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5 Habits to INSTANTLY Boost Your Productivity

Now don’t worry, these aren't things like “GET UP AT 4 am AND GO RUN 5 MILES IN THE SNOW AND ICE!! That might boost productivity... it might also kill you. These are habits everyone can apply today that will instantly make you more productive. Let's have a look.

1. Make a Todo List/Schedule

I do this every day, usually in the evening. I write out all my plans and things that need to be accomplished for the next day that I can think of. Then I review them in the morning before I begin work. I was inspired to try this out by a book called “Getting Things Done, the art of stress-free productivity” by David Allen. This book is basically the Bible of productivity. He explains how our minds aren't built like to-do lists and treating them as such is foolish. Instead, he suggests that we should build a system to hold the many things floating around up there. This topic is extremely in-depth, but the to-do list is a little snippet that I took and applied on its own.

Now you may be asking, "How does this actually help me?" So glad you asked. Allow me to indulge you.

  • By doing this in the evening, it allows me to wind down and sleep better because I know that everything is behind held by the system I’ve created for it. I can forget all of those things, because I know I will review them in the morning. It allows my mind to wander and be free. My most creative ideas come to me at this point. I trust the system (to-do list, schedule, journey, whatever you choose) to hold it for me and I just refer to the system.

  • Another thing this allows me to do is to go into every single day knowing exactly what needs to be accomplished. I never end a day not knowing what I’ve done, and if you ask me at any point during the day what I am working on, I have an exact task I’m currently pursuing.

2. Writing My Goals

Every morning I write or at least review my major priority goal, and if I’m feeling ambitious, the 3 steps I can take immediately to help further that goal. The major priority goal comes from the book “Goals” by Brian Tracy. He gives a task of writing down 10-15 goals you want to accomplish. Then choose the one that, if accomplished, will bring about the most positive change in your life. That then becomes your “Major Priority Goal” and where you focus all of your attention until achieved. But how does writing my goals actually help me be more productive? Doing this has 2 extremely important outcomes.

  1. It ensures that you know exactly where you are going. You can’t hit a target that you can’t see. Every achievement begins within the mind as a mental image, so by writing your goal as an actual goal, (which is specific, measurable, time-bound, and challenging) you lay a clear vision and path of how to get there. I love the quote that says “If you don’t know where you're going, any road will get you there.”

  2. It lodges the goal deep within your subconscious mind. The superconscious, or superego also plays into this, but I won’t cover those here. Now when we write our goals over and over, we imbed them deeper and deeper within our mind. The subconscious part of our mind begins working on our idea without us even knowing it. We have all experienced this, to some degree or another. It’s kinda like thinking about something 24/7, that you really want to accomplish. You get flooded with ideas and motivation. This is sort of a shortcut to that, which you can more easily control. Keeping it fresh in the mind by reinforcing that each day plays a critical role in accomplishment. This leads me to the third habit, or actually the habit I broke.

3. Avoiding social media in the morning

Social media is essentially a giant distraction tool, and checking it first thing in the morning, primes your brain for distraction the rest of the day. Most people believe they can go from distraction to concentrated focus right away, which simply isn’t true. By beginning your day this way, it sets a standard for the rest of the day, making focus and concentration much more difficult. According to Dr. Nikole, “The information overload that hits you before you’re fully awake interferes with your ability to prioritize tasks.” Not something I want.

The checking social medial in the morning does, is it hijacks your attention. By checking social media right after waking up, you're letting other people’s opinions, requests, and advertisements into your mind. Your thoughts, ideas, and focus are immediately hijacked by new messages, emails, and notifications. In other words, your mind will be occupied with other people’s agendas, not your own. Instead of starting your day proactively focusing on your own goals, you’ll be forced to react to other people’s stuff.

4 out of 5 people check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. That’s pretty scary. Research points to avoiding your phone for a full hour after waking up. I’ve found that giving myself at least an hour without electronics in the morning greatly increased my focus, discipline, and mental clarity. I noticed it instantly, the first day I tried it. I was way more collected and could handle stress and deadlines much better. I now can go through my day, being proactive, instead of reactive.

4. The Two-Minute Rule

This rule says that if a task will take less than two minutes, you do it right away. You’ll find that when you do this, your day consists of lots of two-minute tasks, and by doing them you find that it “closes the loop” which opens mental space for more important things. Closing a loop is when you have a task that has been sitting on your mind, that you know you should do, but maybe keep putting it off. Your brain will continue to keep nagging you about it though. This is because our subconscious mind can’t tell time, so if you need to do something next week, it will constantly remind you of it until you finally just do it.

I’ve found that doing this clears mental space, and also boosts self-esteem. I’ve also found that when I have something to apply this to, and just do it, it feels really good and gives a little boost of motivation. I've also seen a decrease in forgetfulness. This is because not nearly as much stuff is resting on my mind. All those small nagging tasks get cleared up over a short time of implementing this.

5. The Five-Minute Rule

The rule is based on the fact that motivation usually comes after the process is begun. So when you feel unmotivated and don’t want to start, this rule says “well, just work on it for 5 minutes, and if you really can’t stand it then stop.” Helpful? Yes.

I’ve found this incredibly useful, especially when forming new habits. Like writing these blog posts for example. At first, it took a lot of willpower, but now I tell myself “just take a crack at it and see how you feel after 5 minutes." More often than not, after 5 minutes I realize the task isn't as bad as I thought and keep going. If the task is still too hard, I stop and approach from a different angle. At first, I would use this almost every time I didn’t have motivation, but now my mind just knows that after a few minutes I'll get in the swing of things, so I don’t even have to consciously think about it, I just do it.

That's the beauty of productivity, after a while these "hacks" or "tips" form into habits and happen automatically. They become a part of "you" and you act out of them. It's fantastic! Then you keep adding on new ones and getting more and more effective.

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