wellbeing also. Try to have some long term goals and break these into actionable monthly and weekly targets. Set regular short-term goals to achieve your long-term ones. Take some time to make a routine for each day on how you want allot your time. The realisation of your dreams and ideas depends on how well you plan. There is no point of you being all over the place and having no clear idea or direction about what you want. All successful people plan days and months ahead and you can too.
Time blocking is necessary for effective time management. It is essentially assigning a time-frame for a particular task in a day. Like 7 am – 8 am you are answering your mails, 9 am – 11 am you are doing your house chores and so on and so forth. So depending on your situation try the time-blocking method for important tasks and see the difference in your productivity.
Set targets and deadlines
Just like time-blocking, setting up targets and deadlines for yourself brings a sense of responsibility as well as urgency in you. When you have a deadline for a particular goal there is less chance of you postponing it. Your mind then gets a direction. Set specific date and time for your goals. Like “I am going to complete this assignment by 11 am” or “I am going to that trip by June 15th.” Setting a specific time or date helps you to work towards a goal.
Work distraction free
I cannot emphasise this enough, Try to find some time in a day where you can work without any distractions. When you work distraction free you give your best effort to a task. Pomodoro technique is an amazing method through which you can try to work distraction free. It involves giving your full undivided attention to a task for 25 minutes at a stretch and then taking a 5 minute break to reset yourself and resume your work again. When you don’t delegate time there is a real chance of you falling into the rabbit hole.
Visualise your goals
If you see it you will know how to achieve it. The idea behind this line is when you start something you obviously have an end vision in mind.Suppose if you have a start-up you will have some idea where you want your business to be in the next five years. Similarly if you are an architect designing a house you will have some picture in your mind about how you want your house to look.
Having some sort of a vision in mind gives you a framework to proceed with a particular task. Even if it is a small task have some sort of end vision in mind about how your project would look when finished. This will provide you with the necessary momentum to begin.
Start with most difficult task
There is a phrase ‘eat the frog first’ it means start with the most difficult task. At times we delay doing certain tasks simply because we don’t like to do it, even if it’s important. In such times just start with the task, don’t procrastinate. I personally find it helpful to have a plan in place when faced with completing a mammoth task. Break up a difficult task into phases or sections. Write specific notes/pointers on how you want to proceed.
Prioritise and evaluate your goals
Prioritising and evaluation of your goals at regular intervals gives you a reality check on where you stand. As per the 80/20 rule, 80% of our results are dependent on 20% of our tasks. There is no point in doing 100 things at the same time when you can just do 5 things efficiently and get better results.
Like suppose, you have a business on consumer products and after an evaluation you found that you can increase your profits by double if you sell a particular product in 4 flea markets of your city. Here you are focusing all your efforts in a particular direction to yield optimum benefits from your business. This is how you evaluate and prioritise your goals.
Consider these additional points:
Clear the clutter
Believe it or not but cleanliness actually improves your productivity. A clean environment helps you to concentrate. Start your day by cleaning your bed or your desk. A bit of organisation prepares your mind for the day. For me, I love to organise my bed in the morning and then do rest of the stuff because that helps me to focus a lot better.
Do you feel terrible about wasting time and having an unproductive day? Unfortunately we all do. But do you ever really dig deep as to why you had an unproductive day. There is high probability that you might put the blame on everything else rather than yourself. That social media update can be checked later or that phone conversation could have been shortened by at least 10 minutes. Develop a mindset where you take full responsibility in completing your tasks or working towards your goals.
Taking breaks or unwinding is so essential to working efficiently. In your daily routine fix a time when you start unwinding like keeping you mobile phone away and having an uninterrupted family time, or reading a book or listening to music. The idea behind this is you shut down your work mode and do whatever relaxes you. Unwinding for the day is also really important to manage your stress levels therefore make it a priority today.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, student or side hustler these tips can be used by just about anyone. As this year draws to a close I think it’s a good time to set some productivity goals to have a more fruitful and fulfilling 2019. I really hope you found these tips really useful if you did do share your feedback always happy to know your thoughts.