Are you struggling to get things ticked-off on your to-do list? Do you find it hard to stay focussed on your tasks, and feel yourself getting stressed as the work piles up?
We all do sometimes. The demands of modern life can be overwhelming for everyone from time to time, which is why we’re constantly looking for new ways to boost our productivity.
Some think that the secret to becoming more efficient is by swapping your bad habits, such as procrastination, lack of self-motivation and impatience, for more effectual ones. But how can this be achieved?
In theory, you can change your automatic, learned behaviours so you’ll be naturally more productive than you were before. Read on to find out how.
How do you change a habit?
Psychology Today explain: “If you hit “play next episode” on Netflix (for the third time in a row) even though you know you are staying up too late and have to work the next day… If you check your social media and surf the web for “just a few more minutes” even though there are other things you know you should attend to, you’ve acquired a habit.”
We do this because the behavioural patterns we repeat most often are literally etched into our neural pathways. The good news is that, through repetition, it’s possible to form—and maintain—new habits.
If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, keep your desk tidy, get to places on time or meet deadlines, or all of these things, theoretically you can overcome this by making one new habit at a time. Studies have shown varied results on how long it takes to make a new habit, from 21 days to 254, with the average being 66.
However long it takes you, you can only begin on day one… Start with these top 5 habits of highly productive people and you’ll be ticking things off your to-do list in no time.
- Plan your day the night before
Spend 10-15 minutes preparing for the next day before you go to bed and the time-saving effects it can bestow are significant. Write your to-do-list, set your priorities, prepare your clothes and anything else you need and give yourself a head start for the next day.
- Salvage your wasted time
Find yourself with 30-minutes to wait for a train, or ten-minutes between meetings? Use that potentially wasted time to boost your productivity and do some of those smaller tasks that need doing, such as answering emails or brainstorming your next project.
- Eat the frog
This isn’t a diet tip, but an old saying that means sometimes you’ve just got to do the things you don’t want to. To overcome your procrastination habit, do the most difficult or more time-consuming tasks first. Once they’re out the way, you’ll have a sense of achievement and relief that spurs you on through the rest of your tasks.
- Start early, or stay later
We’re not suggesting that the key to productivity is to just work more hours, in fact, we’re saying the opposite. Productivity is about getting more done in less time. Instead, we mean that by starting work earlier you avoid getting stuck in the rush hour, which means you can arrive at work still feeling refreshed and get straight to your most important priorities. Equally, you can save yourself a few extra hours of wasted time by avoiding traffic on your way home too.
- Leave the office at lunch
If you’re arriving early or leaving late, it also frees up time in the day for you to get out of the office and clear your head. Leaving your work environment to grab some lunch, hit the gym or go for a walk can do wonders to lower your stress levels, increase your focus and allow your creativity to replenish.