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3 Steps to Become a Lean, Mean, Productive Machine

3 Steps to Become a Lean, Mean, Productive Machine

Why does every day seem more stressful than the last?

You’ve busted your butt working mind-numbing hours, yet it feels like you accomplished nothing. At the end of the day, the same question always pop up. Where did all my time go?

In the morning, you start off fresh and ready to conquer the world. But when the evening creeps in, you barely touched your to-do list. You ask yourself, is it normal to always feel overwhelmed? When does it end? You think it’s impossible to catch up, but it’s not. You just need some help. Here’s three steps that will surprise you to achieve more:

Step #1- Use Facebook

Yes, you read it right. I’m telling you to use the second most distracted website, but for good reason. Here’s why:

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A study was conducted by the Academy of Management to find out which control groups were the most productive. In those groups, the most productive were the participants that used Facebook for 10 minutes. They found the Facebook group was 16 percent more productive than the group that wasn’t allowed to use the Internet. And nearly 40 percent more productive than the group that was allowed no breaks.

Have you ever wondered why we gravitate towards Facebook? We are inherently social creatures, regardless if we’re introverts or extroverts. By being social, we are happier, less stressful, and have the sense of belonging. When you need a break, use Facebook to catch up with an old friend or find out the latest scoop. The productivity problem that we encounter with social media is we don’t know when to stop browsing. How can we, when there’s picture of a cute cat jump-kicking a dog. And the attractive headline displaying “Cat Norris” doesn’t help either.

This is how you can stop. Set a timer for 10 minutes when you open Facebook. This next step is very important. After the timer,  do not click on that cat meme. Close Facebook.

Step # 2- Use Your Limited Resources Wisely

We are fully aware that time is a finite resource. We are only given 24 hours in a day. So best thing to do is make a detailed plan to maximize our time. And create goals to accomplish that day. This is how top elites operate. Sounds good right.

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But there’s this one itzy bitzy problem. We have another finite resource. It’s called energy. That’s why a lot of productivity articles suggest taking breaks, sleeping eight hours, and eating well. It’s to increase our energy. Lets face it. We are most productive when we have a lot of energy and motivation.

Some CEOs intentionally block their schedule when they have a lot of energy. And typically it’s during the morning.  Top performers like LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner have implemented this approach. If you want high achievement and big results, you need big and high energy. Knowing how to get it and keep it, well that’s the tricky part.

Here are some ways you can jumpstart your energy:

  • Listen to music- It’s activates dopamine, reduces stress, and lightens your mood.
  • Make your environment filled with energy- Put a picture of your family in your desk area. Have your favorite quote in view. Maybe use the cat meme (that you didn’t click on) as your desktop screensaver. Put your goals right on your wall to remember why you’re working hard.
  • Change your physiology- Motion creates emotion. When we find ourselves frustrated, knock out some pushups. Force a smile for five minutes straight, or take a short walk. You’ll be surprised how changing your physiology quickly charges your energy levels.

Step #3- Burn Your To-list

The problem with to-do list is we treat every task equally. Productivity is not about being efficient, it’s about being effective. To be effective, you need to figure out your most important task. Successful people are successful because they focus on the most important task and say no to everything else.

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That’s why you need to burn your to-do list and create a success list. A list that consist of one item. That item is the most important task of the day. The task that if you completed today will have the biggest impact on your work.

Yes we need to pay the bills, do the laundry, and everything else to maintain our lives. But if we don’t focus on the most important task, everything else will feel like a waste.

Having the Most Productive Day Ever

Instead of going home frustrated. You went home feeling uplifted and accomplished. Because you focused on what matters most rather than crossing off some list.

You will be the type of person who goes to work with a big goofy smile while everyone looks like they came out of a funeral parlor. Maybe someone at work wants to slap that smile. Nonetheless, you earned that smile. Because you learned to connect with others through Facebook. And you learned to increase your energy. Possibly, higher energy than a six-year old eating a bag full of halloween candy. Okay… Maybe not.

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But you will be happier, better, and more productive.

Featured photo credit: KaboomPics via kaboompics.com

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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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