How to 2X Your Productivity and Focus
How to 2X Your Productivity
Don’t you hate it when you have a long list of things to do, and somehow at the end of the day, you have nothing to show for it? What it tells you is that you are not optimizing your time.
First, you want to take stock of what you are doing with all the time you have already. When I read 168 hours: You have more time than you think, I was floored alongside feeling like a complete failure. What was I doing with my time? I started tracking my time and realized I was wasting 50% of my time.
Tracking Your Time
At work I found that meetings that I really did not need to be involved in were a huge time-kill and most of the time I would end up leaving with more work on my plate. At home, I would spend a lot of my time on my phone mindlessly checking and rechecking my email or Instagram. Clockify and Rescue Time both have a free version that lets you know how you are spending your time online. A quick way to see how much time you’re wasting on your iPhone is screen time that gives you a breakdown of how you are using your phone and how much time you have spent on it. If you haven’t done this before you might be surprised at home, much time goes wasted.
I also would urge you to track your time when you’re not online, as well. If you watch tv or read, these items should be monitored as well. You want to get down to the nitty-gritty to make sure you are using your time how you would like to ideally. Taking stock of your hourly activities can also lead to building and breaking habits that do not align with your ideal life, but that’s a topic for another day. Laura Vanderkam has a great simple tracker to track your time and also a challenge. I urge you to take the challenge! It truly changed my perspective on how I can have the time to do everything I would like to within the 168 hours in a week.
Second – Let’s Get Organized.
Whether that means making lists or if you want to dive deep and create a bullet journal that is up to you. As productivity isn’t just for work, you want to consider all the items in your life that need to be captured. Why? Who doesn’t have a moment in their workday when they remember, oh I have to call the doctor and schedule an appointment for my child, Or I need to sign up for that class I wanted to take? When you start getting organized for work, organize for your life as well.
A few categories to keep in mind are home, family and friends, health, learning, relationships, and spirituality. A list for your home could consist of cleaning, general to-do’s, items that need replacing, etc. Depending on the length of your list, you may want to break them into their own list.
A growing number of people swear by a bullet journal. Bullet journals can be all in one space where you basically download your brain. Here is a great video to learn more about how to create your bullet journal. Pinterest is an excellent place for inspiration, as well.
When making a list, separate any items that can be taken care of in less than 5 minutes. You can batch these tasks, and in twenty minutes, take care of twelve things that have been weighing on your mind. Imagine how good it will feel to cross them off your list. It also builds momentum to keep going and tackle the next item.
Tackling Deep Work
All the little things that typically don’t need too much attention are just really about getting it done; the hardest part is just getting up to do it or sitting down to do it. Deep work usually requires more focus, and while you think this can be done anytime, sometimes the best time to do it is when you know you will be able to tackle it well.
I have a rule that I at least try to stick to is to tackle my big item list from 10 am-12 pm, this is typically the time for most people when they are the most productive. So, this is the time to Eat that Frog and feel soooo good to get the hardest or largest item out of the way. It’s easy to get distracted by incoming emails, people dropping by, or phone calls. Also, most workers don’t typically get anything done from 4-6 pm, so you don’t want to leave it for the end of the day.
Studies have shown that looping music can be beneficial for concentration. If you find you become distracted by words or find it hard to write or read when listening to music. Try brain.fm or other services that are specifically designed for listening to when you need to focus. I have started using Wellatory to track my productivity levels, energy, and all the other insights it provides, and I noticed a significant increase when I began listening to brain.fm. I don’t know if it will work for you, but it’s worth a try. They provide four sessions for free, and it’s $9/monthly if you decide to sign up.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages you to work with the time you have instead of our monkey brains allowing random distractions (oh an email pop up, or let me grab water when you don’t need to) you plan for them. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are Pomodoros. After about four Pomodoros, you take a more extended break of about 15 to 20 minutes. This nifty little timer is a fantastic way to give yourself a break and be laser-focused when it’s time to “work.” I have been using this method of working for a long time, and I find it’s a great way to know you will have time soon for the little distraction that just popped up in your head.
When you’re doing your “deep work,” distractions are the worse. They always throw you off and cause you to have to refocus again. I would start to keep a tab on your “distractions.” Start writing down things that distract you from your work. Distractions come in many forms; this could be other people, email notifications, cell notifications, computer notifications, calls, etc. For each item on the list, there is always a way around. I typically work with my earphones in, sometimes even if I’m not listening to anything (yes, tricky, I know). It deters people from stopping by to chat, work, or non-work related. Another big item these days is notifications. It’s so easy to get swept away with a notification, a text message, etc. Put your phone on do not disturb and turn of your notifications on your computer if you have them, including your emails. Yes, I said, including your emails. If you’re using the Pomodoro technique, you can use this time to check your emails if you need just in case the world is on fire. The hardest distraction to fight is your thoughts. An easy way to do this is a meditation technique – Note it, where you make a note of it if it is that important. Using this technique takes away the need to deal with it right away, as you have made a note of it, it won’t be lost in that sea of your brain forever, only to remember when it’s too late.
Living your life for productivity
Our monkey minds need calming. To become more aware of your thoughts and how to handle them is critical to becoming a better you. I found that when you start meditating even 10 min a day within two weeks, you see a massive shift in how you handle thoughts and how aware you are about what you are thinking. You tend to bite negative thoughts in the butt before you start riding that crazy drama train. You can choose to get off. Meditation is a great habit breaker, increases focus and help break distractions. I could go on and on about meditation, but I encourage you if you already do not meditate, start the practice today. Apps like Headspace or calm make it easier than ever.
Eat well & Exercise
Have you ever overeaten for lunch or just generally eaten the wrong foods? You get that sick feeling in your stomach and that head fog that you just cannot shake. Your body only has so much energy to go around, and your digestive system uses energy to do its job. Also, it is suggested to stay away from carbs as much as possible
So those are some ways I have found to make my day more productive and I hope some of these tips help you as well! I would love to hear what has worked for you, so please leave a comment down below!
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