On any given day, we have a million things we want to do and only a finite amount of time to get them done.
Do we ever get to all of the tasks we set out for ourselves? Rarely. Why? Because we usually set our sights on doing too much. More than any one person can handle.
When we can’t get to all of it, we feel the pressure of pending deadlines.
I start to feel overwhelm creep in when I allow too many tasks to pile on my plate. Fortunately, before I panic, I have a few tricks to free myself from being suffocated by it. Tricks that help make my agenda more manageable—so I can get it all done.
I’ll share those with you, but first, let’s define productivity.
What Is Productivity?
Personally and professionally, we crave to be productive. But what does it mean to be productive?
Productivity is being able to create, generate or bring new ideas, products or services to life.
At the end of the day, productivity is a simple thing to achieve. Set out to get one thing done in a focused amount of time and do what it takes to get it done.
So then why do we complicate it? Typically because we don’t love what we’re doing and we’re forcing ourselves to be productive doing it. Not a conducive combination. (A topic for another post.) That sparks a search for distractions via surfing the web, social media or conversations with a neighbor.
Here are 6 ways to organize your mind in order to zap the distraction bug and gain maximum productivity.
6 Mindful Ways To Increase Productivity
This is no surprise coming from me…but start the day with meditation. The best thing to do is not to get started working immediately. First, sit still. A few minutes of quiet every morning will let clarity in. You would think that the time spent not working is stealing time away from being productive. But the non-productive tasks are sometimes what makes us the most productive.
What are you setting out to do exactly? Before you sit down to work, take a few minutes to get clear on that and then move forward. It helps to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” “Who does this affect?” “Will it make the most impact on the bigger picture?” And the answer will help steer you.
3. Be Curious.
Go in curious. Enter each task with curiosity, deliberately seeking to learn something new about yourself or the project itself. Open up to discovering what you can get done and what you can learn while you’re getting it done. No matter the outcome, complete or incomplete, what you learned will be the true success of your day.
4. Write it down.
At the end of every work schedule, as you’re wrapping up your day, make a list of three big items that you want to get completed the next day. Read this list immediately after your morning meditation to help with #2 above.
5. Simplify your decisions to Yes or No.
As best as you can in as many areas as you can, answer questions with yes or no. This level of clarity and conviction in your decisions will help you avoid committing to things you really don’t want to do. Gut instinct is the guiding light on this one, but we ignore it. Instead, we give in to pity, guilt and FOMO. Try saying, “Yes, I can go,” or “No, I don’t want to participate.“ Add the niceties, but ultimately convey a firm stance.
Being able to shut out all the distractions, knowing that for a few precious minutes, all of your focus and attention is on one thing. Set a timer for 15-50 minutes of uninterrupted time devoted to one task–don’t switch tasks. Put this time-block in your calendar if you need to. Turning off Wi-Fi will help quiet those surfer moments, when we’re chasing a distraction.
So often we get caught up in being busy just to be busy. We fill our time with everything but the thing we have to get done. These 6 tips will help you get clear on how to get done what you want to get done (if you truly want to get it done.) If they work for me, they will work for you to become more productive.
Floating and drifting on to other things because you haven’t disciplined your mind to stay put, focused on the task at hand, will leave you frustrated and defeated in the end…when nothing is done.
Productivity is simple with the right tools.
Start by being mindful of your tendency to wander to more “interesting” things. Whenever you find yourself chasing busy work or distractions on the web, call yourself out as soon as you can.
Then get back to work.
And then repeat. And repeat again.