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Honesty: The Best Policy for The Best Productivity

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Honesty: The Best Policy for The Best Productivity
    Honest Tea Cap (Photo credit: Dome Poon)

    There are many tools you can use to increase your level of productivity. Whether paper-based solutions are your cup of tea or you’ve dove into the digital well of task management offerings, you’d be wasting a ton of time trying to discover all of the tools out there. I’d wager it is one of the least productive things you could ever do.

    But of all the tools at your disposal, the one between your ears is the one that needs to be actively engaged to allow for prominent increases to happen. There’s a human component that leads to better productivity on the whole, and while analog tools may not remove the brain from the equasion as fully as digital ones might, when we trust our lists as written without using our brain in tandem, the results for the items that are crucial to us are less desirable.

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    The “heart” comes into play, too. Why? Because we’re human. So when the brain and emotion are used in concert with a productivity system, you can tap into the real power of what you can do. And much of that power lies in simply being honest with yourself. Honesty plays a huge role in the quality of what we do.

    Limitations

    Whether you look at how much you can accomplish (and accomplish well) in a given timeline, whether you look at how well you can accomplish a task or project considering your skill set or whether or not you truly care about what’s on your plate, being honest with yourself is the only true way to get the best work out of you. You may even be surprised how much you can exceed limitations when you start spending more time being honest with yourself. You’ll achieve better results because you’re taking on less of the stuff that doesn’t sit well with you.

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    Adapatability

    Honesty can fine-tune your ability to adapt. If you aren’t being fufilled in an environment, tapping into your true self will often provide you the answer as to how to find such fulfillment. Sometimes it means exploring ways to work within the environment, sometimes it means looking at it differently. Sometimes it means removing yourself from the environment altogether. By being honest with yourself you will discover that you’re far more “productively versatile” and you’ll reap the benefits of demonstrating that to those around you.

    Happiness

    You can’t fool yourself into being happy. So why try? If you’re not happy, you aren’t going to be as productive. Honesty plays a huge part in this – and you don’t have to look too deeply into yourself to realize when you’re not. Faking it will only take you so far, and often it also takes you farther away from getting to where you really want to be. Find happiness in what you do and where you are, or do and go somewhere else. It’s honestly the best thing for everyone.

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    Procrastination

    This one is tricky, because while you can justify putting things off, you can rarely do that in an honest manner. Strangely, that also means whatever you are doing to procrastinate is also not being done as well as it could be. Start being more honest with yourself, and both your uptime and downtime will be more productive, because both can be done without the distraction of justifying what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.

    Quality

    Honestly look at what you’re “shipping” these days. Is it great? Better yet, is it as great as you know you could make it? That’s the better question, because while you may say “yes” to the first questiom, the second one requires a lot more honesty on your part. So ask the second question before you ship it. That way people will be looking forward to receiving it.

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    The Best Policy

    Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard. And mostly what I need from you. – Billy Joel

    These words are directed at a lover in Joel’s classic tune, but in this case you need to direct them at yourself. Give the word some company, stand out above the crowd. Say it loud, say it to yourself, say it knowing that you need it from yourself. You’ll be amazed at the results.

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    Honest.

    More by this author

    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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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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