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2 Must-Have Hacks for Your To-Do List

2 Must-Have Hacks for Your To-Do List

In a world of a million tasks vying for your attention, how do you determine what to focus on and what to weed out? Most of us end up automatically prioritizing our job, our closest loved ones and entertainment without a further thought. But if you’re left wondering if something’s missing, you may be executing the wrong daily tasks first.

The solution lies in one magnificent question: what is the meaning of your life? 

A friend recently pushed back when I talked about the meaning of my life being helping people re-connect to their natural creativity and something larger than themselves. He blurted, “How can you possibly know the meaning of your life?” Like many, he buys into the common notion that the profound meaning of his life will only reveal itself to him upon his deathbed, or at least when he’s well within his 60’s.

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I’m here to challenge this belief. What is most meaningful to each of us is remarkably unique and for that reason can be discovered through personal development inquiry as soon as you are ready. My students birth these aha-moments on a weekly basis, and you can too. I recently helped the founder of a healing arts and therapy collective in San Francisco to discover that the meaning of her life was being in service of her own soul. By nourishing and pursuing the activities it takes to be at home with herself in her own skin, she ends up delivering a world of value and inspiration to all her community, clients and friends. Being someone who grew up in a huge family, the fact that the single most important thread of her life could be focusing on herself was a massive game-changer.

To determine what the most meaningful thing to you is, spend some time with the following questions.

“What does my body and soul long for on a regular basis?”
“What or who do I love more than anything else?”
“What have I turned to for positive uplift and support my entire life?”

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If you’re still unclear, don’t sweat it. This personal discovery work is tricky. It takes a very deep dive, and if we are not used to focusing on ourselves- our thoughts, our feelings, our wishes- on a frequent basis, it will take practice and possibly some guidance to get behind the layers that keep us hiding and stuck in our habits.

1. Find your “A” Tasks

Once you have picked out 1-3 of the most meaningful experiences in your life, you want to start prioritizing them on your to-do list as “A” tasks. This is the first essential missing factor from our to-do lists if we want to leverage the maximum of what life has to offer us. Since uplifting people through creativity is one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, writing this article was an “A” task on my list today. These gems of fulfillment will not only make you feel better, stronger and happier, but when you put them in the first place, everything in your life up-levels – relationships, career and even material success.

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2. Establish Your Prerequisite

The second key component that I find most people are missing from their daily list is a prerequisite. Your prerequisite is your personal balance point. It’s how you know to stop and take care of yourself above all else. For some, this might be when their digestive difficulties flare up or when their anxiety is on overload mode. Personally, I use the rule of thumb of kindness and humor. If I can’t interact with others in real time, over text or any which way with kindness and humor, something very wrong is up and I take a time out to get to the bottom of it right away.

You must claim your prerequisite and at least one “A” task daily before delving into other actions if you want to see results from these tips. The only things that come before them should be necessary, urgent items like “prepare for tomorrow’s presentation”, laundry or picking up kids from school. They are obvious and integral to completing your day.

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If you are totally satisfied with your life the way it is now, these tools are not for you. However, if you’re looking to transform your days into something more beautiful and meaningful and create more energy and momentum towards your goals, you need a measure of inner balance (prerequisite) and meaning of life daily action (“A” tasks).

More by this author

Nicole Casanova

Professional Development Coach + Meditation Expert

2 Must-Have Hacks for Your To-Do List

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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