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13 Productivity Tips From People Getting Stuff Done

13 Productivity Tips From People Getting Stuff Done

When did being productive get so complicated?

Remember the good ol’ days when technology and productivity actually worked together, one helping the other? Nowadays, it feels like these two aspects of our day-to-day are at odds. With technology creating unlimited access to everything, distractions are on the rise and productivity is harder to master.

Well, not for everyone.

Luckily, the leaders of the pack are finding ways to navigate through the rise of distractions and still get stuff done. With these gurus openly sharing their wisdom with the rest of us, hopefully we can restore the delicate balance between technology and productivity. Here are 13 tips from the experts.

Prioritizing Your Priorities

Apply yourself to the things that generate positive ROI and you’ll never get lost under a pile of to-dos that keep you busy but render no value or tangible outcome. Being “scatterbrained” is a great excuse when you pass off mediocre work. Zero in on your strengths and assign yourself to singular tasks while passing off the rest into capable hands.

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1. “Your time is $1000/hour, and you need to act accordingly.” – Jason Cohen, A Smart Bear

2. “Pick one thing and do that one thing – and only that one thing – better than anyone else ever could.” – Jason Goldberg, Fab.com

3. “Delegation is the most important fuel for productivity. Having more staff should double, triple, quadruple, etc. your time. Cultivate a sense of ownership in the company.” – Daniel Tan Kh, SomoThemes

How Technology Can Help

Unload your brain of the tedium to give yourself some space for creative and critical thinking. Clutter in your brain become the distractions that veer you off course. Here is where technology can help you stay focused.

4. “Get a reminder app for everything. Do not trust your own brain for your memory.” – Julien Smith, Breather

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5. “Use RescueTime to block off all social media sites and email for 90-120 minutes first thing in the morning. Focus on your most important one or two to-dos. If processing email on Gmail later, use The Email Game to double speed.” – Tim Ferriss, The 4-hour Workweek

6. “Use Trello.com to map out all of the tasks of the company. This gives a macro view of what’s going on and allows you to delegate tasks that may better be completed by another person.” – Matt DeCelles, Serial Entrepreneur

The Truth of the Matter

Be honest with yourself. Productivity is of course the ideal but it isn’t the only thing that matters. Having a realist approach is the best way to stay motivated to keep going.

7. “Only plan for 4-5 hours of real work per day.” – David Heinemeier Hansson, 37Signals

8. “It’s normal to have days where you just can’t work and days where you’ll work 12 hours straight.” – Alain Paquin, Whatsnexx

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Simplify the Chaos

The big picture can be overwhelming to most people so remember, it’s all in the small details. It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated to be great.

9. “Separate thinking and execution to execute faster and think better.” – Sol Tanguay, HEC Montreal

10.“Break the unreasonable down into reasonable chunks. A big goal is only achieved when every little thing that you do every day gets you closer to that goal.” – Maren Kate Donovan, Escaping the 9 to 5

11. “Build routines and habits so you’re not deciding, you’re just doing.” – Eric Barker, Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Master Your Schedule

Remember that you’re in charge. The choices you make with your time are completely up to you. Sometimes it feels like you’re racing against the clock but when you do it right, it’s you who’s holding the reins.

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12. “Set a no matter what date. To be profitable. To quit. To make a change. Stick to it as if it’s life or death. Because likely is.” – Danielle Laporte, White Hot Truth

13. “Work in 30-45 minute bursts. Our minds can’t handle anything more. Even if you’re on fire, pull yourself away and reflect for at least a few minutes.” – Jonathan Fields, Author

As the experts tell us, it’s all about priorities, technology, honesty, simplicity and time management when it comes to mastering productivity. For more protips, check out 101 Productivity Tips & Lifehacks From The Pros. Then find out how you can Enhance Productivity and Stop Over-Thinking: 3 Quick Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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