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3 Ways to Be Less Busy and More Productive

3 Ways to Be Less Busy and More Productive

    Busy is one of the most overused words. We hear all the time, “I’m too busy,” or “I don’t have time.”

    How often do you actually achieve results while you are busy? Not too often, I bet. Switch your focus from being busy to being productive, so that you can accomplish more, see tangible results, and have time for fun.

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    Here are three things you can start with:

    Have a to-do list for things that MUST get done today.

    MUST is the key word. This is where a lot of people go wrong. They sit down to make a list, and they keep adding and adding, all the things they should’ve done, all the things they want to do, and all the things they wish they could do. They end up with a mile long list, and find it so daunting that any motivation for tackling it disappears.

    “MUST get done today” list should have no more than 3-8 items, depending on how big they are, and depending on your lifestyle. They should not be the things that everyone has to do. For example, grocery shopping, picking up kids etc. – they don’t belong on this list, because you have to do them, and you are going to do them. This list is for things that are taking you towards your goal. If you want to write a book, have a goal that says, “Write 500 words.” If you want to have your own business, have a goal that says, “Read couple of articles on setting up a new business”

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    These goals are about what you want to ACHIEVE.

    Learn Single Tasking

    We live in a society that views multi-tasking as a skill. People say with pride that they can multi-task. I used to be one of those people too. But when you really think about it, and analyse your results, multi-tasking does not achieve the same amount and same quality of result that you can get by focusing on a single task.

    It doesn’t mean that you just work on one thing for weeks or months until you finish it. You can still have variety. It only means that while you are working on a particular task, for that duration of time, you work on that task and that task alone. If it’s important to you, if it adds value to your long-term goals, takes you closer to fulfilling that dream, then give it the attention it deserves.

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    Keep A Productivity Journal

    A productivity journal might sound like a lot of hard work, and it will certainly feel like it until you get into the habit, but it could also become a valuable tool.

    So what do you write in your productivity journal?

    List your main goals. If you have life goals, list them, otherwise list your annual goals. Then, each day, write down you “MUST get done today” list. Journal about how it went. Did you finish everything? How did you feel while you were working on these tasks? Did you feel charged and enthusiastic or did it feel like a chore?

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    Look for the patterns. Are there particular times in the day when you feel more productive? Do some people’s company spur you towards your goals but others have a negative impact?

    A productivity journal serves two purposes. At the time of writing, it gives you immediate awareness of what you should be focusing on, and what you achieved. It’s there in black and white, and you are writing it down, so there is no room for excuses and no avoiding it.

    The second purpose it serves is an analysis tool. The data you gather today, facts and figures and your emotional state, is what you can use tomorrow to be aware of how productivity works for you.

    (Photo credit: Metal roadsign spelling Productivity via Shutterstock)

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    How to Optimize Your Daily To-Do List 3 Ways to Be Less Busy and More Productive

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2018

    How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

    How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

    Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

    The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

    If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

    Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

    1. Let go of a few activities

    Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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    Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

    2. Take deep breaths to calm down

    This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

    There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

    Try this now:

    Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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    3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

    When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

    The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

    Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

    It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

    4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

    It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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    Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

    5. Get moving

    Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

    Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

    The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

    6. Change your surroundings

    We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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    Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

    7. Get some pet therapy

    Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

    Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

    Final thoughts

    Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

    Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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