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How would you feel if you were able to quadruple your productivity?
What impact would something like that have on your business, your career or even your whole life?
Personal productivity is one of the most impactful skills that successful people have mastered.
Especially in today’s competitive business and professional environment, you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not working in an effective and efficient manner.
Working and operating in the most optimal way possible should be one of your priorities.
Personally, I am very vigilant about how my time is allocated and I am always trying to optimize my workflow. It is crucial that you take a similar approach.
For this reason, I have already provided you with a full-blown daily ritual that will help you explode your productivity.
Here, I would like to share some more easily adopted tips that will quickly increase your productive output.
Even if you incorporate just a couple of these into your daily life, you will notice a huge difference and you will reap great results.
Ready to take your productivity to the next level? Let’s do it!
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1) Wake up early
Yeah, I know. Waking up early sucks. But who said that building wealth and running a business is easy?
Trust me, waking up early will you give a huge productivity boost. It is a bit difficult to establish the habit, but once you do, you will be grateful that you did.
Waking up early has a lot of benefits, but we will focus on just two of them:
a) There are minimum distractions during the early hours of the morning. Distractions are perhaps the biggest productivity killer. You need to make sure that you get distracted as little as possible whenever you are working on a task. Thus, the early hours, when everyone else is sleeping, are ideal for taking care of your most important tasks.
b) You get time to complete your tasks and make progress even if the rest of the day “fails”. Another benefit is that you have enough time to make considerable progress on your projects and you are certain that you are moving forward without worrying that an “emergency” during the day will prevent you from doing so.
2) Work on your most important tasks first
I alluded to this in my previous tip, but I will elaborate here. The first hours of your working schedule should be allocated towards the tasks that are the most critical. These are the tasks that will take your career, business or life to the next level.
These mission-critical tasks might make you feel a bit uncomfortable. It will be because you will be stretching your “comfort-zone” while performing them.
It might be launching a marketing campaign for the first time, or drafting an important sales letter.
For this reason, you might get some resistance from your subconscious mind which wants to “protect” you. This is a very common source of procrastination. We tend to deflect from things that make us uncomfortable and eventually take no action.
During the beginning of the day, where your willpower level is still high and you have plenty emotional reserves, it is the perfect time to tackle those paramount tasks and make sure you are making steady progress towards your goals.
3) Work in one and only one task each time
This little tip alone is guaranteed to boost your productivity. It will set you apart from the vast majority of knowledge workers who are struggling to perform multiple tasks at once and ultimately produce mediocre results for all of them.
Our human brains have evolved to focus on only one thing at a time and are optimized to work on single tasks. By attempting to “multitask”, we are creating unnecessary friction and drop our productivity levels.
Unfortunately, in today’s environment we are getting bombarded by a barrage of stimuli that deters us from focusing on only one thing. That is why it is crucial to proactively structure your day and set up your working environment so that you are able to concentrate only on the next task at hand.
4) Turn off the notifications
Following from the previous tip, one of the best ways to prepare your environment so that you are ready for massive production is to disable all notifications that might distract you.
Notifications are everywhere these days, and 99% of them are utterly useless: “Oh look, Sarah started working on her virtual farm again!”
They are pushed onto you via applications created by other entities which want to grab your precious attention. The more of your attention they got, the more money they make (through advertising for example).
Note that you should also disable some of the more “serious” ones like incoming emails. By relying on someone’s email, you are actually working for his agenda, not yours. Emails can wait until after you have performed the tasks that move your agenda forward.
5) Work in undistracted blocks of time
As I mentioned, distractions are a disaster for your productivity. They make your mind lose its focus and destroy the cognitive context that you had built that far.
For this reason, you should strive to work in blocks of time completely undistracted. There are two elements in this approach.
The first is that you should proactively set up an environment that distractions are minimized or eliminated. Disable notifications, leave your mobile in the next room, wear headphones and tell your colleagues to not disturb you. You are on a mission!
The second one is that you should work in defined blocks of time. After that block of work, you take a short break to rest your mind.
A nice approach to experiment with is the Pomodoro technique, something that I diligently follow quite a while now.
The technique states that you should work for 25 minutes straight focusing on a single task (that is 1 pomodoro), and then take a 5 minutes break after that. After you complete 4 pomodoros, you can take a longer break (e.g. half an hour).
6) Facilitate the state of “flow”
This is the holy grail of productivity.
The “flow” state is a state of operation in which we get fully immersed in a feeling of focus and we get completely absorbed in what we do. It is the state where our focused mind enables us to operate at an optimal level.
This is where magic happens and where all breakthrough progress is achieved.
By focusing on a single task, working in an undistracted manner, and dealing with tasks that are important and a bit challenging, we can get into “flow” state and have our productivity explode.
On top of that, a person “in flow”, or “in the zone”, gets a feeling of euphoria and fulfilment. It’s a double win!
Please note that you can’t always control when you get into flow, and when you actually achieve it, it is important to stay there as long as possible. For example, don’t break your flow state just because your pomodoro period is over.
“Flow” is a great state to be at and one that you must facilitate by following the tips mentioned in this article.
7) Schedule the less important tasks for afternoon
Since the early hours of the day are reserved for tasks of high importance, it is only natural that the less critical ones should be pushed for later in the afternoon. Those would include email checking, meetings (preferably skip meetings altogether), maintenance tasks etc.
A good time for those is immediately after lunch when our energy levels usually take a dive so working on less important stuff is more appropriate. Remember this:
You should manage your energy, not your time.
In other words, it is much better to spend 1 hour checking your emails in the afternoon where your energy is lower than it is to check it in the morning, and to spend 1 hour in critical tasks in the morning when you are fresh and energized, instead of the afternoon.
In both cases, the same amount of time is allocated for each tasks (1 hour), but the difference in output will be dramatic.
8) Take a break, preferably performing some light exercise
Working on important tasks while being undistracted and hyperfocused can be exhausting. For this reason, you need to make sure that you are taking enough breaks during the day so that you are operating on a sustainable mode.
If you utilize the Pomodoro technique as mentioned above, you should follow the break patterns that are expected. After you pile up several pomodoros, you can also take a longer break.
It would be ideal if you could also combine your break with some form of light exercise. That could be taking a walk or doing a few push-ups, for example.
If you are close to nature (e.g. a park), I would highly recommend going outwards and spending some time there. This will allow your body and mind to relax, and you will be able to resume working at a great level afterwards.
Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. By going all in and burning out, you will be at a much worse position. Make sure to allow yourself to recoup its strengths.
9) Outsource and delegate the low level tasks
In order to get to the next level, you will need at some point to offload tasks and responsibilities and focus on the higher level tasks.
This is something that a lot of business owners are struggling with, but it is mandatory if you want to elevate your success.
Don’t try to be a “one man army”!
When your revenue figures and other metrics allow it, buy other people’s time and either outsource or delegate those tasks that you are not good at, or even the tasks that you are good at but are of low importance.
Play it to your strengths and let other people help you with the secondary activities.
10) Prepare the next day’s tasks from the day before
As a last tip, in order to tie everything together, make sure to prepare the next day’s schedule from the previous day. You should predefine the one or two critical tasks that you will work on during the early hours, and perhaps draft a timeline of how the rest of the day will unfold.
Having a strategic approach on how you spend your time is always beneficial. It will allow you to delve directly into work without losing precious time on thinking what you should do next.
At the beginning, you might not always get it right, but after time, you will optimize your planning and you will be able to pinpoint those tasks that should get your undivided attention during the next day.
In today’s hectic world we need to be vigilant about how our time is allocated and how we perform our daily work.
Staying productive has come to be an almost impossible task, but one that is more important than ever to accomplish.
Those that master productivity are those that will eventually be successful both in their professional and personal lives.
In this post, I laid out ten tips that will help you remain productive and increase your effectiveness and efficiency. Mix and match those and see your productivity soar to unprecedented levels.
100+ lessons learned and insights shared.
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