As technology has advanced, we live in a world where it is possible to be connected 24/7. It can feel as if there is something you should or need to do during every minute of every day. When will you find the time to sit and relax? Enjoy life? Spend quality time with loved ones?
If you can get your most important tasks done in less time, you will find that there is more free time to enjoy.
WHY HABITS MATTER
When you develop habits, you routinely engage in activities that become automatic, not requiring a lot of extra thought or effort. It is simply the way you live each day. And, the good news is that some of these habits can lead to greater productivity!
3 PRODUCTIVITY-BOOSTING HABITS
I have identified the following 3 habits as being super-helpful in raising levels of productivity. Try one or all and let me know if you see a difference!
- PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
- AVOID MULTITASKING
- TAKE 10 MINUTES TO PLAN TOMORROW
A few weeks ago, my post entitled, Mindfulness - The New "Gateway" Habit, discussed how mindfulness is a great tool for increasing awareness, attention, and focus. And last August, I had a guest blog post from John Michael Domingo where he outlined 13 Benefits he experienced from meditating.
Meditation is a lifelong process. Give it a try. As you get deeper and more disciplined into the process, you’ll get deeper and more disciplined in your mind and life. —Brendon Burchard
In the fall of 2013, I read Kelly McGonigal’s, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, and it changed how I thought about meditation. The author describes meditation as a strategy for improving focus. In our distracted, digital world, who wouldn’t benefit from improved focusing skills?
My daily meditation practice provides me with quiet, alone time, each and every morning. It’s a small respite from what could otherwise be a hectic start to the day. It enables me to clear my head and start my day with a little less stress and feeling more grounded.
Ultimately, this makes my days more productive.
If my anecdotal evidence hasn’t convinced you, perhaps this will:
A group of Harvard neuroscientists studied the benefits of meditation on the brain. Sara Lazar, in her 2012 TED talk “How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains” shares that past research has shown how yoga and meditation can reduce stress as well as symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and pain. It also can improve focus and overall levels of happiness.
True multitasking is doing two things simultaneously.
What we usually refer to as multitasking is really task-switching. For example, if you are writing an email and the phone rings, you might pick up the phone, have a brief conversation, and then go back to writing your email. This is switch-tasking. We think we are doing it seamlessly and without impact, but studies show it can take as long as 20 minutes to get re-focused on the original task. In addition, it takes longer to complete the task, the quality suffers and it is stressful.
When you are talking on the phone while driving, you are multi-tasking. If you are like me, you will find that if you are talking on the phone, you will often make a wrong turn or even forget where you were headed. This is because only 2% of the population actually has the ability to do 2 things at the same time.
Multitasking and switch-tasking should be avoided when possible.
The reality of today's workplace makes it difficult to really focus on one, and only one thing, at a time. When you have important work to do, you can reduce the potential for switch-tasking by designating a specific time and place when you know you will have fewer distractions and interruptions. The best way to be most productive is to avoid the urge to multitask and complete one task at a time!
TAKE 10 MINUTES TO PLAN TOMORROW
Before you leave work, spend the last 10 minutes of your day planning for tomorrow. Review your task list, prioritize what needs to get done, and schedule the time in your calendar to complete your most important tasks. Actually, make an appointment with yourself to do your most important work.
Be sure to keep in mind the parts of the day where your concentration is best and there are likely to be fewer interruptions. For many people, this is first thing in the morning, shortly after they arrive at the office.
Being mindful to schedule your hardest tasks for your window of peak performance will enable you to get more quality work done in less time. Sometimes, having planned your day the night before, you can arrive at work only to find that everything has changed. You must allow yourself the flexibility to adjust and accommodate tasks and projects that might be more urgent and more important than what you had originally planned.
Regardless, when you have a plan in place the night before, you will certainly sleep better. Daily planning enables you to schedule proactively for the next day rather than reacting upon arrival in the office. This is particularly important when handling a crisis. If you have planned the night before, emergencies can be quickly sorted into priority order and dealt with accordingly.
Productive people have the following habits:
- They practice mindfulness
- They avoid multitasking
- They plan for the following day
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