We always talk about what helps us to become more productive. Should we drink more coffee? Should we do more breaks during work? And maybe we should go for lunch not for two hours?
I think that our productivity is influenced by many factors: our thoughts, habits, and our environment.
Start doing what you need. Then do what’s possible. And you suddenly find out that you’re doing the impossible.
St. Francis of Assisi
Here are seven mantras I find helpful to drive my daily productivity:
1. MORNING SETS THE DAY
The most highly productive people wake up really early in the morning so that they can get an early start. But that does not mean you immediately have to dive into work. I don’t wake up at the crack of dawn to tune intonews media, write emails, hop onsocial media, or to dive into work-related matters. My dawns are my time to connect with myself. Most mornings I try to practice some form of meditation. And that helps set the promise of a new day: focus, creativity, and positivity. It’s a way to get charged. Only after that do I start thinking about my priorities.
2. ACHIEVE SMALL GOALS EVERY DAY
I set priorities for the beginning of the day the night before. These priorities are not only based on the importance of the goals but also based on the prospect of completion.
If we want to be productive with our time and manage it well, we need to spend our time working toward achieving smaller goals with a series of small tasks. Setting smaller goals for ourselves offers us positive reinforcement when we achieve them. It feels good to know that I am accomplishing something. It helps keep me motivated and encouraged at working toward my bigger goals and aspirations.
3. GET TO KNOW WHERE THE TIME GOES
The first step to get better at managing our time is to understand how we spend our time. French Nobel laureate philosopher Henri-Louis Bergson argued that the management of tasks is actually management of time—which is actually management of consciousness. The most critical question is, “Am I currently using my time in the best possible way?”
There are many activities that can easily take up a large amount of time from our daily schedule. If these activities aren’t producing anything tangible, and they are instead just eating up our time, then perhaps it’s a wise move to consider re-prioritizing the schedule.
4. ESTABLISH RIGHT HABITS
Repetition is how we develop good habits in our life, choosing to do the right thing even when we don’t feel like doing it. Waking up creates predictability, and that predictability helps to release abilities. Along with clear thinking, being productive requires skills. And mastery comes from enthusiastic and repeated devoted practice. Sustainable daily productivity comes from structure.
5. WORKING WHILE EXHAUSTED REDUCES EFFECTIVENESS
Working longer hours, especially when we are tired, actually makes us less productive. There have been hundreds of studies done on the need for and benefits of sleep, naps, and frequent rests throughout the day. Suffering from sleep deprivation is a lot like being drunk. A person that lacks the necessary amount of rest is less likely to perform and be effective while working.
To be productive, we have to have an adequate amount of rest. When we are tired, it impairs cognitive ability and judgment, and you increase your chances of making large mistakes.
6. STAY FOCUSED AND DO ONE TASK AT A TIME
Multitasking increases the possibility of mistakes, which decreases productivity. When we perform too many activities at one time it usually increases our stress levels. Multitasking often leads to over-stimulation of your brain function.
If we are working on a project or assignment and we are constantly interrupted by coworkers, phone calls, or social media, we risk forgetting details required to comprehensively finish the task at hand. By having too much information inundate us at the same time, our brain cannot differentiate between what is important and what isn’t, negatively affecting our memory.
When we remain focused on one task at a time—meaning we are being mindful of the present—we find the results to be a greater success than if we were to attempt to multitask.
7. MORE IS NOT INDICATIVE OF BETTER
This statement has something in common with the preceding paragraph. It is better to do one thing well, than to take up the pile of problems and to solve them somehow.
Do not rush and set priorities, remember that more ≠ better.