Advertising

5 Productivity Habits That Will Rock Your World

5 Productivity Habits That Will Rock Your World
Advertising

    A common New Year’s goal is to become more organized or productive and a common complaint is that it is more of a challenge than first anticipated. We all have our personal challenges; there are things we know we should do but simply don’t. Tasks that we ought to do but simply don’t want to. Habits that we want to implement but struggle to apply. Techniques we know we will benefit from, but somehow there never seems to be the time, the discipline or the commitment to follow through.

    The most effective way to make lasting change is to change one thing at a time. Small daily changes will all add up to give you amazing results. If you were to commit to one small change this month, one thing that you could do daily that would have a positive effect on your current level of productivity. After one month this small daily change will have become a habit and then you can move on to make the next change.

    Advertising

    Here are a few ideas for small changes that if implemented can impact your productivity and rock your world.

    1. Inbox zero

    Having a clear inbox can be a great boost to your personal productivity and sense of control. It may feel like an enormous challenge to start but little by little you can work through even the largest of inboxes and reduce it until you can get to zero each day. I like to use the Barbara Hemphill FAT method. File, Act or Trash. Every day when it is time to process your email, make a decision based on the following criteria:

    File: If the email does not require any action but you need to hold it for reference then it should be filed. I used to file my emails carefully in reference folders, so that I can easily retrieve them when required, but what I have found is that it takes less time doing a search when I need to retrieve the email than it does to decide where to file the email in the first place so I have started to dump the majority of processed emails in the same folder. I keep a few folders for important accounts or for occasions when I know I will need an email trail.

    Advertising

    Act: Follow David Allen’s rule and if the task can be done is less than two minutes do it now, if not the task will either need to go into your calendar or be added to your task list.

    Trash: If you have completed any action required and you don’t need to keep the email for reference, click on the delete button. I know many people who have an allergy to the delete button, but this allergy can be easily overcome with usage. Don’t keep an email because it has a password or a telephone number or address in it. Add all contact details into contacts. Use notes in your email program for passwords or other bits of information you would like to store.

    2. Filing

    Spend some time each day filing. Start by purging your existing files and eliminate all the unnecessary; old documents no longer required. Check your revenue requirements for how long documents legally need to be stored. Anything older should go to trash. Have a file on your desk for filing. Take 10 minutes each day to file. Make sure you are in possession of a labeller and some manilla folders to ensure each folder is clearly labelled. Until you have used a labeller for filing you will not realize the benefit. It makes document retrieval so much quicker when you are searching for a document or folder. It is well worth the investment. Keep your filing cabinet close to you desk. This will ensure that filing doesn’t become a bigger chore that it is already.

    Advertising

    3. De-clutter

    Get into the invaluable habit of cleaning and clearing everyday. Clutter delays action; it disables and distracts. Clear a little everyday. Take my mother’s advice and clean as you go. For some of us this doesn’t come easy but we also know the lightness and clarity that comes from an ordered physical space. Try some of the following, clear your desk for 10 minutes before leaving the office everyday, Wash the dishes after dinner each evening, don’t leave documents and papers lying around put them all in an in-tray to be processed daily.

    4. Exercise

    Taking a walk, going for a run, swimming, or cycling everyday will do wonders for your mental health and your personal productivity. The extra energy and oxygen to the brain helps to clear the mind and allows for better mental function. Exercise is one of Richard Branson’s productivity tips. Make it a habit.

    5. Write everything down

    Don’t use your head for mental storage, it wasn’t made for that purpose. David Allen says “Use your head to have ideas not to hold them”. In order to be able to focus it is essential not to be carrying around your tasks and responsibilities in your head. Not only does it cloud your thinking, but you risk missing appointments or forgetting to do things that need to be done. Get into the daily habit of getting everything out of your head. When you have it down on paper you can organize it into your system; appointments to your calendar and tasks to your task list. Implementing this habit will reduce your stress and increase your efficiency in dealing with current tasks.

    Advertising

    Each one of these new habits will take you to higher level of productivity and with commitment closer to your personal success.

    (Photo credit: model of Earth via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

    10 Green Tea Benefits and the Best Way to Drink It 7 Wise Ways to Find Focus and Get Things Done 15 Quick and Healthy Snacks to Help You Stick to Your Diet How Mindfulness for Productivity Can Improve Your Focus This Is Why Taking Action Creates Success

    Trending in Productivity

    1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    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)
    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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!

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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

    Advertising

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

    Read Next