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5 Fun Ways to Increase Your Productivity

5 Fun Ways to Increase Your Productivity
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A lot of us look for ways to improve and better ourselves around the start of a new year. What better time to turn a blank page and start fresh? At the same time, I think we’re sort of always looking for good productivity tips, no matter what time of year it is. Everyone could always be more productive, right? We all have long to-do lists and, if possible, we want to get more things done in a shorter amount of time.

Admittedly, I’ve tried a lot of productivity tips and they always work for a while but then they get sort of boring and I stop doing them. Let’s face it, you’re less likely to stick with new habits if they aren’t something to enjoy. So, combining productivity and fun is the perfect solution for making productivity tips stick with you. Read on for five fun ways to increase your productivity:

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1. Make things a friendly competition.

Whether you’re trying to be productive at work or at home, making things into a competition can do a lot to rev up productivity in a fun and interesting way. If you’re with coworkers, challenge them to a contest. Who can type something up the fastest? Who can sell more of something? Who can clear out their inbox the fastest? Then have a “prize” for the winner – lunch on you or them, maybe?

You can also do this if you work by yourself. Challenge yourself to complete something and then offer yourself a reward. Studies show that people are more motivated if they have an incentive for completing a goal.[1] Rewarding yourself gives you something tangible to work toward and it offers an instant gratification that makes you want to push yourself and hold yourself accountable at the same time.

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2. Take more breaks.

Breaks are shown to make people more productive, especially if they’re feeling unmotivated or burnt out by their work tasks. If you’re a workaholic, it might be tempting to skip that 30 minute lunch break, but breaks are crucial. A break allows you to unwind, recharge, and go back to your work with a whole new sense of drive and focus.

So, take regular breaks and spend your time doing things that you enjoy. Spending your break doing your favorite hobbies has been shown to allow you to relieve your stress and increase your creativity.

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3. Spend some time outside.

Whether you’re feeling tense, unfocused, unmotivated, or completely stressed out, nature can help with that! Nature has been proven to have many benefits. Plus, it’s beautiful and calming. Fresh air can help you clear your mind and breathe easier when you’re stressed. Trees can also improve concentration and alleviate mental fatigue.

Go outside to eat your lunch, or spend your break going for a walk. If you live in a city and don’t have easy access to trees, get a lot of plants for your office! If you work from home, having green plants around you can offer the same benefits.

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4. Do something that makes you laugh.

Laughter is a wonderful thing. It can boost your heart rate up and increase the blood flow to your brain. Not only that, but you’ll just plain feel happier! You could spend this time looking at cute baby animal videos because, yes, studies have also shown that doing so will improve your focus.

Allow yourself a regular “laugh break” during your day! This will keep you motivated because it will give you something to look forward to as well!

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5. Listen to music (that you love).

Do you have a favorite song that, when you listen to it, you can’t help but dance to? I think we all have one of those! And when you listen to it, you may notice that you’re able to focus better, have more energy, and feel way more motivated to get things done.

So if you feel unproductive, just play your favorite music. Not only will this give you an energy boost, but it will also help block out distractions so that you can stay focused. That’s why a lot of offices play music in the workplace!

Reference

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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