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Use Simple Productivity Practices to Get More of the Right Things Done

Use Simple Productivity Practices to Get More of the Right Things Done

    If you are a knowledge worker and read Lifehack then we can safely say that you are in a group savvy individuals who are looking for better and more productive ways to get life done. And with this “savvyness”, comes intelligence and a constant yearning to better yourself.

    I have delved into the productivity and lifehack realm for a number of years now, and even after reading and writing post after post about how to do ‘X’ and why you should do ‘Y’, all of the lifehacking and productivity tips come back to one base theme: Simplicity.

    In a nutshell, we have to simplify our lives (including the ways that we are productive) to make sure that we are getting the right things done on a continual basis. Here is the why and how of simplifying your productivity.

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    If it isn’t simple…

    If your productivity system and tools aren’t simple, then you probably aren’t getting things done, and more importantly, you aren’t getting the right things done. We can spend all day tweaking our systems and making sure that we have set up the right GTD contexts in our “trusted system”, but until we sit down and start getting the work done, our system isn’t worth anything at all.

    So, if your systems aren’t simple, then your ability to get more and better work done will be diminished.

    Complex jobs need simple instructions

    There is nothing easy about being a knowledge worker. We have a bunch of round pegs that need put into square holes that we have to deal with on a minute-by-minute basis. It’s up to us to define and breakdown our work. We all have to know how to take complex projects and break them down into actionable units to ensure that we are making progress on them.

    We have to simplify the complex.

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    Sometimes, simplifying your life can take some complex tools, especially if you are in certain fields, but remember, the first step to completing any project is identifying the next physical thing that you have to accomplish. Without that simple step, the most complex job can end up being impossible. It doesn’t take complex productivity tools and systems to figure out what your next step is of a project; the next physical thing you have to do to reach a desired outcome. This next steps is the beginning of your simple set of instructions to complete your complex job.

    When you know you are thinking too much

    If you are anything like me, then you are a productivity system “tweak-aholic”. That is someone who can’t get enough of tweaking their systems until they are just right so they can get more done. This state of just right doesn’t truly exist. Even if you could reach this state of just right if wouldn’t help you get more things done (unless we had some sort of artificial intelligence backed productivity system that forced us to always do the next right action not matter what).

    If you are trying a ton of different systems and always switching between them, then you are thinking way too hard about “being productive” and not actually being productive. If you are in the viscous cycle of checking out “productivity porn”, then you can be sure that you are thinking and trying too hard.

    Back to simplicity

    So, now that you know you are over-complicating your productivity systems and destroying any form of getting things done, what can you do about it?

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    Simplify.

    I’m not talking about shaving your head, joining a monastery, and retreating from the “real world”. You can still lead a complicated life and work life while utilizing effective and simple productivity tools and systems. Rather than complicate the already complicated, use tools that simplify your complex life.

    We have suggested using paper in the past to clarify your projects and next actions on those projects, but if you work digitally most of the time, it’s probably better to have a few simple digital tools that will do the trick. We have a few great posts on selecting the right tools as well as some suggested tools for different platforms.

    SEE ALSO: Productivity Made Simple: Where to Start with GTD, Productivity Made Simple: The 7 Main Elements of GTD, Productivity Made Simple: How to Keep Your Projects from Killing You

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    It isn’t about the tool that you choose, as long as it is something that you can use and aren’t repelled by. It’s all about you actually interacting and utilizing the tools that you have chosen create a make good, simple decisions on what to do next.

    (Photo credit: business cube creation via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on October 6, 2020

    9 Steps to Disconnect from Social Media and Connect With Life Again

    9 Steps to Disconnect from Social Media and Connect With Life Again

    The world has never been more connected. No matter where in the world you are, you can send a message to anyone in another part of the world as long as you both have internet connection. In fact, Aussies living in the Outback will soon have access to the internet comparable to their city-dwelling counterparts. The internet not only breaks distance barriers, but also social barriers. A regular person, like you or me, can now tweet our favorite authors, athletes, and other famous personalities! Sometimes, they even respond.

    But sometimes, you may get lost in your online life that you forget to live your real life. You may focus on being more connected only to end up being disconnected with the real world. How is social media ruining your life? Watch this video to find out:

    Sometimes, you need to take a step back, disconnect from social media and connect with life once again. Here are nine ways you do so:

    1. Eliminate Gadgets for One Hour Before Sleep and After Wake Up

    You should spend the first hour of your day setting your own plans and agenda. You should be proactive in setting the direction of your day, not reactive. This way, you can determine how you want your whole day to go, not simply reacting to how other people want you to spend your day. During the first hour of your day, you can pray, meditate, connect with yourself, set your to-dos, and set your goals.

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    You should also spend the last hour of your day preparing to rest–your body and your mind. If you check your social media profile before going to bed, your mind will not get the rest it deserves as you will fill your mind with your friends’ updates on their news feeds, which do not necessarily make your life any better in any way or give you rest.

    2. Turn Off All Your Push Notifications

    It does not only save your battery life, it also saves you from a lot of distractions. Turn off all your push notifications from email, chat, and social media applications. In case of really urgent matters, people will give you a call.

    Success is about momentum. How can you gain momentum when notifications keep distracting you?

    3. Keep your phone in a drawer while you’re working.

    Sometimes, merely seeing your phone can distract you whether or not your notifications have been turned off. So, why not take the extra mile and completely hide it away from your sight given you can still hear urgent phone calls?

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    Again, it’s all about building momentum.

    4. Use Only One Device for Checking Social Media

    Facebook on your desktop, on your laptop, on your smartphone, and, now, even on your Apple Watch? That’s great! For Facebook that is. But, not for your focus and productivity. The more devices you have that can log in to your social media profiles, the more distractions you have to avoid.

    Of course, you still have to be connected online. But, use only one device to do so. This will help you condition your mind (and discipline yourself) that your gadgets are your tools for doing more important things than aimlessly scrolling down your news feed.

    5. Give Yourself 30 Minutes to Stay Connected

    Yes, you still have to log in! Being connected through social media is really a must in this technology-driven world. But, set a time limit for it. Otherwise, you will only waste hours each day. Give yourself thirty minutes (an hour at most) each day to respond to text messages, check notifications, accept friend requests, and respond to comments. I know you still want to. Unless, of course, you’re a social media manager. That’s a different story.

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    In case you cannot discipline yourself to stop logging in to social media, you can use browser extensions like StayFocusd for Google Chrome to limit the time you spend on them.

    6. Allot One Hour of Your Day to Respond to Emails

    In this increasingly online world, email still remains the most personal way of online communication. This is where the most important engagements still happen online. Other social media like Friendster and Multiply have come and gone, but email still remains. That’s why you can spend another hour each day checking and responding to your emails.

    7. Subscribe to Your Favorite Websites via RSS or Email

    Most of us rely on social media as well to get updates on our favorite blogs and website. But, social media are full of distractions. Instead, be proactive in getting updates as well. Subscribe via RSS or email to make sure that the only updates you receive are the updates you really want to receive.

    Don’t have an RSS reader? Try Feedly. Using RSS readers may be a bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will save you from a lot of distractions. But, it can also get addicting. So schedule catching up on your RSS reader as well!

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    8. Use Third Party Applications to Post on Social Media

    In case you really need to post updates, use third party applications such as Hootsuite and Buffer. That way, you can avoid logging in to your social media accounts and getting distracted by your news feed and notifications. Because once you’ve logged in, it’s difficult to log out! You don’t fight temptation, you avoid it!

    9. Live a Real Life

    Most importantly, live a real life, interact with real people, and be awesome in the real world! Don’t stress yourself making your profile wonderful. Live an awesome life and it will automatically follow!

    Do exciting stuff. Write a book. Plan a trip. Whatever. Just be awesome!

    Most importantly, live a life that matters and you don’t have to get your satisfaction and fulfillment from likes and shares ever again!

    How About You?

    What do you do to disconnect from social media and connect with your life once again?

    Featured photo credit: Singularity University NL: Man versus Machine – Biology versus Technology by Sebastiaan ter Burg via imcreator.com

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