by: Melissa K. on 2016-07-09

Simple Changes that will Make Your Life Way More Productive


Dirty coffee mugs, post-it notes galore, and seemingly billions of unread emails. We've all been there. It's one thing to be busy but it's an entirely different scenario when we're productive. Whether you're trying to start a new business or your to-do-list has gotten out of hand, applying these simple changes will make your life much easier.

Just START the Task, Already!

As human beings, we are driven to start what we've finished. This is according to a theory by Bluma Zeigarnik which explains that we feel a dissonance when we do not finish our tasks. In other words, we feel inconsistent. Of course, this may not apply to extremely hard or impossible tasks, but this theory is useful to consider when facing a task you don't want to begin. Before you overthink your task or try to talk yourself out of it, just start doing it. Chances are, you'll probably finish it.

Multitasking is Not As Great as You Think

First of all, there's really no such thing as multitasking since all we are really doing is "task switching". Not only does this increase chances for errors while doing each task, it can also be a major stressor. Plus, we waste time while switching from task-to-task. Stop checking your emails during your cold sales calls or updating your LinkedIn profile while performing quality checks. Stop. And focus on the task at hand. When we complete one single task from start to finish, we will actually save more time than attempting to juggle multiple at once.

Recent evidence shows that multitasking also creates bad habits. In fact, a habitual multitasker can change the pathways of their brain and cause limited ability in sustaing attention. We need that attention span for creative thinking, problem solving, and developing social skills.

Do Hard Things in the Morning

Mornings are the most productives times of the day. We are more motivated and we have more energy during this time. However, the wrong start can quickly derail this focus. Start your day catching up on politics, and you may only find yourself in a debate with a nearby coworker rather than your most important tasks. Save harder tasks/goals for the morning and leave less important ones for the afternoon. This is best accomplished through habitation. Create a productive morning routine and stick with it.

Also, try applying the following:

Willpower has its Limits

We shouldn't rely on willpower alone to get us through hard tasks. This is another reason why hard tasks should be completed first before we have depleted all of our willpower. It's so tempting to put a task off until it absolutely must be completed and then rely on that urgency to fuel willpower. Unfortunately this doesn't work very well and you may end up completing the task poorly from both time restraint and lack of willpower.

Another useful approach is completing mundane tasks prior to tasks that require willpower. This way you have properly reserved for willpower and those other tasks will not hang over your head while you complete the larger task.

Make a REALISTIC To-Do List

Yes, yes, we're always told to make a to-do list to be productive. That's a given. But we have to make sure it's realistic. Stop piling everything you think of in one day only to disappointingly shake your head when not even half of those items are completed by dinner. We can't set ourselves up for failure by creating an impossible list. Think about your day and what you can realistically complete. Don't be afraid to go easy on yourself! No one is judging you based on the complexity of your to-do list! You may also noticed that your task pace needs tweaked later on as your list becomes too realistic or unrealistic.

A useful strategy for completing realistic task lists is to assign time estimates for each task. It will keep you in scheduled to complete your list and it will help you understand how achievable it is on a given day.

Make Yourself Unavailable

Turn off social media, cell phones, and email. It's ok to say no to requests. Be unavailable to your co-workers and friends. Find a quiet place to tackle your task without distractions. Not only will it promote focus for your task at hand, but it will also give you a chance to clear your mind and breathe.

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