Many of you frequently ask me for tips on productivity, so…. I am synthesizing some of my best tips. I talked recently about how being in a state of flow increases my productivity and how you can achieve flow more often. Here are some other tips:
Here are 10 Tips to become highly productive
- Pick one or two priorities to accomplish each day, rather than a laundry list of to-do’s. Setting my sights on fewer things helps me feel successful and keeps me focused (tip number 2). When I give myself too large a list of things to do in a day and then do not achieve my goals, I feel depleted and a failure–unlikely to be of much use. Yet, when I accomplish my big priority for the day I feel energized and likely to not only do more but succeed at whatever else I do.
- Focus on one thing at a time. I use to value my ability to juggle many balls at the same time. However, as I study when I am successful and when I am not in order to help share what I know with you I am becoming more and more aware at how fractioning my attention and activities is actually slowing me down. Whenever possible I now work on one thing at a time, until I complete it.
- Work on my passion first. I talk about this a lot because it is so key. You can probably call to mind almost ecstatic moments of bliss when you are working on something you love, right? Well, feeding yourself that energy puts you into a state of flow that allows all your other responsibilities to feel effortless. If you do your work in reverse, by the time you get to your passion you will have depleted your energy and have little to give what matters most to you.
- Remind yourself of your top moments — times when things went well, your creativity soared, and you succeeded. We are programmed to forget all the good things and remember the bad so we can stay vigilant against tigers and bears. Yet, given that few of us truly need to do that to survive, this mechanism is preventing you from more easily repeating your peak moments and keeping you focused on all the times things went wrong. It takes active remembering to break this cycle. The idea that work is hard is more accurately stated as work I do not enjoy is hard. The more I can remember the times that work was pleasurable, the more likely I am to experience it again.
- Trick yourself into working without internal complaint by breaking your commitment into smaller increments of time. This is called the Pomodoro Technique and simply requires you to set a short time of maybe 25 minutes that you commit to work on your task without interruption. Then you take a short break before doing it again. If I think I have hours ahead of me on a tough project, I find myself stalling to get started or getting distracted. This simple technique allows me to commit and do it. Once moving I rarely find it as hard as I expected. I actually set a time and really do take the break.
- Increase your access to flow and grow your muscle to be able to create flow at will. (see my recent blog for tips on how to do this.)
- Create rituals for certain tasks that require creativity like writing, inventing, and problem solving. This could be lighting a candle whenever you sit down to this task, pouring a cup of tea, or playing a musical instrument before starting. Anything that soothes you before embarking on your creative task.
- Clean and organize your work space. This can look like a detour to work; however, most of us work more effectively in an organized space. For me, organizing my space has the affect of de-cluttering my mind, too. Then when I start working I am able to move much more quickly, I possess more clarity, and my results are significantly better.
- Sometimes changing your work space location does a world of good for productivity. In college I often use to study at the beach rather than at a desk. It worked. The fresh ocean air combined with fewer distractions of my apartment meant I did what I set out to do. Today, my work doesn’t lend itself to sand and wind, but sometimes a coffee shop or even a different location in my home or office improves my output.
- Creating triggers that help you get into a state of flow by repeating the same techniques to create flow anchors. Determine when you typically are in flow — when you write, sing, calculate numbers, or whatever it is for you. Then do the same few things repeatedly before you enter into your flow activity. Sooner or later these anchors will become triggers to enter flow, even if you are doing something else — including normally difficult or anxiety producing activities. By doing your anchor activities before these other tasks you will now set yourself up for much greater success, calmness, and prime your mental faculties rather than shut them down as you might otherwise have done.