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5 Ways To Increase Your Productivity

5 Ways To Increase Your Productivity

There are several ways in which to improve your day-to-day productivity and ensure that you’re gaining the most from your day’s work. Here are my top 5 ways to increase your productivity.

1. Plan your day

In my mind, it’s absolutely vital to plan your day above anything else. My first task of the morning, after my morning workout, is to plan my schedule for the day ahead. This can be in hourly increments, or just a general list of tasks to achieve — you just need something to keep you on track and moving towards your ultimate goals.

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As you begin to see the benefits of planning, you may find you can plan your entire week on a Monday morning. This will really help you to increase your productivity and get the results you truly desire. Always remember to build in contingencies though. Day-to-day life has its own ways of creeping into your schedule.

2. Establish a routine

Having a routine is vital for anyone wanting to get the most from their day, and so should it be for you. From setting a time to get up in the morning to what time you should take lunch, having a routine will truly help you to control your day and how you spend it.

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I for one wake up every day at 5:00 am, rain or shine, and I ensure I’m always in bed by 10:00 pm at the latest. I know I require 6-7 good hours of quality sleep to ensure I’m fresh the next day. It doesn’t take long for your body to adjust to a new routine, and the more you repeat the cycle, the easier it becomes.

3. Prioritize

Knowing which tasks require completing first really helps to get your day off to a good start. I always believe in swallowing the frog first. For those of you wondering what I mean by this, don’t be alarmed! I don’t actually eat a frog — what this means is to take the hardest, biggest, most difficult task and do it first. Once this task is out of the way, all the others will feel like a breeze. You may not have difficult tasks, but you will definitely have some tasks that are more important than others, and it’s key to tackle these first to remain productive.

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4. Take breaks

Believe it or not, taking breaks when required will actually boost your productivity. We’ve all been there, staring at the screen trying to think. I often find 5 minutes away from the computer helps me to gain clarity and focus better when I return. This could be taking a break to grab a cup of tea or coffee, or having a 5-minute walk around the office. Anything that takes your mind away from the confusion just long enough to help you see what you’re missing.

5. Ensure a healthy mind and body

For some this is an obvious point, but for others it’s not so. It’s absolutely vital to ensure that you keep a healthy mind and body. This is obtained by eating a balanced diet, exercising 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time, and staying hydrated throughout the day. It’s also vital to ensure you get good quality sleep at night and wake up rested the following day. This ties in with point number 2 — keeping fit and healthy will help you to remain focused and energized throughout your entire day.

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If you agree or disagree, or just feel like maybe I’ve missed something in this list, please comment below and let me know your top 5 ways in which you stay productive.

For more posts like this, visit www.williamstokes.co.uk.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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