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How to Make Productivity Fun

How to Make Productivity Fun
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    Balloons are fun. Productivity can be too.

    Having “lived” in the productivity realm for several years now, I know exactly how dry a topic it can be. For those that adopt and stick with a productivity system, there are even more that don’t stick with (or never explore) a system. Finding a productivity system that works for you is hard work – often trial and error – and sticking with one is even harder. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you look at how adopting a productivity system can benefit you over the long haul, rather than judging the proverbial book by its cover.

    I’ve been able to dissect the various aspects of how productivity systems can be a huge asset to your life if you stick with them because of how long I’ve been looking at them. The reason most people adopt a system is because they want to find more time in their lives to do the things that they are passionate about; the things that fulfill them. It’s not about crossing things off of a list on a daily basis – that’s just what appears to happen on the surface. You try to be more productive because you are mindful about what you want. The problem with adopting a system for so many of us is that we get caught up in the “doing” rather than realize it is a means towards the “being” – getting closer to what we really want. And when we get caught up in doing stuff, we’re “doing productive” and not “being productive”. Yet we abandon the system before we allow the long haul benefits to really kick in, which happens after we escape worrying about doing stuff. The system starts to take care of itself more than the other way around. You just have to trust it.

    Trusting anything is something that takes time, but if you can make it fun along the way then the time passes much quicker. But how do you make something as “dry” as productivity…fun?

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    Start With The Small Stuff

    Change: it’s rarely fun. Human beings are averse to change, and throwing one into a productivity mindset is one of the biggest changes possible. So don’t do that.

    Instead, tackle small items from within your newly-adopted system first. Things that seem as mundane as “take out the garbage” or “review phone messages” may be automatic to you at this point, but put them in your system. Check them off as you do them, and start to add other things in there as well that you would do almost without thinking. (Don’t worry, you’ll be able to rid yourself of those items from the system at some point if you choose, but by adding them you’re entering a mindset of using your productivity system in a manner that is as painless as possible.) As you see items get checked off, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as they start to add up. You’re rewarding yourself for things you used to do with no visual reward at all. Doing so will encourage you to build upon those successes and will create comfort inside the system. While it may not be incredibly fun for some, it definitely isn’t painful for most.

    Use Fun Tools

    Are you a fan of gadgets? Then use one to manage your productivity, like an iPhone or even a LiveScribe notebook. More of a paper person? Grab yourself a Moleskine and a writing instrument that is a pleasure to use to keep you on track.

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    By using tools you enjoy using, you’ll find that you’ll be better equipped mentally (and physically) to become more productive within a system you’ve chosen. And you’ll have fun using those tools while you do.

    Think Beyond The Lists

    Don’t just make up to do lists. Make up goals that you track. Create a “vision board” to give you a road map to what you want out of your life. Keep a journal of where you’re at each day and review it regularly.

    The lists are there to ensure you have a record of what you decide to do and what you decide not to do. If you look at your to do lists, you’ll see that you accomplish some tasks and either put off or drop others. Essentially, you can use your lists as a reference for your journal of progress – in fact, it is that journal. The lists will evolve every day while the goals and visions will only do so as you and your circumstances evolve. Your lists can have a say in that evolution, so treat them as such. They can lead you to where you want to be or can lead you astray. Be mindful of that when you put them together and look at back at them.

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    Create some goals and some plans for the future – some things that go way beyond your usual lists. Don’t censor yourself. It’s not only a fun exercise, but it can be a real educational one as well.

    The Perception of Fun

    Adopting a system that enables you to be more productive can be a fun adventure. It’s all in how you look at it and the steps you take along the way.

    “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” ― Wayne W. Dyer

    Remember that by putting a system in place that creates a more productive you, you open the doors to channel the mindfulness that will bring you to where you want to be.

    Once you’re there, that’s where the real fun begins.

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    Mike Vardy

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

    4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero 35 Quick and Simple Tips for Better Productivity Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive

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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.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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