With the busy-ness of modern life, 40-50 hour work weeks, and trying to “fit it all in” (you know, time with friends, time to concentrate on your relationship, time with family, time to workout) can be quite exhausting. More often than not I found myself thinking “there aren’t enough hours in the day” and “I don’t have time to do that” and “I’m exhausted”. A small voice in my head knew that really, I was making excuses (even though I’d like to think I wasn’t). Sometimes when I hear about people being so productive, I think.. “how do that DO that?” Perhaps they are working smarter and not necessarily harder.
More Time Spent Doesn’t Necessarily Mean More Productivity
According to Lifehack, more time spent doing certain tasks (e.g. work) doesn’t necessarily mean that you are being more productive. In fact, we spend a lot of time not being productive. What are we doing when we’re not being productive? With all the distractions available to us (texting, Internet surfing, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook) it’s certainly hard to keep the time you spent on certain tasks protected. It’s not just television or Netflix anymore that is a distraction. I know that Facebook is a definite productivity killer (9 reasons why and 5 more reasons why deactivating Facebook might be a good idea for you). Heck, sometimes I can spend hours watching Youtube videos (and then I feel exhausted and bad for wasting so much time) especially after a long work day when I am exhausted and just want my brain to veg out and tune out. The lack of energy is a recipe for disaster. I end up feeling guilty and get negative feelings, which further decreases productivity because I don’t feel like doing anything.
How to Increase your Productivity
Well how does one increase their productivity then? In the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey he talks about ‘putting first things first’ and spending Sundays planning for the week and allocating time spent on certain activities during the week. Since I have been doing this it has kept my accountable (I still use an old paper and pen type of day calendar, unlike everyone who has moved to the mobile phone… I still like to cross things out).
In addition, starting your day right is really important. Good sleep (I’m now aiming to sleep before 11:30pm and going to force myself not to be so much of a night owl), good nutrition, and avoiding sugar crashes is important to increase your productivity. Feeling exhausted in the mornings, getting coffee with sugar and then having a crash is a perpetual cycle of feeling tired that will not help your productivity.
Chunk Your Productivity
According to 15Five, we work best when we work in bursts of productivity, we are optimal at four to five 90 minute chunks of time with breaks in-between. This increases performance and productivity.
Lifehack also recommends that you eliminate distractions and set a timer. Speaking of timers, I recently started using Pomodoro and am thoroughly impressed at the simplicity of the concept and the effectiveness. The Pomodoro Technique was created in the 1980’s by Francesco Cirillo Since using Pomodoro (which is Italian for ‘tomato’), according to Lifehack, Some people are a big fan and others find it cumbersome and ‘overkill’. Personally, since downloading the Pomodoro app (free) I have been insanely productive and look forward to the mini-breaks between my 25 minute chunks of concentrated time. It’s almost like a race against time where I ask my self how long it would take to complete this task.
How Does Pomodero Work?
The Pomodeoro technique works by reducing mental fatigue because it allows you take breaks between concentrated chunks of time. It also reduces anxiety and fear and stress, reduces the feeling over being overwhelmed because you know that “it’s only going to be 25 minutes instead of something longer”. After you get four pomodoros, you are allowed to take a more extended breaks, such as 15 minutes.
Other Ways to Increase Productivity
Of course, there are other ways to increase productivity. I’m a big fan of meal planning and batch cooking so I don’t have to cook something on a daily basis when I get home from work (when I am usually completely exhausted).
Readers, what do you do to increase productivity? Have you tried the Pomodero Technique before?