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9 Small Changes You Never Realized To Supercharge Your Productivity

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9 Small Changes You Never Realized To Supercharge Your Productivity

You know you need to get more done in your week, but tackling the ominous task of figuring out how to supercharge your productivity sounds like too much hard work – right? No, there are simple tricks and changes you can make throughout your week to make sure you are firing with all cylinders! Try implementing a few or all of these nine changes and you will notice a big difference.

Read emails after you go through your to-do list for the day

Make your to-do list document, or the app you keep your list in the first thing you open. Email is not to be looked at until the to-do list is reviewed and a plan is in place for what tasks you are tackling today! Tell yourself email can wait until you have a plan in place.

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Get tough things checked off first

Move difficult conversations or complex tasks to the top of your to-do list. The energy and time you will free up by getting the task you dread the most done will make a huge difference to your day. Instead of constantly thinking you must get to that task, it will be done and you can move on to more rewarding projects.

Plan to discard unnecessary mail before bringing it to your desk

Use the mailroom or your kitchen as the place to read through postal mail. Open it and immediately toss out items you don’t need to take action on or aren’t relevant. Only take back to your desk items that need to be reviewed. If in doubt – toss it!

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Put a post-it on your computer screen

Have a pad of post-it notes handy on your desk. Whenever you are interrupted or heading off to a meeting, write on the post-it note what you are working on. When you come back to your desk you will immediately see what you are working on and can get back to the task at hand.

Commit to end one-hour meetings early

Suggest to all attendees that the meeting finishes 10 minutes early. For the competitive meeting go-ers suggest setting a timer with a goal to complete all agenda items before the timer goes off. Having the focus of getting more done in less time will keep the meeting on track.

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Start with water not coffee in the morning

To be more productive you need to be alert. A sluggish mind will decrease your productivity. A simple fix is to get water into the body early in the morning. This will jolt the brain into action.

Check in with yourself

Set a timer to go off randomly throughout your day. When it goes off ask yourself, “Is this really a good use of my time?” Look at your to-do list and see if what you are working on is in alignment with what you need to get done today. Keep reminding yourself not to get distracted with busy work and come back to the task at hand.

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Shut down programs you don’t need

Look at the software programs or apps you have opened. Are they needed for the task you are working on? Seek out the “X” on those programs on the top right-hand corner of your screen and shut them down. Less clutter on your desktop will add to your productivity.

Wear headphones

Get into the habit of putting your headphones on when you are at your desk. You can listen to soft music to lessen the office noise or your over-active mind. You can just have them on in silence. The added bonus is colleagues who see you with headphones on are less likely to interrupt you!

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There you have it: nine small changes to implement. They don’t have to be big sweeping modifications to get you achieving more. Small tweaks throughout your day can make a big difference at the end of the week with what you get done. Try it out and enjoy the feeling of ending the week knowing you were super productive!

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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