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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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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

How to Stop Information Overload

How to Stop Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

How Serious Is Information Overload?

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

1. Set Your Goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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  • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
  • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
  • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

(You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

Summing It Up

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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