“Oh my goodness. I wasted a ton of time each day. I cannot get things done at all,” thinks Adam as he shakes his head. “What is the secret to productivity?” he wonders.
He has read self-improvement blogs in the past. No good. He looked up for time management tips online. Nothing changed. He even purchased books on improving himself. Yet, he finds himself stuck in the same loop as ever.
Do you feel like Adam’s misery is the story of your life too? Have you tried to find the magic pill to improve your productivity and failed?
Well, well. Let me tell you, the answer is far simpler than you think. People fail to see results because they approach productivity like rocket science.
How productivity is unnecessarily complicated
Today, there are way too many self-improvement writers out there. If you have followed the topic enough, you will find different authors having contrasting views and methods. Some authors suggest journaling, affirmation, and visualization. Some others bash those ideas and suggest other tips such as meditation and exercise.
The more you try reading, the more sophisticated the methods become.
If you keep digging for endless tips, you will encounter countless articles like:
10 Productivity Tips to Achieve Massive Results
15 tips to become the most productive person you know
7 Lesser-known productivity tips to change your life
I am not saying that such articles do not work. Those methods do provide results but people assume that one needs complex ideas to improve productivity.
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How to simplify productivity
When it comes to having a productive day, the more you simplify, the better your results.
The biggest question is how I can simplify my work and life. Are there any ways to simplify complexities?
You already know enough tips and tactics. All you lack is the discipline to follow what you know.
I have gone down rabbit holes chasing the hottest and latest methods from different authors and gurus. Over the years I have modified my approach to that of an archer. Instead of firing 20 different arrows, I pull my bow and aim to fire 1 or 2 which hit the target.
Related Post: Productive things to do when you feel bored
Today, I sum up my day keeping only 2 things in mind:
- Approaching each day with a plan
- Eliminating distractions which consume a lot of time
Approaching each day with a plan to be productive
I have hunted for enough tips to make the best out of your day. The more tips I tried, the more confused I was about which one works.
Today I spend 10 minutes before I start my day on how do I go about the day. I answer a few questions in my head which help me craft my day better:
- Before asking myself what should I do today, I ask myself what I should not spend my time on
- When I am about to list a task for the day, I ask myself if the task adds value or am I doing it due to habit
- For each task, I ask myself if I can do another task which adds more value to my long term goals
These questions help me work exactly on the tasks which yield results in the long run. If you do not know what is the right future for you, answer these 3 questions to help you determine your long term goals.
To help you get a better idea, here is my plan for today:
- Spend 30 minutes learning about blogging
- 30 minutes learning about writing
- Spend 15 minutes thinking
- Write 1500 words
- Post the article for the interview conducted last week
- Check if Barbara(name changed) is open to being my mentor
- Contact 3 self-improvement bloggers and pitch ideas for a guest blog
I have learned that when my plan remains short, I achieve all of it. When I make a long list, I end up procrastinating thinking there is too much to do.
The most important part of planning your day is keeping your long term vision before your daily routine. Many of the things which feel urgent today make no difference in the long run.
If you manage to cut such activities down and replace them with slow progress towards your long term goals, the results show up over the years.
Your brain will fool you into thinking that you must spend 1 hour on the report you send every day. Instead, if you muster some guts and speak to your boss, you can convince him that the report helps no one. Maybe dropping it will save time.
If you analyze every urgent task you work on with a different lens, you will realize how they are the leeches crawling up your day and sucking valuable time without your knowledge. Pluck them out and toss them away.
If you can use the 80-20 principle to split your time, nothing like it. Aim to spend 20% of your time on routine/urgent tasks and spend the other 80% of your time on activities that help your long term goal. Feel free to change the numbers a bit, but 80-20 serves as a good benchmark.
2. Cut the activities which kill your time
Once you have made a plan for the day, you need to stick to it. Now that is easier said than done. In today’s world, a bazillion things crave your attention.
The 5 most common forms of distractions are:
- Social media
- A beeping phone
- A person of the opposite sex
- Binge-watching videos
- Reading news, articles or random information off the internet
//These activities seem like a small prick in your day, but if you look at your day like a paper cup of water, these little holes can drain out all of your time.
If you have to follow only 1 tip to increase your productivity for the rest of your life, working without distraction should be the one.
Identify what are the top 3 sources of your distraction and cut them out. I felt the urge to check my phone for no reason, be it a What’s app message, a notification from Facebook or a promotional text about a 50% discount from the nearby clothing store.
Keeping my phone on DND and locking it inside a drawer has skyrocketed my productivity by a margin I cannot even calculate.
Most people already know where they waste their time. Now it is up to you whether you want to admit it with honesty. I know many people who lose their minds without their phones but claim that the device does not distract them.
Whatever your distraction is, the sooner you admit, the faster you can fix the problem.
So the second simplified step of productivity is to cut down the distractions which eat up your time. Again, you do not need a well-established self-improvement guru to suggest you methods on how to cut them out.
No author or blogger knows you better than you know yourself.
I am sure you can find your own answer instead of digging books and pages off the internet for a solution.
If you cut your distractions by half and use the time to work on things that matter, you have mastered the art of productivity.
Do not complicate productivity.
Do not look for more tips.
Do not try sophisticated methods.
If you need to apply logic and analysis to implement a productivity tip, knock it off because it is too complicated.
All you need is a pinch of common sense and a sprinkle of discipline to conquer your productivity and time management problems once and for all.
Do you really feel overwhelmed by the concept of productivity?
What’s your biggest distraction that stops you from being productive?