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You Need To Keep These Items On Your Desk If You Want To Increase Productivity

You Need To Keep These Items On Your Desk If You Want To Increase Productivity

Nowadays, productivity hacks can be found everywhere. Things like setting up a particular type of environment, having a certain mindset, or preventing distractions, and so on are common when productivity comes up in conversation. But have you ever thought what kind effect the objects on your desk have on your productivity?

Here are some things that I’ve found have worked for me when they’re sitting atop my desk or lack thereof.

Containers Filled with Pens or Other Writing Utensils for Productivity

One of the simplest things that I’ve done to increase my productivity is have multiple containers filled with pens and markers and pencils and all kinds of other utensils. It only takes one pen to get the job done of course. But when presented with such a variety, I’m able to really choose what I think is best for the project that I’m working on. For example, if I want to write, I go for a ballpoint pen. If I was to draw or doodle, a pencil works. If I want to color inside of the lines, I have a cup full of sharpies waiting to be used.

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But why does this increase my productivity?

The honest truth is: I don’t actually know. Maybe it’s psychological. Maybe it’s the fact that in my head, I know that pens are what makes my work get done. They sit in those containers and stare at me until I get my job done. It might work for you, too.

Sticky Notes for Reminders and Inspiration

In plain view, I have 11 sticky notes with life questions that I ask myself every so often. I also have a pad of sticky notes handy for whenever I need to jot down some notes or thoughts that I want to remember. That being said, sticky notes have helps me stay productive.

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How?

Again, I’m not really sure. I know that you’re thinking, “Hey, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” And that’s okay if you don’t think so. But if you really want to increase your productivity and you have no other options, you’ll start to do anything possible to get those juices flowing.

Pictures of Loved Ones and Favorite Places for Motivation

One thing that I do know is that the people that I am closest to in life are the people who consistently motivate me to succeed. They serve as constant reminders of why I even am on the journey that I’m on. That’s one of the things that really motivate me to be productive.

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This is simple: find pictures of your family or friends, your significant other or your dog, or even places that you want to travel to. Put them somewhere that you can constantly see them. And whenever you feel like you’re not being productive, give them a gander and kick yourself into high-gear.

Nothing (to Help You Focus)

Completely clear off your desk and give yourself a simple surface to study or work on your craft. Minimalism is something that I find often gives me a chance to really clear my head and focus on what’s in front of me. Sometimes that’s all it takes for me to increase my productivity levels. It may not be the most effective way for some people; distractions can come in all shapes and sizes, including via thoughts. But nonetheless, if you want to jumpstart your productivity, don’t be afraid to clear off your desk and work in simple terms.

These may not work for you. That’s okay. But if they do, I’d appreciate it if you shared it with your friends.

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Want to supercharge your brain? Here are 15 simple ways to do so.

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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)

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.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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