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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 July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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