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12 Time-Tested Hacks to Improve Your Productivity at Work

12 Time-Tested Hacks to Improve Your Productivity at Work

Creating positive work habits will consistently help you to boost your creativity. The following habits have been used to boost productivity and lift morale in the workplace for many, many years. They have stood the test of time, because they hold value and people continue to build their career using them as their foundation.

Arrive Early

Arrive early and be ready to start your day as soon as it is your time to check in. Arriving early eliminates the rush and allows you to start your day on your own terms, without worrying about whether or not you will be late or that you won’t be able to meet your deadlines. When you arrive early, you can start getting your tasks organized and start your day with a smile.

One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Always Be Prepared

Always be prepared. Make a list of things you need to do when you first arrive at work in the morning. Know what supplies you will need and gather them together the night before so that all you have to do is come to work, clock in, and begin your day.

You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future. 
– Ashley Ormon

Work As A Team

Working as a team makes the day go by faster and it also allows you to get to know your co-workers. Working with one another makes it easy for everyone to meet their respective deadlines. While everyone will have projects that are their sole responsibility, you can always lend a hand to others when your work is complete.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.
– Michael Jordan

Communicate Effectively

Communicate effectively so that everyone is on the same page. Make sure every member of the team understands what is going on, when deadlines are and who is responsible for each individual task. Communication is the life blood of an organization and if it is not used effectively, things will not work as smoothly as they should.

Define what your brand stands for, its core values and tone of voice and then communicate consistently in those terms.
– Simon Mainwaring

Accuracy Matters

Always check your work for accuracy. This includes spelling, grammar, punctuation and math problems. Anything that is in printed form should be double and triple checked for accuracy. Making sure all of your information is accurate is a sign of professionalism and pride in your work.

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Watch every detail that affects the accuracy of your work.
– Arthur C. Nielsen

Consistently Meet Deadlines

When you have deadlines to meet, make sure all of the work is finished, fact-checked for accuracy, and put together in a professional manner. Try to turn in the project prior to the deadline. Waiting until the deadline is upon you makes the project look rushed. Always strive to be early.

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

Be Organized

Organization is extremely important. If something happens and you are not available, being organized allows you to guide someone through your office to find exactly what is needed without wasting a lot of time hunting through a jumbled mess of papers.

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.
– A. A. Milne

Arrive Clean and Well Groomed

People who take pride in their appearance will also take pride in their work ethic. Always arrive clean and well groomed and with the attitude that you are ready to take charge of the day. The better you look, the better you feel and the more likely you are to produce over and above what is expected of you.

Our existence and our environment enclosed entities of divinity.
– Lailah Gifty Akita

Be Efficient

Efficiency is key when you are trying to be productive. Prepare a schedule. Take into consideration what tasks are on the schedule for the day and make sure you have enough time to devote to each one. Being efficient will help you stay ahead of the game and make sure you have taken care of all of the tasks on your daily list.

Obviously, the highest type of efficiency is that which can utilize existing material to the best advantage. 
– Jawaharlal Nehru

Take the Initiative

Take the initiative. Do what needs to be done and strive to be the very best at everything you attempt.

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Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it.
― Cathy Hopkins

Pick a Day of Rest

While Sunday is an ideal day of rest, it’s advisable to log in to your computer briefly on Sunday to assess your Monday game plan, and you will feel more relaxed and sleep soundly on Sunday night.

I look my best when I’m totally free, on holiday, walking on the beach.
– Rosamund Pike

Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic

Harboring unrealistic expectations prepares you for failure. Take one step at a time and pursue your goal diligently, but gradually. Instead of lofty, idealistic goals, keep goals that are real and attainable.

Often you need to take some risk, but it must be a realistic risk, you can’t take a crazy risk.
– Sergei Bubka

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Beth Worthy

CFO at GMR Transcription Services, Inc

12 Time-Tested Hacks to Improve Your Productivity at Work

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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