Do you know someone who manages to get so much more done than you? Despite the same 86,400 seconds in each day, they seem to effectively manage complex jobs with the associated responsibility while managing to remain unfazed. These same people complete their work-related tasks, while maintaining social, family and personal interests.
So, how can some people accomplish so much more in the same amount of time than the rest of us?
It appears our thinking on this phenomenon is clouded, believing that some people are just better than us. Whereas, the answer may be in the choices and decisions they make about how they spend their time.
Mindset coach, Ben Crowe, claims there are 3 elements that have a direct impact on how effective (focused) we can be; how we think, what we prioritise and the choices we make.
Therefore, it appears that our productivity is more influenced by our behaviours rather than our qualities.
So, how can we hack into the behaviours that make some people more productive?
1. Quit Multi-tasking.
While it may make you feel busier, multi-tasking will not make you more productive! We only have 100% attention we can give to any one thing. Therefore, you don’t need to be Archimedes to realise that to split your attention is to decrease your effectiveness.
Productive people differentiate high priority tasks from low and tackle each task in that order of priority; high – medium – low. Decisions regarding their family, health and career carry more weight than indulging in social media or watching another episode of a favourite series on Netflix.
3. Invest time in planning.
“Every minute you spend in planning, saves 10 minutes in execution. This gives you a 1000% return on energy” (Brian Tracy)
Productive people spend essential time in planning. They realise the benefit of this in setting up their day, week or month. Consider it as a shopping list approach. The time you spend checking the fridge and pantry for what you need at the supermarket will make you so much more efficient – and minimise those crazy ‘impulse’ purchases.
4. Work in short-focused bursts.
There is a wealth of research based on the detrimental effects of mental fatigue on our performance. Did you know that a chess master can burn up to 6000 calories during a tournament? Thinking requires energy, and our energy stores are finite. Productive people are tuned-in to their energy levels and tend to work in short bursts. While the duration of these bursts will vary from person to person, research indicates that anywhere from 25-50 minutes appears optimal. One method adopted by many productive people is the Pomodoro Technique. This requires setting a timer for 25 minutes of focused work, before a mental break of 5 minutes. Then repeating this.
Some extra productivity tips to include in your behavioural changes.
- Use time-blocking or scheduling for each day. This allows you to block similar tasks together, including emails, calls, planning, exercise.
- Build your day around your energy levels. It’s important to know when you do your best work. Are you a morning person, or someone who hits-their-straps around 3pm?
- Remember the power of exercise. Yes, it requires energy, yet in an uncanny twist, it also provides mental clarity.
- Minimise distractions. As with multi-tasking, anything that requires your attention (even a sliver of attention) will decrease your focus and effectiveness on the task at hand. Put your phone out of sight (in a drawer) have no unnecessary windows open on your desktop, turn-off notifications. You know the drill!
Once we accept that productivity is behavioural and not a genetic trait, we can begin working on it to enhance our personal effectiveness and take more control over our day, week and life.