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5 Ways To Create A Powerfully Productive Mind

5 Ways To Create A Powerfully Productive Mind

How often do you feel busy, but feeling as if you’re not actually getting anything done?

Days go by and you feel consistently overwhelmed with so many things on your plate, but you don’t actually make any real progress on anything meaningful.

Then we look around and wonder how so many others we look up to seem to get so much more accomplished…

Unfortunately for us, we live in the most distracting era in all of human history. While there are a ton of tools, apps and notebooks to help us prioritize and schedule our tasks, our mind only has limited processing power. When too many things are going in, it gets bogged down and our focus will constantly be switching all over the place. This leads to that wonderfully frustrating feeling that is procrastination.

A mind that is overwhelmed cannot effectively take anything new on. Creating a powerful mind capable of focus and productivity starts with taking back control of everything entering it.

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Here are 5 tactics I’ve used and shared with many others that you can implement to dramatically boost your minds ability to focus and fend off procrastination

1. Control your Physical Clutter

How does your environment look around you? Is it organized or chaotic with items scattered all over your desk or bedroom? Our physical worlds tend to be a reflection of our mental worlds. You may wonder how this matters in being more productive, but a messy physical world actually draws energy from our mind. Energy and focus we could be using towards more meaningful things… If our room is a mess or the kitchen needs to be tidied, every-time we see this it will draw energy as we’re reminded of what we need to do. An excellent resource on this, is Marie Kondos book on “The Magic of Tidying Up.”

“When you put your house in order, you put your affairs in order too.” – Marie Kondo

The more minimalist of a life we can practice the more productive space we can create in our mind. Going through old items and clothes and removing them (I recommend donating clothes) can make you feel like you lost 10 pounds of mental load. Steve Jobs actually wore the same outfit each day so he didn’t have to exert any energy thinking about it and could instead focus on the tasks of the day ahead. This is an extreme example, but it emphasizes the power of this…

2. Control your Virtual Clutter

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virtual clutter

    How many notifications are on your phone right now? Better yet, how many unread emails are in your inbox? A few years back I reached a point where I had several thousand unread emails in my inbox. It was to the point where even just opening my inbox made me instantly feel overwhelmed. Much like physical clutter, virtual clutter is a VERY real thing and can cause us to expend tons of unnecessary energy each day.

    What can we do about it?

    Unsubscribe to emails you don’t find any value in, ask to be taken off email chains that you don’t need to directly respond too and really decrease the amount of email coming in. Once done, I highly recommend practicing inbox zero to really optimize your time spent there. Social media can also be a huge energy drainer with the amount of negativity that seems to be rampant on it recently. Clean it up just like your email. Be relentless, your mental energy and state is yours to protect. Un-follow people who post things that you find are taking you find are negatively impacting your mindset.

    The more of this energy we take back the more we can use it towards important things.

    3. Become unafraid of saying NO

    If you find yourself in the state we described above, of constantly feeling overwhelmed and busy you should probably be saying no more often then you say yes. Think about it, if we are already procrastinating and behind on things, how will saying yes to taking on more items or event invitations possibly make that any better? Many people (including myself at a time) are afraid to say no to people, don’t be.

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    Darren Hardy, former publisher of success magazine tells a story of a company trying to bring on Richard Branson as a speaker. They called three times to Bransons assistant, offering more money with each call, but each time the assistant did not pass on the message. Why? Branson was locked into his 3 current strategic objectives he was working on, and speaking was not one of them. He had specifically instructed to say NO to anything note related to those 3 objectives.

    While I believe we should always make time for important events but it is only by saying no that we can truly control our energy, focus and time.

    4. You lack a defined schedule

    Schedule-small

      One of the bluntest pieces of productivity advice I ever received was the following. “If it’s not on your schedule, it does not exist.” When we try to accomplish things without setting aside planned time to do them usually one of two things happen. 1. It never gets done. 2. It gets done bit by bit taking far longer than we wanted. We need to create non-negotiable scheduled time to complete the important tasks we need to get done to reach our goals. Point #3 above becomes important when people ask you to do things during this time.

      Think about someone who wants to get into better shape. If they simply just try to “fit in a workout when they’re free”, we know will probably never or very rarely see this person in the gym.  We need to plan the time when we will workout and ideally have it at the same time each week. Being productive toward your business, career, or almost any goal should be handled the same way.

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      5. Upgrade your lifestyle

      In order to help create a powerfully productive mind, we need to build a lifestyle that creates energy to be our best self. If you are frequently tired and without energy you may need to look at your daily habits. Don’t neglect your sleep, your nutrition or your fitness. Treat and care for your mind and body like a Rolls Royce and they will give you the energy you need to get more done, battle procrastination and get you exactly where you want to go in life. My own life changed dramatically when I emphasized all of the above, having more energy in my 30’s then I did in my early 20’s.

      Our billionaire friend, Richard Branson also agrees and says how he finds working out each day gives him 4 extra hours of productivity. 

      Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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      Paul Milano

      Helping others build a powerfully productive life

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      Published on January 16, 2019

      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

      We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

      You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

      You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

      That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

      Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

      1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

      Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

      We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

      To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

      At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

      The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

      2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

      Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

      The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

      In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

      It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

      It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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      So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

      • Are you a great strategist?
      • Are you an effective planner?
      • Is Project Management your strength?
      • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
      • Are you the ideas person?
      • Is Implementation your strength?

      Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

      3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

      One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

      Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

      Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

      Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

      4. Take Time for Planning

      “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

      One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

      You can take the time to think about:

      • What’s the purpose of the project?
      • How Important is it?
      • When does it need to be delivered by?
      • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
      • What are the KPIs?
      • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
      • Who is working on this project?
      • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
      • What tolerances can I add in?
      • What are the review stages?
      • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

      Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

      5. Focus on Priorities

      Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

      Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

      One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

      1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
      2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
      3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
      4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

      James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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        The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

        If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

        If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

        6. Take Time Out

        To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

        If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

        Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

        In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

        Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

        7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

        Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

        I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

        Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

        If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

        8. Stop Multitasking

        Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

        So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

        When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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        If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

        9. Work in Blocks of Time

        To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

        I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

        Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

        Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

        Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

        Then take another 10-minute break.

        Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

        By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

        10. Get Rid of Distractions

        Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

        “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

        Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

        If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

        11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

        You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

        Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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        Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

        12. Take a Time Audit

        Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

        Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

        You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

        Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

        Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

        At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

        If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

        13. Protect Your Confidence

        It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

        When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

        Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

        When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

        Final Words

        A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

        The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

        If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

        Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

        Reference

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