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The First 6 Steps You Can Take To Become Productive Instantly

The First 6 Steps You Can Take To Become Productive Instantly

Productivity is very important. Productivity means being able to achieve more than usual within the same amount of time. You’re able to squeeze the most out of life. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t very productive. The good news is it only takes a few practical steps to enhance our productivity.

Keep in mind that, while productivity improves gradually, there are ways to kick start it instantly. Here are 6 steps to follow right now:

1. Look at the Big Picture

When you’re losing productivity, the first thing to do is step back and think about what you’d like to achieve in the long run, and what matters to you the most. Next, look at the potential activities you can involve yourself in, in relation to that.

You’ll immediately get more clarity, you’ll feel more motivated to take action, and thus your productivity will instantly increase. Even if the tasks are hard, looking at the big picture will embolden you to do them .

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2. Anchor Yourself in the Present

One of the biggest productivity killers is distractions. Whether it’s a TV running in the background that routinely grabbing your awareness, or a series of thoughts that run in your head and are unrelated to the tasks at hand, distractions put much of your attention in the wrong place, and hurt your productivity immensely.

Overcome distractions and anchor yourself in the present. Sometimes this means eliminating external distractions, like turning off your TV. Other times it means being in the moment. Take a deep breath, clear your mind of unwanted thoughts, and become present. This simple exercise, done repeatedly, works wonders for your productivity.

3. Delay Gratification

Frequently we are not productive because the task is not as fun as some other activity. It’s tempting to abandon the less enjoyable task for the less valuable one.

This is where delaying gratification comes in. Don’t allow yourself to do that thing you enjoy most until you have taken care of that task with a lot of value. Put business before pleasure.

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Once your mind realizes that the only way to get to that fun activity is by doing some other activity first, you’ll become highly motivated to get this other activity done, which boosts in your productivity. This is how you make gratification work for you, not against you.

4. Eat a Healthy Meal

Even though it seems like a minor factor, what you eat influences your productivity. A lot of us eat in a hurry, and we eat really appalling meals, with lots of sugar, lots of unhealthy carbs, and low nutritional value.

A meal like that will make you feel full, but it will also make your energy level plummet. After eating you’ll feel exhausted and lethargic, so you can bet that your productivity won’t be too high, either.

On the other hand, eating a nutritious meal, containing fruits, vegetables, and lean meats will boost your energy and make you feel good, which will help your productivity. So pay attention to what you eat, and eat food that gives you energy instead of taking away from it.

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5. Chunk Everything Down

Sometimes we deal with tasks that are really big and will take months to accomplish. When we look at big tasks, their size can feel overwhelming, and this can de-motivate us. Handle this issue by breaking every big task into much smaller tasks, and focus primarily on the small tasks.

For example, let’s say that your big task is writing an entire book. You can break that down into writing a number of small chapters, and then when you work, instead of thinking about the whole book, concentrate on the chapter you have to write. Writing a small chapter is a much more manageable task than writing a whole book, and before you know it,  you’ll have written the whole book.

6. Take Regular Breaks

It may seem counterintuitive, but regular breaks actually increase your productivity, as long as they’re not too frequent or too long. Breaks give your mind and body a chance to rest and recover, so that when you get back to work, you’ll be more efficient and productive.

Conversely, people who almost never take breaks when they work in an attempt to become productive, only succeed in exhausting themselves. They may work more, but at a much lower efficiency, which is bad for them and bad for the quality of the work they do.

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The best thing about these 6 steps is that you can start applying them immediately. As soon as you begin, you’ll see your productivity improve. You’ll get more done, and the quality of your work will improve.

Small productivity boosts every day add up to big productivity shifts in the long-term. And big long-term shifts drastically alter your life for the better. Isn’t that what most of us seek?

Featured photo credit: Blumpy via flickr.com

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Eduard Ezeanu

Eduard is a confidence and communication coach with 7+ years of experience.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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