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Productivity Hacks: 8 Things That Are Hurting Your Productivity

Productivity Hacks: 8 Things That Are Hurting Your Productivity

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    Not feeling productive enough?

    Yeah, this can happen to the best of us. Our life gets tangled into so much clutter that eventually getting out of it seems like an impossible task.

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    Take some hard steps today. Waiting for things to improve, especially when you know that waiting is certainly not going to help, is only going to make things slower for you. To make your life more productive, take strong decisions and do not overlook minor issues. While big problems need bigger fixes, small ones can just go unnoticed and continue to hamper your productivity.

    1. Dump Someone Today

    Let’s start with the big point first. Our productivity gets hurt the most from things that are either very minor or often is overlooked, or they are due to someone else’s fault. Here are a few ways to deal with each one.

    1. Kids in your home – While this one is a bit too deep (and surely I could come up with an entire article dedicated to this point alone) here in this article I am going to just point out one tip for all those that are working from home: Get out and go somewhere else! This might sound odd to many, but if you are serious about your productivity then it is better to just find a rented space and stay there during your work hours. Handling kids in your home office is just not possible, many have tried it and failed. Trust me on this.
    2. Older parents – Again, a point that will never get many votes, but this is a very important one. An example of this is Jennifer Gresham, who fired her father — and that was her best career move ever.

    Let’s come back to some of the minor points that affect our productivity in more than ways we can handle. Fixing them is easy — the problem is that we start dealing with it and take it for granted.

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    2. Kill That Noise

    Certain noise is part of our lives. It can be anything — perhaps your computer fan, or the computer table whose repair you kept postponing. Small noises can be very distracting, and in the long term they can hamper your productivity. Here’s how you can combat that:

    • Shout out to your neighbors. If your neighbor’s kid is bothering you with yelling or their pet keeps barking all day long, consider some serious action against them. Don’t let other people bother you.
    • Install a noise reduction mechanism. Some noise you can deal with, others you just have to live with. If the traffic outside is your concern and it can’t be helped, try fighting it off with some noise reduction methods.
    • Switch off that TV in the next room. A low-sound television or music player being enjoyed in the next room can still steal some of your valuable concentration. If the program is not important enough, try switching it off. Better still, try lowering the sound further and closing the door to make sure that it does not entertain you.
    • Get a peaceful computer.  Don’t we all want a Mac? So get it.

    3. Pet Management

    Barking dogs are never my cup of tea. But if your pet is important to you, then it is time to learn some lessons on pet management. Get “offline” help from your local pet expert. There are many things that you do not know about pets, and perhaps that is the reason why your beloved pet is not really happy with you.

    4. Snacks

    This is an excellent choice when it comes to watching TV, films or sports — but when it comes to getting some work done, snacks are just another distraction. The simple reason is that entertainment and work are totally different things and thus a different kind of concentration is required to get the work done.

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    5. Overall Health

    Poor health can be a big reason for your productivity drop. Have you put on some extra weight? Is your lack of exercise a reason why you might be having stomach and gastric problems? Without getting into some real health tips here — just make sure to exercise a bit, get enough green vegetables in your daily food intake, and increase your water consumption for a bit of health improvement.

    • Lack of sleep. 8 hours a day of sleep is important to keep your spirits high. While that extra hour of late night work might sound like a good idea when running late on a deadline, the quality of work will surely take a beating — if not instantly, in the long haul. Do yourself a favor: don’t mess around with your sleeping routine. Fix it…while you still can.
    • Is something bothering you? If that is the case, then get that fixed first. In case you can’t fix it, stop thinking about it. And that’s that. Here is a small mantra that you should follow.

    Stop thinking about things beyond your control and you will be fine.

    6. Your Workplace Setup

    Yaro Starak has a standing setup at his workplace. That is, he does all his computer related work standing. The point is — feel free to do that which improves your productivity.

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    7. Quit Your Addictions

    While tea and coffee can sometimes help in increasing your productivity, I doubt very much that alcohol or smoking will.

    8. Time Management

    Is your workload killing your productivity? Setting up a timetable properly will help you to improve your overall productivity. Start doing all the creative work at the start of the day. If the extra hour of late night work is really important, allocate email checking and other “junk” work for that time period. (Note: If this article was not written in the early hours of the day, it would have surely lacked in its flavor.)

    Fixing minor issues can sometimes play a big role in enhancing your overall productivity and allow your creativity to flow like never before.

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2019

    How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

    How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

    We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

    With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

    So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

    1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

    Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

    So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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    You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

    If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

    Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

    2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

    Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

    Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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    Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

    Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

    3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

    If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

    This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

    Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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    When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

    If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

    Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

    4. Get up and Move

    We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

    When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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    If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

    Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

    It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

    Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

    The Bottom Line

    It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

    Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

    More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity

    Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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