How to be (more) Productive?
We all want to be productive, efficient and put out our best work. People continuously ask me.
how do you find time to do all these? how do you keep yourself motivated? how to be consistent? how are you so productive
I can go ahead and give you all my tips and tricks but before that, let's take a moment to understand what productivity is.
Productivity is not how long you can work on something, It is how much you can accomplish in a given time.
In a technology-filled life, scrolling twitter for 2 hours can feel productive because you learned so much. But we can't ignore that our attention span is getting closer to that of a goldfish shoving us away from essential tasks of our life like exercising or reading.
To be more productive, we have to focus on two things.
- Making more time
- Using the available time efficiently
Let's dissect these two in detail.
Making More time
Social media is a master of making us feel worthless. Quotes like "Everyone has 24 hours in a day." just rips off even the last bit of motivation have.
I have good news for you. No, not everybody has the same 24 hours in a day. Some people have privilege and other people don't. While some have the privilege of outsourcing their work, others have 8-hour jobs, 3-hour travel, kids at home, cleaning, cooking, and whatnot, I get you. Some might call it an excuse. I don't think it is.
That said, we can't continue to live our life the same way forever. The idea of productivity can help you to add privilege to your life. Thereby you get more time to work on something that you love.
How to make time in your super packed schedule?
The 80/20 Principle or the Pareto principle says that 80% of our results depends on 20% of the things we do. The idea is to spend 80% of your energy on doing 20% of the important things.
Now, after reading this blog, you will get super pumped and add exercising, diet, reading, learning, writing, and everything you have been putting off into your list. But remember, habits take time to form. We need to focus on the item, which will have a maximum impact on your life.
- Create a list of all the task you want to do
- Split the list into 2 based on 80% or 20% impact
- Sort the two list again for 80% impact
- Pick the top item from the 80% impact list
4 Quadrant technique
The book Five habits of highly effective people call this technique a 4th generation time management technique. It is not practically possible to spend time on 20% of the things all the time. For eg., what happens when your boss asks you to finish an important task?
The four-quadrant technique gives you a closer look at your tasks at hand. It splits the functions into four parts.
- Create a list of tasks
- Classify them in the above four categories
- Focus a complete the tasks in Important Quadrant
- Defer from focusing on tasks at Interruption and Not important
- whenever a task enters the crisis quadrant, finish them right there
GTD - Getting Things Done
GTD is another framework to take things to completion. It is a 5-step process.
- Create a list of task
- Block some time devoid of all distraction
- Finish the task at hand
Being Aware of Time-stealers
Social media is one of the biggest time stealers. I won't call it out for robbing our day; after all, that's the only socializing we have these days. The problem is these apps are addicting, and it is hard to break the cycle.
Here are some tips I follow to reduce my mobile usage
- Install a Digital time tracker
- Set max time for each app
- Go to your notifications setting, Don't think twice. Switch it all off, no but's or yet's
- Blue ticks are nothing but obligations for you to reply as soon as you see the message. Switch it off. Reply to them when you have time at hand. Schedule them all to the end of the day works wonders.
Try to detox from Digital medium
- Use the zen-mode app on your mobile to decouple from it for hours
- Meditate and try to be with your thoughts
- Leave your device at the other room
How to use your time efficiently?
Using time efficiently means being able to focus on the task at hand. It's called being in the state of flow. Have you ever captured all the motivation to start a task to find yourself lost on youtube finding the best playlist? Been there, done that.
As the book Deep work quotes
Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.
Here are some techniques to make the most out of your time
Creating a list
Creating a list is by far the best thing to get on track, but there one problem. Lists are overwhelming. Create a list and break them down into tiny tasks Block a small-time chunk(10 minutes) and finish a task
Pomodoro technique is like strength training for your brain. You focus on a task for N minutes and take a break for 10 minutes. Continue for 3-4 sets and take a long break of 20-30 minutes after that. By continually doing the Pomodoro technique, you are training your brain to improve its focus window. Sooner you can increase the time to 30, 40, and 60 minutes. I love Pomodoro for this reason, and the longest streak I had was 3 hours.
One of the most challenging thing for writers is to stare at a blank page
We all have starting trouble, but once we start doing one thing, there is a good chance we might do other things. The idea is to fuel the passion and keep the momentum up.
- Sandwich the task you hate along with the tasks you like. Set a timer for 5 mins and start doing it; you won't feel overwhelmed since it's low pressure.
- Batch similar tasks together. Thereby you can remove the cognitive load involved in tasks switching
Mental & Physical Health
While you are putting these concepts into practice, remember your mental and physical health has a lot to do with productivity. Unlike machines, we can't add more core to improve our efficiency. We need stability and consistency.
Get a good sleeping routine. I can't even start to explain how fixing my sleep had made me 10x more productive and refreshed. Meditate, Meditate, Meditate, your mind can come up with new ideas or soak up new information only when it's clear. Incorporate some physical activity into your life.
Productivity in human beings, unlike machines, is to keep the energy and motivation up. To build momentum to start and finish the projects that we take up. There is no right or wrong way to try these methods. Try each of them, and develop a technique that suits you. Lastly, none of the frameworks will work if you are unwilling to put your part.