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7 Ways To Kick-Start Your Productivity

7 Ways To Kick-Start Your Productivity

The difference between people who live a full life and those who barely get by is the measure of their productivity. People who stay productive and work hard every day find that they lead a fuller life than those who settle for mediocrity. If you have found yourself struggling with the way your life is heading, take advantage of these great pointers and make the necessary changes in your life to kick-start your productivity and move forward.

1. Plan your time

Time is a precious commodity. Once it’s gone, we can never get it back. The best thing to do to make sure you take advantage of every minute of every day is to plan your daily activities. Those activities can be work, to-do lists, hobbies, and anything that you want to do during the day. Plan out your time so you don’t find yourself sitting on the couch for hours with your eyes glued to the TV. Make a plan and stick to it.

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2. Schedule some fun

Some people find that unless they schedule fun things, they will never happen. I’m not only talking about trips to Disneyland or a seven-day cruise, I’m talking about the little things: a walk in the park, a picnic with your family, or a movie night. These are small things that can make a big difference in your life and in your relationships. They serve as a reminder of what’s important and where your priorities should be.

3. Exercise

Exercise is a vital part of increasing your daily productivity. My favorite line from a movie (Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde) sums it up well: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Endorphins are chemicals in your brain that are released when you exercise. They act as sedatives and diminish your body’s perception of pain. This causes a euphoric feeling more commonly known as “runner’s high.” It helps to boost your self-esteem, decrease depression, have a more positive outlook on life and even improves sleep.

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4. Don’t negative self-talk

Stay positive, especially with yourself. You want to push yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Mistakes are made by everyone, even you. When you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. It might sound strange, but when you look at yourself in the mirror, say positive things. Point out your good attributes, physical or otherwise.

5. Control your internet time

We waste so much time on the internet. It’s so easy to get lost in Facebook, YouTube, and even news articles. People spend hours a day bouncing from article to article. All that time could have been spent working, learning something new, cleaning out car, anything! Don’t get caught up in this time sucker.

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Is it bad to check your Facebook page? No. Is it bad to check your Facebook page and then stalk everyone you knew in high school? Probably. Don’t waste your time wondering what everyone else is doing. You should be using your time becoming the kind of person that people want to Facebook stalk.

6. Realize that your time is valuable

Don’t measure the worth of your time by how little you have. People do this all the time. They think that because they are constantly busy, the things they are doing must be important. This is far from the truth. Don’t be busy just to be busy. There is nothing wrong with looking at your day and finding that you don’t have anything that really needs to be done. Those kinds of breaks are refreshing and vital to your mental and physical well-being.

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7. Prioritize

Choose what things are important and focus on those. If you find that you are being as productive as you can be and you still struggle to get everything done, you need to unload some of the burden off your shoulders. When you do this, you’ll find that you don’t have to do everything. When you spread yourself too thin, you do an alright job at several things. When you focus on a few important factors, you will find that you can excel in them. That should be your goal. Once you excel in those things,  move on to something new. But don’t try to do everything at once.

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

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

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

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 Making 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

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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