No one likes it when someone tells you that what you’ve been doing “forever” is ineffective, but breaking some of those bad habits can help you boost your productivity and use your time more efficiently.
Let’s turn our attention toward the less-than-efficient ways we’ve been working and maximize our productivity.
Why do we procrastinate? I love my work; writing, editing, photography and blogging are my passions. Why would I be reluctant to accomplish end products in these areas? Well, let me tell you:
- Too many tasks to accomplish in a set timeframe can be intimidating. Looking at the overall magnitude of what I must accomplish by Friday can be paralyzing. The solution: Break your work down into small bites and schedule a time slot for each morsel. Allow for room to slip…just a little…to avoid discouragement and allow for the unexpected.
- Sometimes, you know a task will stretch your abilities. The solution: Remember the hard things you have done and be encouraged to attack what’s on your plate now.
- Honestly, sometimes I just don’t feel like working. The solution: Think of what it will feel like to mark the task off your commitment list and reward yourself when finished.
- It can be difficult to focus in certain environments. The solution: Work out of a coworking space like Gather!
Another procrastination-slaying idea: Do the one thing you don’t want to do first. Is there a difficult interview, research paper, telephone conference, etc., you have to do? Do it first. Once you accomplish the dreaded task, everything else is less daunting in comparison.
Stop Doing Every Little Thing
One obvious, but insidious habit we should be mindful of is choosing to focus on trivial activities during our workday. It’s hard to break the cycle and STOP what “we’ve always done”. Especially when working from home, it is vital to cull low-priority tasks from our maximum-productivity timeframes.
With every bad habit you give up, you open a window of opportunity to amp up your productivity. Separate yourself or take yourself to a heads-down, productivity-inducing place like Gather to limit interaction with distractions. Also, turn off your social media notifications and turn people down for anything that takes you away from your focused work. Basically, eliminate any activity that doesn’t further your goals.
Do you think you’re an excellent multi-tasker? Think you can get as much done with other things dividing your focus? Multi-tasking can be useful in some facets of life, but the truth is it can ruin productivity.
Experts encourage us to do one thing at a time because there is no way to give your full attention to your priority task while engaging in other thought-dependent activities. My guilty pleasure is watching Netflix or television shows as “background” entertainment while writing. Anybody else guilty? How much of that show do you remember - or how many times do you rewind because you realize you missed something important? Whatever you do as “background noise” for your work delays the completion of the task.
While working at maximum productivity, focus on the task at hand. Tune out anything around you with headphones connected to relaxing music, turning off any notification you have set up clear your workspace of anything that doesn’t promote ultimate focus.
It isn’t easy at first, but the more you practice “single-tasking,” the more you will accomplish.
Stop Allowing Work to Bleed into Your Personal Life
Keeping your work from consuming your personal time may not be fully possible, but don’t we all have room for improvement? When your work-life balance is out of control, stress levels rise. Not only do you need to get away from your work; your friends and family will notice and often pressure you to give it a rest.
One simple way to enforce this division and cultivate balance is to work at Gather. While I’m here: I’m focused; I feel productive surrounded by other professionals focusing on their own work efforts, and the distractions of home don’t sidetrack me.
Use the tactics detailed in Seven Things To Start Doing In Order To Boost Your Freelance Productivity as part of your daily routine, especially Work Backwards and Find Your One Thing. You’ll keep your productivity on track and feel less stressed.
Stop Depriving Yourself of Breaks
Experts know that working without giving your mind and body a rest is less efficient than resting occasionally.
Studies show that workers who incorporate breaks into their workday are more efficient. One easy way to accomplish this is to focus on focusing — the aim behind Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique, which consists of intentional breaks scheduled into your workday. This simple and effective way of managing your time helps to keep you on task with things that matter most.
Cirillo contends that a person can only focus on a task for approximately 25 minutes before a break becomes beneficial to their productivity. Here are the basic steps:
- Decide on a task you need to complete.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and work.
- When the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break.
- Repeat steps 1 through 3.
- Every four cycles, take a 25-minute break.
People who employ this method find it extremely beneficial and easy to incorporate into their work hours without fancy apps, charts, lists, etc.
Stop Following the Happy Monkey
Have you ever been researching a topic and gone out in left field following link after link until you can’t remember what you started looking for in the first place? Ever sit down to work at home and decide to take a small break to watch an episode of a Netflix series that turns into two or three?
The carefree mindset behind this undisciplined use of your time is like a monkey running around suggesting relaxing, easy, and fun things to do that you can fit in as a break or prequel to work. This mentality can trap us into taking a seven-to-eight-hour day that turns into two or three truly productive hours.
Blogger Tim Urban did a Ted Talk in 2016 entitled Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator. It’s a hilarious take on people as procrastinators. We all have a rational decision maker, instant gratification (happy) monkey and a panic monster inside of us.
Stop Trying to Be an Island
Working at home whether alone or with others in your space can be isolating. I thrive in a space with activity, like Gather. If I want isolation, I’m good at turning things off there.
Working alone can cause me to feel unfocused, lazy and unmotivated. If you thrive in community and fellowship with other professionals who have similar work goals, work at Gather. Everyone respects each others’ need to be productive, but they’re friendly enough to engage in a conversational break when you need it.
Staying connected with other like-minded business professionals is a great way to keep yourself accountable and inspired — and a lot less lonely.
There are so many things we need to stop doing to leave space for putting productivity-enhancing techniques in place. The seven things listed here can be tried and put in place one at a time. Find which one works for you and put it into practice at Gather.