There are certain areas of our lives that we’re constantly trying to improve on, and productivity is one of them. Like any healthy habit, getting to work is a tough task that requires a lot of discipline and a lot of consistency.
In today’s day and age of modern technology, we have more tools than ever to be as productive as possible. At the same time, the constant influx of smartphone notifications and the overwhelming temptation to open a new tab to look at cute cat videos is incredibly distracting.
The average attention span of an adult is evidently dwindling, and is now around 8 seconds. To put that into perspective, a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds. Yikes! So, how do we combat the desire to… do something else instead? Well, we’ve got a few tricks and tips up our sleeve, and here are ten “hacks” you should know about. Get to work!
Never heard of it? This simple trick is pure magic if you find yourself struggling to work for long periods of time. Turns out, we’re just not cut out for that! No need to feel bad about it. The trick is working around it, and doing it in a smart way.
Pomodoro actually means “tomato” in Spanish, but this has nothing to do with vegetables and everything to do with maximising time. The Pomodoro timer is set for 25 minutes and demands your undivided attention for just that long before a short, scheduled break. The idea is that you bank on your ultimate creativity and focus all at once without distraction while the timer is ticking.
When the timer is up, you take a 5 minute break and you start over. After four Pomodoro sessions, you take a longer break for 15-20 minutes. This helps keep you driven while keeping your brain in work-mode without draining your creativity.
There are a million reasons you could afford to set the alarm a bit earlier in the day, and productivity is absolutely one of them. There are a few reasons why this works. After all, just waking up a little earlier isn’t going to do you any good if you just lay in bed scrolling through Instagram.
If you’re having trouble with getting pumped up and ready to go in the AM, try exercising before anything else. It will give you a natural boost of energy that can give you some seriously productive morning hours. You might also have extra time to lock in place a morning routine that fosters focus during the day. Try leaving your phone by the charger and eating breakfast, meditating and/or walking to clear your head before the day even starts.
Eating nourishing food will provide you with long-lasting energy throughout the day (get that protein!) and drinking lots of water will ensure you are physically prepared to take on those mental tasks.
Whether you work from home where there’s a lot of potential for disarray or from the office where you’re quite limited to the mess on your desk, here’s one thing that holds true for most of us: we can manage to spruce things up a bit.
Turns out, clutter impacts more than the space around us. It has the power to seep into our brains causing us some serious stress, and stress does not lend itself well to productivity.
Clear out stacks of paper that have been piling up, make sure you’re not collecting garbage, and try clearing out your inbox. Clutter has potential to be digital, too! Don’t just limit yourself to your physical surroundings. The problem? When all of that ‘stuff’ is in sight, it becomes a part of our thought process which tends to deviate our minds from the task(s) at hand.
We all have those tasks we absolutely dread doing. Sometimes, they aren’t even time-consuming or difficult – we just don’t like it. Putting off those unsavoury moments for last has a huge downfall, though, and it’s best to avoid it entirely.
When you sit down to work in the morning, consider getting your least favourite projects out of the way. If you let them sit, your mind will be occupied with the intimidation factor of having to do something you don’t want to do, which deters your focus from what you’re doing now.
On a similar note, think about your to-do list. Think about the tasks that will take two minutes or less. These things often get put on the backburner because they seem so minimal, but considering how little demand they have, it’s best to just get them out of the way. By implementing the two minute rule, you get all those menial things done so you can focus on the big stuff.
Willpower can only get us so far. Think of it this way; you’re sitting at your computer and your phone is sitting to the side face-up. You think this is a safe place, but NO! You can see your phone as it lights up with notifications from your peripheral vision, and three pop-up’s in, you’re officially grade-A distracted.
Forget about it! Turn your phone on ‘airplane mode,’ which shuts off all service/Wi-Fi related functions. Bonus tip: Pair this with the Pomodoro technique, and only switch your phone to full-service during breaks. That way, there’s no chance for distractions at all. If you can’t quite take the plunge, change the settings for certain apps to no notifications or go into do not disturb mode.
We are all distracted. If you can’t beat it, you have to fight it! This is the perfect tool to use in order to designate time to get stuff DONE.
FOMO or the ‘fear of missing out’ is a huge waste of time. This is a side-effect of too much social media, television or internet browsing in general. Let’s learn to live in the present. You know, the place we’re getting work done and being productive.
If you’re trying to keep up with current events and news all day, you’re bound to veer off track without even trying. It doesn’t help that most news is negative which in turn affects mood and productivity.
Even worse is scrolling through Facebook through your friend’s updates to find you’re not in the loop. We can become so easily distracted from what is important when we’re focusing on what we’re not doing. Instead, avoid the need to check in on other people’s (filtered) lives and focus on what you need to do.
What we’re trying to say is that many of us have these little habits that are bigger than we give them credit for. For example, if you find yourself watching too much TV, consider switching off your cable and using a subscription service like Netflix instead. That way, you’ll remove some of the instant gratification of an invasive habit to make it a bit more manageable.
By working from the ground up, we are essentially addressing one bad habit in order to have a drip-down effect of addressing 3-4 bad habits at the same time. It’s like killing two (or five) birds with one stone.
It’s becoming more and more acceptable to take on 50-60 hour work weeks, but we have to draw the line somewhere. Turns out setting limits could help you be more productive than you would be working an additional 10-20 hours per week.
If we’re overworked, we’re also almost inevitably wasting a fair amount of time. If you’re stuck clocking in for a 60 hour week, think about how much work you’re actually getting done. Not a full 60 hours, right?
If you have the power to limit your working hours or cut back on time spent in the office, you should take advantage. Maybe this means working from home, which can in turn boost happiness which then boosts productivity. Maybe it just means taking a different position. Even if you take a pay-cut, happiness (and extra free time!) can make a huge difference in how you work. It could be worth prioritising time > money.
In an ideal world, we would all work through tasks effectively, quickly and to their potential. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. With that said, it’s okay to re-think your workload sometimes.
While pawning off work on others may seem like the easy way out, it’s not! It just so happens that there are other people who can finish up those stragglers on your to-do list a bit more efficiently than you can. Think of it this way: why spend an hour on something that would take someone else ten minutes to do?
If you have projects that you need help with, just ask for help. If you have the financial means to pay someone else as a part of your team, it could end up saving you money in the long-run. Best of all, it will pare down your work so you can dial in on what you’re GOOD at.
Some people and some jobs have a tendency to really reel you in. It can become increasingly difficult to stop saying, “Yes” because you feel as though you need to please others.
Saying, “No” instead is good! While this isn’t always an option, it’s good to make the decision for yourself. So many of us are inclined to comply with the wishes and commands of others off the bat. This happens so often that we begin to forget we have the ability to decline someone’s offer.
Saying NO puts you in control and gives you the ability to say YES to the things that are important to you, making you more productive overall. Harness your energy and focus for the things you are enthusiastic to saying YES to.