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How to Supercharge your Productivity the Richard Branson Way

How to Supercharge your Productivity the Richard Branson Way

    Tim Ferriss wrote in his book The Four Hour Body about an occasion where a group of people were assembled on Richard Branson’s private island to brainstorm growth options for Branson’s Virgin Unite project. Branson was posed with the question, “How do you become more productive?”

    Branson leaned back and thought for a second. Then he said, “Work out.”

    He said that working out gave him at least four additional hours of productive time every day.

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    Benefits of Exercise

    We are all familiar with the multitude of benefits that exercise can bring into our lives. Regular exercise can control weight gain, improve health, prevent illness, improve mood and reduce sleep problems. Doctors also say it leads to a better sex life. Need I go on?

    But Branson has reminded us of a further benefit: Working out can assist us to become more productive. It increases our energy levels, reduces stress and improves stamina (and not just in the board room). But if you are already working out regularly what else can you do to become super-productive this year?

    Vision

    Having a clear vision for the future is a strong motivator when it comes to getting things done. If you have a plan, have set goals and know what you are working towards, it is easier to know what your priorities are and what you should be working on daily. One of the biggest problems when it comes to productivity is not that people don’t work hard enough but that they spend too much time working on the wrong things. Having a vision can reduce the chances of this occurring.

    Awareness

    Leadership expert Robin Sharma says:

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    “Better awareness leads to better decisions, which leads to better results”

    Knowing where you are now, how you currently work and how you currently spend your time can help you to make informed decisions about which tasks can be eliminated and which tasks you need to focus more on. When you know what you want to achieve and you understand how you time is best spent, the next step is to have a system.

    Systems

    What’s a system? Most of you who hang around Lifehack know what a productivity system is. David Allen has dominated the space with GTD (Getting Things Done).

    But systems are not just about organizing your work.

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    Having a system for organizing your clothes, your life and your dinners all assist in making life easier and reducing stress. Minimalism has become a fashionable system of late. So instead of trying to organize your life, why not simplify it? Eliminate all that is unnecessary and your life will be simpler and easier to organize.

    Technology

    Technology has become an enormous benefit to productivity. It can help us to do our work more quickly and efficiently most of the time. But we must choose our programs wisely.

    Firstly, we need to understand our personal requirements and then spend time understanding the programs we have chosen to help us. Spending time familiarizing yourself with your new programs can end up being a time waster, so choosing wisely is crucial. Technology is a great benefit — but can also be a huge distraction and a challenge to focus.

    Eliminate Distractions

    Social Media. It’s fun,  and can be beneficial for marketing and networking. But it could also be described as “public enemy number one” when it come to productivity.

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    Far too easily we get sucked into the flirtatious 140 characters, the unmissable articles that would prevent us from living a fulfilled life if they were to remain unread, the friends that can’t live without knowing what we did on Saturday night. We must take control and decide how much time we are going to spend on social media and then stick with it. The world won’t end if you resist to digg, stumble, tweet or post for a couple of hours each day. Turn off all message notifications — including email alerts — on both your phone and your computer. Remember to stay at the helm and not allow the waves to take control of where you go.

    Conclusion

    All of these tips can assist you in becoming more productive, happier and more successful, but remember it’s not sustainable to try too much at once.

    So, if you were to change one habit this month then maybe it should be to work out more. The abundant benefits are undeniable — and if Sir Richard Branson does it…well, what more can I say?

    (Photo credit: Jet Climbs After Taking Off via Shutterstock)

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    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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