How did we, as a culture, get so obsessed with being so productive at work? Well, except for some of the younger millennials—this group seems a bit more chill when it comes to peak performance on the job.
But as part of the general workforce, most of us feel a little guilty when things aren’t getting checked off our to-do lists. And if you’re an entrepreneur . . . the stakes are even higher, right? It’s not easy to stay focused and on task when there are tons of distractions (both internal and external).
Who wouldn’t rather be messaging via emojis on Skype with a friendly face or taking a sunshine nap on the lawn of the nearest park . . . instead of compiling data for a social media marketing report? And why so many team meetings? It seems to me that weekly meetings, more often than not, disrupt productivity.
The thing to note is productive, effective people aren’t necessarily concerned with doing more things; the opposite is actually true. If you really want to be productive at work, you must focus only on what’s most essential. What needs to get done first?
To discover the secrets to being a more productive person, I consulted with New York Times best-selling author and business mentor, Brian Tracy. Mr. Tracy gives great insight on how to be the master of your time and the creator of your life. So if you’re not currently in charge of your work/life balance, you may want to pay attention to Tracy’s valuable advice. Here are some of the habits he recommends cultivating, growing, and nurturing.
This one’s a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many ways there are to waste time. And some of them are done unconsciously. Do you ever find yourself working a full 8 hours, but by the end of the day you haven’t really accomplished anything? Maybe you took care of a few emails and made a couple phone calls, but what about the really important tasks?
Instead of ending up with nothing to show, plan ahead next time. Write down the most important things you need to accomplish and break each task down into small chunks of time (e.g., compile data for report from most reliable source from 10 - 10:45 a.m.). Make your task list before you show-up to work in the morning, otherwise, you’ll waste a bunch of trying to figure out what you’re going to do.
Once you’ve completed your most important task, move on to the next most important task; complete it before you do anything else (like check your email) . . . and so on. Basically, create an efficient schedule and stick to it.
In order to stay focused during your workday, another time management suggestion is to take breaks between your tasks. Studies have found that people who take 15-minute breaks every couple of hours are more productive. Daniel Levitin, professor of behavioral neuroscience at McGill University suggests allowing your mind to wander . . . whether you’re taking a walk, watching the clouds, or lying on your back listening to music, daydreaming is recommended during your breaks.
You can switch tasks before you finish what you started, but don’t fall pray to doing more than one task at a time. Remember, multitasking kills creativity and other forms of intelligence. And emails eat productivity for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so only check your email once or twice a day (try 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.). And avoid it first thing in the morning; it’ll just throw off your entire schedule.
If you’re feeling stuck in work that doesn’t light your creative fire during the day, then it’s probably time to seriously think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. What would you rather be doing? What do you dream about doing? Who do you want to be in this lifetime?
If you want to be a productive, happy, emotionally intelligent person, you’ve got to follow your heart. Start showcasing your strengths and do things you’re really good at doing. When you do, you’ll notice you can accomplish a great deal more. Hone the skills that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
According to Brian Tracy: “There’s nothing that will increase the quality and quantity of your output faster than for you to become absolutely excellent at performing the most important tasks that are expected of you.”
Develop an entrepreneurial mindset rather than only thinking about doing your job, pleasing your superiors, following the rules, and doing the minimum necessary to avoid being fired. That’s corporate thinking. Entrepreneurial thinking is the first step in becoming a self-made millionaire, right?
Procrastination stems from the initial feeling of emotional overwhelm. And feeling overwhelmed with work stems from a false fear of something. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of not being liked . . . You’ve probably heard the long list of illusory fears before. It takes some digging, but you can overcome your fears by retraining your brain. Procrastination is a bad habit, so in order to be more productive you’re going to have to overcome it. Here’s an article I wrote on how to do overcome procrastination, “This Is the Best Way to Overcome Procrastination.”
A great technique you can use to program your subconscious mind is through creative visualization. Your subconscious mind is influenced by mental pictures, so if you picture yourself as a productive, successful person on a regular basis, you’ll begin to behave as one.
You’ve probably heard of this mental exercise before. For athletes, this practice is called ‘‘mental rehearsal.’’ It requires practicing actions in your mind before you actually physically participate in the activity. And the more relaxed you are when you visualize yourself at your best, the quicker your subconscious mind adjusts . . . and becomes a part of your behavior. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Here’s how you do it:
The best time to practice this is just before drifting off to sleep. Try it! If the last thing you do before falling asleep is to imagine yourself functioning at peak performance, you’ll be amazed by how accurate it is to what takes place during the actual experience.
It’s important to practice mental rehearsal by continually seeing yourself as one of the best-organized and most effective people you can imagine. Eventually these pictures will ‘lock in.’ When they do, you will find yourself easily and automatically using your time efficiently in everything you do.
Hopefully after reading this article, you’re even more amped to increase your productivity and become a more effective human being. And by practicing the above techniques, you can do just that. You can develop habits for success. And once you implement these practices, you’ll start to notice you have more control over your time and your personal life. The habits outlined here are crucial for a happy, healthy work/life balance.
If you’d like to learn more great advice and productivity lessons from the king of time management, Brian Tracy, he’s offering a brand-new, FREE online training where he shares scientifically proven ways to be in control of your time and your life through the power of productivity.
When you’re the master of your life, you will start to achieve your goals . . . step by step . . . one by one. So if you want to adopt the habits of highly effective, successful people, sign up for the training.
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NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.