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Tips to increase productivity

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I can really annoy myself with my own behaviour while working on – for example – this blog. I want to write, I want to be productive. But I find myself scrolling through my Facebook wall, investigating posts I already saw the day before. Or I walk into the bathroom every five minutes; first to comb my hair, then to trim my fingernails, and then to look in the mirror again. My productivity has reached dramatic levels.   

I bore myself. And being in the grey area of not focusing on writing, and not focusing on something else either, but combining the two; bores me even more.

Resistance feels worse than the actual job

I resist to the job of writing. But I know rationally, without the resistance the writing of this article even would be pleasant. It is not about the writing, it is about the resistance! It is about the lack of focus. In this way I end up with nothing. After two hours I don’t have my article, and I didn’t had a good time either. Do you recognize this for yourself? This blog hopefully will inspire you to increase your productivity.

I decided to become more productive

I don’t want to waste my time and I don’t want the nasty feeling of my own resistance. My wish is to be mindful. In this blog I summarize for you the most important lessons I learned to increase my productivity. I decided to become more productive and this is what I did to increase my productivity.

Increase your productivity #1  – Work in short power blocks

Instead of working many hours in a row, focus on your job to do in a delimited amount of time. Stop when you have reached your goals. Most jobs take as long as you have time (think about it). Make sure you are 100% focussed during those power blocks. Don’t make them last longer than 2 hours. Take a rest in between the power blocks. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, or cook your lunch. You will see your concentration will increase, as will your output. In both quality and quantity. Congratulations, you took the first step to increase productivity.  

#2 – Monitor your energy level – know when to stop

It is important to keep your energy level at a sufficient high level. As soon you feel your energy drops, quit for now. It doesn’t make sense to stay working any longer. Your creativity and eagerness will go down. Take a break and get back to work as soon you are reloaded. Productivity is not about working long hours but about being effective and efficient working on important stuff.

#3 – Multitasking is a myth

Oh yeah it feels so good to be busy and so active. I feel so satisfied and everyone can see that I work like crazy!

It is a status symbol in our modern western society today; being busy.

When you ask a random person about his well being, the answer will probably be “busy”.  It is not about the addictive feeling of being busy. It is about being productive and increase productivity. Scientific research shows that doing several tasks at the same time will deliver you halfheartedly results. In the end you will need more time to complete the same amount of tasks with a lower quality, than when you execute them one by one. And it even takes time to correct your mistakes. So, forget multitasking. Focus! Next time your answer will be: “very well and productive”. It does not only concern your you in a business or professional environment. It also implies to all your social contacts. Focus. Choose quality over quantity.

Increase productivity #4 – Start the day with discussing and deciding on your goals of the day will improve productivity

Always start your day or power block with zooming out. Get overview. What is important and what is urgent? Decide which tasks you are going to fulfill this day. Don’t do something else, stick to your plan. Ignore all those incentives coming in. They might seem urgent, but they are most of the time not important. When you follow up on all of them, you won’t get your things done. You can help yourself by for example turning off your wifi or phone. No excuses to do other things than working on your goals!

#5 – Start before the start: exercising to get your energy flowing

Warm your body, let your energy flow and release endorphins for a positive mind with your favourite morning workout. What is yours? Mine is Yoga. You cannot wish for a better start of the day and a higher impact on your productivity. Starting practicing yoga is very low key. Try my favourite 30 days of yoga with Adriene on youtube to start with.   

#6 – Set goals for more productivity and energy

Above you have been reading practical and impactful advice to improve productivity. But it all starts with setting your own personal development goals. Do you really want to be more productive? Think about what being productive means to you. Write down your personal development goals concerning your productivity on a piece of paper. Including the behaviour that belongs to ‘being productive’ according to you. Don’t forget to write down the things you have to “stop” doing as well to increase productivity.

#7 – To increase productivity means to commit

Commit to your personal development goal. Be sure you are committed and are willing to suffer (a little bit) to reach this. Change doesn’t come and doesn’t stay automatically. You have to be willing to invest. Be honest to yourself: am I really going to do this? Am I willing to make sacrifices for reaching these goals? Your new goals might imply that you don’t allow yourself anymore to scroll through your facebook wall for hours. Or that your phone with those nice distracting whatsapp messages is not next on your desk anymore. Think through what your goals and commitment imply. Are you determined to increase productivity and change things?  

#8 – Be your own strict mentor

Now you are sure you are committed to your goal of being more productive; you can be your own strict mentor. So when you go strolling to the coffee machine again – not because you need your coffee so much, but because you want to be distracted – talk to yourself. Point out to yourself that you have non-productive behaviour. And that it doesn’t match with your intentions. Get yourself back to being focussed. Remind yourself of your goal frequently. Be the strict outsider who can correct your behaviour. You can also ask a friend, colleague or partner to be that outsider that reflects on your unwished behaviour. Be patient.

#9 – Productive behaviour will become your natural behaviour in time

In the beginning it might feel strange to work according to these new rules your are committing to. But hold on. After a while of having this new behaviour it will become second nature. It will become a new routine and you don’t have to think about your behaviour consciously all the time anymore. This new productive way of working and living will give you better results. And even better, it will make you a happier person. Monitoring and increasing productivity will be your second nature.  

#10 – Personal reflection

I am currently editing this blog I wrote a few weeks ago and get confronted with myself and my productivity goals. It has been a little while now that I started my day with my precious yoga and exercise routine. I love it, it brings me so much and makes me feel so much better! But why didn’t I do it in a while? It is a lack of discipline. Sport wise, I am in a negative loop and only my discipline can turn this negative loop in a positive one. Your own mind and behavior can be so stubborn. To do what you know is good for you. This leads to another tip to increase productivity.

#11 – Reflect on your productivity goals frequently

Do I need to say more? Make sure you confront yourself with the goals you have set in the past and compare them with your current behaviour. How big is your wish to change something for the better? Try it for at least three days and already experience the positive effects from it to increase your motivation. Put a paper with your goals on the wall next to the fridge. Get yourself going, good luck! Don’t give up, after a fall back nothing is lost and you always have a second, third, ninth chance to make improvements to your productivity.

And how am I now?

I still scroll Facebook sometimes, or Instagram, but less than before. Change takes time! And goes with ups and downs I am afraid. Don’t let it make you quit.   

What are your tricks to increase productivity? Please share them in the comments, I am curious.

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