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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 March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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