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6 Ways to Become a Productivity Expert

6 Ways to Become a Productivity Expert
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Are you looking to make the most out of every day? Wondering how to turn up your productivity and take it to the next level? Here are six tips that will help you get on the right path to productivity and ensure that you are getting the most out of each day.

1. Know what’s most important to get done.

This is probably the most critical action you can take every day. Know what your number one priority is and write it down. When you know the one task you need to accomplish for the day to feel productive, it becomes much easier to do. Don’t create a to-do list with 20 tasks to have done by the end of the day. Why? Because when you don’t get to all of them, you won’t feel productive. Set a small achievable goal each day and when the momentum picks up you can continue to get other things done.

Sometimes it is just as important to know what not to do as it is to know what you need to do. “I started with projects that I wanted to do, but then realized I didn’t really have the time and they were not high enough on my priority list to invest the time in completing them … You can complete a project by dropping it … It’s important not to have incomplete projects even if we never do anything about them because they drain energy subconsciously,” says Arianna Huffington, who wrote the book “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.”

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2. Wake up early.

If you really want to create focus and productivity in your life, waking up early is essential. The hour or so you have in the morning before your family wakes up, before your coworkers distract you and before the emails overtake your inbox is just for you. Reserve your hardest tasks and the ones that mean the most to you for the morning. This is when your energy is at its peak, so make the most of it by focusing on work that matters.

Once you make waking up early a part of your routine and understand the exceptional benefits it has to your productivity, you will never turn back. Hal Elrod is the author of the “Miracle Morning,” which focuses on starting your day off right to ensure productivity. Elrod believes, “If you have a productive, powerful morning, you will have a productive, powerful day.”

3. Schedule your day.

Before you go to bed each night, plan out your next day. Schedule your appointments. Schedule time for your most important priority and for other work you need to get done. Mentally preparing for your day, armed with a plan, just ensures it will run that much smoother. Why risk trying to figure out what needs to get done the next day, when you can wake up and just go? So schedule out your day, but remember this includes scheduling appointments with yourself that you should honor just as much as you would with a manager.

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According to entrepreneur and productivity expert Peter Voogd, “A plan relieves you of the torment of choice. It restores focus and provides energy.”

4. Eliminate distractions.

Turn your phone on silent. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media and surfing the web. The key here is remember your time is precious and it is essential to being productive, so don’t waste it on things that don’t matter. If you need to focus on a project, close out of the internet and set a timer for at least 30 minutes of pure focus on it. You’ll be surprised how much more you will get done when you don’t have a million things competing for your attention. Be mindful of your habits. Know your weakness and where you spend your distraction time and redirect that to focus time.

According to study done by Student Science, “Processing multiple streams of information simultaneously is cognitively challenging, thereby potentially causing reduced effectiveness in the performance of the overlapping tasks.” You’re basically just not as effective while you try to multitask or engage with distractions while also trying to get work done.

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5. Include “make up” time in your week for tasks that still need to be done.

No matter how hard you try, sometimes you just won’t be able to get everything you wanted to do in a week done, which can leave you feeling unproductive and unaccomplished. So, instead of settling for not reaching your weekly goals, set aside time to catch up on work that you missed out on each week. Maybe you schedule in two hours on Sunday to finish anything that you couldn’t get to earlier? It doesn’t matter when it is, it just matters that you know you have time in your week allocated to getting yourself back on track if you weren’t able to reach your goals.

Paul J. Meyer, an inspirational leader and coach, said, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” You need to commit to being productive. It’s not something that just happens, it’s a deliberate action you take every day.

6. Review your progress.

It’s easy to wake up each day and just cross off items that we’ve done, but if you don’t take time at the end of the day or week to review your progress, you won’t feel productive or accomplished. Before you start your weekly plan, slow down and recognize all that you’ve done. It’s okay to take a moment and pat yourself on the back. In fact, it’s encouraged because once you realize how much progress you are making you will be even more motivated to continue down your productivity path.

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“Let’s be honest: if you don’t think about your goals, you won’t make them happen. The key is to review these goals and set action steps each week. If you only do it once a year, or even once a month, you won’t remember them on a daily basis,” said Leo Babauta, the founder and writer of “Zen Habits.”

Featured photo credit: Matt Gibson via flickr.com

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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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