If you’re like me, you’re constantly trying to get more out of your day, but you know there are some habits you have that are hindering you from doing so. What’s worse, you know you have to get rid of them but you just don’t know what to do in their place so no matter what you always fall back into the same old habits. Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news and they’re actually the same thing: you’re just like everyone else! So here’s how to breakout from those productivity barriers and stand out.
Find Out How You Work Best
Everyone has work habits which make them more productive, creative, efficient, and so on. If you don’t have any, don’t worry! You likely haven’t taken the proper time and attention to find out what they are. Think about a time when you were “in flow”, working at what seemed to be a miraculous pace and not missing a step: it feels like you’re performing and creating at the same time, and it’s a very unique feeling so you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Now hold that memory: where were you? What kind of chair were you sitting in? Were you sitting at all? Were you listening to music? Were you typing or talking? All of these are important questions to ask in order to recreate our best work scenarios and maximize our productive potential. It doesn’t guarantee that every time you prepare to get work done you’ll slip into this super-mode, but it definitely helps your chances at getting more quality work done.
This seems like a “duh” point to make, but it’s of paramount importance so I really should mention it. You must learn to put your phone down (I’m talking to you, fellow millennials), close out your social media tabs, and even listen to music with minimal distractions. Unless your work directly involves social media, it’s nothing but a distraction, and even though it feels like a harmless bit of time is being wasted, that time adds up! The chances of you having an epiphany while you’re engaged with it are slim to none anyway, so I’m doing you a favor. And as for the music, heavy, loud production in the background of your working mind tends to actually throw you off: if you’re playing a song that makes you wanna dance, not only are you trying to pour your focus into your work, you’re also having to be very intent about trying not to dance at the same time! Classical, house, and soul music tend to go great with work habits so take some time off on a lunch break or weekend to make a playlist of work-friendly music you can listen to to keep from focusing more on the music than your work.
Schedule Your Time Out
One of the worst mistakes you can make when it comes to trying to be productive is starting your work day with a “blank slate.” Of course you have things to do, but you have no plan of action, and as the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And if you’re reading this, you’re at least a little invested in your success, so do yourself a huge favor and make a list, even if it is only mental, of things you want to get accomplished that day. Prioritize the list, and do your best not to stray from the plan! Barring any unforeseen circumstances or interruptions, you should be able to exercise discipline and knock those things out as long as they’re reasonable, thought-out goals. This is a big deal! Even if you’re not a ‘planning type of person’: become one!
Take Controlled Breaks
I don’t really have to speak to his too much because I believe we’re all naturally lazy so breaks pretty much come naturally. However, what doesn’t come naturally is taking smart breaks. Our “me” time needs to be optimized, minimized, and taken often. A small 5-minute breather when you finish writing a blog post, for example (a personal favorite). Or maybe you tell yourself you’re not going to get up and grab that snack until you finish a portion of a design you’re working on. Whatever it is, set mini-goals throughout the day and reward yourself for them. Not only will it make sure you’re not wasting as much time, it will also motivate you. The pleasure centers in your brain need stimulation which is converted into energy you can use to be productive, and whereas most people are getting this stimulation from social media and putting it right back where they found it, you can stand out by making those ‘gold star’ moments go towards achieving another one! So, it really is good to pat yourself on the back, and to do so fairly often.
Well, what are you still reading this post for? Break’s over: go be productive!