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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
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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

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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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.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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