You were busy the whole day, but, at the end of the day, you found out that you barely accomplished anything. Does this ever happen to you?
Being busy doesn’t really mean you’re being productive. Unconsciously, we get involve in a lot of time-consuming activities which are unimportant. Perhaps, huge amounts of your time are consumed by others – your colleagues, your clients, or your kids. Instead of spending time on your task, you get interrupted by others from time to time.
That’s only one of the reasons that may negatively impact your productivity. Sometimes, the cause is we ourselves. We spend our energy and time in the wrong things. Or perhaps, procrastination has become part of our routine.
No matter what the reasons are, spending time unproductively will do us no good in the long run, financially and mentally. Your job performance may tank, or you might get upset with yourself for not being productive, even worse, you might end up having no time left for your own personal activities.
So, living unproductively needs to be stopped. Here are some ways to boost your productivity level:
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. Basically, it involves in breaking down your work into intervals. Traditionally, people break down their work into 25 minutes sessions followed by a 3-5 minutes short break.
So how can you apply this technique to improve your productivity?
- Choose a task you need to get done.
- Set a timer to 25 minutes. (It may vary depending on your attention span)
- Make sure you are away from any distraction.
- Fully focus on the task without getting distracted until the timer rings.
- Take a short break. (Try your best to avoid using social media, as you may end up scrolling your feed the whole day.)
- Repeat steps 2-5 until you get your job done.
After four ‘pomodoros’, you may consider taking a longer break (15-30 minutes). This technique can be applied in every part of your life very easily. Since there are short breaks in between, we are able to replenish our energy and maintain our energy level and performance throughout the whole task. It is suitable for people with short attention spans or people who aren’t able to stay focus on task at hand for a longer period of time.
While taking a break, make sure you avoid other energy-consuming activities. Social media and checking your email should be avoided at all cost as it’s going to consume a lot of your mental energy and it will distract you in. There are a few things you can do during the short breaks to replenish your energy:
- Take a short walk.
- A short nap.
- Drink some water.
- Perhaps, a cup of coffee. (If you’re a coffee lover)
By applying this technique, you are able to focus more easily on your task, and prevent tiredness. It also safeguards you from all sources of distraction.
The Ivy Lee method
The Ivy Lee method is a simple method to achieve peak productivity. It includes some of these steps:
- Before the end of your work day, write down the 6 most important tasks you want to achieve tomorrow. Just six! Be sure you never write down more than that.
- After writing the 6 tasks, prioritizes the tasks according to their importance.
- The next day, you just focused on the first task. Don’t move to the other tasks until you get your first task done.
- Approach the rest of your tasks the same way. Any unfinished task will be moved to a new list for the following day.
- Repeat this process every working day.
I first got to know this method from an article by James Clear on his blog. If you want to know the story behind this method, you may consider reading this article.
Why this method is so powerful? This is because:
- It involves prioritisation. By writing down only 6 tasks to get completed, you have actually thought deeply about which things matter more to you.
- You plan ahead. By writing down the tasks to be done the next day, you prepare yourself mentally for the next day. Meanwhile, you also don’t have to waste your energy and time the next day to plan out how your day is going to play out.
- More importantly, you are only allowed to concentrate on the highest priority task before moving on to the next less important tasks. Focusing on one single task is what makes you more productive than ever. You have avoided the deadly mistake of multitasking.
This method is really simple and can be easily applied to your daily life. Stick to the steps above and you will see how effective it can be.
Time blocking is a technique where you dedicate several hours to a single task. You schedule a certain amount of time for yourself. During this time block, you should eliminate all distractions and avoid interruptions from others. Unless it’s a matter of life-or-death or an emergency, nothing is allowed to interrupt you when you’re working on the one thing.
Every week, choose a quiet place and time to sit down and schedule your time block on the calendar. Define what tasks are important to you and prioritize it. The tasks aren’t limited only to work-related tasks. You can also schedule a time block to accompany your family or have a cup of coffee with your long time friends.
It works best when you also let others know when is your time block, so they will not interrupt you unless it’s a matter life-or-death or an emergency. You may also consider turning off your electronic devices during this period for the sake of productivity.
This method will strengthen your focus on the task and increases your productivity, as there will be zero distractions and interruptions. However, time blocking is meaningless if you are not utilizing every second you have. Also, make sure you say ‘no’ to all the interruptions during the time block.
It’s really another simple method to improve your productivity. Set a time block and work on the most important task first. It is simple, yet you’ll get amazing results.
I first learned about this productivity hack from an article on Entrepreneur, by Brandon Turner. If you want a more detailed version on how this productivity hack can change someone’s life, read it here.
The 2 Minutes Rule
This rule originally appeared in the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. In the book, he mentioned that if a task take less than 2 minutes to complete, do it immediately. Never ever delay it. Never!
Any tasks in your lists that takes less than 2 minutes to complete? Do it right away. If the tasks take more than 2 minutes, you can either delegate it or defer it. The concept here is to get started. You get all the easy tasks done and move on to the other more time-consuming tasks. While working on the “2 minute’s tasks”, you are building up the momentum to work.
You might argue that this might take too much of your time and energy doing irrelevant tasks. Instead of doing the little tasks, we should focus our energy on more important tasks. But, think about it, how much energy are we really burning up to do these easy tasks? Not much, yet these tasks are so small that you can’t find an excuse to not do it. Procrastination problems solved.
By practising this rule, you’ll get more things done by the end of your day.
While you have finished reading this article on how to increase your productivity, it doesn’t mean you’ll become more productivity than ever the next day.
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
– Bruce Lee
Knowing without applying it is meaningless. Here, there are four different hacks you can apply to improve your productivity. While I can’t say every single one of them will work for you, be sure to choose one and apply it to your life.
If one of them doesn’t suit you, then try out the other one. Every person is different and what works for others may not work for you. Be sure to experiment yourself which ones suit you the best and stick to it.
IF YOU LOVE LIFE, DON’T WASTE TIME, FOR TIME IS WHAT LIFE MAKE UP OF.
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