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How Being A Minimalist At Work Can Make You More Successful

How Being A Minimalist At Work Can Make You More Successful

Have you bought into the ethos that to be productive you must work all the hours under the sun?

If yes, then your day probably looks like this…

You get up at the crack of dawn, get to your office super-early and begin working. When lunch time comes around, you decide to skip it, choosing instead to eat at your desk so you can continue working. As your colleagues begin leaving at the end of the day, you stay late while you try in vain to finish all of your tasks and projects.

For a few months, you’re excited by what you believe you are achieving. But as time goes by, you realize that you’re not as productive as you think, and you’re struggling to keep up the hectic pace.

If you’re honest with yourself, if you don’t make some urgent changes – you’ll be burnt out within a year.

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What’s the Connection Between Minimalism and Productivity?

The first thing to grasp, is that there is a little-known (but definite) connection between minimalism and productivity.

If you’re unfamiliar with minimalism, then think of it this way: Performing a task in as simple a way as possible.

This could involve devising a way to deal with your emails efficiently, or learning how to prioritize important work over tasks that can be scrapped. It may even mean developing the ability to focus 100% on a task at hand.

Minimalism has an end goal of making your work easier… and more productive!

As an example, if you’ve streamlined the way you create reports, you may find that you can do this task in half the time that it previously took you. All it needed was some initial time and creativity to look for ways to make the task as simple as possible.

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If you find yourself continually running out of time at work, take a step back, and begin seeking ways to make your workload easier to deal with. Each task that you simplify, can lead to significant time savings (especially when calculated over periods of weeks and months).

Despite what you may have been taught at school or college, minimalism and productivity are intrinsically linked.

8 Ways Minimalism Can Boost Your Work Productivity

So, what are the best ways to introduce a minimalistic approach to your work?

Let’s take a look now.

Write a daily to-do list.

Begin your working day by writing a to-do list (either on paper or by using an app). It only takes a few minutes to make a list of everything you would like to do in the day ahead. And it’s remarkable how this simple activity can crystallize your thoughts and help plan your day.

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Identify essential tasks.

Once you’ve completed your to-do list. Take a good look at it. Are there two or three tasks that you absolutely need to finish today? If yes, can you identify them? In most cases, essential tasks will jump out of your to-do list. Make sure you mark these as VIT (Very Important Tasks!).

Cut non-essential tasks.

Take a second look at your to-do list. Are there any tasks that you’ve listed that you don’t really need to do? For example, you may have listed several meetings – but are they all really necessary? By looking at your to-do list with a minimalist mindset, you’ll be sure to find things that you can scratch off your list.

Learn to focus and defeat distractions.

To be a successful minimalist, you must learn to develop laser focus. If you can’t avoid distractions (such as loud conversations in an open-plan office), then by building powerful mental focus – distractions won’t distract you any more!

Turn tasks into daily habits.

Daily habits can be incredibly potent. They can break down complex tasks and turn them into bite-sized daily treats! For instance, you may work at a restaurant and need to clean the outside of the building every week. The cleaning might take you one hour to complete. Instead of this, you could build a daily routine of cleaning a part of the outside every day for 10 minutes. This will be easier and more enjoyable to complete than working a full hour on the task. It will also enable you to make it a habit – so you’ll never have to motivate yourself to complete it.

Stretch time.

Did you know that it’s possible to stretch time? It’s true. Let’s say that I give you three hours to create a Google Slides presentation. You start the task, and if you’re like most people, you’ll finish it somewhere around the three-hour mark. Now, imagine that instead of three hours, I told you that you needed to create it in 90 minutes. Guess what – you’d be able to do it! This is what I mean by stretching time. To save this precious resource, assign yourself less time to complete your tasks.

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Be aware of the Pareto Principle.

You may be unfamiliar with the term Pareto Principle, but I’m sure you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule. Well, they are the same thing. This rule/principle states that just 20% of our efforts will lead to 80% of our results. Looking at from the opposite perspective, 80% of our efforts will lead to just 20% of our results! The trick is to become aware of the 20% of actions that are producing most of our results. Identify these actions, focus on performing them, and your productivity will skyrocket.

Take regular breaks.

It’s tempting to skip breaks (and even lunch) when you have lots of tasks and projects ahead of you. However, research has shown that workers who take regular breaks are actually more productive than those who don’t.[1] There are several science-backed reasons for taking regular breaks, including the fact that they help us to maintain our focus, help us remember information, and help us to reevaluate our goals. So, don’t let your colleagues persuade you to keep working. Take regular breaks, and begin to see an immediate boost to your productivity.

Start adding these minimalist techniques to your life right now. You’ll be amazed at how much more relaxed you are – and how much more productive you’ve become!

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on August 21, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. Hello promotion, here I come!
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. No, thanks Alzheimer’s; you and I are just not a good fit.

So how to train your brain to learn faster and remember more?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new.

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.” Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

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But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

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Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

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I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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