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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

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

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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