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Boost your creativity, be more productive

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Boost your creativity, be more productive

We’re all constantly chasing productivity. Micro organising our lives so that every single second counts, downloading apps to make our lives easier, writing lists, hitting targets and setting reminders so that our lives run like well-oiled machines. Time means money in business, so on paper, creativity is the enemy to efficiency.

Creativity means spontaneity, chaos, experimentation and relaxation. It requires you to sit back and observe the race, rather than constantly trying to win it. For me though, creativity is crucial to success. Here are five easy ways to boost your creativity and be more productive in the workplace:

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1. Clear your head

There’s no set formula for this. Everyone’s mind is different so it needs different treatment. I like to surf or meditate. Getting out of the office for even ten minutes a day can give you the space you need to readjust and find a new perspective. If you can’t escape, meditation is great because you can do it anywhere. Like anything, it takes practise and you have to be strict with it, but if all you take from it is a break from looking at your emails, you will still have benefitted. The clearer your head is the easier you’ll find it to think creatively and focus. It will put you in a better mood for the rest of the day and increase your ability to make decisions.

2. Concentrate on your happiness

Happier people make better employees. It’s a fact. When you’re feeling more positive about a task, you’re usually more dedicated and imaginative in your approach. Of course, there’s no easy answer to being happy, but it should be one of your top priorities. Set time aside every day to do something you love, whether that’s running, reading a book, spending time with your family or watching TV. Make your work fun when you can and never take yourself too seriously.

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3. Be lazy

Working without taking breaks is dangerous to your physical wellbeing, but it also affects the way you think. As the day drags on you loose enthusiasm and passion for what you’re doing, get confused, frustrated and usually end up completing very little. Free time is the fuel for productivity and creativity. It doesn’t really matter what you do with it, but you have to completely switch off to properly replenish your brain’s motivation. That means no emails, no smart phones and no tablets. On holiday, I swap my iPhone for an old Nokia to make sure I’m not even tempted to check my inbox, but it means that my office could still reach me in an emergency.

4. Brainstorm, talk and read

Exchanging ideas with colleagues and friends opens up new perspectives and elevates your work to a new level. Talk and listen to everyone you can; read articles, books, blogs or even comics, anything that will inspire you and alter your perspectives. I recommend joining a business group or finding a mentor so that you can focus your discussions and gain advice from people you admire; remember that it’s just as important to talk non-business and let your brain be consumed by something else for a while.

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5. Think about your space

Whether you like it or not, your office is a place you’re going to be a lot. It could be a desk, a room in a high rise building or your kitchen, wherever it is, make it a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. I work at a standing up desk, which makes me feel more energetic and dynamic, especially when I’m on sales calls, but it could be as simple as putting a framed picture of your family on your desk or a potted plant.

Featured photo credit: Jeremy Ricketts via unsplash.com

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More by this author

Richard Walton

Founder of AVirtual

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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