Everyone is looking for ways to be more productive. The problem with most approaches to productivity is that they require too much adjustment in a person’s day-to-day life. The tips below are ones that I’ve been testing with our marketing team for the past couple months. Those of you that know me, know I am not a huge fan of change. These tweaks to your routine don’t require drastic changes, but they will produce dramatic results!
1. Eat the Frog
This happens to be one of our company mantras, and for good reason. When you have something you do NOT want to do on your to do list, you become infinitely less productive. In fact a study showed, you avoid not just that specific task, but all tasks surrounding it. This is debilitating for motivation, morale, and umm yeah productivity. So after we have made our to-do lists, we identify the one thing that we absolutely do not want to do and do it first. The effect is immediate, you feel accomplished. It changes the perspective of the entire day and actually lightens the mood. For me the frog usually includes a phone call…I hate talking on the phone, for others it can be as simple as walking something to the post office….whatever it is, identify it, do it first! Eat the frog, and the rest of the day becomes cake!
Since when did we have to become so connected to everyone that we need to know the second an email comes in? I was totally guilty of the clicking off tasks, losing focus and even getting distracted in meetings or on calls or webinars by whatever was coming through on my email. You know what the truth is? 98% of it can wait. Sure, it’s important, but not any more important than the person sitting in front of you, or completing the task at hand. Turning the notifications off will refocus everything. Did you know multitasking is a myth? Your brain actually takes 3 seconds to switch direction on whatever it was doing and focus on something new. But it’s never that easy right? A study conducted by University of California, Irvine, researchers that found office workers are interrupted or self-interrupted about once every three minutes, and it can take as long as 23 minutes for an interrupted worker to return to the original task. So if you are getting three or four hundred emails a day like I am, you are wasting hours refocusing after being distracted!!! SO not necessary! Here are a few tips…set up your VIPs on your phone, that way you will still get notified for emergency emails. If you have an iPhone there is also a setting that also you to get a notification if you are waiting on a response to a specific email…even if that person isn’t on your VIP list. This can put your mind at ease and keep you from checking your email every 10 min, but also ensure you don’t miss some important news. There’s an app for this….actually several. My favorite is Cold Turkey. Try it. Instant productivity increase!
3. Get up every 20 minutes
….weird advice after I just told you not to be distracted, right? After 20 minutes your level of focus deteriorates by 20%. By getting up, walking around the office, smiling and saying hello to someone or just refilling your water, you’ll pump some blood around your brain and give your muscles that movement they require. Then when you sit down your entire body and mind will be on ‘Team Focus’ with you. This is a real method called the Pomodoro method…yes, like the tomato. Pomodoro is a cyclical system. You work in short sprints, which makes sure you’re consistently productive. You also get to take regular breaks that bolster your motivation and keep you creative. And guess what, since I know you aren’t going to set a timer on your desk to go off every 20 minutes..there’s an App for it! Focus Booster will let you work through a to-do list, but will alert you every 20 minutes to get up and switch tasks.
This goes back to focus and attention. If you are really on a deadline, this will help your co-workers keep from interrupting you and making you cranky….bonus, if you are anything like me, you hate the door being closed. So you’ll drill down and finish whatever task is keeping you in isolation. Again, this goes back to eliminating all distractions and completing early…or at least on time!
I shared this in last week’s post, but it is worth repeating, meditation is the quickest way to reset your brain, focus and agenda. Taking 15 minutes for yourself can lead to the breakthrough or solution to a problem you’ve been trying to solve all day. It’s totally uncomfortable at first, I had to start with 5 minute sessions. But when you start to engage and become aware of your entire body, you are able to use a larger percentage of yourself to make decisions, come up with ideas and conquer the world. Mindfulness is my go to app, but here’s a list of several. Let me know what your favorite is!
Have other tips that work wonders for your productivity? Please comment and share!