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10 Simple Ways To Maximize Productivity And Stop Working Long Hours

10 Simple Ways To Maximize Productivity And Stop Working Long Hours

You don’t get a gold star for working more hours than everyone else in your office. The amount of time you spend at work says nothing about the quality of your work, so why not maximize productivity? You will get more done in less hours, saving time for the important things that really make you happy!

1. Focus on the Most Important Things.

You cannot do every single thing, every single day. Write down the three most important things that must get done and focus on that. If you knock those tasks out with plenty of time to spare, then you can add the next three important things. Before you begin any task, ask yourself, “Am I doing this for a good reason or am I just passing time?” Answer honestly and adjust as necessary.

2. Wake Up Early.

We all have the same number of hours per day, but we all don’t make the most out of those available hours. There are a few strategies you can use to start your day right. Choose the one that sounds most beneficial to you:

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Option A: Eliminate the biggest source of stress.

If you would stop thinking about how much you don’t want to do the thing AND JUST DO THE THING ALREADY, you’ll be a lot less stressed. Due to this reality, let’s just isolate the thing that stresses you out the most and get it over with ASAP. No excuses. No complaining. Get it done!

Option B: Start with the most important task.

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If one thing HAS to get done today, what is it? Do that. You’ll feel happy and accomplished, giving you energy to get through the rest of the day.

Option C: Feed your brain with words.

Not everyone can wake up and start working right away. Sound like you? Grab a book and read a few chapters with a cup of coffee or hot tea (bonus points if you do it outside with the sun rising and birds singing). Your brain will be ready to go after it gets a healthy dose of inspiration.

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3. Close the Door.

This is especially important for writers: if the door is shut, that means you are working and no one shall enter. It can take a little while to get your creative juices flowing, so being faced with constant distractions will take a toll on your productivity by the time you start-and-stop-and-start-again-and-stop-again-and-(you get the idea). If you are an office worker, the same rule applies: if you need to focus, tell your co-workers you need some quiet to finish (insert incredibly important thing here) and would appreciate it if they left you alone unless it’s an emergency.

4. Do One Thing at a Time.

Multi-tasking is just a slightly more productive version of procrastination. Stop kidding yourself.

5. Silence Your Phone.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time focusing on writing articles like this when I am interrupted by buzzing, chirping, or ringing from my cell phone every few minutes. There is no text that requires an immediate answer. It can wait.

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6. Re-charge Your Batteries.

While focus is the key that unlocks your productivity, there comes a time when the best thing to do is walk away. We are not meant to work for hours-on-end without a break from the grind. Working beyond your limits will only result in sub-par work that takes much longer to complete than it should.

7. Ask for Help.

It is more efficient to ask for help when it is needed than it is to stubbornly plow forward. I don’t know the first thing about design, but I know a whole lot of people who do (so I seek their input when I need it). Even if you don’t know a person with the answer to your question, you could get help VIA a simple Google search. You cannot be the expert of everything, so seek outside help to save your time (and sanity).

8. Group Similar Tasks Together.

Different tasks require different mind-sets for effective completion. For example: writing a helpful article, crafting a thoughtful e-mail, studying for an exam, and making a sales call are very different tasks that require very different executions. Why not set one or two times where you send every e-mail, make every phone-call, or write every letter? Surely you have noticed that it typically takes longer to start a chore than it does to actually complete it. Knocking out similar tasks, all in a group, will eliminate the time it takes to set-up for each task, so you’ll have more time to enjoy your day.

9. Exercise for 30 Minutes Each Day.

A quick bout of exercise will boost your energy, helping you carry yourself with ease. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, will leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated. Your body is the vessel that carries you throughout this world, so treat it accordingly.

10. Know Your Limits.

Getting more done in less time is great, but as time goes on it becomes harder and harder to make a task any more productive than it is. If you can’t take your productivity any further, shift your focus to the quality of your work (because isn’t that the point anyway?). Also, if seeking ever-growing productivity starts to drain the joy out of your work, let it go. Just because we can do something faster doesn’t mean we really need to. As Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

How do you maximize productivity at work and home? If you could have an extra hour or two per day, what would you do with it?

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

  • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
  • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
  • Say no to all else.
  • Say no again.
  • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
  • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
  • Meditate.
  • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
  • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
  • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
  • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
  • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

Final Thoughts

These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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