By Amarachukwu Okpunobi
Do you ever go to bed feeling like you wasted your entire day when you had a long list of things to do? Let us take a look at John, who starts the day perfectly with a warm cup of coffee brewing and a to-do list ready to go.
But somewhere along the line, something went wrong, he does not know exactly when it happened but what he does know is, that the day ended with an empty cup of coffee and his to-do list staring at him, disappointed with just a few items ticked off. Sounds familiar? This is just one example of what unproductivity looks like.
Now, let us turn our focus to Lucas, who went to bed with a smile on his face and a sigh of relief because he was satisfied with the number of things he had been able to accomplish in the day. Now that is the feeling of Productivity.
John and Lucas went through a similar routine at the beginning of the day but turned up with completely different results. Now, let us look at ways we can be more like Lucas and less like John.
Keep Your Goals Simple.
g productive does not have to be complicated at all. There are simple habits you can inculcate into your daily routine that will improve the way you work by 10-fold. One of such habits is setting smart goals.
In this case, goals serve as a standard to compare yourself to, a way to visualize the amount of progress you have been making. That is why when setting goals at the beginning of each day, you need to make them clear, simple, and precise.
Well, how should someone set such goals? Just before you are about to begin the day, write down everything you want to accomplish by the time you go to bed and note, that it can be as long as you want it to be. Once you are done, circle the top three activities on the list.
These are going to be your priorities, so make sure you accomplish those tasks by all means. If those tasks seem huge, you can always break them up into smaller bits and pieces that will inch you closer and closer to the overall goal.
It also helps to know the time you are at your peak performance, and then assign your priorities to those times. Once you can complete your top three, I assure you that you will feel way more productive than you used to be.
Stop Being Busy And Start Being Productive.
We often confuse the word ‘Productive’ with ‘Busy’. Let me just explain this concept with an example. Assuming you wanted to start working out. You take out your phone or laptop and start googling things like the best clothes, shoes, headphones, water bottles, etc for working out. Is that helpful? To some extent, it is, but not as helpful as actually getting up and going to the gym. Do you see what I am driving at?
In the course of preparing for a task, we gradually shift our focus to things of little importance and in the end, we realize that we were not able to accomplish anything that brought us a step closer to our goals. So, stop being busy and start being productive.
Get Rid Of Distractions.
The world we live in is full of distractions. Every day, something new comes along the way that vies for our attention gradually robbing us of our feeling of productivity. It may be another notification, phone call or email. The feeling of productivity has a snowball effect, built off momentum and consistency.
Once we accomplish something small, there is an urge to keep moving forward. You can choose to keep going but most of the time we just get distracted, a co-worker comes up to you, a random thought enters your head or just your phone buzzing. Hence, the momentum you gathered from the original task fades away.
So how should you deal with this? Simple, stay away from anything you know will pose a problem to you in terms of focus. Hide your phone in a drawer in another room or just avoid people who tend to draw your attention. It may seem hard at first but the results will speak for themselves.
Get A Dedicated Workspace.
As the world evolves, the gap between work and home is narrowing by the day. These days, most of our work or schooling is done online in the comfort of our homes. Is it a step in the right direction? Of course, but I’m sure we can all attest to the fact that one of its greatest cons is the reduction in productivity.
So, how do we fix this? Experts suggest that if you want to feel the most productive from home, you need to have a dedicated area for work. It can be a whole room, the dining table or just the corner of your bedroom with a neat desk-chair setup exposed to some natural lighting.
This is where you will do most of your work thus associating this place with the feeling of productivity. This place should be as minimalistic and neat as possible. Maybe a few plants here and there to give a sense of serenity but nothing to obstruct your focus. This will give your brain fewer things to worry about. So once you move into this area your brain will automatically switch to ‘monk mode’ which will increase your productivity in the long run all in the comfort of your home.
Finally, Rest. This is one of the most essential ways to boost productivity, yet it keeps on getting ignored. In life, there is a season for everything, a season for expansion and a season for contraction, a season of abundance and a season of drought, a season for growth and a season for rest. This system creates balance in our lives.
If we keep on working with the mindset of pushing ourselves until we make it, we will eventually burn out, and once that happens, getting back into the flow becomes a tall task. So the next time you have a long work session, schedule 5-minute breaks at regular intervals. It could be every 30, 45 or 60 minutes as long as you give yourself the chance to recoup and get back into the action.
One more thing, you also need to take care of yourself, treat yourself to a vacation once in a while, you deserve it. This serves the purpose of the daily breaks but just on a larger scale. Disconnect from the world and focus on yourself. This will give you the inspiration to go out and outperform the competition.
By Emmanuel Cobbinah