Archive for January, 2011

10 Simple Ways To Improve Productivity Right Now

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Do you feel swamped in work? That’s probably not so much the amount of work, as the way you’re handling it. You may be doing things you shouldn’t actually be doing, and leaving the work that really needs to be done. After reading the previous posts about causes for procrastination, how to deal with it and the Ultimate Way To Increase Productivity, enjoy today’s article with practical ways to become more productive right now.

Part 4/8 – 10 Surefire Ways To Improve Productivity Right Now

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
– Lao Tzu

Don't mess with the man

Don't mess with the man

With a few small changes, you can set a chain in motion to get more done in less time. Here are ten possible changes you can make to achieve just that:

1. Work on your future self – today. Unless you do something about it in the meantime, you’ll procrastinate as much later as you do today. It’s like in Back to the Future – it’s up to you now, in the past of your future, to influence how your future self will tackle his present (gotta love that sentence). That doesn’t mean you should become the most productive person in one day, but you can make an ongoing commitment out of it. Keep working on it, and before you know it you’ll have created it a brighter future for yourself.

2. Be productive, even when you’re not working. Maintain a list with small productive tasks you can do as a break. Cleaning (parts) of your desk(top), calling a customer, looking something up for your next holiday… Things that need to be done and that take no more than five minutes. This kind of thing clears your head, gives you a breather and gets you ready for the next big task.

3. Get up earlier. Are you one of those people (like me) who get up just in time to shower, grab some grub on the go and rush off the work? Why not get up half an hour earlier! Ban the snooze button. It doesn’t make you any more slept out, and your day can begin with a lot less stress. You could even meditate before work!

4. Prepare your day. If getting up earlier isn’t your cup of tea, how about taking time at the end of each day to create some peace of mind for tomorrow morning? Plan your work, put things ready so you can jump right in. That way you don’t need to wake up with that slight feeling of panicky dread at the unpredictability of today’s tasks: you already know what’s going to happen!

5. Put a limit on your time. It’s ironic: so many people work long hours and think they’re doing great. Sadly, the amount of hours spent working are no reference to getting things done. Your mind works better and faster when it has constraints. An impending deadline makes you many times more productive. So harness the power of time: limit the amount of hours you work and work more productively while you’re at it.

6. Limit your todo-list. We often have the tendency to put too many things on the list, and then hop from one job to the other, just getting small parts of each done and generally losing loads of time getting into each task. So make that long, complete list… and then select the 3 to 5 things that you really want to get done. Make sure that when you get these done, you can be satisfied about your day. Start with the most important, before you do anything else (especially before checking your email).

7. Apply the principle of TV commercials. Some TV channels begin with a new programme as soon as the previous one finishes. A few minutes later, in come commercials. Why? Because by then, people are already watching the next programme. They want to see what happens. The same goes for your work: don’t take breaks in between tasks, but a little while after you’ve begun a new task. That way you also have concrete things to think about, and you’ll automatically start working sooner.

8. Take short breaks. Everyone deserves a treat after working hard. But don’t break too long! A few minutes to catch your breath is more than enough, rather than losing your momentum with a half-hour break.

9. Fix a time for recreation. Social networks like Facebook are a powerful way to stay connected, but two or three times a day for five minutes should suffice. After that it becomes a waste of time, like many other online and offline recreations. Fix a time for them, like from five to five thirty.

10. Stop reading about time management. There’s a big difference between and being able to do something. You probably already know everything you need, especially if you know the Golden Rule of Productivity. It’s like knowing how a car works, but not being able to fix it yourself. So take one practical thing and do it until it’s a habit.

Too much reading about time management can seriously harm your productivity

Too much reading about time management can seriously harm your productivity

Check out the previous articles in this series:

  1. 6 Surprising Causes Of Procrastination
  2. How To Overcome Procrastination – RIGHT NOW
  3. The One And Only Way To Increase Productivity

Next week’s article is about setting priorities.

PS.: Now that you’re here, do leave a comment. Even if it’s a small one! A blog is so much more fun when people react to it…
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Are you happy?

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

How to be happy

The One And Only Way To Increase Productivity

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Increase productivity

In the previous articles of this Productivity Series we looked at causes of procrastination, and how to overcome it. In today’s article, say hello to the number one rule of any time management and productivity improvement system.

Part 3/8 – The Ultimate Way To Increase Productivity

You sure you’re ready to stop procrastinating and to get more done, day in day out? All right then, here we go:

The best way to get more done is to choose one thing that you’ll work on next. Dedicate yourself to it entirely, without distractions or multitasking. Turn of ANYTHING that might bother you and keep going until it’s done.

That’s how simple it is! So simple actually, it’s nearly irresistible to sin against. There are always exceptions to the rule (like your office being on fire), but there aren’t nearly as many as we permit ourselves. Every concession to this golden principle is like punching a hole in a bucket. Before you know it you’re losing energy on all sides, and you can’t seem to get anything done.

You could say that most productivity methods are like plasters on a particular leak in a cauldron, more than a general solution. That’s why I prefer giving you the Golden Rule, a whole new bucket to work with. There’ll always be holes here and there, we’re only human.

Improve productivity now

Once you have this one rule mastered, you can use the practical productivity tips and tricks in the following articles to increase your productivity even more!

Previous articles in this series:

  1. 6 Surprising Causes Of Procrastination
  2. How To Overcome Procrastination – RIGHT NOW

PS.: Now that you’re here, do leave a comment. Even if it’s a small one! A blog is so much more fun when people react to it…

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How To Overcome Procrastination – RIGHT NOW

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

The previous post in this series talked about causes of procrastination. This week, we’re going to begin doing something about it!

Part 2/8 – How To Overcome Procrastination – RIGHT NOW

Becoming more productive is not a question of working more, but of being smarter about it. That often implies having less on your mind so you can work with clarity and focus. As with many things in life, your resistance to do certain things is between our ears. It’s this resistance you want to deal with, before you begin with any practical techniques to do the actual work more efficiently.

How to overcome procrastination

I’ve tried pretty much everything, and these are the thoughts and things that work best for me. Any of these strategies can give you the momentum you need at a given time to break through your procrastination and get going.

Insight

Identify the reason why you’re delaying. Discover why you’re postponing the work. Reframe your resistance by discovering more about the work to be done. It’s often our fear of the unknown that causes a paralyzing stress, the first step on the slippery slope towards that unproductive frustration. So map things out, create an oversight and insight into what needs to be done. Often, your fears will become considerably smaller.

Dosing

You can’t get everything at once! Install one new habit at a time. Plan time, prepare it, implement it thoroughly and do it until it’s automatic. Make sure you have all the necessary means. Doing things halfway just gives you more work without the benefits.

External pressure

Tell others you’ll be working differently from now on. Find someone who will check on the work you want to be doing. Make sure it’s someone who wants the same as you (so maybe not your boss, that might push his or her own wants upon you) and who doesn’t tend to give you any excuses.

‘Begin’ instead of ‘stop procrastinating’

Your subconscious doesn’t process negatives. What do you see when you tell yourself to stop procrastinating? You probably see yourself procrastinating, right? So every time you tell yourself to stop it, you’re actually strengthening that image. Instead, focus on what you will do. What’s the first thing you’ll do? Take one small thing and start doing it, now.

Begin with the beginning

Often an end result we have in mind can seem so big it’s overwhelming. Forget about having the overview, prioritising, planning… for a second. Let it go. Just do one small thing now, finish it and then do the next. Do that a couple of times, then collect everything into a big picture again. At least, now you’re already created something to work with.

Just do something!

We often stop ourselves from starting because we think we’re not ready yet. We don’t know enough yet, still have to do all kinds of things first… But how often is that really true? What stops you is often less impressive from close by than it initially seems. When you think too much about something, it tends to become an incredible obstacle as all possible scenarios pop through your head. So stop thinking and make a first move, try some stuff out! Trust your instincts and improvisation. Often, the next steps flow automatically from just doing.

How to overcome procrastination

In part 3/8 of this productivity series I’ll tell you about the Golden Rule of Productivity. After that, I’ll give you some practical producitivity boosters that you can choose from. Make sure you’re in the right frame of mind though: clear those mental blockades!

PS.: Now that you’re here, do leave a comment. Even if it’s a small one! A blog is so much more fun when people react to it…

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6 Surprising Causes Of Procrastination

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Have you ever made (New Year’s) resolutions? I bet you have! I’ll also wager that most of those resolutions had something to do with your productivity at work. Mainly about how you can increase it, without actually having to work longer hours. Am I right? You want to beat procrastination. Well, that’s exactly what we’ll be telling you how to do in the next eight articles. One per week, so you can take your time with each one.

Reasons for procrastination

Part 1/8 – 6 Surprising Causes Of Procrastination

How many times have you begun your week full of good intentions, swearing you won’t let yourself be distracted and that you’ll get things done? Only to find that you’re spending time on Facebook again, or checking your emails and not ticking off things on your list.

How is that possible! You just want to get your work done and yet you keep on procrastinating. What little devils are at play here?

1. We want instant gratification. Having a nice nap in the couch may seem a lot more fun than going out running in the cold. Sipping on your coffee and staring out of the window is easier than working on that boring report. Checking your mail or Facebook gives you a quicker result than finishing the project that takes hours of work.

2. We’re afraid. Maybe you’re postponing your work because there’s a problem or question that hasn’t been solved yet. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll fail or look stupid. Sometimes it’s easier to do something easy and save the real work for later. That way, you don’t get confronted with possibly negative results.

3. We get paralysed by perfectionism. If you like things to be done really well it’s probably going to take a lot of work. Just thinking about the work your project will take, you could easily get slightly stressed. In fact, it can make you so stressed that you never get started. You’d rather dream about the result than have to face the possibility of not having a great result.

4. We’re not children anymore. When we were in school, there was a teacher breathing in our necks that chided us for not doing our work. In some work environments, the same applies. Under external pressure, however unpleasant, you do have the tendency to get work done. As an independent adult you’re supposed to be doing this by yourself, which sadly many of us don’t. You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you did.

5. We overestimate our future self. We often postpone things because we think we’ll get them done in some bright future where you’re more productive than ever and work is effortless. Sadly, reality tends to be a bit more grim. Sadly if you’re not working on it right now, in your bright future you’ll be the same procrastinator you are today. Why would anything have changed? Stupid future self…

6. We want to do too much. We all know the phenomenon: you get so sick of procrastinating that you swear it’s going to change this time. The first thing you do works, so you get hungry and try to fix everything at once. Soon, you’re so swamped in things to do for the sake of time management that you’re more stressed than before. Exhausted, you give up and fall back into the same old routine.

Our future self may not be as super as we imagine

Our future self may not be as super as we imagine

So how can you overcome procrastination?

Over the course of this series, we’ll take a look at different ways to overcome your internal procrastinator with concrete productivity tips and insights you can choose from (wisely) to become more efficient.

PS.: Now that you’re here, do leave a comment. Even if it’s a small one! A blog is so much more fun when people react to it…

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