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The 4 Things I Do Consistently to Be More Productive

The 4 Things I Do Consistently to Be More Productive
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    No matter what you do, doesn’t it seem like there are not enough hours in the day?

    That’s where I was a couple years ago. I used to pull all-nighters, and was working 7 days a week to finish all my tasks. I simply had no time to spare.

    That’s when I came across David Allen’s book “Making It All Work”. It totally opened my eyes. It helped me understand that life was not about working more but about working productively. From that point onward, I started fixing my habits and developing certain skills that would make me as productive as possible.

    The strategies which I learned along the way are what I hope to share with you today.

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    Here are the 4 main things I do consistently to be more productive.:

    1. I Don’t Multitask

    The greatest “executioner of my productivity” was that I had convinced myself that I was multitasking — and therefore was doing work faster.

    Was I ever wrong.

    Multitasking is not a real thing. What you are really doing when you are (apparently) multitasking is going back and forth between two separate tasks. So rather than giving 100% to one task at a time you are going back and forth between tasks, giving each task a monumentally less amount of focus. This simply means that you end up doing both tasks at less than 100% — and you gain a whole lot of stress and tension.

    Multitasking: A nice way to say that you’re doing many different things at the same time. And since no one can divide by zero, that means you’re doing many different things half-assed. — UrbanDictionary.com

    2. Break Things Down

    Okay…so imagine a really large meatball. Got it? Good.

    According to animal instincts, the best way to eat it is to put the entire thing in your mouth and chew. Do that and you will be chewing and swallowing for the next 10 minutes.

    Sensibly and productively speaking, the best and fastest way to eat the meatball is to cut it into smaller pieces so that you can take in as much as your mouth can handle, and swallow it in less than no time.

    This same rule applies to life.

    You are only able to handle so much at one time. If you try to take on a task too big all at once, you will only get clogged up and slowed down. But if you break it down into more manageable pieces, you’ll find that you will be able to finish the task a lot faster.

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    “Break things down into little steps and they become possible. Repeat them, and they become learned.” – David Landowne

    3. Prioritize Your Tasks

    You are craving a chocolate bar…or a client is waiting for your proposal.

    Which one is more important?

    Unfortunately, thousands of people find themselves in similar situations every day. You have to learn to automatically prioritize things that are more important. This way rather than wasting energy and time, you will focus on these particular things and get them done faster. This will make you more stress-free and will greatly boost your productivity.

    4. No Distractions

    Sometimes I wonder how much time people end up wasting by:

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    • Checking email
    • Checking their cellphones
    • Idly chatting with their colleagues
    • Surfing the web

    All of these things (among others) will make you very unproductive. So when it gets down to finally getting work done, turn off or remove all distractions. Just get rid of them.

    “Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short.” – Adam Hochschild

    (Photo credit: The Word Productivity via Shutterstock)

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    The 4 Things I Do Consistently to Be More Productive

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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