Do you start off the day with a long list of things that need to be done only to be shocked hours later when you realise you didn’t get anything done and was totally non-productive?
Fair to say that you are not alone.
This could be a sign that you’re not productive enough which can affect the quality of your work overtime. Good or bad, productivity is a behaviour we develop not one we are born with so it’s possible to observe and rewire your brain so that you can get the most of out of your precious time.
High Intensity Intervals
During exercise, high intensity interval training is effective at burning calories because people go between spurts of high cardio activity and active rest. A common mistake we make when we work is spreading tasks that we could do in an hour over longer periods because we procrastinate and feel like we have all the time in world. It is way better to intensify for 25 minutes and take a 5-10 minute break so that you can return for another 25 minutes of intensity. Sometimes we don’t push ourselves enough to get tasks done early and we find that the day passes and we only did 40% of the work. Create a loose schedule of periods that you can be most productive and stick to them. These will become habit and determine a productive work ethic for you.
Every person is different so we work differently. Some people are most productive in the morning, others in the afternoon or at night. Think about moments you have been your most productive- what was the environment, your mood and even the time? This is information you can in turn use because it shows how you work and you can strive to create these conditions.
Curb the Distractions
The technology that we love and can’t live without is the same thing that stands in the way of our productivity. Nowadays are minds are wired to think about what’s happening on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; as a result we do less work and waste precious hours online. It’s therefore important to rewire your mind so that your social media platforms are what you reward yourself with after a period of productivity. Tell yourself that you will only check your phone when you finish that report, that plan or that article. Solidify this further by putting your notifications on silent and closing any tabs on your browser that might distract you. It will prove difficult at first but you will soon find that it feels really good to scroll through your Facebook news feed guilt free.
Have an Intention
A common cause for people not being productive is a lack of intention at the start of the day. Sometimes we wake up with a long and overwhelming list of what needs to be done or we set no plans at all. Spontaneity isn’t always good for productivity because you won’t know what to do without solid plans. Rewire your brain by making a conscious effort to set the intention of your day, even if it means planning ahead of time. Before you go to bed set your intentions for the next day so that you wake up with those tasks on your mind. Solidify this further by writing these down on a post-it and sticking them on a wall you see when you wake up in the morning. Throughout the day remind yourself of your tasks so that you remember their importance. Work hard to get these things done before the end of the day so that you can start another task cycle the next day.
Small Changes, Big Impact
If you’re an entrepreneur you might have to work from home if that is your base of operations. Working from home might be comfortable but it’s also highly distracting and makes it easier for you to procrastinate or delay on tasks. Here are a few ways to rewire your brain:
- Work with your shoes on, your body associates them with being busy
- Work in a quiet space- having the TV on and sound blaring can take away from your productivity
- Don’t work on an empty stomach- you will be irritable and slow
- Separate your workspace from your living space so that you can take a break from your tasks, refresh and return. Even if your desk and sofa are right next to each other, having two designated spots helps you take a break mentally when you need to.
- Do a focus exercise to quiet your mind and prepare your for work. For example, find a small watch with a ticking second hand-focus your eyes on the 12 and hold gaze for 5 revolutions of the second hand (5 minutes).
With these simple changes to your habits, you make it possible for you to get the most out of each working day. Sometimes it’s as simple as being more mindful of our habits and getting rid of distractions and sometimes we need to be more tactical in our approach. Either way, productivity is something we can actively work to improve because it makes us better at whatever jobs we do.
Now, get to work!!