Being productive or to put it concretely, working less and getting more done sounds impossible, right? You might think that by working 10 hours a day, you will feel more accomplished compared to someone who only works 6 hours.
On the contrary, working more hours or routinely staying late for a project just to accomplish deadlines after deadlines can be damaging to your health – say hello to mental and physical stress!
But did you know that a lot of successful people tend to get a lot of things done in less time and even have days dedicated to rejuvenating activities? They know how to balance their time between work and other things that matter – family and a good R&R.
If you feel like that’s just something you can’t do but want to, then I can only hope it’s something I can help you with through my productivity tips.
And I want to tell you, it’s possible to relax even after having occasionally stayed up late for work; it’s possible to have a day dedicated to unplugging and reconnecting with yourself or with people that matter to you. And of course, it’s possible to schedule weekends for recharging and caring for yourself.
Because when you know how to recharge, you become more efficient….
Start with your intention to get the right things done
What does it really mean to do things with intention? If you say you want to do something, it’s meaningless if you don’t act on it. But your actions lack power if you don’t know the intention behind your actions.
Living or doing things with intention means you know your purpose, you know the reason you do the things you do or why you don’t do things that you see other people are doing. By doing things with intention, you set yourself up to only focus and prioritize the things that are truly important to you. When you have intention, you’re more inspired to do those things that are aligned with your goals.
Do you have a goal to accomplish in a year? Think about that goal and try to figure out that one thing you can do today so you can be a step closer to that goal. If you’re not sure how to start, it helps if you sit down and reflect on your intention and identify the steps you can take to power up your actions toward your goal.
Work fewer hours, be more productive
Working more hours doesn’t always equate to success and getting more done. It only means you’re setting yourself up for that overwhelming feeling of having too much workload. Productivity is getting several things done but without spending so many hours working.
Set a time limit for every task you have on your list. A task will take all the time you give it, so give it a deadline. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, set a timer for designing a certain project. Knowing that the time is ticking will motivate you to focus on finishing it. Giving yourself a short deadline will help boost your productivity compared to knowing that you have all the time in the day to work on it.
Another tip is to avoid multitasking. I know how most people love the idea of multitasking to accomplish many things in a short period of time but according to a Stanford University research, it’s actually damaging to the brain. A better way is to find your state of flow every day.
What is the flow state of mind? Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi coined this term, which means being fully immersed in a task that everything else doesn’t matter. When this happens, you lose track of time while working on that specific task, productivity surges and you’re at your peak performance. In other words, you’re in the zone, and that is great for productivity!
Relax like it’s your job
After a week of working hours, it is important to schedule a downtime to be more productive. Relaxation shouldn’t even be “scheduled” but since you’re on this article, that means you want to do something about your busyness and the only way to have that downtime is to actually put it in your calendar.
Having a day off to slow things down helps you recharge mentally so that when work begins again, you have the energy to become more productive and carry out tasks. How much downtime you need depends on how much time it takes for you to recharge to become more productive again on the following work day. But when I say downtime, give yourself the time you REALLY need rather than the time you can just get by with.
Have some rules when it comes to your rest time. The goal is to recover from a hectic work day (or week) so you can be back to your productive self. For instance, if downtime for you means no gadgets, stick to it. Go somewhere or do something that doesn’t necessitate the use of computers, phones or tablets. When you set a day for your downtime and make it a habit, you’ll soon be better at relaxing and caring for yourself.
Simple productivity techniques
Once you’ve set yourself up for success by setting up your lifestyle and your mindset for productivity you are finally ready to try out these concrete productivity tips when you are working:
1. Make use of productivity tools
There are several apps that can help lessen your load, free up some time and boost overall productivity. One of the tools I use is Toggl Track, which lets me time everything I do. This way I can assess which particular task I am spending most of my time on.
Toggl Track also has a Pomodoro timer mode. I’m a huge fan of the Pomodoro technique because it really works for me. The concept is to allow yourself to accomplish the task at hand without any interruptions. Setting a timer for everything you do lets you have a clear measure of time. You may use Toggl Track’s Pomodoro feature but if you want, you can always get a Pomodoro timer like this.
To effectively use the Pomodoro technique, here are some quick tips:
- Choose a task you would like to accomplish, regardless if it’s a big or small task, as long as you want to give it your undivided attention.
- Set the timer to 25 minutes
- If there’s a different task you remembered you need to do, keep a note of it so you can get to it later.
- Work on the main task until the timer rings.
Inbox 0 is another tip I like to recommend. It’s not a tool, per se, but a system. The aim of Inbox 0 is to make sure you don’t spend too much time stressing over your email. As what Merlin Mann, the person who coined the term, has clarified, the 0 in Inbox 0 doesn’t mean you have to have an empty inbox at all times!
“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your attention, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many messages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann
Other than a Pomodoro timer and Inbox 0, here’s a list of the productivity tools I personally use and can’t live without.
2. Get the most challenging task out of the way
People would usually work on easier tasks first before proceeding to the more challenging ones. Sure, it takes things off your plate a lot faster since less-demanding tasks are easier to get rid of. However, it’s all about the energy you have to focus on.
While your brain is still active and at its peak performance, it’s better to spend the energy on the harder tasks as that would mean ending the bad part of your day much earlier. Besides, wouldn’t it be stressful thinking about the challenging task that’s waiting for your attention later in the day?
3. Use the 2-minute rule
Procrastination is a true enemy of productivity. Once in a while, I get the procrastination bug too, just like everyone else. And for most digital nomads, this is an all-too-common struggle. The good news is procrastination can be overcome with a simple trick author and productivity expert David Allen recommends the 2-minute rule. If a task takes less than two minutes to complete, attend to it.
Need some more ideas on how to put an end to procrastination? Click here to read some tips from digital nomads themselves.
4. Take breaks
Taking breaks helps recharge your mind to avoid mental stress and thereby, improve your work performance. A good way to use your break is by exercising. Do some stretches, stand or walk around to get your blood pumping. This will help clear your head and regain your focus.
5. Reward Yourself
Being productive is about forming habits. In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear explained that rewarding yourself is an important step to develop positive habits. If you want to stay productive, give yourself a pat on the back for accomplishing tasks.
For instance, the goal for the day is to finish an article in 2 hours, and you managed to do so without interruptions and with help of a Pomodoro technique. Allow yourself to enjoy this accomplishment by taking a long break (this is your reward). Pretty soon, you’ll likely want to complete a similar behavior even more.
There you have it! Those are my tips on how you can work less, relax and get more done. I have to be honest, though, there’s no magic formula that will turn you into the most productive person overnight. But I hope my productivity tips will inspire you to work on positive habits that will help improve your focus. You don’t have to copy someone else’s daily routine; you just need to come up with a plan and work on habits that will work best for you. And lastly, pat yourself on the back for doing an awesome job.
Author Bio: Lucile Hernandez Rodriguez is a Registered Yoga Teacher, Blogger and Mindful Business Advisor. She shares actionable advice on Mindfulness, Yoga and Travel on her blog, www.lucilehr.com. Get in touch with her on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest!
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