The word “productivity” is getting quite hyped up in recent years. Indeed, we live in a competitive world where you have to stay one step ahead if you want to get somewhere in life, but that step may be in the wrong direction.
As such, productivity doesn’t imply more work. It actually implies less work, or the same amount of work, but more actual achievements.
Workaholics aren’t necessarily productive. They work long hours, but working this way can lead to lower attention spans and “walking in the wrong direction”.
People are less effective when they’re tired or stressed out. Thus, extra hours are useless and can even come with hindered productivity the next day due to exhaustion.
There are certain things that you may do to boost your productivity:
- Baby steps
When you want to achieve a big task that can take a couple of hours, you may find yourself overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. If you think of a half-an-hour task with specific actions in mind, you can easily achieve it. A good idea would be to have a checklist with several small tasks that you plan to tick out that day. It will be way easier to stay focused than having one big task in mind.
- Don’t forget to take breaks
It’s easy to get yourself lost in a task and forget to stand up, stretch your body and relax your mind for a few minutes. Forgetting to do so may lead to backaches, stiff muscles, brain fog and “writer’s block”. Just remember to stand up and do something else every hour or so. Your body and mind will thank you.
- Forget about multitasking
Multitasking is one of those things that may seem like a good idea, when in fact, it’s a real focus-killer. You have to understand that focus takes a while to build up and your brain needs some time to organize thoughts before accomplishing a mental task. Switching back and forth between tasks only uses up mental energy by constantly zoning in and out.
- Eliminate any distraction that you can think of
This includes constantly checking your phone, e-mail, other unrelated websites, listening to music (although non-vocal music can boost focus in some situations), having a chat with your colleague, and the list can go on. The best approach is to take one thing at a time and organize your tasks so that you’re not “having a break” while also working at the same time. That is slightly contradictory.
You can do what you want during your designated break periods. A great method to split break periods from working periods is by using the Pomodoro technique. This method implies that you’re in total work-mode for 25 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of break. Those 5-minute breaks have to be your reward for working so hard and uninterrupted during those 25 minutes.
- Write a to-do list for the day
I find it a lot easier to have a productive day when I start it with a clear plan in mind. Not only does this prevent me from procrastinating, but it also lets me set some achievable goals. Each day can bring about unpredictable things, and it may be quite easy to let yourself “go with the flow”. A to-do list will be your “annoying friend” that won’t let you have fun until you’ve finished what you told yourself you would finish.
There’s nothing like finishing the day knowing that I’ve respected the promises that I’ve made to myself.
- Use supplements
Certain supplements such as L-theanine, Ginseng, Ginkgo Biloba or Phenibut are known to increase focus, energy levels and attention spans, thus increasing productivity and making you more willing to get done with boring tasks.
Caffeine is quite popular, but I think it’s overrated. For example, someone who is suffering from anxiety wouldn’t benefit as much from caffeine. I’ve noticed that a lot of times, energy levels aren’t the reason for lack of productivity. Sometimes, it’s anxiety and negative thoughts that are holding us from achieving our true potential.
- Breathe deeply
As I mentioned above, anxiety and negative thought patterns may lead to a bad work day, and caffeine should definitely be avoided in such cases. Some people find meditation to be the perfect way to calm the mind, yet it can be difficult to pull off in a loud office environment, for example.