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How to Make Productivity Fun

How to Make Productivity Fun
    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.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

    7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

    The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.

    Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.

    However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…

    The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.

    Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.

    1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused

    According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.[1]

    From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.

    This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.

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    Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.

    2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode

    We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.

    Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.

    When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.

    Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.

    Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.

    You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.

    What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.

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    3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day

    This technique is a lot easier than you may think.

    First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.

    Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.

    Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.

    4. Plan Your Day the Night Before

    One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:

    “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

    If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.

    Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:

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    Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.

    When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.

    5. Learn to Say “No”

    I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.

    Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:

    Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.

    Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.

    By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.

    6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time

    This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.

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    Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.

    The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.

    Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!

    7. Be Intentional

    The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.

    There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.

    It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.

    The Bottom Line

    The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.

    Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.

    More About Staying Focused

    Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com

    Reference

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