Ever since I can remember, I have always been busy. For me, happy life consists of experiences, and the more of them I can have the better. This is why the topic of doing more stuff in less time (and doing it well) has always been something dear to my heart; staying productive allows me to live my life to the fullest. In my opinion reaching your personal productivity highs is something you’ll need to work on by trying different approaches. In this article I’d like to share just a few of my personal favorite productivity tips and tricks that I’ve learned throughout my life. If you have some awesome ones of your own, make sure to drop me a message!
Research on human brain has shown over and over again that multitasking simply doesn’t work. We, as humans, are wired to be mono-taskers, meaning our brain is only capable of effectively focusing on one thing at a time. For example, as I am writing this blog I can only give my 100% to this task if I am not simultaneously watching Netflix or checking my Instagram. Whenever you think you are dividing your attention proportionally between tasks at hand what actually is happening is your brain switching between the stuff you do at a very fast pace. This gives you an illusion of being able to do two or three things at the same time. In reality, this constant switching back and forth tires you out, prolongs the time it takes you to accomplish your goals and only allows you to achieve mediocre results. Therefore, whenever you are working on something that requires your attention make sure you only focus on that task; turn off your phone, tune out office gossip and allow yourself this uninterrupted space and time.
I am not going to lie, I may be a bit obsessed with writing everything down. I have a paper notebook and three different calendars on my phone. If you are serious about getting more stuff done then you absolutely have to write your daily tasks. Whether you do it on a piece of paper, your phone or on a Google Doc make sure you include even the smallest projects. The reason I say this is because those “smaller” things are the ones that tend to slip away from our minds. Our memory is fairly unreliable; most people tend to lose about 40% of information in the first 20 minutes of learning it. So if you realize you need to return a book that you borrowed from a friend a month ago first thing in the morning chances are that by the time you are done sipping on your coffee you’ve already forgotten about it. Another great reason for writing down your daily tasks is that this practice helps to free up space in your brain for other, more important processing capabilities. Think about it, if you are walking around trying to remember that you need to call your doctor, text back your mom, buy milk, do laundry, pick up dog food… How focused can you really be on getting important stuff (like finishing this article) done?
Focusing on any task for a long period of time is exhausting. If you’ve even been a college student and tried to write a fifteen page research paper in 4 hours you’ll know what I am talking about. Directed attention fatigue is a real thing (Google it!) and once you reach your limit of sustained focus you may become irritable and start making mistakes. To keep that from happening I suggest you take breaks. Some people swear by Pomodoro Technique in which you work on one task for about 25 minutes then take a 5 minutes mental break (you can read about it HERE). I personally like to extend the duration of my focused work to about an hour. After 50 to 60 minutes my attention usually starts to drift away, I start thinking about food or my evening plans or about some random stuff I saw on Instagram. When that happens I know I reached my limit and any work that’ll be done during this mind drifting state will most likely need to be redone. For my breaks I like to step out for a short 5-10 minutes walk, but you can find something else that helps you relax. Some people watch a funny video, some listen to music, some find someone to chat with; whatever helps your brain to decompress!
Becoming more productive in your day-to-day activities means that you’ll be able to accomplish more stuff in a shorter period of time. It will not only make you more successful at work and your other projects, but also add more free time that you can spend with family and friends. I firmly believe that life is all about balance and finding ways to achieve this balance is what gives us a sense of wellbeing and accomplishment.
Do you have your own productivity hacks? If yes, which ones would you add to this list? Let’s chat!