In today’s fast-paced world, it seems like everyone is searching for ways to be more productive. We make list after list of things to do, consume copious amounts of caffeinated beverages, and work more hours than we ever have before, and yet many people feel as though they’re still not getting enough done.
Unfortunately, as much as technology has tools to help us stay connected to our work, it has also given us more distractions than we’ve ever had before. It seems like every few minutes our phones go off with a notification of another text message, Tweet, or Facebook post that just begs for our attention. With so much going on, it can be difficult to focus on getting things done.
Furthermore, many people have developed a misconception about what true productivity is. After all, there is more to life than checking off boxes on your to-do list. When you look at truly productive people, they are usually not focused on doing more – they’re focused on getting more value out of doing less. So how can you change your focus and become more productive? Following these five habits will give you an excellent start.
1. Pare Down the To-Do List
Being productive at work doesn’t necessarily mean checking off 30 tasks on your to-do list in eight hours. Instead, try to focus on accomplishing the things that are most important. Even better, skip making the list at all. You’re usually aware of the important things that need to be done; do you really need to spend time writing out a to-do list just so you can cross “make a to-do list” off of it?
2. Take Breaks
It might seem like taking more breaks would be contradictory to becoming more productive, the most successful people realize that breaks are good for the brain. In general, a good work day should be broken up periodically. Go for a walk, grab a healthy snack, or meditate. You’ll find that when you sit back down at your desk, you’ll be better able to focus and concentrate on getting those important tasks done.
3. Remember the 80/20 Rule
Much like paring down your to-do list, it is important to remember that about 20 percent of what you do during your day is going to produce 80 percent of your results. By eliminating those things that don’t matter, you can maximize your productivity. Try it: the next time you’re handed a big project, break it down into smaller tasks. Then, systematically remove smaller tasks until you’re left with the 20 percent that will give you 80 percent of your results.
4. Focus On Yourself in the Morning
Instead of spending the first 30 minutes of your day checking emails and going over your to-do list as you get ready for work, spend this time focusing on yourself instead. Eat a good breakfast, exercise, or spend 10 minutes meditating. This ensures that you begin your day in a calm, focused manner, in full control and prepared for what you want to accomplish.
5. Do the Most Challenging Tasks First
It can be tempting to put the harder tasks for later, but the most productive among us know that these are the tasks that should be tackled first. When you leave the more difficult things for later, they spend all day occupying your mind, distracting you from focusing on your current task. By scheduling the most difficult tasks first, you get these out of the way, freeing your mind to focus on other things later in the day.