All posts in productivity

The 1-Hour Weekend Activity That Will Totally Change Your Week

While the weekend is a time for relaxation, it might be wise to set aside one hour during the weekend to map out the upcoming week. Here’s the four-step approach to planning your upcoming week.
 
  • Review the previous week. Think of this step as performing an audit on yourself. 
  • Get all of your ideas out of your head. Empty your brain of ideas, review those ideas and pick the most valuable.
  • Input your activities onto your calendar.
  • Decide on your daily actions. Identify and commit to the actions that lead to your desired results.
 
Visit inc.com for more on planning and beyond!

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Take “Airplane Days” to Remove Distractions and Get Stuff Done

Sometimes when we have a lot of work to do we can find many ways to not do it! These distractions can stem from the internet or even phone calls.

This week, we’ll see how we can eliminate these distractions with “Airplane days”:

 

In the olden days of just a few years ago, flying usually meant being cut off from the internet for a few hours. If you’re overwhelmed by too many distractions, taking an “airplane day” to cut off communication can help you catch up on work.

As Quora user Bryan Hassin explains, being on an airplane can often mean that all your usual distractions don’t work. You’re cut off from the internet. You can’t receive phone calls. This makes flights an excellent time to get things done. Of course, you don’t have to drop loads of cash to get this experience. Just set aside a block of time to put all your devices into airplane mode and get things done:

When I made the joke that I should start flying internationally more often for productivity reasons, the light bulb went off. Now, at the beginning of each week, I carefully look at my schedule and declare one day (or two half days) to be Airplane Time. I block it out on my shared calendar and treat it as if I were in the air: working out of the office, disabling my phone, and shutting off network connections on my laptop. The rest of the days are for meetings, etc. but this blocked out time each week is my most productive by far.

Of course, some airplanes have Wi-Fi now and you can always disable airplane mode, so distractions have a way of worming into your life. However, having a button (or plane) that’s keeping you focused on your work can help interrupt the path to lost productivity.

 

All the productivity of being in an airplane, but without the plane!

For more on airplane days and other topics, visit Lifehacker.com.

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Tackle Your Most Difficult Tasks With Meditative “Pause Training”

We’ve all been there. We have a difficult task that needs to be done, but we can’t bring ourselves to do it.

This week we look at how meditative pause training can help us overcome the discomfort of difficult tasks to be more productive:

 

The discomfort of taking on difficult tasks can push you to seek out distractions, focus on busywork, and procrastinate. If that sounds like you, Leo Babauta at Zen Habits suggests you try some “pause training,” which works similarly to basic meditation exercises. Start by picking one important task you have to do today. Remove yourself from as many distractions as possible, and try your hardest to focus on completing that task. As Babauta explains, your mind will want to run from the discomfort:

Now we’re going to do “pause training,” where instead of running from the discomfort, you pause. Breathe. Turn your attention to this discomfort — it might be fear, frustration, uncertainty, self-doubt, tiredness. Drop your story about this discomfort, and just notice how it feels physically, in your body. Where is this feeling of discomfort located? What quality does it have?

You’ll notice that the discomfort actually doesn’t feel that bad, even though you habitually want to run from it. It’s just energy. It’s not actually good or bad, but just energy that’s in your body, one that you normally don’t want to have and normally judge as “bad.”

If you keep pausing and identifying that feeling when it comes, you’ll begin to realize over time that it’s not a big deal and nothing to worry about. It’s just there. Eventually you’ll become comfortable with that discomfort, and maybe even use it as a motivator instead of a hindrance. Your difficult tasks will still be important, but you’ll want to take them on instead of running from them.

 

So the next time you feel like procrastinating difficult work, just remember to pause and reflect!

For more on pause training and other topics, visit Lifehacker.com.

Catch up on your favorite Friday Focus in our Archives page!

How to Improve Your Job Performance in Two Seconds

Could the answer to being more productive be as simple as fixing your posture? Well, yes!

This week we look how your posture affects the quality of your work and what you can do about it:

 

Posture matters more than you may think. In fact, there’s evidence that whether you sit up straight or slouch affects the quality of your work. That means, depending on how you hold yourself, there could be huge differences in how your body operates, which could have major implications for office workers looking to boost their productivity.

One key change that occurs when you sit up straight or stand: Your heart rate goes up about 10 beats per minute, providing a possible improvement in reaction time and attention, according to [retired ergonomist and human-performance specialist, Max] Vercruyssen.

He suggests adjusting your posture or standing up straight when you have a task that requires extra attention and focus. Just don’t expect it to be a cure-all: Any posture-related changes to your performance are likely to be most noticeable when you’re exhausted or coming out of a post-lunch slump.

Ergonomics is all about trade-offs. According to Vercruyssen, the more comfortable we are, the easier it is to crash, lose focus, and possibly even doze off. Vercruyssen suggests balancing this trade-off by sorting and scheduling your tasks by difficulty. If you feel like you can stomach the discomfort of standing or sitting up straight for only short bursts, use this time take on your most taxing projects. If there’s something you could do in your sleep, that’s a good time to get comfy.

In a series of studies, Erik Peper, a professor of health education at San Francisco State University, had participants sit in various positions and then asked them to recall either negative thoughts and memories or positive and empowering ones. Slouchers had a harder time recalling the positive thoughts. The good news: Peper found the opposite effect to be true as well. Subjects who sat up had an easier time recalling positive and optimistic memories, and just 30 seconds of skipping in place was shown to markedly improve mood and energy levels.

 

And there you have it, the secret to being productive – sit up straight!

For more on the connection between posture and productivity, visit Bloomberg.

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Top 10 Ways to Be More Productive When Working from Home – Week 2

Working out of your own home. It’s the modern workers dream. But as anyone who has tried it can tell you, working in your pyjama’s isn’t as great as you’d imagine – productivity-wise at least.

If you’re someone who does work from home, this Focus is for you. Here are a few more ways to increase your productivity at home:

 

Block All Disturbances

The temptation to procrastinate or spend all day looking at cat GIFs is very strong when no one’s looking over your shoulder. Carve out space and time dedicated just to working.

Create a Focused Work Environment

The best tool for any worker: An environment that lets you focus. For many, that will be a dedicated room with a door (to shut out family members and also close at the end of the day). Also important: the right lighting, desk setup, and noise control.

Switch Up Your Office Location

Sometimes the best way to work remotely to not work from home. Tap into the creative buzz at a coffee shop or find some camaraderie at a coworking space. Perhaps play “Workstation Popcorn” to boost your focus and take advantage of your ability to work from anywhere.

Force Yourself to Stop Working

Slacking off might be the biggest fear you and your manager will have before you start working from home. For many of us, though, the biggest problem is overworking and burning out. Make stopping work easier on yourself with little tricks like setting an alarm for the end of the day, setting appointments at the end of the day, and making a pact with yourself to protect your downtime.

Create a Routine and Set Boundaries

I’ve been working from home for over 15 years. I’ve had my productivity highs and lows. The best thing I’ve ever done for my productivity? Scheduling my days and weeks around my energy. Daily rituals and a morning routine help too.

 

And that folks is how you stay productive at home! For a recap of these 10 methods, check out Lifehacker.com.

Catch up on your favorite Friday Focus in our Archives page!

Top 10 Ways to Be More Productive When Working from Home – Week 1

Working out of your own home. It’s the modern workers dream. But as anyone who has tried it can tell you, working in your pyjama’s isn’t as great as you’d imagine – productivity-wise at least.

If you’re someone who does work from home, this Focus is for you. Here are a few ways to be more productive at home:

 

Get Dressed

Sure, getting to work in your PJs is one of the big benefits to working on your own, but it doesn’t help you get into a work frame of mind. You don’t have to wear a suit or anything formal, but at least wear pants (or a skirt).

“Commute” to Your Home Office

On a similar note, get out of the house for a little bit before you start the day. A fake commute—even if it’s just a walk around the block—can be part of a small ritual that jump starts your day.

Take Mini Exercise Breaks

You need coffee breaks as much as the in-office person does. Kill two birds with one stone by incorporating mini workouts throughout the day. It’ll help you think straighter, boost your mood and productivity, and make sure you get enough exercise.

Get the Right Tools for Your Job

Telecommuters need particular tools to stay connected to office colleagues. These include enterprise web conferencing tools, document collaboration suites, and screen sharing tools. Your IT department will likely suggest specific ones you need.

Keep Your Family from Disturbing You

Ah, family members. The people you love who won’t leave you alone when you most need to work. It’s hard for significant others and kids to realize you’re in work mode when you’re at home, but you can train them. Give kids a learning station to keep them busy and establish some ground rules with your partner.

 

But wait, there’s more! We’ve got a few more ways that you can increase your productivity at home. Stay tuned!

We got these from Lifehacker.com, your one-stop shop for hacking your life to make it better and easier. You can visit them for more on this and beyond.

Catch up on your favorite Friday Focus in our Archives page!

The Akrasia Effect: What to Do About It

Last week, we showed you why people procrastinate. This week we’re going to give you the Akrasia Antidote.

Here are three ways to beat procrastination:

 

Strategy 1: Design your future actions.

Commitment devices are strategies that help improve your behavior by either increasing the obstacles or costs of bad behaviors or reducing the effort required for good behaviors. You can curb your future eating habits by purchasing food in individual packages rather than in the bulk size. You can stop wasting time on your phone by deleting games or social media apps.

The circumstances differ, but the message is the same: commitment devices can help you design your future actions.

Strategy 2: Reduce the friction of starting.

The guilt and frustration of procrastinating is usually worse than the pain of doing the work. So why do we still procrastinate? Because it’s not being in the work that is hard, it’s starting the work. Once you begin, it’s often less painful to do the work. This is why it is often more important to build the habit of getting started when you’re beginning a new behavior than it is to worry about whether or not you are successful at the new habit.

Put all of your effort and energy into building a ritual and make it as easy as possible to get started. Don’t worry about the results until you’ve mastered the art of showing up.

Strategy 3: Utilize implementation intentions.

An implementation intention is when you state your intention to implement a particular behavior at a specific time in the future. For example, “I will exercise for at least 30 minutes on [DATE] in [PLACE] at [TIME].”

 

And that is how you beat procrastination! You can visit James Clear’s webpage for a recap on everything about Akrasia.

Catch up on your favorite Friday Focus in our Archives page!

The Akrasia Effect: Why We Don’t Follow Through on What We Set Out to Do

Akrasia. If that sounds like Greek to you, well, that’s because it is.

In short, Akrasia is the act of procrastinating against your better judgement and this week, we’re going to show you why people procrastinate:

 

Human beings have been procrastinating for centuries. The problem is so timeless, in fact, that ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior: Akrasia. Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else. Loosely translated, you could say that akrasia is procrastination or a lack of self-control.

One explanation for why akrasia rules our lives and procrastination pulls us in has to do with a behavioral economics term called “time inconsistency.” Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards.

When you make plans for yourself — like setting a goal to lose weight or write a book or learn a language — you are actually making plans for your future self. When the time comes to make a decision, however, you are no longer making a choice for your future self. Now you are in the moment and your brain is thinking about the present self. And researchers have discovered that the present self really likes instant gratification, not long-term payoff.

Understanding how to resist the pull of instant gratification—at least occasionally, if not consistently—can help you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

 

Next week we’ll show you how you can beat procrastination and meet your goals!

We got this from the veritable productivity guru, James Clear, you can visit his webpage for more like this and beyond.

Catch up on your favorite Friday Focus in our Archives page!

Moving beyond Productivity and Presence to be more Deliberate

Last week, we discussed moving beyond productivity to be more present. This week, we’ll show you how to move even beyond presence, to be more deliberate:

 

Instead of judging my days by either how productive or present I’ve been, I’ve started thinking in terms of something else: how deliberate I’ve been. By “deliberateness,” I mean feeling like I’m making very conscious decisions about how I spend my time.

I think that focusing on being deliberate actually helps resolve a lot of the tension between presence and productivity. Being deliberate about how we spend our time is essential for being productive in the meaningful sense: for effectively working towards things that are important to you.

But being deliberate doesn’t mean “getting things done” for the sake of it, or always being goal-focused. Sometimes being deliberate means consciously choosing to simply experience life without worrying about whether you’re “getting anywhere.” What does this mean doing in practice? A few things I’ve found particularly helpful for using my time deliberately:

  1. Making plans

A relatively simple thing that worked wonders for my productivity was sitting down at the beginning of each day, writing a list of tasks I wanted to achieve, and then actually planning at what time I was going to do each of those things.

  1. Asking the right questions when choosing how to spend your time

When I look back on the past hour, what would make me feel good about how I’ve spent it?

What would the very best version of myself do right now?

  1. Having regularly scheduled “check-in” points during the day

I use these check-in points to step back and ask: How am I feeling? Am I really motivated and engaged in what I’m doing, or am I getting distracted? Am I using my time and focus in the ways I’d like to be?

 

For a recap on looking beyond just being productive to also being present and deliberate you can visit Quartz.com

Catch up on your favorite Friday Focus in our Archives page!

Productivity vs. Presence

Productivity. It’s a word we all know and something we all strive for, but at what cost?

Today, we’re going to show you how you can not only be more productive, but also gain a sense of presence in your life:

 

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of years thinking about how to be more productive. Even as I’ve found ways to be more focused and productive, I sometimes still feel this vague sense of dissatisfaction at the end of the day. Often when I’ve been most productive, I feel like the day has passed in a blur. I was productive, sure—but perhaps to the expense of other, equally, if not more important things.

When we care about productivity, we’re always aiming at some future goal, and judging our days by what we’ve managed to produce. Presence, on the other hand, means focusing on the present moment without aiming at anything, and judging our days more in terms of our internal experiences. If we focus too much on productivity at the expense of presence, we might find our lives slipping away in a blur.

I think it’s possible to get a good balance of productivity and presence, but it requires some careful thought about what productivity really means. The reason we really care about productivity—or the reason we should care—is that it allows us to do the things we care about as well and effectively as possible. Productivity isn’t a goal, but rather a tool for better achieving our goals.

To be productive in the most meaningful sense, we need to be able to step back and ask ourselves what goals we really care about, and why. But we don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking all our time should be goal-focused—sometimes it’s good to be happy with simply enjoying the experience of whatever we’re doing without worrying about what we might achieve.

 

Next week we’ll show you how you can move beyond productivity and presence to achieve “deliberateness”!

We got this from the good folks at Quartz.com, you can visit them for more like this and beyond.

Catch up on your favorite Friday Focus in our Archives page!