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5 Ways to Be More Productive Without Losing Sleep

5 Ways to Be More Productive Without Losing Sleep

Do you think the only way you can finish your work is to cut back on sleep and either stay up late or wake up early?

Cutting back on your sleep hours is never a good idea, especially if you want to be well rested, refreshed and productive the next day.

Here are five ways that can help you be more productive in your daily routine–without losing sleep!

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During the day…

1. Learn a new skill.

Even if you are extremely savvy at doing something (such as using that writing app you’ve had on your laptop for ages), you can always learn something new to help you increase your productivity.

Instead of staying up late trying to figure out how to reformat a document the only way you know how, why not learn how to do it properly, correctly and in less time? You’ll have to invest some time to learn your new skill or skills, but your hard work will be well worth it.

Watch a video tutorial, read a book or write a blog post on your subject to learn as much as you can and say “bye-bye” to those endless late-night hours trying to figure out how to do something.

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2. Choose your method of communication wisely.

Waiting for a response to an urgent question can be draining and time-consuming. Why tack on more time to your workday than necessary?

Consider whether you are using the best possible method of communication for your needs. While emailing a colleague to ask them a question might be second nature to you, is there an easier and faster way to get a response? Could you call your coworker directly on the phone? Send a text? Walk over to their workspace?

Similarly, if you know it takes you a long time to write an email and you know you can communicate your message much more quickly over the phone, why not make the call to save yourself some late-night waiting time?

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3. Conquer hidden distractions.

Minimizing distractions is always a good idea, but have you ever considered that there might be several hidden distractions in your regular work routine? Left unchecked, these distractions can multiply quickly and cost you precious time and energy.

Let’s say you’re working in your home office when your dog, Fluffy, bounces into the room with his chew toy and begs you to play with him. You happily put down your work for a moment and play a little game of catch with Fluffy, only to realize thirty minutes have passed by. Yikes!

Finding hidden distractions in your day does take a bit of detective work, but once you uncover them, you have a better shot at neutralizing them (you might want to shut your office door as you work or put Fluffy in the basement) and beefing up your ability to get things done during the day.

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During the evening…

4. Set the scene for sleep.

Is your bedroom a comfortable and relaxing room? Or is it a hive of electronic activity filled with blinking, buzzing smartphones and laptops? It can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep when there’s a lot of temptation to do work! Be sure to clear your bedroom of any and all work-related devices and materials.

Ever have an idea pop into your head as you are nodding off? Keep a notepad and pen by your bedside for all those random ideas, thoughts and musings. You can easily jot down thoughts and get them out of your head, without having to worry whether or not you’ll remember the item in the morning.

5. Set a regular bedtime.

Finally, put a stop to working those unnecessary late night hours; set a regular bedtime and stick to it! Is it necessary to work on that non-urgent project until you finish it at 2 in the morning? Can you work on your project the following day when you are wide-awake and refreshed (and no longer tired) or later in the week when you have more time? Know how many hours you need to get a good night’s rest and strive to hit your bedtime on a regular basis for some much needed rest.

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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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)

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.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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