Wouldn’t it be great to go home from work each day feeling as though you’d accomplished everything you wanted? Many times we start our days with energy and enthusiasm only to get pulled off track and make only sporadic progress. This can leave us feeling frustrated, discouraged, and can give us a sense that we have little control over our lives. Luckily there are ways we can help ourselves stay on track and get more of the right things done.
Here are 5 ways to boost your productivity so you can set yourself up for success each and every day.
5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Productivity
Most of us attack our days overwhelmed by jam packed to-do lists and a million thoughts running around in our heads. To take charge of all those to-do’s and thoughts, try and boil them down to three intentions. Intentions are high level and help you make decisions about which of your to-do’s you should do first, and whether all of your to-do’s need to be done at all. Once you’ve decided on your three intentions, ask yourself the following:
- What do I need to think and do today that will allow me to feel productive based on my intentions?
- Is how I’m spending my time taking me closer to or further away from my intentions?
- How can I better organize my day around my intentions?
By limiting yourself to three intentions, and using them to guide what you do throughout your day, you can stay productive and quickly get back on track when interruptions crop up.
Distracts are one of the biggest things that derail people from not only getting things done but from feeling as though they’re productive. So many of us suffer from overload due to the bombardment of a 24 hour news cycle, endless notifications on our devices, and feelings of needing to keep up with a wide variety of things, whether they impact us or not. While some distractions can’t be helped such as work related emails, meetings, and interactions, the first place to start eliminating distractions is by taking a hard look at what we allow to distract us. In order to start reining in distractions ask yourself the following:
- What distracts me most? Is it following something online? Is it interacting with others?
- What am I gaining from allowing each distraction to be in my life?
- How are my values aligned with my distractions? How does each distraction reward me?
- How are my distractions impacting my work flow?
- How can I eliminate or minimize distractions so I can work toward my intentions for today and feel more productive?
A great way to quickly think about distractions is this 3 step process: Think Value, Think Flow, Think Finished. If a distraction ultimately has little to no value, ditch it so you can stay in your work flow and focus on finishing what you’ve started.
Work With – Not Against – Your Work Style
Knowing how you work best – and working with that style instead of against it – is another key to making positive progress and feeling satisfied throughout your day. Planners like to keep things organized, check things off lists, often work best in time blocks, and generally don’t like fire drills. Pantsers are more free – flowing, and like to move from task to task. They don’t much care for structure and enjoy the variety that comes with not having things “all planned out.” Pantsers sometimes also work better when they have a deadline hanging over their head and they feel pressured to get something done. Unlike Planners, they need that pressure to motivate them to act.
Figuring out if you’re a Planner or a Pantser (or somewhere between the two) can help you understand how you work best. Knowing your own work style can also help you understand how to better interact with those around you, and why some people may not understand why you work the way you do. Knowing your work style can also give you insight into how others in your industry and company work as well. Regardless of whether you’re a Planner or a Pantser, you can be productive by working with your style using intentions to guide you and purposefully minimizing distractions.
Ditch the Rules
One of the best ways to shift your thinking about productivity is to ditch the rules. So many times people do things the same way forever – not questioning them, not re-thinking them – believing that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And while this works part of the time, staying in old patterns of thinking and doing can eventually close your mind to new opportunities or better / more effective ways of doing things.
Both Planners and Pantsers can resist rule-ditching because it runs counter to how they best work. Planners may balk at a less structured more free-form approach while Pantsers probably won’t appreciate overly structured ways of approaching the same problem. The point of rule-ditching isn’t so much to be the rebel that goes against the grain, it’s to look at what needs to be done and understand that there can be several paths to achieve the end goal, and that each path is valid.
Taking breaks may feel counterintuitive to being productive but it’s critical to keeping your energy up and your mind recharged. If at all possible, try to walk away from your desk (and your tech gadgets) even if it’s only for five minutes. Clearing your mind will help you return to your intentions with fresh eyes – and sometimes fresh ideas. Taking time throughout the day to step back and give yourself a mental break can help you stay energized so you can keep your momentum going.
Productivity isn’t about the number of things you cross off a list, it’s about the feelings you get when you’ve created something of value in an efficient way. By staying focused on your day through intentions, minimizing distractions, knowing how you work best, and taking breaks so you can look at things through fresh eyes, you can help yourself get more done and feel your best doing it.
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