Author: Kristina Proffitt
13th February 2018
We all wish there was more time in the day. But, unless you have a DeLorean or a Time Turner, you’ll never have enough time to achieve everything.
Since most of us don’t know how to build a Flux Capacitor, nor do we have magical powers, we have to find other ways to get more done. And, with countless blog posts published about productivity every day, boosting productivity is clearly a major issue for everyone.
We created our Calendar API to help you build software that boosts your users’ productivity. Now, here’s a few tips to help boost your productivity, too.
1. Write EVERYTHING down
Organizing your thoughts – particularly when you never sit still – isn’t easy. The more thoughts and ideas floating around in your head, the harder it is to concentrate on what’s in front of you. Every thought or idea that you don’t write down works like a plug, stopping your creativity from flowing freely. That’s why it’s so important to write EVERYTHING down – even the bad ideas.
Whether you use Trello, a Bullet Journal, or a simple to-do list, writing everything down means you won’t forget your next great idea. This makes it easier to fully focus on the task in front of you, and makes you less likely to multitask.
It also means when you do need to refer back to an idea, you don’t have to fight through the clutter in your mind to find it. You can write it down, then forget about it until you’re ready. Just so long as you don’t forget where you wrote it down…
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2. Turn off your notifications
Notifications are so distracting. They’re also everywhere. Do we really need a notification to remind us of someone’s birthday, or their work anniversary, LinkedIn? Facebook is by far the worst culprit, but other social media sites have followed suit and now send us notifications for every. Little. Thing.
Some social media applications allow you to turn off notifications for certain things permanently. For instance, I’ve turned off notifications for retweets and likes on Twitter. Facebook, on the other hand, will only let you turn off notifications for a certain period of time. Because you’re really going to miss the dozen notifications from someone’s Younique group while you’re at work.
I deleted most of the social media apps from my phone a few months ago, and I feel so much better for it. I’m much less reactive, and I haven’t missed anything!
When you really want to concentrate, put your phone on Do No Disturb or Airplane mode. Close your emails, too.
It’s highly unlike you’ll miss anything important just because you went off the grid for a couple of hours.
3. Stay hydrated
We often don’t think about how what we drink can affect us mentally, but it really, really does.
Being even slightly dehydrated can make it harder for you to concentrate. When you’re really dehydrated, it can lead to headaches and dizziness.
How much you need to drink depends on your age, the rest of your diet, what medication you take, your activity level, and your daily environment. The eight glasses a day is a rough guide, but some people need more while others need less.
4. Eat right
You’ve heard all the guidelines. You think you eat well. But the chances are, you probably don’t eat as well as you think.
Eating right is about more than just getting your five a day. You have to consciously think about what you put into your body all the time. I won’t deny it – it’s really annoying. I’ve had to cut out many food groups to monitor my health problems, but I feel much better for it. Preparing my work lunches in advance also means I have something yummy to look forward to as lunchtime rolls around.
Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk are all avid readers.
Reading transports you to another world. It educates you about things you’ve never experienced, and can never experience.
It also exercises you brain. You get to learn new words, craft new images, and transport yourself into someone else’s situation. It’s one of the fastest, and cheapest, ways to learn something new.
Reading fiction has even been proven to make you more empathic. If you need to switch off for a little while, it’s also a great escape.
In the modern world we often treat the mind and body as separate entities, but they work together. Stress can cause long-term physical pain in the same way that suffering from chronic pain can lead to depression and anxiety.
Recent studies have suggested that exercise is the best way to deal with chronic back pain, not medication. This could save healthcare industries billions in prescriptions every year. But exercise isn’t a quick fix.
If you’re not used to exercising, start off slowly. Even a few stretches can ease aching joints. When you spend most of your day sat down, any exercise is better than no exercise.
7. Take your mind off your work
When working towards your goals, your world can start to revolve around it. It becomes harder and harder to see past it. But you must!
When you spend all day, everyday, doing the same thing, even tasks you love can turn boring.
Getting a change of pace allows you to separate yourself from your main goal for a little while. This then gives you a sense of perspective, prevents tunnel vision, and makes it easier to problem solve. I’ve come up with many content ideas while doing something completely unrelated to writing!
Relaxation isn’t about doing nothing, it’s about getting a change of pace. Even when you love what you do, you need a break from it sometimes.
Here are a few things you could try to help you relax:
- Reading poetry
- Dog walking
- Having a bath
- Getting a manicure
8. Make small changes
There is no definitive amount of time that it takes us to form a habit. However, studies have shown that the more dramatic the change is, the longer it takes for us to form said habit.
That’s why making small changes, instead of giant leaps, means you’re more likely to stick to your new habits.
Committing to writing 100 words a day is a lot less intimidating than committing to 1,000 words a day, or focusing on the end goal of a 50,000-word book. Start off small, then gradually increase your goal as your new habit forms.
You could also use Seinfeld’s Don’t Break the Chain trick – every time you work on your goal, mark it off on a calendar. Extra points if it’s displayed somewhere prominent. The longer the chain, the stronger the compulsion not to break it.
9. Track your progress
When you’re working on a project – particularly something long-term – it can be easy to forget the bigger picture.
Tracking your progress long-term can really help you to see how little tasks add up.
Take John Lee Dumas. It took him 18 months to become a millionaire thanks to his podcast, Entrepreneur on Fire. Because he shares a new podcast every working day, he can grow his followers much faster than someone doing it monthly or even weekly. If he did it monthly, he’d only have had 12 episodes by the end of his first year. That’s not nearly enough to convince sponsors his podcast has a big enough audience to justify big sponsorship deals. Even if he did it weekly, that’s only 52 episodes. But by doing it every working day, he had 260 episodes! The more content you have for someone to consume, the faster and the easier you can convert them.
Talent isn’t what takes you far in life. It’s the tenacity and determination to show up day in, day out, and put the work in. Even on days when things aren’t going your way. Even when you really, really don’t want to. The longer you do this for, the better your results will be.
10. Practice sleep hygiene
You probably already have a bedtime routine that involves brushing your teeth and putting on your pajamas. Sleep hygiene goes further – it’s a bedtime routine that can last for an hour or two before bed, helping you to fully switch off. It might involve not using your phone after a certain time, putting it in another room, taking a hot shower, or reading a book. The more you do this routine before bed, the more your body comes to realise it’s time for bed and starts to wind down.
Sleep hygiene helps to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep and can tackle the day ahead with energy and enthusiasm, not feeling like a zombie.
The better you sleep the night before, the more you’ll be able to get done the following day. If you sleep really badly, find somewhere you can take a 20-minute power nap. Any longer and you risk falling into REM sleep and will wake up even more tired. 20 minutes is just enough to give you a little boost. You could even do what I do, and have a power nap on your way into the office! (Provided you don’t drive. Don’t drive when you’re tired!)
There’s no right or wrong way to be more productive. What works for one person may not work for others. It’s a process of trial and error to figure out what works for you and your routine. The more small changes you make, though, the greater their impact will be in the long-term.
Look after yourself, and your mind and body will thank you by becoming more productive than ever.
What are your favorite productivity tips and tricks? Let us know on Twitter!
Date: 13th February 2018 | Category: Productivity