Do you sometimes feel like you haven’t accomplished everything you planned at the end of your workday? Despite your best efforts, do you find your to-do list even longer as the day wears on? Though you have probably tried numerous techniques and read many self-help books, do you still get easily distracted by emails, social media, or anything else that might distract your attention?
In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen explains that the unconscious part of our brain keeps track of all the commitments we make to ourselves and others. The result of this is a mind that is cluttered and full of unfinished ideas. Thus, his book aims to teach us how to achieve mental clarity and be more productive.
Unfortunately, we all know that getting the work done isn’t always easy. Making the most of your time is key to productivity, but finding the right ways to manage it can sometimes be challenging. In this article, we will discuss productivity techniques that are adaptable to different personalities and working styles.
Recent studies suggest that being productive has less to do with what you do and more with how you do it. The German Institute of Labour Economics conducted five-year-long research on UK students only to find out that the peak performance happens around 1:30 p.m.
However, it all has to do with our circadian rhythm or an internal 24-hour biological clock. It changes as we age, meaning that our productive time also shifts. With aging, our productivity window moves to an earlier time due to genetics and social factors. For instance, if you are most productive in the morning and have a never-ending list of tasks, researchers advise you to pick one important task and complete it by lunch.
The point is to find the time when you are the most productive and dedicate that part of the day solely to work.
You can reduce procrastination by imposing internal deadlines. Setting your own deadlines may be better than letting someone else do it for you.
Computer Science professor and author of Deep Work, Cal Newport, explains that the key to daily productivity lies in scheduling every minute of the day. According to him, this is the best strategy for staying focused on “deep work” and avoiding distractions (like email and social media). He calls this technique time-blocking.
Time-blocking is a method of planning that breaks your day into smaller time blocks. Each of them is devoted to one task or a group of related tasks. This way, you will know what to do and when to do it. Plus, this technique allows you to set tasks for each day in advance. Time-blocking helps you stay focused on your tasks and limits the ability of others to interrupt your schedule.
According to a study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, about 82% of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. Unfortunately, getting back to work takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds. When you’ve been working on a brain-intensive task for over an hour, interruptions and distractions may seem like a welcome break, but ultimately, they make the task more challenging.
No matter where we are or what we are doing, something is bound to take our attention away from our work. Successful management professionals know this and take steps to prevent the worst from happening. Here are some tips for avoiding productivity killers:
● Emails — Emails aren’t the fastest method for sharing or getting information. Thus, try sending a quick Slack or Teams message, launching an impromptu video call, or just texting someone instead.
● Meetings — Keep meetings short and attendee numbers low. If something isn’t that important, it should be sent via email.
● Procrastination — It happens to everyone. You can prevent it by clearly defining deadlines and trying to be dependable.
● Social media — Studies have discovered that individuals spend an average of 2.5 hours online every day. Create a policy that clearly states when social media use is acceptable and when work should be the priority.
● Lack of organization — It takes more than well-labelled folders and clean desks to make the digital workflow more productive. For instance, you can use CRM software to manage teams, share files within projects, pin documents for speedy access, and host meetings.
● Coworkers — Keeping good relations with colleagues is essential, but there are times and places for personal conversations. Provide opportunities for people to connect outside of work to keep distractions at a minimum during work hours.
Technology has two opposing aspects — it can be a great help and a big distraction. When used wisely, a well-designed app can significantly increase business efficiency. With productivity apps, you can manage your obligations, prioritize them, and stay organized. Furthermore, they help you stay focused and accomplish the never-ending list of things you need to do. Some popular productivity apps include Asana, Slack, Teams, Evernote, and Brain.fm.
Listening to music can also positively impact your productivity. However, apps like Spotify can easily distract you by urging you to skip a song or search for another one. Luckily, Brain.fm is not like other music productivity apps. Using cutting-edge neuroscience, it provides music designed to promote focus, relaxation, and sleep. A team of composers and scientists has worked together to create music that will help you stay alert and complete your work more efficiently.
Brain.fm’s engineered music does more than block out the noise — it helps you become more productive. Whether you turn it on for timed sessions or keep it on all day, you’ll experience positive results quickly. Plus, it’s reasonably priced. Once the trial period is over, you will need to subscribe by paying $6.95 per month or $47.40 per year to continue using the service.
Although shared offices and public coworking spaces have their benefits, you might not feel productive if you are overwhelmed by sensory overload and have to deal with random, uncontrollable noise. It is challenging to keep quiet when keyboard strokes, coffee sips, small chatter, and other distractions occur simultaneously.
Thus, you need to invest in high-quality noise-cancelling headphones, which can completely block surrounding noise. This way, you can listen to your favourite songs or just sit quietly and focus on your workload — it’s entirely up to you.
There is a reason why smart devices are called smart. By using their tools, you can reduce distractions and complete your work more effectively. With Focus mode, you can pause apps and notifications such as news and social media alerts that might distract you from working on important tasks.
Additionally, the work profile organizes your work apps in a separate tab to help you find and access those you need to get the job done more quickly. This functionality, available on both Mac and iOS devices, was designed to help people reclaim control over their devices, remain concentrated, and finish their jobs even when they are required to use their smartphones.
Those who work from an office can regulate their environment by putting a Do Not Disturb message on their door to prevent colleagues from constantly barging in. A time interval between 30 minutes and two hours is ideal for Do Not Disturb periods.
Rescue Time is a desktop and mobile app that monitors the time you spend on your devices, sets and keeps track of goals for your screen time, and helps you block distractions and be more proactive.
Since dings, pings, and flashes on your devices can disrupt your attention, Rescue Time provides a solution by blocking all those alerts. The great thing is that you can create a list of exceptions — the apps you can still enter even if the Focus Feature is on. It also works well on desktop computers by blocking certain websites. Unfortunately, it doesn’t block desktop applications.
It’s worth noting that this is a premium-only feature, so you must subscribe to use it.
Aside from the techniques and strategies we’ve discussed above, there is another one that can increase your productivity substantially — batching.
Batching helps you avoid the loss of productivity associated with switching tasks frequently, primarily when you are working on assignments that require a great deal of focus. As a result, you will get longer blocks of uninterrupted time. This technique can be used for anything — for instance, many people schedule social media and email checking for specific times during the day.
As we’ve mentioned above, you must first understand when you feel the most productive during the day. By doing this, you will learn when you should spend your energy most effectively. As a result, you will be able to complete the tasks that require full focus more quickly.
Of course, don’t forget to implement all of the previously mentioned productivity tips and tricks — you will be amazed at what you can accomplish on a daily basis.
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