Keys of Productivity: How to Do More in Less Time
Contributor
Written by
Ashley Kornee
October 2017
Contributor
Written by
Ashley Kornee
October 2017

 

 

The more productive you are, the more you can do in your life. And that matters, whether you want to actually do more work or would rather have more time available for other things. For that reason, of course, you want to take whatever steps you can to boost your productivity. The problem is, what can you really do and what is just some stuff people tell each other? What are the tricks out there which will actually add to your productivity according to science?

That’s what we’re going to explore today! Here is what we’ve learned in the last couple of years will actually boost your productivity for real.

The power of positivity

According to Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage we’ve managed to put the cart in front of the horse in society. It isn’t that being successful will make you happy, but rather than being happy will make you more successful.

This is because of what emotions are for. You see, negative emotions are meant to focus our attention on the problem at hand. So, if you’re afraid, then you’re afraid of something. If you’re angry, you’re angry at something (or somebody).

Positive emotions, on the other hand, aren’t about focusing your mind on a certain task, but instead are about broadening your perspective so that you can take in more information and consider more separate elements at the same time.

And this is hugely important for innovation, creativity, and problem-solving. This is down to the way that being able to take in a broader set of ideas lets you see how you can fit them together and think of creative ways to solve the problems you’re facing.

“Okay,” you’re saying, “being happy sounds nice. But how do I become happy?” Well, it turns out that small acts can go a long way. If you take a little bit of time to watch or do something that you enjoy then this can impact your mood for hours. So if you really enjoy cat videos, perhaps start your day with one of those. If your family is important to you, give one of them a call first.

Really you’re only looking at a few minutes here. Those can make all the difference.

Build your way upwards

There is a lot of advice out there that says we should focus on doing the big task first. But what if that’s not actually the best way forward? What if instead, the best way to attack our work is by starting out with the smaller, easier stuff? This is what Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School found.

The reason is that when you do small tasks which are easy to accomplish and get them out of the way, you give yourself small wins. These, in turn, help to motivate you further to tackle bigger tasks.

For that reason, you might not immediately eat the frog, but instead build your way up towards it by sending out those quickly emails, getting those smaller tasks done and in other ways psyching yourself up with some small wins so that you’ve got the self-confidence you need to actually tackle that big beast that’s hovering on your horizon.

Of course, you don’t want to wait too long, because as you well know, you’ll eventually get tired and less motivated. So try to get to the task before lunch to avoid that afternoon dip.

Work less

Okay, this won’t work if you’re already a slacker. But if you’re finding that you’re putting in too many hours a week, your productivity per hour starts to drop. At one point, the productivity per hour actually drops as much as your gained by working the extra hour.

Now, where that level lies is different for each person and each job. Obviously, you’ll be able to spend more hours being productive in a gas station than working at a place like The Word Point translation company. Nonetheless, you should certainly pay attention to this idea and vary the amount you work. You might be surprised with how much you can actually get done if you don’t do quite as much.

Besides, the less you work, the more time you have to pursue positive emotions like I discussed back in the beginning.

 

Meditate 

Do you want to be more productive? Learn to meditate. Yeah, I know, it sounds nonsensical. Nonetheless, it’s true. Meditation has some amazing benefits, including making you healthier, happier and even fighting depression.

More importantly for your productivity, however, is that it boosts your self-control, reduces your stress, as well as improving your focus and your memory.

Those are huge benefits if you’re trying to get your work done.

And the good news is that meditation is something that’s easily done. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a guru. You don’t need to buy sweatpants (though you can if you want to). Instead, you need to just take ten minutes in the day to try to clear your mind and either not think or focus on a specific mantra (like your breath).

And the best part? It doesn’t take at all long before you start noticing the benefits. It can start happening in as little as two weeks.

Kill the distractors

We’re horrible at multitasking. We’ve all read the report. The thing is, it’s damned difficult not to multitask when everything and anything keeps crying for your attention.

For that reason, take actions to kill the distractors. There are a lot of ways to do so. For example, you can make sure automatic notifications are turned off on all your programs so they can’t pull you out of whatever you’re doing.

You can also take programs like your email provider and make sure that your password and your username aren’t automatically put into it. In this way, when you’re trying to find something to distract you for a few minutes, you won’t actually go check your email.

Don’t just stop there. Also turn off your autofill on your browser. In this way, it will be that bit harder to go to the websites (like your news site – which is almost always bad news anyway) which will pull your attention and thereby kill your productivity.

This will make a huge difference. And besides, you can do all that stuff when you’re done with your work anyway – and then it will be a reward instead of a distraction.

Really turn off when you’re away from work

The big problem we have today is that we have no safe space where the work can’t reach us. That’s because our smartphones make it possible for us to check work emails, read slack and be in touch with colleagues at any time of the day.

That means that you can never ever truly switch off. And it doesn’t take a genius to realize that when you can’t fully switch off it’s going to be a lot less fun to switch on again.

For that reason, delete your email app and every other program that lets you easily and quickly check your work stuff when you’re not at work.

Yes, it might be scary, but as you’ll be far more productive when you’re actually at work, you’ll soon realize that it’s not at all bad. And when you realize that you’re actually happier and healthier for it besides, you’re going to wish you’d done this years ago!

Last words

If you work to live or live to work, these productivity tricks will be hugely advantageous – because they help you make sure that your productive at your work and capable of actually enjoying your life when you’re away from it (which in turn feeds back into making you more productive again).

In this way, you’ll be able to be more productive and be happier besides. Now, what’s not to love about that? So go on, treat yourself, use these productivity boosts and end up happier and healthier besides.

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