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7 Things You Need to Focus on If You Want to Be More Productive

7 Things You Need to Focus on If You Want to Be More Productive

If you’ve ever been in situation in which you felt like everyone else around you was able to work like a machine while you were left dragging behind, you’re not alone. But it’s not simply that the hard-working people around you were programmed any differently; they just think differently. In order to be productive, you have to actively want to be productive, and want to change your lifestyle. It might sound like a daunting task, but it’s really not so difficult. Once you get into the swing of productivity, you’ll find it hard to stop moving! You’ll get there eventually if you do the following.

1. Get to know yourself.

Productivity is not one-size-fits-all. Some people are able to focus for hours on end on a single task, while some need to mix it up every twenty minutes or so. Figure out which type of person you are, and don’t fight it! Instead of swimming against the current and holding yourself back, let your mind and body tell you what you want to achieve, and how to achieve it.

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2. Prioritize your tasks.

You most likely have a lot on your plate, especially if you haven’t been productive as of late. Rather than haphazardly attacking your list of obligations, figure out the most pressing issue you need to face. If you get the large tasks out of the way first, you’ll have less on your mind while you go about completing the easier errands. On the other hand, if you leave the big things until last, you’ll constantly be distracted while performing the lesser duties, knowing you have much bigger fish to fry later on.

3. Form consistent habits.

I hate to tell you, but you aren’t going to be able to just flip a switch in your brain and automatically be productive through every waking moment. You have to get in the habit of being busy and working hard. But, again, you’re not going to just dive right in and try to get everything done all at once. Once you figure out a system that works best for you, stick to it. Once you get used to being productive, you’ll start to actually become addicted to hard work. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s much better to be addicted to improving your life than destroying it, right?

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4. Focus on one task.

When you prioritize your to-do list, you also segment your tasks into different time slots throughout your day. Keep to this schedule! Don’t overlap your errands, no matter what. Multitasking only serves to split your focus between two or more areas, and you’ll lose time in between even if you don’t realize it. Set out to finish one task at a time. You won’t break your concentration, and you won’t waste any valuable time going back and forth between tasks.

5. Consolidate your to-do list.

I know I just said you shouldn’t multitask, but that’s in regard to tasks that require 100% of your attention. But there are other times throughout the day that you’ll be able to do two things at once without losing any productivity. For example, if there’s a podcast or TED talk you’ve been meaning to listen to, don’t just sit there listening to it for 20 minutes; do some laundry or clean up the house while you listen. Obviously, use your discretion here; you don’t want to be reading a book while you’re supposed to be listening to an important message. As long as the secondary task you choose doesn’t require much brainpower or attention, go for it.

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6. Analyze your procrastination methods.

Everyone procrastinates once in a while, but we all do it for different reasons. Some of us are afraid of failure; some are afraid of success. Some of us, of course, are just plain lazy. Figure out why you’ve procrastinated so much lately, and figure out how you can make changes to your lifestyle and mindset to break free of whatever’s been holding you back. Use the Internet as a resource for this, or even seek out professional help. There’s no shame in acknowledging a need for assistance, but there is shame in knowing you need a change and not working toward it.

7. Take frequent breaks.

Don’t feel as if “being productive” means you have to keep moving 24 hours a day. Everyone needs at least a little bit of time to recharge their batteries. In fact, if you’ve truly been productive, you’ll likely have more time to relax after all your work is done. Think about it; instead of wasting a minute here and there throughout the day, you’ve usedall of that time to finish everything you’ve set out to do, and end up with a large chunk of time to do whatever you’d like during the evening. It’s a much better way to live, isn’t it?

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Featured photo credit: Less Hours, More Productivity! / Gina via farm1.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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