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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 October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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