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5 Science-Backed Ways To Effectively Boost Your Productivity

5 Science-Backed Ways To Effectively Boost Your Productivity

You consider yourself to be a relatively busy person. You have a lot to get done in a short amount of time, leaving little room for distractions or breaks. Lately, though, you’ve noticed a sharp decline in the amount of tasks you’ve been able to get done on a daily basis. Your workload hasn’t increased. You’re not taking that many breaks. So what’s the problem?

Learning the science behind productivity, and what you can do to increase the amount of tasks you can complete every day, is your key to success. Here are five ways science says you can boost your productivity, starting today.

1. Make a list of mindless activities

Have you ever been in the middle of something and distracted yourself by thinking about another thing you need to do when you get home? Not only is that distracting, it can also be stressful. When that happens, make a list of all the mindless chores you need to get done later, but plan other activities along with them, like listening to an audio book or watching a TV show.

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In the right context, according to science, multitasking works. Mindless activities like laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning take time. If you pair them with listening to recorded lectures or podcasts or watching the news though, you can get your chores done and learn something new at the same time.

2. Complete a string of smaller tasks first thing in the morning

Distractions do a really good job of stopping our productivity train in its tracks, and one way to eliminate this hindrance from the equation is to push yourself into a flow state, which happens when we immerse ourselves so deeply into a set of tasks that everything else around us almost ceases to exist.

To launch yourself into a flow state, list out a few smaller things you want to get done and get going right away. Not only will you feel more productive while successfully completing multiple tasks in one sitting, but you’ll also free up more time later in the day for larger projects and breaks, too.

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3. Write down daily S.M.AR.T. goals

Yesterday you planned on clearing all the emails in your inbox. Not too difficult of a task, right? What you didn’t take into account before you started, though, was how many emails you had waiting or how long it would take. There were just too many, and instead of breaking it up, you just never got started.

Setting goals for yourself on a daily basis will help you fight through distractions and roadblocks to productivity. Making them specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-based will help you define exactly what you need to do and what you can expect to have achieved once you’ve done it.

4. Sit down and just start

One of the biggest roadblocks to productivity is procrastination, and procrastination often happens unintentionally. We’ll start reading that article in five minutes, and five minutes quickly turns into ten. We’ll answer that email after lunch, but after lunch, something else always gets in the way.

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To beat this productivity blocker, just start. Don’t even give yourself enough time to change your mind. Click over to that tab and start reading. Hit the reply button and start typing. Once you begin, you might be surprised at how quickly and effectively you can complete that task, and you might even be more motivated to jump right into the next one.

5. Schedule out time to relax

Look at your schedule for the upcoming week. Have you blocked out any time to relax? While this might seem counterproductive, working relaxation into your schedule will, in the long run, leave you more room to get things done.

Trying to push through all your work at once will leave you feeling burned out and unmotivated, so break up your work load with 10 to 15-minute rest periods in-between. During those periods, complete a few of those mindless tasks we mentioned earlier. The key is to let your mind wander and recharge.

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By doing multiple things at once (within reason), settling yourself into the occasional flow state, setting goals and just getting to it—with the occasional break in-between—will boost your productivity and keep you on task even when you have to step back and let your brain breathe for a few minutes.

Featured photo credit: Hillary via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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3. Still No Action

More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

4. Flicker of Hope Left

You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

5. Fading Quickly

Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

6. Vow to Yourself

Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

2. Plan

Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

3. Resistance

Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

4. Confront Those Feelings

Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

5. Put Results Before Comfort

You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

6. Repeat

Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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Final Thoughts

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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