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The 5 Biggest Productivity Questions Answered…by You

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The 5 Biggest Productivity Questions Answered…by You

    You’re here because you want to get tips, tricks and insights on how to amp up your productivity or discover how you can “hack” your life. The things you’re looking for can vary from business needs to lifestyle changes, from software recommendations to quick and easy recipes that make your busy life just a little less busy.

    But before you dive into all of that, before you dive into what could very well be a wellspring (or overload) of information, I’d ask you to look deeper than the surface reasons of why you’re here. In fact, you need to ask yourself some of the biggest questions you can about productivity in order to really get the best from what we’re offering – and from yourself.

    The reasons these questions are big is because of the sheer honesty with which you need to answer them. They’re not about the little things you want to life hack; they’re about the life you want to lead as a whole. If you don’t answer them with brutal honesty in mind, you really aren’t answering them at all.

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    So here goes…the 5 biggest questions about productivity you need to ask yourself…

    What Are You Being Productive For?

    What are you doing that requires you to be more productive? What are the reasons behind it? Furthermore, is the “what” really worth being more productive for? Is it what you really want to be doing?

    This doesn’t have to be applied to anything huge…but it often leads to it. It can be about a task you keep trying to become more efficient and effective at, but it’s not something you’re really getting much out of. It can also be a job you’re doing that you’re not happy doing. The “what” is the first thing you need to look at, because once you’ve done that then you can move on to the other questions with a lot more clarity.

    Who Are You Being Productive For?

    Who are you trying to get better for? You shouldn’t have to think too hard about this. Because if that first person isn’t you, then you’re doing it wrong.

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    Without making these efforts for yourself, they won’t have a lasting or genuine impact. They are based on not what you want, but the wants of others. You need to put your own self first when shooting for improved productivity. Otherwise, those that you are doing it for won’t get the full force of what you really are capable of.

    When Are You Being Productive For?

    Are you thinking long term with your productivity tweaks? Or are you just trying to get better at the day-to-day?

    I’m not suggesting that daily tasks aren’t important, but if you don’t make the “when” have some longer term aspirations in mind then you’re really not making progress. When driving a car, we’re taught to look far ahead down the road so that we can react better should something unexpected come into our path. But how many of us who have been driving for years have allowed that scope to shrink? I know that I have from time to time, and when you think about that from a safety perspective, it’s kind of scary.

    Make sure you have more than just today as your “when”, or else you won’t be able to avoid the obstacles that may impede you tomorrow.

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    Why Are You Being Productive?

    Why do you want to level up? Is it for a promotion? For a better family life? For both?

    This is perhaps the biggest of the questions because it has multiple answers. The thing is that all of the answers had better align with each other in some form or another and yet not interfere with each other as well. It’s a delicate balance, but if you are really honest with yourself and are willing to take the risks necessary to better align yourself then it can also be the biggest contributor to enhanced productivity.

    The Big Follow Up Question…

    After each of these questions, you need to ask yourself this question: How come?

    How come you’re only looking at a daily to do list instead of setting goals for the future? How come you’re taking on improving your productivity for other people before yourself? How come you’re doing a “what” that you’re really not enjoying?

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    With some honest answers to the follow-up question, you’ll find that you’ll also start looking at how you can change things for the better.

    And that’s why you’re really here…isn’t it?

    (Photo credit: Businessman Standing Alone via Shutterstock)

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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 October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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