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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Be More Productive: 4 Tiny Tweaks to Make

How to Be More Productive: 4 Tiny Tweaks to Make

Everyone assumes that being more productive is simply about getting more done in less time. If you are a productive person, you definitely accomplish more in months than many people do in years.

But productivity is more of a way of being. You could be doing less and at the same time, be more productive. What do you think of when you think about ‘being more productive in your life’?

On your search for being more productive, you are likely to come across a wealth of information on different tools, techniques and tips to employ. Most of the time, it may seem like common sense; however, common sense is definitely not common practice and this is why many individuals struggle to increase their productivity.

Most of what you will read will improve your results, but another contributing factor is that some of the suggestions just don’t seem to resonate with people or cannot be easily applied.

I am not going to tell you where you can buy a magic pill to take away any effort you need to make to achieve what you want, but I am going to share with you 4 tiny tweaks that really work to be more productive.

It is not only about applying the best practices but also applying yourself more and in different ways. So how to be more productive?

1. Get out of Your Own Way

Sometimes all you need to do is stop sabotaging yourself and get out of your own way.

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What do I mean exactly?

You might tend to look at all the extrinsic factors of why you can’t be more productive and you might blame, complain and point fingers at everyone and everything, except yourself.

When the blame cannot be directed externally, you might then resort to using excuses, desperately searching for a justification that will give you comfort because ‘you have no control over what happens.’

How many excuses do you have and live by each day? ‘I couldn’t do this because…or I don’t have time to do this because…’ I am not saying that your excuses might not be valid, but I strongly believe that more than 80% of the time, they are not real; it is an avoidance technique that we subconsciously use.

Not dealing with procrastination is a clear example of standing in your own way. Nobody else is going to suddenly make it go away; it will be there the next time you attempt to do whatever it is that you are procrastinating.

Put results before comfort, get out of your own way, and stop making excuses. Like Nike says, “just do it!”

Ask yourself honestly:

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‘How are you standing in your own way in some areas?’

2. Talk to Yourself Differently

Productive individuals think very differently than others. You need to challenge your thoughts and develop a productive mindset.

What is the main difference? A productive person doesn’t think along the lines of ‘Oh no, I have got so much to do. What am I going to do?’ ‘I am so stressed. I can’t think straight’ or ‘I am so overwhelmed. I wish this…or that…’

But instead, they think:

  • I need to do x and y. What is the best way for me to get everything done?
  • What is causing the stress? What needs to change so that I manage this situation better?
  • What can I do to improve this, considering the current circumstances?

The words and phrases you use immediately empower you or they don’t; they either make you feel better or more stressed.

The words you use, ‘your self talk,’ is pivotal to everything in life because you always act on them, whether they support you or not.

How could you change the way you are thinking to be more productive and empowered? Here’re some essential tips: Self-Talk Determines Your Success: 15 Essential Tips

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3. Adjust the Suit to Fit Your Body

Time management supports productivity. They go hand-in-hand.

Most people often overlook the fact that time management is not a cookie cutter though, and what might suit you won’t necessarily work for your colleague or best friend.

You need to take the advice given from a meta view and then adjust it to your situation specifically.

Think about clothes shopping:

Sometimes the suit doesn’t fit and you need to make adjustments and tweaks so that it fits your body perfectly. The same is true with time management and being more productive. You need to personalize what you read to your needs.

If some tips and techniques don’t work for you, instead of throwing in the towel, find a way to adjust them to suit your situation. Otherwise, it is like wanting to get healthier but resisting a change in lifestyle.

You can’t avoid it, so if you don’t like it, adjust it to suit your specific needs and make it work for you.

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4. Identify Your Time Thieves

We all have time thieves but most of us don’t even know what they are.

If you can identify your biggest time thieves, the activities or situations that throw you off course, distract or interrupt you, or the bad habits that keep you from performing better, you will improve your results much more quickly.

If you try to study and apply different techniques and you ignore your current thieves, the effort will remain fruitless.

If you just aim to change one of your worst time management habits, you will change your results immediately. It will most likely also give you the impetus to change what else isn’t working, once you feel the reward of your efforts and you see the clear connection between what you do and what your reality is.

Think about one thing, that if you changed right now, would have the biggest positive influence on your productivity. Write this down, think about what causes or contributes to this and what your solution will be moving forward.

If you aren’t sure what have been distracting you, this guide can help you: How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus

Don’t forget to put results before comfort, if that is what you really want. Most people give up without ever knowing that they really can achieve their goals, meet their objectives and transform their lives!

More to Boost Your Productivity

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

10 Negative Thoughts We All Have and What to Think Instead 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2021 Updated) 22 Hardest But Most Important Things You Must Do To Achieve Success 4 Reasons Why You Can’t Achieve Your Goals

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Last Updated on March 2, 2021

How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus

How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus

You sit at your desk, ready to finally get some work done. “Okay, lets do this,” you think to yourself. You scroll over to Word (or Excel, or Office, etc.) and open up a fresh document. You have some idea of what needs to be done, but what happens next?

You write a few words down but just can’t stay focused. Then you say “Maybe I should wake myself up with something fun.” You go to Facebook, 20 minutes gone. Then comes Youtube, 60 minutes gone. Before you know it, lunchtime has come and half the day is gone.

Does this seem familiar? Do you ever find yourself wasting your day?

Well it doesn’t have to be this way, all you need to do is focus on finishing this article to find out how to not get distracted easily.

But before we move on to the tips, here’re some important notes you need to know:

  • Avoiding distraction is tough. You’re not alone when it comes to distractions. It’s not easy staying on task when you need to work for hours at a time, but some people are able to do it. The question is: why them and not you?
  • You were never taught how to focus. It’s funny how all throughout our school days we were never taught HOW to learn and be focused, even though that’s all we did. It was just assumed, and ultimately it was hit or miss on whether or not you ended up knowing how to do those things at all.
  • The tools to help master your ability to focus. Since everyone’s left to their own devices, it’s up to you to find ways to master your focus ability. That’s what these tips are for, so you can finally stay focused and on track with what we want to accomplish for ourselves.

So without further ado, let’s get started. 

1. Keep Your Vision and Goals in Mind

First things first, why do you even need to focus? Do you want to become a skilled guitar player? Do you want to write a novel? Do you want to start working from home?

Think about it.

Knowing why we need to stay focused can help us push through the tough and tedious parts of accomplishing our goals. That’s when our ability to focus is really tested and when it’s most needed.

2. Reduce the Chaos of Your Day by Focusing on 2 to 3 Important Tasks

If you have 20 tasks you need done everyday how effective do you think your focus ability will be? Terrible, right?

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You can’t expect to do those things with sophistication if you’re too scatterbrained to focus. You need to break it down to the essentials.

Focus on only doing 2-3 important tasks a day (even one is okay), but no more than that. It’s all you need to take steps towards accomplishing your goals. Slower is much better than giving up early because you took on too much, too early.

3. Do Those Tasks as Soon as Possible

In order to make sure you get those 2 to 3 tasks done, you need to do them early. This means as soon as you wake up, you’re already plotting how to do them.

So get up, use the bathroom, eat breakfast, and do it (Yes, BEFORE work is the best time to do it).

It’s tough, but waiting to do them only invites distraction to take over. Those distractions WILL come, and they will drain your willpower. This makes working on your goals harder to do, so don’t wait do work on your goals, do them as early as possible.

4. Focus on Only the Smallest Part of Your Work at a Time

An easy way to kill your focus is to see a goal for the big giant accomplishment that it is. Most goals will at least take a few weeks to months to accomplish, and knowing that can make it feel like it’ll take FOREVER to do.

This will cause you to do one of two things:

  • You become discouraged because the goal is too big; or
  • You fantasize about what it’ll feel like to achieve the goal

Either way is terrible for your focus and always a potential problem when focusing on the big picture or using visualization.

So what should you do? Focus on doing a very small, minimum amount of work instead.

For example, which seems easier:

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Writing 200 words per day or writing a minimum of 2 sentences per day?

20 pushups per day or a minimum of 1 pushup per day?

The key here is to use minimums. Chances are you’ll push past them.

Eventually your minimum will increase, and you’ll slowly improve your ability to stay focused on the bigger tasks.

5. Visualize Yourself Working

I briefly mentioned in tip #4 that visualization techniques can hurt you more than help you sometimes. But there is a proper way of using visualization, and it’s by visualizing yourself actually WORKING (not as if you’ve succeeded already).

Champion runners use this technique to great effect, usually by working backwards. They imagine themselves winning at first, then they act out the whole process in reverse, feeling and visualizing each step all the way to the beginning.

A quicker and more relevant way to apply this would be to imagine yourself doing a small part of the task at hand.

For instance, if you need to practice your guitar but it’s all the way across the room (let’s assume maximum laziness for the sake of this example), what should you do?

First, imagine standing up (really, think of the sensation of getting up and then do it). If you really imagined it, visualized and felt the act of standing up, then acting on that feeling will be easy.

Then repeat the visualization process with each step till you have that guitar in hand and you’re playing it. The process of focusing so intently on each step distracts you from how much you don’t want to do something, and the visualizations “ready your body” for each step you need done.

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All you need to do is apply this process to whatever it is you need to focus on, just start with the smallest motion you need to do.

6. Control Your Internal Distractions

Internal distractions are one of those problems you can’t really run away from. You need to find ways to prepare your mind for work, and find simple ways to keep it from straying to non-essential thoughts as well.

A good way to prime your mind for work is to have a dedicated work station. If you always work in a specific area, then your mind will associate that area with work related thoughts.

Simple enough, right? When you take breaks make sure to leave your work station, that way you’ll know when you’re “allowed” to let your thoughts roam free as well.

Deadlines are useful here also (use Pomodoro method for example, see tip #9). This method helps keep your mind from wandering around since you’ve got that looming deadline coming along.

If you can build your focus muscle, you will be able to take control of your internal distractions all the time. How? Join this free Fast-Track Class – Focus Like Top Achievers to find out.

Ultimately though, silencing those unwanted thoughts is all about getting some traction going. So instead of focusing on what’s happening internally, focus getting something done (anything!). Once you do that, you’ll see that all your thoughts will be about finishing your task.

7. Remove External Distractions

This tip is straightforward, just get away from things that distract you.

Is the television a distraction? Work in another room. Are the kids distracting you? Get up earlier and work before they wake up. Is the Internet distracting? Turn off the modem.

It’s usually obvious what you should do, but you still shouldn’t overlook this piece of advice.

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8. Skip What You Don’t Know

This is a tip I don’t see often enough, if you hit a snag in your work then come back to it later. Focus your attention on what you CAN do, keep working “mindlessly” at all costs. All this means is that you should focus on the easy parts first.

Eventually you can come back to the more difficult parts, and hopefully by then it’ll have come to you or you’ll have built up enough momentum that it won’t break your focus if you work on it.

9. Improve Your Discipline With Focus Practice

There’s a few focus exercises you can do to improve your overall discipline.

The first one is meditation, which is basically the definition of focus in practice. Think about it, you’re literally just sitting there doing nothing. It’s a great method for building focus ability, de-stressing, and giving you greater control over your emotions. You should definitely give meditation a shot.

The second exercise is the Pomodoro method. These are basically “focus sprints,” and each one is followed by a solid break. Like real sprints, you’ll get better and better at doing them over time. Each interval improves your ability to stay focused when it matters, so it’s more than worth your time to try this out.

10. Manage Your Momentum

Momentum is like a discipline lubricant‒it helps ease the process of sticking with goals. That’s why I think it’s important that we never take true breaks from our goals; we end up losing momentum and relying on discipline to get back on track (not an easy thing to do).

This means each and everyday we need to do something significant to further our goals (yes, even weekends and holidays). And when I say “significant,” I don’t necessarily mean a big task‒but rather, any task that brings us closer to our goals.

For instance, if your goal is to be a freelance writer, then write one single pitch on a weekend. If your goal is get healthy, then go for a short 5 minute walk even on Christmas day.

Nothing big, nothing crazy, only stuff that is significant enough to contribute to the success of your overall goal.

More Tips on Staying Focused

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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