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How 30 Minutes of Daily “Me Time” Improves Your Productivity

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How 30 Minutes of Daily “Me Time” Improves Your Productivity

Living in the twenty-first century is fantastic. The things we have access to every day allow us to live lives of immense convenience.

We can now talk to our friends across the seas in real-time, and we can order our favorite food via a phone app and have it delivered within 30 minutes. This is a far cry from 50 years ago when it would have taken up to a month for a letter to go from London to New York. And if you lived in London in 1950, you probably have never heard of pizza.

We have a lot to be grateful for, but with all this convenience comes a few downsides. As it is so much easier to contact other people, we are have now become more dependent on our electronic devices, demanding our attention every minute of the day.

Long gone are the days when if you wanted some quiet time, you would take the phone off the hook. Or if you decided to go hiking in the hills on a weekend you could enjoy complete solitude.

Now, not having your phone on you would attract weird looks from other people. We have to make an excuse like the battery went dead or your phone was stolen.

All You Need is 30 Minutes

All these interruptions and demands for our attention destroy our ability to focus on ourselves. Instead, we are pushed to focus on other people. But if you were to set aside a bit of time each day to yourself, you would be able to identify and focus on your priorities and the things you want for yourself.

It is when you focus on your priorities that you start to achieve the things you have always wanted to achieve. This can also make you a positive beacon for other people. You start to lead others instead of just following.

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Robin Sharma has spoken and written about what he calls The 5 AM Club. This is where you wake up at 5 AM, do twenty minutes of exercise, twenty minutes of planning, and twenty minutes of learning. Giving yourself this one hour each day to focus on yourself helps set up a fantastic day.

This may not be for everyone, but if you can go to bed early enough, you will wake up every morning feeling better.

You do not need to spend a whole hour on yourself each day to get the productivity benefits of solitude and “me time”.

All you need is 30 minutes.

There are a lot of things that you can do in 30 minutes, and most of them can give you a boost in productivity. Here are a few:

Focus on Your Priorities

Many people have goals and aspirations they claim they never have time to work on. But if you give yourself enough time to reflect on your day and plan the next, you will be able to focus on your priorities better and plan how you will spend your time doing them.

There is a simple method that can help people focus on their priorities called the 2+8 Prioritisation System. In this system, you set two objectives that you absolutely have to accomplish within the day and set eight other tasks related to these objectives that you will try to complete.

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It only takes ten minutes to do, but the results can be incredible. It means you begin the day with a plan and an intention, and this helps you resist the urge to give in to other people’s priorities.

As the late Jim Rohn wonderfully said:

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

Your productivity increases dramatically when you begin the day with a plan. When you do not have a plan, the least important things may hijack your day.

Me Time Gives Your Mind a Chance to Rest

With so much going on in the world, it is easy to get caught up in the drama and fears of everyday life. The reality is that very few of these dramas and events have any real impact on you.

Your mind is designed to seek out dangers and make these perceived dangers seem more important than they really are. This is how our ancestors survived on the savannahs hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Yet the dangers we are pre-programmed to avoid no longer exist. However, news organizations discovered that sensationalized news sells. They fill the void by feeding us scare stories that make us react in predictable ways—panic buying toilet paper, for example.

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Giving yourself a little time each day to jump off this cycle and to focus on your priorities gives you some much-needed perspective in this volatile world. This will help you get your most important works done without being caught up in other less important things.

Scheduling downtime for yourself and your mind is very important. It keeps you focused on the here and now and the things that matter the most for you.

Anchors Keep You Grounded

Having a few anchors in your life keeps you focused on the important things. Have a morning routine dedicated to self-care, make time for daily exercises, and spend quality time with your family. These are essentials that should be non-negotiable.

Your boss, customers, friends, and colleagues should never be allowed to take that time away from you, and the only way that can happen is if you let them.

People like Gary Vaynerchuk and Casey Niestatt work hard. Yet if you look at their schedules, they dedicate two or three hours of family time each day and at least an hour for exercise. These are their daily anchors, and these anchors are non-negotiable.

Your time is your most valuable asset. The time, health, and energy you have today are never guaranteed and could be taken away from you in an instant. It is important to protect your time, and you should learn to say no to the things you have no interest in.

Of course, it easier to write that and a lot more difficult to do, but so is learning to play golf or the guitar. With practice and a few weeks of consistent practice, you start to play these at a reasonable level and the same goes for learning to say no.

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At first, it will be very hard and uncomfortable, and you will feel guilty. But after some time, you will stop being a yes-man. Instead, you will learn how to say no and protect your own time. You will be able to focus on the activities that you think are important to you.

Make Your Me Time a Non-Negotiable Part of Your Day

Schedule 30 minutes every day for yourself. Put it on your calendar and make sure you never allow anyone to take it away from you. Use this time to plan the day, read books, meditate or just get some fresh air without any distractions.

If you find it difficult to include your me time as a non-negotiable part of your day, you can always try to learn how to find time for yourself.

Allow your mind to wander to enjoy the things around you and to get new perspectives in life. Doing these keeps you focused on your life and your priorities, and you will then notice an improvement in your productivity because you are more focused on the truly important things.

Learn More About the Benefits of Me Time

Featured photo credit: BhAvik SuThar via unsplash.com

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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Reference

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