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7 Ways To Get A Whole Lot of Things Done In A Day

7 Ways To Get A Whole Lot of Things Done In A Day

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with things to do that you wished you could simply stop the clock and make time stand still while you got everything done?

It would be wonderful if we could all do that, wouldn’t it? Sadly, those of us not living in some fantastic science-fiction show aren’t blessed with the ability to halt the hands of time, leaving us looking for more practical ways to get things done in any given day.

Though by no means an exhaustive list, here are seven things that may work for you to improve your daily productivity:

1. Wake up earlier

It may sound obvious, but if we’re really going to start getting more things done in a day, then where better to start than right at the beginning of that day.

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Getting out of bed earlier gives us more time to do more stuff, and hopefully still have time left over for the things that matter, like family and friends.

2. Stay healthy

Dragging ourselves out of bed a little earlier doesn’t mean we have to spend the rest of our day fighting off fatigue. By eating healthily, enjoying exercise and generally taking care of ourselves, we’ll find ourselves with more energy to tackle the things we need to do.

Instead of dropping off into a post-lunch slump in which productivity is at an all-time low, or being too exhausted after a day at the office to spend time on our passion projects, we’ll be alert and awake and ready to get things done.

3. Organize and prioritize

Getting things done isn’t about doing a bunch of stuff for the sake of keeping busy, it’s about doing what matters to help us achieve our goals.

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In order to have a successful day, it pays to prioritize. Take care of the biggest, most crucial things first, and then work your way up.

Think of it like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: when we’ve dealt with the most mission-critical things, we’re better equipped to move on to the next set of tasks, and upwards we go, building on our own productivity and finding it even easier to get things done.

4. Stay out of the past (and don’t go too far into the future)

How many times do we find ourselves dwelling on the past and reliving memories, both fond and painful? Physically, we’re in one place at one time, yet mentally and emotionally we’re somewhere else entirely. If we’re not lost in once-upon-a-times, chances are we’re projecting ourselves into the future, either worrying about things that haven’t happened yet or daydreaming about what might be.

Though it certainly pays to take the occasional look ahead in order to know where we’re going, when it comes to getting things done, we benefit much more from being present in the moment and focusing on the now.

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By being alert and focused on the task at hand, we’re more capable of doing what needs to be done.

5. Delegate

One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to getting things done is falling for the belief that they have to get it all done by themselves.

Yet being able to ask for help often means that you can not only get more done, but get it done better than if you tried to do it all by yourself.

6. Eliminate distractions

Whether it’s by listening to music to block out background noise, or using website blockers like Google’s Stayfocussed app to keep you away from Facebook or other time-sucking sites, one of the best ways to get things done is to keep everything else out so that we can focus on the task at hand.

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For this writer, turning the computer off altogether and heading back to the pen and paper works best, but for you it might simply be a case of switching your cell phone off for a few hours or finding a quiet place to work.

7. Take a break

For much the same reasons that keeping yourself healthy is the key to getting more things done, being able to take time out once in a while can make all the difference to your productivity.

Whether we step back to take a moment of stillness and quiet, or head outside to enjoy a walk in the fresh air, it’s important to relax from time to time if we want to avoid burnout.

By avoiding burnout, we give ourselves more energy and, again, more energy leads to increased productivity.

More by this author

Chris Skoyles

Coach, and trainee counsellor specializing in mental health and addiction.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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