As the new year has already begun, it is the perfect time to give your life a productive makeover. A lot of people might have set their new year resolutions, but studies reveal that only less than 10 percent of us manage to stick to them for the entire year.
The remaining 90 percent of people who quit midways are the ones who mistake being busy with being productive. They get into the habit of setting overwhelming resolutions and unrealistic expectations. Whereas, if we put the right amount of thought to choose positive habits and couple it with a hardcore dedication to act on them daily, it will allow our productivity to snowball into something great.
Don’t wait for success to fall into your lap, instead make it happen by implementing these productive habits to your everyday life:
1. Set goals, not just wishes, to be more productive
Productivity is a matter of choice, you become more productive when you make the right decisions. There is a direct relationship between goal-setting and productivity. If you wish to take your productivity to a whole new level, create goals around it, pursue them and do your best to achieve those goals. Wishing for them won’t get you very far.
While setting a goal for your yourself, make sure it is SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. When you set smart goals, your intentions manifest into purposeful action.
2. Make a routine (both morning and evening)
The most productive people on this planet, be it Richard Branson or Oprah Winfrey, treat their morning and evening routines sacredly. For instance, Oprah wakes up at 6:02 AM sharp – all thanks to her internal clock. And, then everything goes as per her routine – practicing gratitude, gym, meditation, multi-grain breakfast and so on.
When you have a structured routine, you become more focused and disciplined. Instead of running around with a vague idea of what to accomplish, the right lifestyle routine can turn you into a productivity monster like Oprah!
3. Forget the ‘To-do list’ and start making a ‘Stop-doing list’
I’m sure many people credit their habit of making and following ‘To-do lists’ as a big contributor to being productive and successful. But being productive isn’t always about getting things done, sometimes being productive is also about not doing (certain) things.
Make the most of this work hack by creating a list of things you want to stop doing. The list can include checking Facebook after every 20 minutes, multitasking, finding out the latest gossip on Kim Kardashian, to anything blatantly wasteful. Stick this list in a place where you can see it most often so that it constantly reminds you what you shouldn’t be doing.
4. Protect your peak hours for your best work
This productivity tip has the power to change your life: Match your highest priority work to your most productive hours. To support this, research on ultradian rhythms suggests that our body is driven by cycles that affect how alert or productive we are. As the cycle begins, we experience exuberant energy, and as it drops our body and brain feel tired and fatigued.
It makes sense to use your peak time for high-priority tasks and make critical decisions. Save routine and unimportant tasks when you aren’t as focused. The moral of the story is to listen to your body and act with it, not against it.
5. You are who you surround yourself with
Time and again, you have been given this advice, to surround yourself with the right kind of people. And, the advice is indeed priceless.
A Harvard Medical School study done by Dr. Nicholas Christakis found that being in the company of happy and productive individuals can positively impact your overall productivity and efficiency.
If you are in the company of mediocre or negative people, it’s time to find a new circle for yourself. Believe me, the results will amaze you.
6. Work in 90 minute blocks
Most of us are aligned to work until we drop. What if I tell you that there’s a technique called 90/10 rule that can take your productivity to the zenith. All you have to do is to focus wholeheartedly and give your hundred percent to the task at hand, that’s it!
After those 90 minutes of uninterrupted work, give yourself a break of 10 minutes. You can use this break to fill your water bottle, freshen up, or a quick small talk with a colleague. As soon as you finish those ten minutes, repeat the process. The whole idea behind this technique is to develop focus, minimize distractions, and boost productivity.
7. Listen to music right before you start
Daniel Levitin, a cognitive neuroscientist and the author of ‘This is Your Brain on Music’ suggests to listen music for 10-15 minutes before you start working. You might be wondering how listening to music is proportional to increasing your productivity?
Levitin backed it up by saying that listening to music can put you in a better mood as your mind releases dopamine also called ‘happy hormone’. It gives you a feeling of pleasure that elevates your mood and boosts productivity. So, gift yourself a pair of headphones this year.
8. Say goodbye to clutter
Have you ever felt less than productive in a cluttered workspace? If you have, you’re not alone. That’s because clutter is the enemy of productivity. Working at a desk that looks like it’s been struck by a Tsunami can never contribute to your productivity, rather it will slow you down and complicate your daily tasks.
Here’s a quick and easy plan to remove clutter from your desk and your professional life: Keep it minimal and make it a point to organize your stuff twice a week, if not everyday and watch the ideas flow.
9. Don’t say yes to every request
The one commonality between all the super-productive individuals is that they say NO – a lot. The truth is that if you say ‘yes’ to being productive you will have to say ‘no’ to everything that is unproductive.
According to Business Insider, Warren Buffett once told his pilot to make a list of 25 goals he’d like to work on, then he asked him to narrow them down to five. His only advice was to work on those five goals and say NO to everything else. Even you can do the same thing: Set five goals for a day and until you accomplish them, say no to everything else.
10. Act or be acted upon
The only thing that will make you more productive and efficient than ever will eventually depend upon your willingness to act. It can be scary to challenge your behavioral patterns and introduce new changes in your lifestyle. The only person that is getting in the way of your productivity is you and your unproductive habits.
It’s never too late or too early to make new changes for your own betterment. So, it’s up to you whether you want to act on your habits or be acted upon by them.
Remember, uber-productive people are not born but made – by working consistently on their habits. They might fail sometimes, but eventually, they turn victorious, productive, and successful.
About the author: Vartika Kashyap runs the marketing team at ProofHub — a project management software for teams of all sizes. She is a seasoned marketing professional who is an expert in digital marketing and entrepreneurship. She’s been featured among LinkedIn’s Top Voices for the year 2016 & 2017 and, is also a contributor for Your Story, The Next Web & Huffington Post. Connect with Vartika on LinkedIn.