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The Benefits of Simple Productivity

The Benefits of Simple Productivity
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Simplicity is often perceived as boring, unattractive and unremarkable.  Majority of people want something striking and complicated.

But as Leonardo da Vinci has said,

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Different to the common belief, simplicity is not boring, unattractive or unremarkable.  In fact, simplicity represents elegance and complexity.

The Misconception of Being Productive

The common error of people who aim to succeed at something is the tendency to make the process complicated, such as over analysis and accepting responsibility beyond one’s capacity.

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Take for an instance when an individual or company spends too much time planning and perfecting a product.  By the time the product is completed and released in the market, competitors have already dominated it.  Another example is when an individual accepts a lot of responsibility that is beyond their capacity.  They think that having many work responsibilities and working long hours are marks of a productive and fulfilled life.

However, being productive neither needs too much analysis nor working long hours. If only we knew how to keep things simple.

The Benefits

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. ~ Henry David Thoreau

If you want to be more productive with minimal effort and stress, learn how to simplify and stay focus. Here are the benefits of simple productivity:

1.  Clarity

Simplicity aids clarity; the directness of expression and purpose. It contributes to the ability of having a clear description of what needs to be done, why it is important to accomplish, and how it will be accomplished.

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2.  Focus

The majority of people are incapable of staying focused. They get easily distracted and lured away from their goal. They lose attention to what is important and needs to be done. This leads to an unproductive and stressful life.

Focus is the next benefit of simplicity. By keeping things simple, it helps you keep an appropriate amount of attention on the most important task at the appropriate perspective and time. By itself, staying focus creates more output with less effort and time.

3.  Elimination

A key to eliminating queasiness is to focus on the horizon. – David Allen

Diseases can be caused by stress and exhaustion. In order to succeed a person tends to abuse oneself in exchange for hard work. They have a habit of sacrificing most areas of their life such as family, social, financial, physical and emotional health.

Another benefit of simple productivity is that it allows you to leave things undone. It encourages you to say no to unimportant things and focus your whole energy to the important ones. It saves you time and energy. You no longer have to sacrifice areas in your life in exchange for work. Remember that the wisdom of life consists in elimination of the non-essentials.

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4.  Effectiveness

There are people who sacrifice quality in exchange for quantity. In order to accommodate and accomplish more tasks they tend to overlook some important process which leads to poor quality and error.

The next benefit of simple productivity is effectiveness in getting more things done. When you are clear and focus on what you want to achieve, you can concentrate on producing quality work. Your attention and effort is centralized; you are able to produce quality and efficient output.

5.  Tranquility

A disease shared by people who desire to succeed is the inability to rest, relax and achieve peace of mind. They tend to carry the weight of their work responsibility and stress wherever they go. It becomes evident in the expression of their face, body and tone.

The benefit of simplicity is that it provides more peace in your life. Simplicity assists you in creating clear goals, focusing on your actions, and getting more done. These factors help in eliminating the clutter and stress produced by undefined goals or purpose. It provides peace and tranquility in your life.

6.  Work-Life Balance

In the past, I couldn’t imagine how it was possible to achieve work-life balance. I’ve spent most of my time working long hours in the office in order to get ahead in the corporate world and achieve my definition of success. But after I learned the value of simple productivity, I learned that life is not all about work. There are other areas in our lives that are as important as career and financial success.

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The last benefit of simplicity is that it helps you have more time on your hands. You are able to achieve work-life balance when you are clear about your goal and staying focused on what needs to be done. This eliminates the unnecessary activity that leads to stress and fatigue. It also gives you more time for other important areas in your life.

People who are able to enjoy life while reaping success at the same time are the ones who understand the value of simplicity in productivity.

I hope this article has somehow enlightened you to the reality that you don’t have to sacrifice so many things in your life just to be productive and successful. All you need to do is to keep things simple and try your best to avoid making it complicated.

For a final note, let me leave you this phrase from the late Steve Jobs, founder and former CEO of Apple, Inc:

That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. 

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Lou Macabasco

Lou Macabasco aspires to spread positive motivation.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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