This might sound counter intuitive, but the key to increasing your productivity is actually making a purposeful decision to do less. If you want to gain traction and accomplish more, narrowing your focus is critical.
The truth is this: you can’t do it all. You can, however, do the things that are most meaningful to you.
If you are ready to be more productive today, incorporate the following actions into your routine:
Do you have a clear picture of your priorities and what you truly want to accomplish in the near term? If you don’t, it is worth taking some time to reflect on the areas where you want to grow and make an impact this year.
Time is a resource that we can often control, so if you want to be more productive then invest your energy in the areas that you’ve prioritized to get the biggest bang for your proverbial buck.
Knowing how to say ‘no’ is also an important way to honor your priorities. What matters most to you?
2) Eliminate (most) distractions.
In today’s world of perpetual connectivity, interruptions are easy to come by.
If you can’t help yourself when it comes to checking Facebook or scanning your Inbox you can protect yourself from yourself by enabling Airplane mode on your device or using online tools like Anti-Social.
Ironically, research shows that a minimal amount of disruption in the form of ambient noise can actually facilitate creative thinking, so think about exploring apps like Coffitivity to keep you on task.
What is sidelining your ability to concentrate?
3) Create realistic to-do lists.
Many people end up using lists to capture everything that they’d like to do in life instead of the most essential tasks that need to be accomplished in support of larger goals day-to-day.
Take the time to create realistic to-do lists (e.g. shorter, specific and actionable) that reflect your most important interests and allow you to concentrate on the essentials.
As a bonus you’ll be more likely to avoid the nagging, overwhelming feelings brought on by the Zeigarnik effect, the psychological tendency to focus on tasks that remain undone rather than those that have been completed (especially when there are still 73 things on your list at the end of the day).
You’ll also be better served by creating your list the night before for the next day instead of attempting to generate it in the moment as you launch into your morning.
What are the most relevant, achievable tasks that you can do to make progress tomorrow?
4) Get some sleep.
I know that you stay on your grind because you have things to do, but at what cost? If you really want to be innovative, creative, responsive and engaged at work and home you need to take care of yourself.
Everyday won’t be perfect, but if you want to operate at a high level you’ll need to have the energy reserves to bring your best. Get sufficient sleep so you can make good decisions and deliver strong results the next day.
Researchers at the University of California – San Francisco suggest that 90% of the human population needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, while less than 1% can function normally on less than 5 hours.
That being said, the odds aren’t ‘ever in your favor’ if you aren’t getting enough sleep. And lets keep it real: a worn down, haggard looking person doesn’t inspire long-term confidence in anyone.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Productivity is ultimately about being consistent and using your time to do select activities with quality. If you can define your priorities, reduce distractions, create realistic to-do lists and get enough sleep on a regular basis you’ll be well-positioned be more effective when it comes to doing the things that are most important to you.
Engineer Your Bliss Challenge: Make a commitment to do less to be more productive.
Which of these practices will you adopt? Please share your comments below.
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