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Small Things You Do Can Make You Way More Productive, Here's How
It’s 9:50 AM. Work starts in 10 minutes; I am punctual, awake, and ready for the day. Awesome.
I shut my eyes tightly and opened them again. There is nothing wrong with the watch. But I realized that in the three hours that just passed, I barely finished one article – which was supposed to be done in an hour. Sounds familiar?
As you rush to finish what was supposed to be completed in the morning after lunch, you realize you can either:
- Lower the quality of work to increase your speed; or
- Stay in the office longer to finish all your work.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place – talk about making a difficult decision! Having been in the same spot before (and I never want to be back), here is my take on procrastination and how you can boost your productivity!
1. Focus on consistency instead of quantity of actions.
In 7 strategies that will help you eliminate procrastination, a fundamental point was raised –
Put more importance on your consistency, rather than on the quantity of your actions.1
Instead of trying to juggle 30 tasks at the same time, going from tab to tab, app to app every minute, take one task, concentrate and get that part done. Even one finished task is better than 30 unfinished tasks. Take small but certain steps towards your goal and you will be surprised at how much quicker you get there.
2. Identify your peak hours and finish your important tasks during that period.
As Professor Christopher M. Barnes points out, humans generally follow a rather regular internal clock called the circadian process2, or the circadian rhythm. When the workday begins, it would take us a few hours to reach our peak level of attentiveness, which would then decline to a low at around 3 PM. Even though it would hit a second peak at around 6 PM, it would quickly fall as time goes, reaching the lowest point at around 3:30 AM.
Therefore, we must identify our own peak hours (it should be quite similar to the ones mentioned above) and allocate our important tasks during that period. Try to finish the more mundane tasks like replying emails at non-peak hours and reserve your heightened attentiveness for making important decisions, drafting the defense for your client in a case, writing up that interview you have to finish before the day ends, etc.
3. Eliminate unnecessary options to prevent diffused efforts.
We would come across numerous opportunities and options as we progress in life. And like businesses, when we are rapidly growing, we tend to embrace expansion and take on as much of these opportunities as possible. Yet, if we started off succeeding because we have a clear sense of purpose, taking on all these opportunities would cloud our purpose, diffuse our efforts and lower our productivity on all fronts, eventually leading us to fail.
If success is a catalyst for failure because it leads to the “undisciplined pursuit of more,” then one simple antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less. Not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately, and strategically eliminating the nonessentials. – Greg McKeown
Therefore, to maintain clarity and focus, take a deep breath and cast away all those unnecessary options and opportunities.
4. Play some angry music at work!
Plugging in our earphones to ignore the chatter and ruckus in the office has become an ordinary practice for us in this age. However, it might have never come to you that the music you listen to can directly affect your work performance. In fact, anger focuses our attention on rewards, increases persistence, makes us feel in control and more optimistic about achieving our goals3.
In an experiment done by Tamir and her colleagues, participants are exposed to angry music before an aggressive shooting game. Inducing their anger has actually improved their performance in the game.4 Although your work might be slightly different from a computer game which involves a lot of action, we believe the music can still give you a boost in productivity.
5. Associate something you love with your work.
According to Dan Ariely, he would connect a ritual he loves – morning coffee with writing5, so even though writing might be a tough task in times, he would be enjoying the whole process of sipping coffee and writing.
It could be anything from listening to a certain soundtrack to munching on that bagel you get from the store below – when you combine the task you need to be productive on with something you love, your productivity would spike for sure.
6. Take a break and recharge at the office.
“Resilience is how you recharge, not how you endure,” – Shawn Achor
As much as we like to be the Spartan that could bear a hundred wounds and still fight, research has proven that the traditional method of biting our teeth and enduring costs companies $62 billion per annum in lost productivity.6
Surprising, isn’t it?
Therefore, it is crucial to take a break and recharge at the office so we can work more effectively and efficiently afterwards. It could be as simple as taking a stroll around the park around after lunch instead of staring at the computer screen to check the newest updates on the election!
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