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8 Principles to Keep in Mind to Reach an Unprecedented Level of Productivity

8 Principles to Keep in Mind to Reach an Unprecedented Level of Productivity

We all have those days: we show up to work after not getting enough sleep, or getting too much, and find ourselves with our chin in our palm staring blankly at the screen. While it’s hard to get out of this mood, as we try to keep our eyes from falling shut, we have to keep these principles and quotes in mind for when we wake up and get back at it.

1. We should hold periodic meetings

Meetings are a great way to touch base with our team and make sure that everybody is on the right track. Keep in mind, however, that most actual work gets done outside of these meetings.

As Thomas Sowell said: “The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.”

Let’s keep meetings brief, with a clear focus, and make sure to summarize key takeaways at the end to ensure everyone is on the same page.

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2. We need to test new ideas

We should be careful not to get comfortable simply doing what’s “good enough”. Let’s make sure to continuously test new ideas in search of a more productive or efficient method to complete our workflow.

Mark Zuckerberg was right when he said, “In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

3. We mustn’t multitask

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand,” said Alexander Graham Bell, “the sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

When approaching our work, we should give our full attention to one task at a time. Time spent transitioning between tasks can add up to hours out of your day. Not to mention, when we dedicate our focus to a single task, we’ll surely produce higher-quality results.

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4. We need to give ourselves a break

If we find that our productivity has hit the wall, let’s try getting away from our desk and giving our mind a chance to refresh. We need to take a a nap or spend the day at home.

“Being lazy does not mean that you do not create. In fact, lying around doing nothing is an important, nay crucial, part of the creative process. It is meaningless bustle that actually gets in the way of productivity. All we are really saying is, give peace a chance.” -Tom Hodgkinson

5. We have to “Automate”

With so much new technology, many human processes can now be replaced with apps and programs. Where automation isn’t possible, we can try to create a simple process that can be recreated.

“Improved productivity means less human sweat, not more,” said Henry Ford.

The easier our process becomes to repeat, the more time we’ll make for what’s most important.

6. We should delegate when possible

A wise man, J. Paul Getty, once said, “I’d rather have 1 percent of the efforts of 100 people than 100 percent of my own efforts.”

He had a good point. Our energy should be put to use to accomplish tasks that require our brainpower and expertise. Keep in mind, once we delegate a task, we have to let our team take care of it. Hovering over the tasks once we past them down wastes as much time as keeping them on our desk to do ourselves.

7. “Never mistake motion for action”

Just because we’re writing a to-do list and organizing our email doesn’t mean we’re actually getting things done. Let’s put aside small distracts that get us off track, and make sure we recognize the difference between busywork and actually getting work done. Do we really need to color code those sticky notes?

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8. We should get to work early

Our hours probably look like something from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Rather than walking in the door at 8:59 AM so we can clock in right as the clock strikes 9, let’s try showing up 10-15 minutes early. This will give us time to focus in on the work in front of us, so we can hit the ground running as soon as we punch in for the day.

Now perk up! It’s time to get started.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

Let me guess.

You should be doing something else rather than reading this article. But due to some unknown force of nature, you decided to procrastinate by reading an article about how to hack procrastination. You deserve a pat on the back.

Fortunately, procrastination is not a disease. It’s just a mindset that can be changed, however, here are some productivity tips you need to start getting work done:

First, you need to acknowledge that procrastinating is an unhealthy habit. Not only you’re prioritizing unimportant things, basically, nothing gets done. Still unsure if you’re a procrastinator? Check out this article: Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

Second, your commitment to change is very important. You should be physically, emotionally, and mentally determined to change this habit. If not, then you’ll just succumb to the tempting lure of doing other things rather than your tasks or chores.

Here are sthe best productivity hacks to improve productivity and keep yourself from procrastinating at work:

1. Give (10+2)*5 a Try

Let’s start with a classic but very effective hack called (10+2)*5 created by Merlin Mann,[1] author of 43Folders.com. Don’t worry. This is not a complicated Mathematical formula you need to solve.

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The (10+2)*5 simply means 10 minutes work + 2 minutes break multiplied by 5, completing 1 hour. It is crucial to stick with the time limits and not skipping work and break schedules. The point of this is for you to create a jam-packed routine of work and break schedules. The result? You will eventually skip your break schedules.

2. Use Red and Blue More Often

Clean your desk and remove things that might distract you. According to a Science Daily study[2] about which colors improve brain performance, red was found out to increase attention to details while blue sparks creativity. Surrounding your workplace with these colors not only benefits your brain, it’s also pleasing to the eye.

3. Create a Break Agenda

List all the things you want to do on your break, be it surfing the web, checking your emails, snack time, taking selfies, Facebook/Twitter—everything.

Like the (10+2)*5 hack, squeeze these in between work time but the difference is you schedule these activities for ONLY 20 minutes. Eventually, you’ll take your break minutes wisely. You’re finishing tasks while sidetracking to doing the things you enjoy.

4. Set a Timetable for Your Tasks

Like any other habits, procrastinating is a tough wall to break. Replace this habit with another habit. When you’re assigned a task, set a timetable for each step. Let’s say you have a big research task. Here’s a sample timetable:

9:00 – 9:10 am – Set up all your tools, browser tabs, emails, coffee, etc..
9:10 – 10:00 am – Internet research
10:00 – 10:45 am – Look through existing files
10:45 – 11:00 am – Break time!
11:00 – 12:00 pm – Outline the research report

Deadlines are the best hack for getting things done. Setting a specific time to finish a task creates time pressure even if the deadline has passed.

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5. Take It Outside!

Do yourself a favor and don’t ruin the comfy vibe of your home. If you need to work on a stressful project, do it in a library or coffee shop. You’ll never finish it anyway. Your cozy sofa and toasty bed will just lure you into napping yourself to doom.

6. Become Productively Lazy

Instead of finding all sorts of ways to unproductively procrastinate, use your habit to look for shortcuts and new ways to finish your tasks. Staple multiple papers at a time or master the 3-second t-shirt folding technique. A strong drive combined with laziness sometimes bring out the productive and creative side you never knew you have!

7. Assign a ‘Task Deputy’

It could be your colleague, your supervisor, or your significant other, anyone who has the unforgiving guts to reprimand you when you procrastinate. You could go the extra mile by paying up unfinished tasks or times you open your Facebook or watch a funny cat video on YouTube. Let’s see how five bucks every time you procrastinate will change you.

8. Consider a Gadget-Free Desk

According to a study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, average users check on their phones 150 times per day and having your phone just an elbow away just creates sizzle to this habit.[3]

Removing mobile devices and gadgets allows you to focus on your work without the constant interruption from notifications, calls, and text messages. It eliminates the very distracting ambiance and the urge to unlock your phone just because.

9. Prepping the Night

Before hitting the sack to oblivion, prepare everything you’ll need the next day. This will probably take you 15 minutes tops, saving you more time for coffee in the morning.

Spin class at am? Pack up your gym clothes, shoes, socks, etc. or better, create a checklist so you don’t miss anything. You can also prep your food into containers and just grab one before leaving.

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10. Do a 7-Minute Workout in the Morning

Exercising is proven to increase productivity and stimulate release of endorphin or “Happy Hormones”.

Take a jog outdoors and get warmed up for the day. Don’t feel like running outside? Hop on a treadmilli. It’s a great investment and there are a lot of ways you can use a treadmill like endurance running and metabolism training. On a budget? Here’s a 7 minute, no-equipment needed workout you can do at home:

11. Set-up Mini Tasks

If you’re given a big project, break it down into mini tasks. Create a checklist and start with the easy ones until you finish. Got an article to write? Just start with the title and the first sentence. Or perhaps you have a visual presentation to make?

Spend 15 minutes on your outline, take five minutes coffee break, then finish the first two slides. Accomplishing something, no matter how tiny, still gives you that sense of fulfillment.

12. Create an Inspirational Board or Reminder

I found these mini desk chalkboards from Etsy you can use to write motivating quotes.

Or you know what? Simply write “Do it now!” and stare at it for 10 seconds every time you feel like dropping by on Reddit.

13. Redecorate Your Room

Redecorating my room motivates me to maintain that ‘new’ look for some time until I get use to it and eventually stop. So I redecorate again and again, it became a monthly habit really. Here are some DIY ideas you can do to any room without spending much.

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14. Ready Your Nibbles

You know that trip to the pantry? It’s just seconds away but it took you several minutes just to get your fruit snacks in the fridge. Before starting a task, prepare your nibbles on your desk to avoid zoning out and losing yourself on the way to the pantry.

Bonus productivity hacks you can do at home:

15. Schedule Your Chores

Write down your chores in a weekly basis with matching day and time when you should be doing these.

For the artsy folks, you can create fun chore charts like these or simply stick the list somewhere visibly annoying e.g. mirrors, doors, TV. The trick is listing as many chores as you can for the week and including unfinished chores the following week. Who likes seeing a long list of chores first thing in the morning?

More Tips to Overcome Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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