How to Increase Your Productivity (Without Losing Your Mind)
It seems as if every week someone has a new productivity “hack”, trick or tip in order to help us make sense of this world in which we now live. We have more technology at our disposal—all of which was designed to make life simpler and more effective. So why hasn’t it? There really are no magic potions, secrets or tactics in order to be more productive. It’s simply a matter of discipline and establishing good habits.
As I’ve said many times when I speak, it doesn’t take 21-days or 30-days or whatever you’ve heard in order to establish a habit. That’s garbage. I quit smoking January 1, 2009. If I were to have a cigarette today, I guarantee you it wouldn’t take 21 minutes much less 21-days for it to become a habit. It takes 21-days to establish a GOOD habit. Bad habits come very easily!
So, to answer the question on productivity, I’ve come up with five habits you should adopt immediately. And yes, they are habits; day in and day out, week in and week out.
In my humble opinion, here’s how to increase your productivity without losing your mind:
OK. There’s no such thing. Forget it. You cannot concentrate on two things at once—it’s humanly impossible. If you don’t believe me have your spouse talk to you while you’re watching television or listening to the radio or reading. Or better yet, have the television on something that interests you while you’re trying to read. Your brain can process a lot of information but the funnel is very narrow: one thing at a time. If nothing else, adopt the habit of working on one thing and one thing only. That doesn’t mean you can’t have several projects going at once, but give each your undivided attention while working on it.
Work When You’re Working
Eliminate distractions during your work hours or sessions. When it’s time to work—work. Get yourself mentally prepared to work during those hours. If you’re writing, write. If you’re making phone calls, dial. Whatever you do, do it. As Larry Winget says, “It’s called work for a reason!” Can you have fun and enjoy yourself? Absolutely. But, get serious and put your work hat on when you’re working. You should schedule plenty of time for rest and relaxation but when it’s go time, GO!
This one seems simple, but it’s easy to get distracted. If you have an intricate project or piece you’re working on eliminate anything that could take away from that. Get your brain in gear and focus. Focus on the results and how you’re going to get there. Mentally map out your strategy and get started.
Work in Manageable Chunks
Perhaps one of the best “hacks” I’ve seen is to work in manageable chunks of time. Most recommend 45 minutes and then take a 10-15 minute mental break. If you’re going to abide by the first three habits (Stop Multitasking, Work When You’re Working and Focus), you need to break this down into a time frame that is comfortable. No matter what you do, 45-minutes is a long time to be singularly focused on anything. Practice staying focused for that period of time and then letting your brain relax and your mind wander. In fact, it may help if you start at 20-minutes with a 10-minute break and then work your way up. This is an exercise and you’ll get better over time.
Set Small Goals
Take large projects down to their smallest form and set yourself some small goals. Ones you can achieve in a single work session or at least today. Stop letting yourself get frustrated because you don’t see any progress. You are moving forward, you just need some small wins to keep your energy level up, your attention and focus on your project. You cannot sit down to write a book. You can’t even sit down to write a chapter, but you can write a word and that becomes a sentence and a paragraph and so on. If you’re working on your sales goals, you cannot reach your monthly goal before sundown on the first. But, what can you do today that will move you closer to that goal?
There you have them. My five tips to help you increase your productivity. Now, I’ve got to take a 10-minute break.