Five Expert Productivity Tips I’m Trying This Year
I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflection over this past week and I’ve been looking at what will make me more productive. Self-confession, I have a focus issue and follow the shiniest object that appears in front of me. This causes me to have too much ‘to do’ on that ‘to do’ pile and I just watch it grow bigger. I seem to accomplish a lot, but it’s all small stuff that doesn’t really advance my work. This will change. In reading other’s tips and tricks for what they do to increase their productivity, I’ve landed on giving these five expert tips a try this year. Want to join me?
1. Eat Cake For Breakfast (Who wouldn’t like this!) “It doesn’t literally have to be cake,” says Beyond the Headline podcast host Jenna Abdou, but “the point is to find a way to eat something that brings you joy in the morning.”
Abdou believes this can double as a mindfulness exercise–and triple as a practice for cultivating gratitude–that in turn boosts your productivity. Whatever your chosen breakfast, she says, “Savor it without using your phone or thinking about work and responsibilities. Enjoy the moment, and think about all of the things that are going right in your life.” You can use this time to do some journaling or set some intentions for the day, Abdou suggests, so you can dive into your work feeling focused and energized.
2. Build Your Day Around Your Toughest Tasks (I love this one as it gives me a great sense of accomplishment early in the day.) Career strategist Adunola Adeshola kicks off her day by identifying her top one or two most pressing tasks. “Once I’ve scratched the most important thing off my to-do list, I immediately feel like I’ve conquered the day,” she says. “Sure, some days there are five to seven important things,” she admits, but starting by tackling something critical “helps me eliminate busy work and distractions so that I can end the day feeling accomplished.”
3. Turn off push notifications (These are a major distraction for me and mostly causes anxiety.) Push notifications for email, texts, social media notifications, the news, the weather, are detrimental to our productivity argues Dan Ariely, James B Duke professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, North Carolina. Recent studies show that 50 per cent of Americans keep their phone near them during every moment of their waking hours, and 50 percent of them check their phone at least several times an hour. A recent study he conducted found people were much more likely to make errors and not pay attention to their main task if they were interrupted by notifications from their phone - such as a text or a call. He says to boost our productivity, it's important to recognize not all emails and texts are created equal and therefore don’t warrant immediate notification - so just turn them off.
4. Clean it up (This is a yearly repeater that I will succeed at this year!) A clean workspace can significantly reduce stress. Decluttering both our desks and our digital desktops helps with certain anxieties we might feel about unfinished projects. A workspace that is void of unnecessary objects, papers, supplies, icons, status updates and push notifications can have a restorative effect on our minds. Start by getting rid of invasive newsletter subscriptions in your inbox, creating folders and auto-filters. An organised inbox will help everything else fall into place. Next, remove office supplies, stacks of paper, coffee cups, water bottles and whatever else may be distracting you around your physical desktop. Doing this for five minutes at the end of your work day helps maintain order and refocuses your energy on what’s important.
5. Everyday, find a way to give something to somebody (I love this one and I know that when I do this, it just makes me feel happier and helps me want to do more.) My favorite happiness booster is to give thanks: to a higher power for the abundance that I experience; to my family and friends for all the ways they support me; to my friends who know me well and still love me. "Equally good is to give something else—a helping hand, a compliment, a much needed $5 bill—even if it is just a tiny act of kindness. In a world that is more focused on getting than giving, a New Year’s resolution to do one kind thing each day, or to give thanks in one small way, is a pretty radical act.
When we make giving a habit, we make gratitude and kindness central themes in our lives. In so doing, we transform our lives with joy." What are some productivity tips you have?