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You Can Finish Your Workweeks On Thursday By Doing These 6 Things

You Can Finish Your Workweeks On Thursday By Doing These 6 Things

Do you ever feel like your workweek always drags on while the weekend zips by before you know it? It’s a cruel kind of torture. And it never seems to end.What if there was a way to change the structure of your workweek so that your week flew by and all the hard work was done by Thursday?

Even though we wish we could have every Friday off, wouldn’t it be nice to use your Fridays as a “bonus” day to tackle bigger assignments (that you never have time to get around to) and get a head start on next week?

Yes, it’s seriously doable. Yes, many successful people and companies already use flexible workweeks.[1] And yes, you can do it too if you use your time wisely.

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1. Start with the most important tasks

Start your day by spending the first 90 minutes on your most important task.[2] According to research,[3] the human body functions on cycles called ultradian rhythms. This term refers to 90-120 minute brain cycles that take place when we’re both awake and asleep. This rhythm determines when our body and brain are most energized and when we need some down time. Even if you don’t feel like it, your brain is most active in the morning. This is the best time to do your best and most important work!

2. Setting time boxes increases productivity

Setting a time box for every task we do can help us be more efficient and get more accomplished.[4] Timeboxing assigns a fixed time period to a particular task, increasing productivity. Break down your tasks into 30 minute or hour-long increments. Have a larger task that can’t be completed in a short time period? Break that big boy down into smaller tasks that can be completed in manageable time boxes.

Once you’ve mastered putting each task into a time box throughout your day, increase your productivity even further by shrinking your time boxes! Shoot to complete your task in a shorter time period by shrinking the box by 10% or 20%.

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The trick to successful timeboxing is to work on that task until the deadline for that duty ends. Then, it’s time to move onto the next item on your list. When you set a tight deadline for each different task throughout your day, it motivates you to raise your productivity level and get your work done.

3. Pinpoint three most important tasks

Rather than rattling off a long to-do list of tasks you need to get done for the day, pinpoint the three most important things you need to focus on.[5] Having a long to-do list isn’t a measure of success, especially if you can’t complete the most important tasks on the list. Put these assignments on your calendar so you remember the high-points for each day.

By highlighting the three most important missions every day, you’ll accomplish what matters most on your list. This improves your ability to prioritize. When top priorities are achieved, productivity is accomplished, and your workweek just got shorter.

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4. Find shortcuts to save time

Highly productive people find shortcuts to save time.[6] Now, just be clear, a “shortcut” doesn’t mean sloppy work. We’re talking about time-saving methods for repetitive tasks. There are probably a thousand different ways to save time, but there are a few tried and proven methods that always work. Take a look at your daily routine and pinpoint places where you’re spending a lot of useless time doing repeated tasks.

  • Keep a basic template for repeated emails or documents
  • Let technology do the work for you by scheduling simple daily tasks
  • Generate checklists to streamline work

Even if you make small changes, anything that saves you 10 to 15 minute per day adds up. That’s extra time you can use to be more productive in other areas, all part of the plan to shorten your workload which shortens your workweek.

5. Write a stop doing list

To be more productive, write a stop doing list.[7] What are you going to stop doing that is going to make you successful and more productive? Sometimes, it’s as simple as reducing your time spent doing useless tasks like checking facebook (some studies show that most people spend about 50 minutes every day!)[8]

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If you can take 30 to 60 minutes every day and make it a point to stop doing unproductive tasks, that time adds up to 2-4 hours for a four day workweek. That’s almost half a workday!

6. Post-work routines make you sharper

Have a post-work routine can help you relax and become even sharper the next day.[9] By utilizing a routine after you clock out for the day, you’re giving your body and brain the chance to refocus and regenerate. It’s important for your post-work routine to include some sort of physical activity that involves mental focus like working out, playing your favorite sport, or even playing a game of ping pong or pool.

Doing this type of activity allows your body to relax and destress. Unwinding from the work-day may seem like a waste of time. But by relaxing and taking a mental break, you’re setting yourself up for sharper focus and productivity for your next work day.

Even though these changes might seem insignificant, they really add up. Additionally, putting in longer hours doesn’t always result in more work getting done. After so many hours, our brain shuts down and our ability to work efficiently goes down the drain.In the end, there’s no better way to start your weekend than knowing you dominated your week. Use Monday through Thursday to accomplish your weekly workload, and use Friday to tackle big projects and get a head start on next week. Even if your employer doesn’t support a shortened work week, there’s nothing stopping you from upping your performance and setting yourself up for success.

Reference

More by this author

Amanda Light

Wife, Mom, Writer

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Published on February 17, 2020

How to Stay Focused on Your Goals in a Distracting World

How to Stay Focused on Your Goals in a Distracting World

In this digital era, distractions can seem impossible to avoid. Just figuring out how to stay focused on your goals and ambitions can feel as difficult as actually achieving them.

These days, constant distractions can lead to a massive loss in productivity.

Statistics show that employees, on average, waste 28% of their time dealing with and trying to recover from unnecessary interruptions.[1]

And that’s at work, where you’re paid to be productive, and where some of us are monitored too much or too closely for comfort.

So, one can only imagine how much time is lost or wasted when we are left to our own devices.

A World of Distractions

Speaking of devices, how many times have you grabbed your cell phone at the very moment you hear a notification, wasting precious time scrolling through social media when you should be using that time working on your goals?

I can bet a lot.

But we’ve all been there.

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions and efforts to stay on task, we still find ourselves being chronically distracted.

Chances are you’ll be interrupted before you can even finish reading this article.

The reality is as undeniable as it is unavoidable: we live in a world full of distractions!

But how can you take back control of your time and attention to avoid these distractions and learn how to stay focused on your goals?

There are several strategies for overcoming distractions and reclaiming your focus, such as avoiding social media, prioritizing emails, meditation and more.

You can read about them in detail in our article, How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide).

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Some of these methods have been discussed ad nauseam. But one method in particular hasn’t been talked about enough.

How to Stay Focused on Your Goals

Your Environment Is a Major Factor

Whether we want to admit it or not, all of us are mostly a product of our environment. Our environment impacts us far more than we realize.

It’s made of a multitude of things, from the space we live and work in, to the people we spend the most time with, to the things we read, listen to, and watch, to even our profiles on social media, and more.

All of these elements of our surroundings influence our focus, thoughts, mindset, belief systems, and the goals and standards we set for ourselves. They all serve as triggers for certain behaviors, tendencies, and moods. That’s how many of our habits are formed.

We’ll always take on aspects of the environments we continually place ourselves in.

Willpower and Motivation Is a Broken Approach

What a lot of people have gotten wrong about trying to achieve their goals is that they often focus only on what needs to be done and how to get it done – outcomes and willpower.

Many think that willpower and motivation in their own right determine success.

While both are great and necessary virtues to have to navigate this increasingly difficult world, willpower is largely a short-term solution, while motivation is great to get you started but is also fleeting.

This is one of the main reasons why so many people’s New Year’s resolutions go belly-up by the end of January.

Your willpower is like a muscle, which means it’s finite and will deplete with use. [2]

Using the willpower approach to stay focused on goals centers on increasing personal efforts to overcome the environment, not on modifying or changing the environment.

The harsh reality is that your environment is more powerful than your internal resolve. No matter how much discipline you have, eventually, you’ll succumb to your environment despite your greatest efforts.

Setting Yourself up for Success

In an environment that’s incompatible with your goals, its negative influence will sabotage your success.

On the other hand, a compatible environment is one of the most important strategies you can utilize to stay focused on achieving your goals.

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Creating an environment that is conducive to success will trigger your desired behaviors and, most importantly, will decrease distractions.

Inevitability Thinking

In fact, productivity expert Eben Pagan believes that designing the right environment will create conditions that make it impossible for you not to achieve your goals.

The multi-millionaire, entrepreneur, and investor regards this as the next evolution of goal-setting that will move us away from focusing on willpower and outcomes.

He calls this concept “Inevitability Thinking,” which is thinking and acting as if what you are doing is a foregone conclusion because you set up the conditions for it to happen.

What he means by “setting up the conditions for success” is designing an environment that’s conducive to you achieving your goals.

Building Your Environment

World-renowned leadership coach and author Dr. Marshall Goldsmith believes if a person doesn’t create and control their environment, then it will create and control them.

He suggests having a vision of achieving the goals you want to accomplish. Then, think about designing the structure of your environment, your situation, or your organization in a way that would organically bring that vision to life.

“If [you] can design your life [and] behaviors well, [you] don’t need to rely on willpower.” – BJ Fogg, Social Science Research Associate, Stanford [3]

“But I’m not a designer,” you might be thinking.

Don’t get intimidated, it can be done – by you or anyone! Designing or modifying your environment so you can better stay focused on your goals is not like designing spaceships – it’s not rocket science.

Here is how to make it happen.

How to Stay Focused on Your Goals: Designing Your Environment

1. Find the Environment That Supports Achieving Your Goals

Real progress occurs when we fully understand and align with what, whom, and where best support our goals.

So, the next time you’re in your environment, whether at or outside of work, try to pay attention to how you feel while you’re there. Note if that feeling changes when you leave that environment.

Examine your surroundings. Look at all the infrastructure and ask yourself these simple questions:

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  • Am I in an environment that’s conducive to me achieving my goals?
  • Is it detrimental to me maintaining my focus on my goals?
  • Is it on par with people who have already achieved what I want to achieve?

Also, examine your lifestyle and habits. Are you placing yourself in environments and situations that spark personal growth?

If the answers to these questions are anything but a definite and resounding yes, then you should seriously consider modifying or completely changing your surroundings.

The more you understand yourself, the more aware you’ll be of the environment that’s most likely to help you stay focused on your goals.

2. Let Your Goals, Not Distractions, Distract You

If you constantly lose focus on your goals, you pretty much render them useless. Distractions and interruptions are the biggest culprits of losing your focus.

One of the most practical ways to maintain focus is to allow your goals to constantly distract you.

You’ll inevitably lose focus from time to time. But you can limit the number of times it happens and the duration by facilitating your goals to distract you back to your focus.

Now, how do you do that?

It’s simple: make visual cues.

There’s a saying that if you don’t see it, you’ll probably forget it. Science agrees; the eyes hold the majority of sensory receptors in the human body. Therefore, the eye is a major component of focus.

The following cues are simply things that will trigger you to focus or refocus your attention back onto your goals.

What type to use will largely depend on what works for you, but below are a few common ones:

  • Tape your task list or habit tracker to your desk or onto your refrigerator at home.
  • Hang motivational posters at frequently visited sections of your house or workspace.
  • Post-Its – write your goals in a one or two-word phrase on them and stick where you’re sure to see them.
  • Set cues to constantly remind you to stick with your productive habits.
  • Digital devices – alter the screensavers of your computer, smartphones, tablets, or any other digital device you use regularly to display something about your goal.

Read more about how to stay focused on your goals: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

3. Modify Your Inner Circle

Multiple studies have proven that our mindset, behaviors, and motivations are largely influenced by our peer group. Therefore, the people in our lives have an enormous impact on our ability to reach our goals.

“You are the average of the five people you associate with most…” – Tim Ferriss [4]

Since people have such a significant influence on the direction of your entire life, if you’re really serious about achieving your goals, you may have to adjust your inner circle. This is where designing or modifying your environment for success becomes tricky.

Unlike upgrading your iPhone, changing the makeup of your inner circle can be a lot more complex.

One of the most difficult things to do in life is to sever ties with friends, especially against their will, even if it’s for the betterment of the self.

It will likely foster resentment because it will require you to betray the very virtue that served as the keystone of the friendship in the first place: loyalty.

But we must remember that above all else, when we set important personal goals, we must be loyal to ourselves if we are to achieve them. Loyalty to friends, family, or even to your spouse that is detrimental to your success in life will only slow your growth.

By consciously deciding whom you want in your inner circle, you are taking control of the ultimate direction of your life.

4. Change Your Environment Completely

This method is the most extreme, but it can also be the most effective.

While modifying your environment for it to become less distracting is ideal, sometimes it’s just not enough. Certain elements in your environment, such as your social circle, are harder than others to modify. In fact, some elements that are nearly impossible to adjust.

There are times when these elements are so out of your control that the only thing you can do to stay focused on your goals is to make more radical and thorough changes. This can mean changing your environment completely.

Here are some examples of changes you could try to make (only if necessary):

  1. Change your physical possessions (ex.: get rid of your TV)
  2. Create a new virtual set-up (online)
  3. Change your physical workspace (work, home, co-working, cafes, etc.)
  4. Join a new social group
  5. Change locations (home, co-working space, café, etc.)
  6. Change jobs or switch branches
  7. Drop distracting friends or family from your inner circle.
  8. Change your spouse
  9. Move to a different country

Of course, these are some extreme steps to take. So, only resort to these if you have tried everything else to stay focused on your goals but are still unsuccessful.

Conclusion

If you’re struggling to figure out how to stay focused on your goals, it’s a lot harder to make a significant, lasting change without altering some elements of your environment.

By taking control of the set-up of your environment, you can influence your levels of motivation, enthusiasm, drive, and desire towards the goals you have set.

Optimizing your environment creates powerful conscious and subconscious motivators that make staying focused on your goals easier. And for many of us, easier is always better.

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More Tips on Goal Setting

Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Information Overload Research Group: The Cost of Not Paying Attention – How Interruptions Impact Knowledge Worker Productivity
[2] American Psychological Association Study: Willpower, choice, and self-control
[3] BJ Fogg on Twitter: @bjfogg
[4] GoodReads: Timothy Ferriss: Quotable Quotes

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