“Productivity is being able to do things that you weren’t able to do before.” – Franz Kafka
Without productivity, you can’t accomplish anything. Or your results will be very lower than your true potential.
Productivity is the quality of creating something. Productivity is measured by the positive outcome of the energy you devote in a project.
The higher it is the more you can achieve. When your productivity is sky-high you can distribute your work and finish it in the best way possible, thereby achieving more goals and getting bigger rewards for your work.
Unfortunately, your productivity is highly threatened by many enemies.
These enemies can be very destructive and if you let them affect your productivity you jeopardize your success. You risk of not getting your work done, losing deadlines or even worse surrendering without even trying.
We all have the same 24 hours every day. The way we use these 24 hours is up to every one of us.
If you find the right methods, the right productivity lifehacks, you can take advantage of these 24 hours to the utmost.
The scope of this article is to give you 9 really powerful productivity lifehacks that will help you become a repetitive winner.
You probably won’t be able to implement every technique because it depends on your every day schedule. I hope that you will find some tips among the list that suit your lifestyle. The more of these tips you follow, the better for your productivity.
1. Enter the 2 Hour Hermit Mode
What is the 2 hour hermit mode? Will you need to live alone in a remote cabin? Of course not, unless you would enjoy that experience.
What you have to do is simpler than that.
For 2 hours every day, focus on your work and try to do what you have to do completely undisturbed. Lock yourself in your room, in the bathroom or even in the garage. Stay somewhere where you can find COMPLETE quiet for 2 hours.
It doesn’t matter if your mom is calling you endlessly, if your girlfriend wants to meet you or if your house is on fire. You have to be completely alone and focused on your craft.
Find a place where no one will disturb you. Absolutely nobody. Even if the God wants to talk to you, he will have to wait until the 2 hours are over.
That’s how important it is to be completely undisturbed. If you are working on something important and then you answer a phone call you are done. Adios productivity.
You lose all your momentum. Your brain takes a big break and gives a signal to your body that you should rest more.Advertising
How to enter the hermit mode:
1. Simply close your phone or put it in airplane mode. Answer any calls or messages after the 2 hours.
2. Logout from all social media.
3. If you live with your parents or roommate tell them to be quiet for these 2 hours and lock yourself in your room.
4. If you can’t find a quiet place, consider going to your local library.
5. Have some water or snack next to you for when you are thirsty or hungry. Going to the bathroom is acceptable; you don’t want to smell like urine…or something worst than urine.
If your schedule is too demanding, it doesn’t necessarily need to be 2 hours. You can spend 60 minutes or even 30 minutes. If what you want to do is important, you will find some time.
Otherwise, it wasn’t so important. On the other side, if your schedule is too loose, you could definitely enter the hermit mode for more than 2 hours.
2. Close Your Phone until as Late as Possible
When you are working on something, whether this is just your homework or an important business plan, hearing your phone ringing can really destroy your concentration. By putting your phone in silence mode or even better closing it you have the oportunity to work uninterrupted.
Just like with the hermit mode, you reduce interruptions and you can be more focused on your craft.
3. Focus on One Task at a Time
Multi-tasking can reduce your productivity up to 40%, according to behavioral psychologist Susan Weinschenk.
According to Susan, people can’t do more than one task at a time. Actually, multi-tasking is just switching between different tasks.
It’s impossible to do them all together so your brain focuses to one of them and quickly changes that focus to another task.
If you think that this helps in getting more things done, you should know that it actually takes MORE time than if you did each task separately.
Your brain can focus on only one cognitive (mental) task. You can only be reading or you can only be watching the news, but you aren’t able to do both together.
What actually happens when you are trying to watch the news and read simultaneously is that your brain switches from the one task to the other. So you are not multitasking at all. You are just switching tasks and produce LESS.
If you want to keep your productivity levels high stop switching between tasks. Do one thing at a time and prioritize your work. Then do the most important tasks first.Advertising
4. Start Your Day Doing What You Hate
Okay, this doesn’t sound really great, I know. Just let me explain.
When we have to do something boring or an unpleasant task, we tend to procrastinate. As a result, we push that task later in the day and in the end we don’t do it at all.
We continue saying “I will do that later” or “I will finish tomorrow” and this later/tomorrow never really comes.
Just do it right after you wake up or within 1-2 hours after waking up. That way you are sure that you won’t procrastinate during the day. It also helps in increasing your self-confidence.
When you say that “I will do this,” and you really do it, you send a subconscious signal to your mind that you are a person who keeps their promises. Someone who is reliable. This results in feeling more confident with yourself.
5. Split your work with the 25-5 method.
This method can be a part of the Hermit Mode and boost your concentration to the maximum.
The idea is that you split your work into two parts. The first part is 25 minutes of uninterrupted work. The second part is a 5-7 minute break for water, snack or just for flexing your muscles and walking around.
Use a timer with an alarm clock that reminds you when your 25 minute work period or your 5 minute break is over.
This is very effective if you plan on entering the hermit mode for very long periods, like 4+ hours. Even for 2 hours it can be very effective, because your brain will get tired after a while.
On the one hand, knowing that you have to be fully concentrated until your alarm rings makes you become ultra-productive and you get more work done. On the other hand, you have 5 minutes to give your brain enough time to relax but without relaxing too much.
Don’t make the mistake of logging into social media or answering your phone during your breaks because it can turn your 5 minute break into a 50 minute one.
6. Listen to Audio books or Podcasts While You Are Eating.
Your meals are a perfect chance to supply your body with essential nutrients and become a little smarter simultaneously.
While most people spend their meals watching TV or just staring at their kitchen wall, you can differentiate yourself from the thought-castrated masses and use that time to educate yourself.
Of course, if you choose a book/podcast that you don’t like just because I told you to do so, it won’t work. Find something that you love to learn.
You have countless topics that you could choose from like:
- How to improve your self-confidence.
- How to lose fat effectively.
- How to meet beautiful women.
- How to build muscle.
- How to improve your memory.
- How to make money.
and much more.
You don’t have to start listening to audio books of Nietzsche or Freud from the beginning. Find something that you want to learn, something that would be enjoyable and could improve your life.Advertising
But you may be wondering: is listening to audio books going to make me smarter? Does it have the same effect like reading a real book? It seems that it depends on the subject of the book but generally it has the same effect. A study on college students in 1997 found that those who listened to a short story could write a summary as well as those who read it.
7. Use Dead Time to Read or Learn Something New
When it comes to productivity and accomplishing your goals you must learn new things constantly.
It’s impossible to achieve a goal if you are not improving yourself. If you are not taking a step closer to that goal every single day then it won’t work.
You might say that you don’t have enough time. But the fact is that many of us have a lot of time that is wasted.
What did you do the last time you took the bus?
What did you do when you were waiting for a visit to your doctor while you were sitting on his comfortable couch?
What did you do when you took your car and went to work?
Most likely, you were just waiting the time to pass, you were scrolling your Facebook timeline, constantly checking your e-mail, listened to music or just staring out of the window.
But you were wasting time that you could use to learn something. Start reading e-books on your phone or listen to an audiobook/podcast during such “dead time.”
If you are on the bus and you have 30 minutes ahead of you, don’t let them pass away. Read a book and become a little smarter. If you are driving, then listen to an audio.
You can’t imagine the difference in your mindset after a year if you started to listen to audiobooks every day for 30 minutes while you are driving to your work.
Start now, you can find audiobooks or e-books for dirt cheap online. And you can listen to podcasts that are completely free.
8. Use the 3 Color Layer Checklist Method
That’s something I recommend in my e-book Beat Procrastination in 10 Minutes.
Traditional checklists are boring. However, the 3-color layer checklist is more unique. It’s a great way to be more productive and get important tasks done all the time.
Why? Because you prioritize your tasks based on importance. All you need is a piece of paper and 3 colored pens. I prefer using red-black-blue.
Then you split your work:
Level 1-Red: Top priority-Emergency work that must be done today.Advertising
Level 2-Black: Medium priority
Level 3-Blue: Low Priority
When the day is over you must have done all tasks in the first 2 levels. But there is a rule: For every task on level-3 you must have two tasks on levels 1 & 2.
This ensures that you don’t put all the work in the low priority layer to avoid it.
For example, if you have two tasks on the blue layer, you must have two on black and two on red or 3 on red and 1 black. The ratio should be 2:1, Red & Black to Blue.
This system will allow you to become more focused by learning to identify and finish the important tasks first. You will always have the important work done and if you have time you can finish the low priority tasks as well.
9. Start Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting will allow you to burn more fat while eating less and saving time. Actually you won’t eat less food but you will eat fewer meals.
That’s because you will skip your breakfast. While common wisdom says that you should eat a large bowl of cereal to “activate your metabolism” this doesn’t provide any benefits. Eating makes your body spend energy to digest the food.This is known as the Thermic Effect. However, increased meal frequency doesn’t add any benefit as the thermic effect in 24 hours remains the same if you eat the same amount of calories, no matter if you consume these calories in 3 or in 6 meals.
The food industry has invested millions of dollars to convince us that breakfast is essential. Eat pancakes, muffins, milk, cake and cereals because your body will enter in starvation mode if you don’t. That’s what they told us and we believed it.
In fact, skipping breakfast not only helps you to burn more fat but it has other benefits like increased growth hormone and boosted mental alertness.
But what has this to do with productivity?
When you skip breakfast you eat only 2-3 meals per day. Lunch and dinner are fine, but you can have an extra smaller meal in between.
This saves you a lot of time from breakfast preparation and gives you the ability to enjoy huge meals without getting fat. Or eating a dessert (wink).
In reality, you take the breakfast calories and put them in your dinner or lunch.
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t only skip breakfast but you should also cut your meals quantity. There is no need in having 5-6 small meals per day “because this activates your metabolism.”
Whether your goal is building muscle, losing fat or maintaining your weight, it’s all a matter of how much calories you eat and if you get the right quantity of nutrients. You can achieve that only with 2-3 meals per day.
It will save you a ton of time from cooking, eating and even spending energy to digest the food.
What are your best methods to improve your productivity? I would love to hear to your ideas.
Published on January 16, 2019
How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work
We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.
You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.
You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.
That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.
Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:
1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All
Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.
We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.
To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.
At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.
The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.
2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.
The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.
In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.
It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.
It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.
So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:
- Are you a great strategist?
- Are you an effective planner?
- Is Project Management your strength?
- Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
- Are you the ideas person?
- Is Implementation your strength?
Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.
3. Use the Strengths of Your Team
One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.
Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.
Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.
Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.
4. Take Time for Planning
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln
One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.
You can take the time to think about:
- What’s the purpose of the project?
- How Important is it?
- When does it need to be delivered by?
- What is the best result and worst result for this project?
- What are the KPIs?
- What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
- Who is working on this project?
- What is everyone’s responsibilities?
- What tolerances can I add in?
- What are the review stages?
- What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?
Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.
5. Focus on Priorities
Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.
Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.
One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:
- Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
- Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
- Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
- Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).
James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box
The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.
If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.
If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.
6. Take Time Out
To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.
If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.
Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.
In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.
Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.
7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.
I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.
Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.
If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.
8. Stop Multitasking
Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.
So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.
When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.
If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.
9. Work in Blocks of Time
To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.
I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.
Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.
Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.
Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.
Then take another 10-minute break.
Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.
By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.
10. Get Rid of Distractions
Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.
“Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”
Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.
If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.
11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks
You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.
Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.
Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.
12. Take a Time Audit
Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?
Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.
You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:
Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.
Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.
At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.
If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.
13. Protect Your Confidence
It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.
When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.
Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.
When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.
A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.
The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.
If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.
Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com
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