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13 Simple Ways To Make Your Work Day Super Productive

13 Simple Ways To Make Your Work Day Super Productive

You are dead tired. Because no matter how many hours you put in and how hard you work, you can’t seem to keep up with your never-ending growing to do list. And to be quite honest, it’s wearing you down and beating the crap out of you. You know for a FACT that if you don’t pull yourself together NOW. It`s just a matter of time before you become BURNED OUT.

If that sounds familiar, no worries. I’ve been there too. Relax. Breathe. I got you covered.

The fact is that many people spend a lot of time on work, while usually the time isn’t really well-spent. Let me reveal the 13 simple ways to make your work day super productive.

1. Prepare your clothes the night before

The moment your alarm clock wakes you up in the morning, you should immediately get out of bed and start your morning routine. You DON’T want to waste your valuable time in the morning deciding on which clothes to wear. Prepare your clothes the night before.

To be quite honest, you don’t want to spend energy making unnecessary decisions. That is also why Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg always wear the same clothes every day.

2. Plan your day the night before

The experts say that every minute spent in planning saves you 10 minutes in execution. In order to become super productive you should know EXACTLY which tasks you should be working on at any given time.

How can this be achieved? To plan in advance. I would strongly recommend you to plan one week ahead. This will save you a ton of time. In addition, instead of just responding to other peoples requests, you will have control over your schedule and week. More power to you – hurrah!

However, you should at least spend 15-30 minutes planning your day the night before. When it comes to planning, it’s smart to apply a system that works.

I would advice you to…

3. Use a master to do list

You should only have ONE to do list, and it should be your master to do list.

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Why do I call it a master to do list? Because it will contain ALL the activities that you need to do. If the activities aren’t included in your master to do list, they won’t get done.

Do you know what`s the most important thing with the master to do list? If you said, to always keep it up to date, you are completely correct. A high five to you! *SLAP*

When you plan your activities in your master to do list, it`s important that you…

4. Apply the ABCDE method and the 80/20 rule

Prioritize your tasks using the ABCDE method:

  • A tasks – are tasks that you must do today, if not they will give you serious consequences
  • B tasks – are tasks that you should do today, if not they will give you mild consequences
  • C tasks – are tasks that you could do today, if not they will give no consequences
  • D tasks – are tasks you delegate to other people
  • E tasks – are tasks you eliminate. You never do them.

When you start your work day you will always start with your A tasks, which are your most important tasks. The real trick is to never do a B task before you have completed all your A tasks, and never do a C task before you have completed all your B tasks. By following this system you will be working at your most income generating tasks at any given time.

Use the 80/20 rule to identify your most important tasks, which will be your A tasks. Pareto’s law says that 20% of your tasks will result in 80% of the total production value. This means that if you have 10 tasks on your to do list today, and you ONLY complete the 2 most important tasks, they will give you 80% of the total result.

If you REALLY want to increase your productivity, you should definitely…

5. Get up 2 hours earlier

Studies have shown that most people are the most productive the first 2 hours after they get up from bed. That is why THAT time should be spent on your most important tasks.
This may of course vary from individual to individual. Some people are the most productive during the evening, while others are night owls. The key is to find out WHEN you are the most productive, and then block that time out for your most important tasks.

Two additional benefits of getting up 2 hours earlier, is that you get a head start and you will most likely have a quiet work environment. That is also why very successful people, like Richard Branson, gets up early in the morning.

After you have gotten out of bed, it’s smart to…

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6. Meditate for 5 minutes

You should meditate for 5 minutes. In addition to relaxing your mind and body, you should use the time to visualize your day. Imagine yourself go through the day and focus especially on important activities for that day, like giving a presentation. You should visualize yourself in third person. Play the picture in your head as a vivid movie with colors and sound performing your important tasks with great success.

That technique helped me to become a black belt in WTF Taekwondo in 2.5 years by only training 2 sessions per week. Average time to achieve a black belt is about 3.5 years with 3 or more training sessions per week.

No matter how busy you are, you should put aside time so you can…

7. Eat a proper breakfast

Yes, this may seem obvious, but not everyone eats a proper breakfast. And some people don’t eat breakfast at all.
Eat a healthy and proper breakfast. It doesn’t need to take long to prepare. 2 slices of bread with ham, cheese, tomatoes and a glass of milk will do the trick.

If you don`t have time to eat breakfast, at least take the breakfast with you, so you can eat it on the way to work. Your body is like a car. Would you expect your car to be able to perform at top level, if didn’t have any fuel? Nope, and neither will your body.

If you are really serious about taking your productivity to the next level, you should…

8. Work 2 hours before going to work

As mentioned in bullet point 5 above, the majority of people are the most productive the 2 hours after they get out of bed. Needless to say, this time should be spent on working on your most income generating tasks.

If it`s possible in your job situation, talk to your boss and suggest an arrangement where you will be working at home 2 hours before you go to work, and you can leave 2 hours earlier. You should present the proposal with the focus on what’s in it for your boss and the company. You could refer to the studies, telling him/her that you want to be able to produce more at work, so you can give the company a better return on investment (ROI) of your time. This will benefit both the company, your boss and you. As long as you are able to deliver high quality work, it shouldn’t really matter at WHICH location the work was performed.

This is the new way of thinking. Something that Tim Ferris is mentioning in his book “4 hour work week.” If you really want to optimize the use of your time, you should…

9. Spend your commute on learning

Since we all only have 24 hours in our lives, the difference between a very successful person and you, is HOW you have spent your time.

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Who said that time on the commute should be spent on reading newspapers, Googling trivial information or playing Candy Crush on your cell phone? Spend that time on listening to an audio book or a podcast that is about a SPECIFIC topic that will help you IMPROVE an important skill or LEARN knowledge that will give you an advantage to your work or business. This will make sure that you have gained another advantage to the majority of your competitors or coworkers.

Once you arrive at work, it`s important that you…

10. Make yourself unreachable at work

Yes, you read correct. If possible, you should isolate yourself and make yourself completely unreachable. The best way to get things done at work is when you are not being interrupted. Even though your coworkers probably are nice people, listening to their gossip, vacation plans and how many hot dogs they managed to eat at the last barbecue party, will NOT make you more productive. On the contrary, you should find a room or book a meeting room where you can work undisturbed. If you can`t remove yourself from the environment, you have to do your best to control it.

If no such spot is available, you can always politely ask your coworkers to keep their voice down, since you are working on a very important task. Then put in your earplugs and listen to some classical music, while you work focused. Focus will be the number one skill that alone can skyrocket your productivity.

You may be wondering about what to do when a gazillion of tasks falls into your lap during your work day. The short answer is…

11. When new important tasks occur prioritize FAST

Yes, no matter how well you plan your day, new tasks seems to magically appear from nowhere…ALL the time.

It can be really frustrating, right? The key is to be able to prioritize your task and put ALL the important tasks on your to do list and if needed, rearrange your currents tasks. Most B tasks and all the C tasks can be added later. In other words, what you need to do is to be able to identify the A tasks.

Example:

  • You are working 30 minutes on an A task on your to do list.
  • Then your boss tells you that an important client wants you to do 3 new tasks
  • You quickly categorize them as 2 B tasks and 1 C task
  • You continue to work 30 minutes on your A task
  • Then you dear boss arrives once more, this time giving you another task from his boss.
  • You quickly categorize the task to be a A task (even more important than the A task you are currently working on)
  • You rearrange the order and puts your boss`s boss task on the top and start working on it
  • When you are finished with that task, you start working on your previous A task
  • At the end of the work day, you will be adding the 2 B tasks and 1 C task to your master to do list

By doing this, you will be able to always be working on your most important tasks.

An activity that can easily cripple your productivity is constantly checking your emails. You should…

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12. Only check your email at specific times

There is no bigger time thief than checking your email and becoming sucked into the almost endless void of other peoples requests. You should ONLY check your email at specific times. Unless you are waiting on a very important email, checking your email 2 times a day should be enough.

If you work from 9 am to 5 pm, checking your emails could be done at 11 am and 4 pm. You will then be able to spend your 2 first hours (9-11 am) on your most important tasks (if you aren’t able to work the 2 first hours from home). Then you will check the email right before you go to lunch, and then again 4 pm, one hour before your workday is over.

You should give it a try. It will make you more relaxed, happy and more productive!

Then over to the last tip that most people will find the most challenging – start to…

13. Say no

You should immediately start saying no to unreasonable requests. Successful people are really good at saying no. Every time you say yes to doing an activity, you are automatically saying no to other activities, like spending time with your family or going for the evening run. Super productive people are also very good at saying no. Perhaps that is why most successful people are super productive?

It`s all about the eternal battle regarding our 24 hours each day. What do you spend them on? Are you spending them on activities that will bring YOU closer to your goals, building the life you want for you and your family?

Or do you spend your time saying yes to being a slave for other people`s unreasonable requests? Like helping your coworker, who is ALWAYS struggling with his / her deadline, and you will never get any credit for it, nor will your coworker return the favor. Or do you say yes to drive your neighbor’s kids to the mall, because they want new crayon colors so they can draw a unicorn?

You get the point. HOW you spend your TIME will determine your FUTURE.

What’s your best productivity tip?

Featured photo credit: Rob Hainer via depositphotos.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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