You were born to be a curious human being. Since you were a toddler your day was about discovering the new things the world offered you.
In those days distraction was your job; the only thing you had to do through the day.
In this post, You will get 7 powerful and yet simple things you can do to improve your productivity in your daily life. Whether it is at home or at work.
You can improve time spent with your family and the best thing is that you can start as soon as today.
You don’t need to plan anything you just need to roll up your sleeves and just DO IT.
Growing up you learned to refine your curiosity; some of those became your passions. You spent hours and hours as a teenager doing what you were most passionate about.
Now you are an adult. If you are lucky what you do for a living is actually your passion or, at least, blends with that. But the truth may be that your work has nothing to do with your passion.
So here is the dilemma: if you are not part of the lucky ones, you may feel like your job is soul-sucking. You don’t have time to do what you like or even to spend quality time with your family.
You have to follow a schedule and rhythm and sometimes that can be difficult.
Being productive can mean different things to each person. But one of the best definitions is this one: getting things done.
1. Productivity is A Game of Time
That’s right. Time could be your enemy or your best friend. It depends on how you manage it.
The best advice someone ever told me was:
“If you get to the end of your day and you wish you had more time to do things; you are doing everything wrong.”
To manage your time you have to change your mindset and start thinking about your day, not in hours but in minutes.
- How many minutes does it take to exercise, make breakfast and go to work?
- How many minutes do you spend answering emails? Can you cut out that amount?
- How many minutes do you need to make the most important task of your day?
To get to your magic numbers you need to visualize your day, and to do this you can make this simple action steps:
- Write down how you divide your day from the moment you wake up to the moment you get ready to sleep.
- Rank the essential tasks for you: exercise, meetings with clients, feeding kids, etc. (Things that you need to get done every day).
- Put a number 1 for essential tasks.
- Put a number 2 in the tasks that may be important, but not essential in your day to day.
- Continue to number down your tasks according to your day in descending order.
Now for each task of your day write how long does it take to get that done. You can be flexible and consider 15-20 min extra for each task. This will prevent you to freak out about exact minutes and seconds.
Assigning minutes to each task allows you to visualize the time you have available to your day.
The goal is to understand that you do have time for everything you want to do. Keeping your motivation to do things instead of procrastinating.
- Keep a mental or real note about your essential tasks. If possible, try to get this done earlier in the daytime.
- Continue through your day crossing down tasks you get done.
- Use apps to handle these tasks. Apps are an easy way to keep track of what you have to do during the day.
- Recommended apps: Wunderlist or Trello.
2. Stop Checking Email and Social Networks Every 5 Minutes
Nowadays, you have a smartphone and that tiny computer can suck up your attention.
In fact, according to a study released by Nielsen last year. The monthly time spent in smartphones increased to 37 hours and 28 minutes in fourth-quarter 2014.
That’s more than a day and a half per month looking at smartphones.
I’m not saying that you have to lock your phone in a safe and resist temptation.
They are part of daily life and allow you to get things done even if you’re out of home or without your computer.
But definitely, if you are checking it every 5 minutes while you are doing the essential tasks of your day. It won’t help your productivity.
Keep in mind that if you check your phone a lot you will be consuming minutes to get done other important tasks.
- Resist checking your phone while doing essential tasks.
- Put it in silence and upside down.
- Add “checking social apps” as tasks throughout your day.
- Assigned time in minutes to do this. This tactic also works as breaks between tasks.
Checking emails and answering them is also a big roadblock to getting things done.
Action steps for mail at work:
- Assign specific times a day to read and answer emails.
- Check your email two times a day. At first, this may feel like you may lose something important.
- Don’t worry, be flexible. If you have an important client you can break the rule, but don’t forget to do it in the least amount of time you can and continue with what you were doing.
- Share these plans with your boss, coworkers or clients. Explain why and how this can help getting more things done.
Eventually, the feeling of “missing things out” disappears and you will feel good that you are no longer wasting too much time doing that.
3. Break Down Each Task Into Little Pieces
In the first hack, I told you about breaking your day into tasks and prioritize them.
Now you have to go even further.
There are some tasks that are not simple. Sometimes you have projects; things you do throughout several days, weeks or even months.
The idea is that small things add up and without you realizing it you can do a BIG THING.
Think of projects as a snowball getting bigger. They start as tiny bits of snow, but when they start moving forward they become bigger and bigger.
- Apply the same action steps from the first hack and break down every single step you need to get that done.
- Try to make an estimate of how much time this one big task will take you. It could be days, weeks or months.
- Now that you know how long it will take you; You need to integrate each sub-task in your days.
- For projects, set WEEKLY GOALS. This will make it easier to integrate each sub-task into your day and keep your goal in mind. It will also feel great because you will see your progress and this will keep you motivated and on track.
- Don’t worry if some weeks you don’t do all your goals. With big projects is common to change your goals as you go.
- Keep a flexible mind, but don’t slack.
- You can use a project management tool like Basecamp, Asana or Trello.
4. Multitasking is Your Enemy
You’ve already figured out the previous hacks. You’ve done your homework and that is absolutely great.
You’ve taken big steps to get more productive. More important, you’ve taken ACTION and do something about it.
But still, there is a thing that we all do, for better or worse: multitasking.
Multitasking is public enemy #1 for productivity. Although you may feel proud about your multitasking in fact is doing more harm than good like this article explains.
- Avoid multitasking with essential tasks.
- You can be flexible with less important tasks.
- Learn to identify your moments of multitasking and try to get rid of them.
5. Set Goals Each Day
Accomplishing goals is one of the things that makes you feel great about your day. It also makes your improvement in productivity visible.
The truth is that goals for each day are simple things. They are not unique things. They are just things you do in your day.
The trick is that by visualizing what you have done, you will get motivated to keep going and feel proud.
- At the end of your day, try to see what you got done.
- Take a moment to appreciate it and feel proud of it.
- Get ready and plan next day goals.
6. Get in the “Flow”
There are a lot of things that gets in our way. We are curious and get easily distracted. That’s OK, it’s part of being human.
Getting focused on the present and things you are doing right now helps a lot when it comes to getting things done.
Have you ever wondered how is it that some people excel at what they do? Successful businessmen, athletes, scientists; in fact any person that just excels far more than the rest.
They talk about “getting in the zone” and it is also known as “flow”.
Flow is a term coined by Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and is defined as “The mental state that gives rise to great performance” in this article published by Mckinsey where it talks about how to achieve this state of flow.
- Pick your 2-3 essential tasks of the day and get them done as soon as possible.
- Take breaks between tasks.
- Doing the 5 previous productivity hacks actually helps you get focused.
7. Make Time to Nurture Your Mind and Body
Meditation is perhaps one of the best habits you can invest your time in.
You don’t have to read entire books before doing your first meditation.
There are a lot of tools and apps that will guide you effortlessly even if you know nothing about meditation.
The other thing I will recommend you is exercising. You don’t have to run a marathon or go to the gym. It could be just taking a walk, walking your dog or doing yoga.
Exercise has the power of relaxing you, is good for your body and I believe it improves your mind as well.
- Start meditating/exercising today.
- Look for an app that suits your needs there are several that are free or start free:
Productivity is not just for your job. For many people is a lifestyle that blends with personal and professional life. It can improve your life in so many ways because remember, above all is a game of the time.
Hacking productivity is getting an advantage of your time. Is learning to manage your time so you can do what you need to do and start doing what you want to do like hobbies or passions.
In some way, productivity can give you freedom and stress-free days.
At the beginning, it may seem overwhelming, almost impossible to achieve. But remember the snowball is all about simple tiny things that become great things.
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