It doesn’t matter who you are or what kind of work you do, every individual is looking for ways to be more productive. We live in the digital age of constant swipes, and it has become progressively harder to start a task than to actually accomplish it. If you’re allowing yourself to be distracted, what can you do to minimize these distractions? Constant distractions and misconceptions on how to be productive are creating resistance to complete your actual work. Being productive is a lot more than just checking things off your to-do list. In this blog post, I will focus on tips and habits to boost productivity in your work week.
Mind over mattress. Win the battle with your bed. This habit will strengthen your willpower and give you an edge to start your day right. Social media is another form of distraction in the morning. We all like to roll around in bed and scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Before you know it, you wasted a significant amount of time doing nothing! This extra time could’ve been used to avoid tardiness and speeding tickets! One thing I do in my morning routine is giving myself two minutes to reflect how grateful I am.
“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” -Lao Tzu
What’s most important? What’s your number one goal right now? Design your to-do list around these questions. Your workday shouldn’t mean you’re trying to fit 20 things in your eight-hour workday. Remember, time is your most significant limited resource. Doing more doesn’t mean being more productive, it’s just being busy. Successful people know that, and they learn how to prioritize and set aside time for what’s most important to them.
Working out isn’t just for looking superb in the summer. Exercise has many health benefits. It increases your brain function and decreases stress levels. It’s crucial to make working out habitual. When I was in nursing school, I made it my nightly routine. One day I had a stressful day, which caused me to have difficulty falling asleep. Instead, I crunched out a night workout and untwined from all the stress. You can make it part of your morning routine as well to help kick-start the day. If you can’t go to the gym, go outside for a walk. Remember, it's about developing the habit.
Work in intervals. What I found to work for me is to create mini-breaks during my hours of productivity. When I had to cram for exams, I’d put in 50 minutes of hard work and 10 minutes of free time. This may sound counterproductive, but it worked because, at the end of the day, it was about how productive I was not busy. You can create 90-minute intervals breaks in your life. Your body, just like the sleep cycle, has a rhythm between being stimulated and fatigued. Those are the physiological indicators of your body saying “Give me a break!” When I do busy work I notice my eyes are strained, so during my downtime, I put my palms over my eyes to reverse the fatigue. You’d be surprised how sharp your vision is after!
Believe it or not, every individual has a peak time during the day when they are most productive. Take a step back from your routine and identify the hour of the day when you have an energy surge. I perform best a few hours after my morning routine. I make sure I have a solid breakfast to prepare for the day, so when my peak performance hits, I dedicate my time to accomplish my tasks. For those of you who work nights, just like me, your peak performance can be in the evening after your “morning routine.”
Take a deep breath. Sometimes things don't go as planned. Be optimistic. It's just a bad moment, not a bad day. Don’t let one dark cloud take away the sun. It’s no secret that we all make mistakes. Allowing one moment to get to you will ruin your mood. Being positive results in more productivity, keeping the sky sunny.
New research shows that multitasking is negatively rewiring our brain. Cognitive decline showed 15 IQ points drop and scores similar to someone that smoked marijuana and stayed up all night. Multi-tasking can be productive, but don’t do it for primary tasks that you are working on. Turn off your cell phone ringer, email notifications, and close your door. Develop your zone. Work smarter not harder. Be productive, not busy.
Some tasks can’t be completed in one day. Break down the massive project into small tasks to be more efficient. Slice and dice your tasks into bite-size pieces and finish them one at a time. Our body does the same when it comes to eating. Digestion starts at the mouth; we chew to break down large food into smaller pieces, making it easier to digest. Do the same! If you’re writing a research paper, don’t tackle it all at once. Create the outline, find your sources, and begin to type the paper.
Time is your greatest limited resource. How will you use your time? If you want to accomplish something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find every excuse why you didn't. Learn what matters so you can achieve it. Set realistic goals in your day-to-day routine. Develop habits to keep you going. Determining what's irrelevant will pave the way for the right things to catch up to you. No matter how you are progressing, you are still in front of everyone who isn't trying. Productivity gets you places.
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Call it intuition, instinct, or a gut feeling: if we followed it, we just might be a lot happier. Intuition is a skill we are all born with, but one we submerge in the business of modern living.