Are you in awe at those people who manage to get a ton accomplished each day? They must posses some sort of superpower, right?
Believe or not, they’ve actually mastered several simple habits that you too can start using, such as the following nine habits. Not only will you be more productive, you’ll also be healthier.
1. Think 20 percent.
There’s rule that we should spend 20 percent of our work day on our most important tasks. So if you’re putting in an 8-hour day, then this would 90 minutes. During those 90-minutes you should only focus only on these priorities — even if that means locking the door and turning-off your phone.
The result? You’ll have a higher quality end product because you weren’t distracted and multitasking. You devoted all of your attention and focus to those goals and priorities.
As an added it also reduces stress since they’ve finished the work that matters most.
2. Declutter your workspace.
How many hours have you spend looking for your stuff? The average American spends 2.5 days looking for misplaced items. That’s time that could have been spent on more important tasks.
Besides the wasted time, when there’s clutter all over the workspace we get distracted. For example, that pile of files that caught the corner of your eye? That reminds you of unfinished work for another project. Where do you think your attention is now?
What’s more, it’s not always hygienic. I cringe when people eat at their desks. They’re dropping food on papers and typing on their keyboards with greasy fingers. Guess what happens next? They get sick and either call out of work or aren’t well enough to perform at 100 percent.
Long story story, keep your workspace organized and cleaned. Make sure everything has a home and is put back after use. And, don’t forget to occasionally wipe down the area with some dienfect wipes.
3. Write down your thoughts.
“Everyone takes a little time out of their day to daydream. Those are also the times when you come up with some of the best ideas,” writes Renzo Costarella. “More often than not however, people don’t write them down.”
Follow in the steps of successful people like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg and always have a notepad close by.
“I personally try to write down three business ideas every single day just to stay creative. Granted most of them aren’t the best but it’s a great way to practice creativity,” adds Renzo. I’ve used notebooks to jot down my random thoughts, reflect, and what I’m grateful for.
In fact, according to neurologist Judy Willis:
The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information… it promotes the brain’s attentive focus … boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition.
4. Tackle the most challenging task first.
Regardless if it’s calling a high-profile client, analyzing data, or writing a blog post productive people make it a point to tackle their most important or challenging task first thing in the morning — which is recommended by Brian Tracy in his best-selling Eat That Frog!.
Eating that frog first thing morning is recommended because that’s when you have the most mental energy and focus. It also makes the rest of your day a lot smoother since you don’t have that important or challenging task hanging-over your head all day.
5. Be a little selfish.
Yes. Being selfish isn’t a trait you should strive for. But, sometimes you just have to.
“When you take care of yourself first, you show up as a healthy, grounded person in life,” says Bob Rosen, author of Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World
Furthermore, those who are selfish are healthier because they carve out the time to take care of themselves to practice self-care and do the activities they want. They’re also happier, have stronger relationships, and have a drive to succeed.
Also, when you’re selfish you don’t let others disrespect your time. This doesn’t mean you can’t help them out. It just means that if you’re swamped, you’ll take care of your priorities first. When have the extra time you can lend them a hand.
6. Take exercise breaks.
As you know, if you want to remain in tip-top shape you should exercise frequently. However, exercise can also boost your productivity.
As the Brookings Institute explains, “an exercise routine can give you more energy throughout the day.” This is because exercise stimulates mitochondria, which is the chemical that produces energy for both your body and your mind.
It’s recommended that you exercise for around 30 minutes — even if it’s just for a long walk.
Besides producing mitochondria, taking breaks throughout the day also gives your brain a chance to rest, recharge, and refocus.
7. Identify and eliminate productivity killers.
In order to eliminate distractions you first need to determine what’s actually distracting you. This varies from person-to-person but the most common culprits are your smartphone, the internet, office gossip, social media, and email.
Once you’ve identified what’s distracting you, you can look for ways to avoid them. You could start by installing a tool like StayFocused, FocusMe, or Self-Control. These tools will block the sites and apps that distract you the most — Self-Control will set a timer so you can’t access it until time’s up.
In order to stop checking your email too much, it’s suggested by Kayla Sloan in another Calendar post, to set reminders. Kayla writes, “Block 15 minutes intervals mid-morning, at lunchtime, mid-afternoon, and the end of the day.
Set reminders to go off and alert you of your email appointment, so to speak. As for office politics, just stay out of it — even if others are trying to suck you in. Just switch topics or remove yourself from the conversation.
8. Meet smart.
It’s no secret that meetings can be a huge waste of time — just preparing for a status meeting eats-up four hours a week. Thanks to technology you may not even need to have a meeting anymore since your team can be communicate in real-time to discuss the status of a project. You can even assign tasks and deadlines, as well exchange files, remotely.
If you must attend a meeting make it’s necessary, invite only essentail team members, prepare an agenda, and keep the meeting short and concise.
9. Use the Pomodoro technique.
There are numerous productivity techniques available. But, you can’t go wrong with the tried and true Pomodoro Technique.
This time management method was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s where we work in 25-minute increments. After the 25-minutes you take a five minute break. After four-sets you take a half-hour break.
This technique is effective since it encourages you to cut down on interruptions and focus on one thing at a time. Best of all, it can be altered. That means you don’t have to work for 25-minutes. It could be 30 or 40 minutes before a break. The idea is that you block out a specific time for undisturbed work and then take a short break to recharge.
Student at UC Berkeley, currently working on a degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Sciences and Business Administration. Experienced in CSX, productivity management, and chatbot implementation.