Productivity is often considered to be a big and confusing term since it can’t be really measured by some generic standard. It can only be measured using the specifics of the task at hand. For a day to be considered a productive one, there must have some kind of success and actions that were not “just waste of time”. A simple plan can help you have a productive day. A productive day can happen spontaneously. What do you mean? Yes, there are several “accidental success” that happens in our day-to-day living. To be candid, most of these successes are often aided by the habits we have formed. The good habits an individual possesses can help him make some certain “moves” that would guarantee success. Today, I want to share some simple habits that have helped me be more productive. These five habits would help you to be more productive and push you to achieve more.
1. Be a serious planner
Planning is one of the most tangible but important thing you can do to get things done. If you noticed, I said “tangible”. Planning has to be done with great intentionality – it has to be perceptible by touch and more importantly be clear. A plan in your head is more likely going to be a forgotten or ignored plan. You have to write down your plans, carry them with you almost everywhere (or stick them where you can see them every day) and execute them at the set time.
You cannot be productive when you constantly “push away” your plans. If you planned to email or call someone at 9am, don’t push or procrastinate until 9:15am because you want to quickly call another person. Except for an emergency or you are not “adequately prepared”, don’t swap your action item for something you didn’t plan for. The way to use a planner is to plan and execute at the set time.
2. Always maintain a clutter-free work environment
Clutter increases stress, decreases productivity and creativity. Clutter is bad for your health. Without going into scientific data about clutter, you know how you feel when there are things all over the place. You are for sure distracted, curious about some of the items and maybe wondering why they were not organized. Every time you spend wondering “what is going on here?” is a potential time that can be used for productive stuffs. A clean work environment will give you clarify and focus.
A clean environment is also a reflection of yourself. If you are working in a shared environment with other creatives, you really don’t want to be that guy or gal who shows his or her buddies that things can be left everywhere and anywhere. It is perceived as carelessness in such case. Keeping your workspace clean is for yourself, it is for your presentation to others and more importantly it helps to increase productivity.
3. Work at the same place every time when possible
Have you heard of the term “muscle memory”? Muscle memory is a form of procedural memory that is formed by doing something repeatedly. When you do something with high number of repetition, you will experience ease as you continue to do it. High number of repetition increases efficiency. When you work at the same place every time you get a chance to, you are more likely to repeat the success experienced when you first used the place, given you had success in that one spot.
Working at the station decreases the distraction. It eliminates time wasted when looking for a missing item, change in room temperature, brightness or orientation and many other contingencies that decrease productivity. Of course, if your current workstation is not convenient for you, you have to make the necessary adjustments so as to always produce at your best.
4. Do some physical exercises while working
Exercises is not just good when done before or after work. Regular exercises help in the growth of brain cells and increases heart rate. When your brain stays sharp, you are likely to think creatively and make excellent decisions. Exercises during your blocked productive time is a good idea too. Personally, I stretch and do some exercise when faced with difficult programming problems. Taking a moment to exercise and think on how to address an issue is excellent and oftentimes leads to excellent results. Don’t be sedentary, get up and go win!
5. Be intentional – keep distractions away
There is nothing as powerful to productivity than being intentional and focused. Every day comes with opportunities and sadly with unavoidable distractions. However, we can all be intentional with our goals. The first approach to an intentional and productive life is to remove unnecessary distractions. There are several avoidable distractions we daily encounter. Our electronics is one of the popular distractions. However, these devices can be temporarily disabled during productive times.
Did you know that many iPhone users have never used Do Not Disturb? There are several ways to avoid being distracted by our devices. Instagram and FaceBook have a daily time limit that I found very helpful. You can put restrictions around almost anything that could distract you.
Not being productive has always been a difficult challenge even before the advent of electronics. Folks like Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and others of their age had troubles staying focused as well. It was reported that Winston Churchill will not get out of his bedroom until he planned for the day and execute some of the important missions for that day. He worked (had meetings) and gave instructions while in bed. It is time to win! No more delays or excuses for not being productive. Start using or enforcing these five habits to improve your productivity level.